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Holy Scripture: The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith, Volume I: A Biblical Defense of the Reformation Principle of Sola Scriptura Paperback – October, 2001
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"A demonstration of the truth of sola Scriptura through sound and knowledgeable exegesis of the text of Scripture." -- Dr. James White, Founder and Director of Alpha and Omega Ministries, Phoenix, AZ
"The exegetical material sets forth a formidable biblical foundation for sola Scriptura and its claim of exclusivity." -- Dr. Tom Nettles, Professor of Historical Theology, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY
"This work contains an enormous amount of biblical research, ably answering arguments against the ultimate authority and perspicuity of Scripture." -- Dr. Joel R. Beeke, President and Professor of Systematic Theology and Homiletics at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary.
About the Author
David T. King is a graduate of Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, MS and is currently the pastor of Dayspring Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Forsyth, GA.
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King starts out by summarizing the differences and the epistemological abilities of general and special revelation. This chapter should be taken to heart by everyone, Protestants and Roman Catholics alike. Roman Catholics because of their adherence to Thomism and other philosophical theologies. Protestants because of the pervasiveness of "evangelical Thomism" and the "Book of Nature" crowd.
King summarizes the historic Protestant doctrine of sola Scriptura: Scripture is the only *infallible* rule of faith for the Church *today*. This is important since Roman Catholic apologists frequently use straw-man arguments (i.e. misrepresentations) against sola Scriptura.
King summarizes the Roman Catholic view of the relationship between Scripture and Tradition (and notice the capital T). He then points out the fallacy of equivocation that Roman Catholic (R.C. from now on) apologists have been trying to get away with since the Reformation: R.C. apologists equivocate on the term "tradition" as it is used both in Scripture and the church fathers. Next, he tries to draw a parallel between R.C.ism and Gnosticism on the view of Scripture. In my opinion, though they have their similarities, there are too many differences that the Protestant shouldn't use this argument except to bring context to the writings of the earlier church fathers (i.e. Irenaeus, etc.). He also discusses (and refutes) the R.C. use of John 20:30.
Here, King attempts to make a Biblical case for sola Scriptura using 2 Timothy 3:16. Despite P.J. Porvaznik's (see the reviews below) quick dismissal of King's argument (assuming that it is a tired, old, rehashed argument), King goes into great exegetical detail. He notes the Greek and (even more important) the context in which Paul is writing. If Paul is going to be martyred soon and Timothy is going to be left as the highest elder at the church at Ephesus, to what did Paul direct Timothy to for theological and moral matters? A church council? No. Peter? No. An oral "Tradition" not found in Scripture? No. It is Scripture which fully equips the Christian. King also argues (persuasively in my opinion) that the "Scriptures" mentioned in 2 Timothy 3 include both Testaments, not just the Old. I must note, however, that, in my opinion, the strongest argument for sola Scriptura is a *lack* of any other verifiable, God-inspired authority. King goes on to deal with the R.C. eisegetical misuse 2 Peter 1:19-21 and the issue of private judgment. It is important to note that throughout this work, whenever King exegetes a major passage under dispute, he almost always follows up his exegesis with citations of the church fathers on those passages.
In this chapter, he exegetes the major Biblical passages used by R.C. apologists that allegedly "prove" "Tradition" (i.e. the authorship of Matthew argument, Matthew 2:23, Matthew 23:1-3, 1 Cor. 11:2, 2 Thess. 2:5, etc.). Again, he not only exegetes the passages fully but also gives historical analysis (i.e. church fathers and other historical evidence which sheds light on the topic).
King deals with other major arguments against sola Scriptura such as: "the Church made the Scriptures, therefore the Church is above the Scriptures" and the appeal to "apostolic succession". Again, more historical analysis as well.
He discusses the importance of reading the Scriptures in the original languages for the purpose of exegesis. [The R.C. Church declared the Latin Vulgate to be infallible and the only Bible that should be referred to in exegesis.] He refutes R.C. pyrrhonism (i.e. using skeptical arguments from the multitude of textual manuscripts to argue for the view that we need an infallible church magesterium to decide between them. It is very similar to the oft-refuted skeptical arguments used by atheists such as Bart Ehrman today.] Lastly, he discusses the very embarrassing issue of Sixtus V and his allegedly infallible Latin Vulgate.
Chapter 8 and 9
King argues for Material Sufficiency (i.e. all doctrine and morals are contained in Scripture) in ch.8 and Perspicuity (i.e. Scripture is clear on all that is necessary for salvation and the Christian life) and Formal Sufficiency (i.e. sola Scriptura) in ch.9. He notes the Scriptural and historical arguments for these doctrines. Finally, he discusses the R.C. argument for the need of an infallible interpreter and shows it to be vacuous.
He discusses the arguments used by Jesus against the Pharisees (found in the Gospels) and shows that they would be meaningless unless sola Scriptura is presupposed. He also discusses the suppression of Scriptural reading by the laity that has historically been the policy of Rome since the Middle Ages. Lastly, he discusses the modern R.C. issue of extra ecclesiam nulla salus.
Here, he discusses the common straw-man versions of sola Scriptura made up by Roman Catholic apologists.
Every Protestant who discusses this issue with R.C.s should own this work. Every R.C. who discusses this issue with a Protestant should have it to know the issues (so as not to use any defunct arguments) and argue honestly (instead of trying to trip-up an unsuspecting Protestant who knows nothing about the debate).
Volume 1 deals with the biblical evidence for sola Scripture and until reading it I hadn't really considered all the ancillary doctrines that affect sola Scripture. In this volume David King covers revelation (Catholic and Protestant views), exegesis of primary New Testament texts, New Testament meaning of tradition, Scripture the only infallible norm, Scripture the only certain norm, material sufficiency of Scripture, formal sufficiency of Scripture, final authority (Catholic and Protestant views), and common misrepresentations of sola Scriptura. These are all major categories that are further broken down into numerous sub-categories. For instance at one point under the major category of Scripture the only certain norm, King deals with an accusation against the integrity of Scripture by a well-known Catholic apologist. King systematically destroys this argument by a barrage of evidence to show the charge is baseless. He uses Jesus Christ, the church fathers, contemporary Protestant scholars, and even Catholic scholars! By the time King finishes one is left in amazement that anyone who has seriously studied the issue would doubt or attempt to assail the veracity of the Scriptures. King is never a lone ranger in his interpretation or conclusions, but always has one or more of the aforementioned witnesses to confirm his reasoning. Therefore, for the non-Protestant who thinks this will be a futile exercise of Protestants reading their belief into Scripture you will be in for a surprise. King consistently confirms his exegesis and conclusions with fathers, theologians, and scholars from many different camps.
After reading volume one you might wonder what more is there to know in order to defend or believe in sola Scriptura? Well, if anyone has discussed this issue with Catholics you know the answer, church history and church fathers. William Webster steps up to the challenge of showing that sola Scriptura is not the novelty that one often hear it is, but it is rooted in the beliefs of the early church. The most confusing issue when discussing the role of Scripture and tradition in the early church is what does the fathers mean when they use the word "tradition". To one not familiar with the writings of the early fathers and the meaning of this single word it can and has been greatly misused. Webster contends that this word was used in the following ways by the early church:
1) The apostolic teaching handed down by the Apostles, called the apostolic tradition
2) Ecclesiastical customs and practices.
3) Patristic consensus of the interpretation of Scripture way.
For the next 200 plus pages he goes through the work of the early fathers. Webster not only demonstrates that this is the way the word "tradition" was used, but he also shows that "tradition" in no way invalidates the early church's belief in Scripture as the sole infallible source that all doctrines must be proved by. In addition to the previous discussion Webster also devotes two chapters to Rome's authority claim in part 1. He shows how Catholicism has abandoned her unanimous consent of the fathers to guide her interpretations and doctrines. Instead the Catholic Church's guide is whatever the current magisterium says. Part 2 of this volume is dedicated to the Canon of the Old Testament. Webster lays out an extremely convincing case that the OT Canon was settled by the Jews at 22 books. He shows that the majority of church fathers and theologians up to the time of the Reformation agreed with Jerome that there were two concepts of the word canon. The Apocrypha was considered canon, but not in the strict sense of the word canon as the other books of the Hebrew canon. Webster amasses an overwhelming list of fathers and church theologians that are in agreement with his contention.
In volume 3 we are presented with a catena of quotes from the early church fathers in reference to sola Scriptura. The topics include material sufficiency of Scripture, Scripture as the ultimate authority, the perspicuity of Scripture, the self-interpreting nature of Scripture, the work of the Holy Spirit in the individual believers life to understand the Scriptures, and the necessity of private reading of Scripture for the sanctification of the individual. A quick skimming of this volume alone should cause one to think twice before affirming the early church knew nothing of sola Scriptura. In each section you will read men such as Ireneaus, Athanasius, Jerome, Tertullian, Origen, Chrysostom, Augustine, and others claim the truths Protestants have been defending since the Reformation.
In conclusion, King and Webster have set a new standard for the discussion of sola Scriptura. . I believe the greatness of this work is that no one can accuse them of coming up with some theological novelty. This is true because they constantly validate their interpretations of the Scriptures and church history with Protestants scholars, Catholic scholars, church fathers, and or/and church theologians. Protestants should devour this work so that they will be equipped to give an answer for their beliefs as commanded by the Scriptures. Anyone else who is involved with discussions on this important matter should also read this work, because there is no doubt it will become the standard for all sola Scriptura discussions.
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