Is the protestant doctrine of "Sola Scriptura" biblical?

Hello Kasey :smiley:

I would like to ask if the Protestant doctrine Sola Scriptura is biblical.

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Hi Simon-

Thanks for raising this question! It has definitely prompted some deeper research on my part, because in my (admittedly brief!) tenure as an apologist so far, I haven’t encountered an objection based around Sola Scriptura on a campus or in a church. For that reason, I hesitate to venture much more than my own personal opinion - especially because so many incredible Christian thinkers have written extensively on the subject!

What I do know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, is that Scripture is vital, inspired, and irreplaceable. Without the Bible, we would be no better off than any other major world religion in claiming to know the truth. “All scripture is God-breathed,” (2 Tim 3:16) and the Bible is how we know Jesus, who is himself the “Word become flesh.” (John 1). God will never contradict his written word, and we should be wary of those who say that He does. (Galatians 1:8).

With all that in mind, my opinion on Sola Scriptura is that it is indeed a Biblical doctrine. I tend to agree with RC Sproul’s assessment that this is a very different belief from “ solo Scriptura,” or the idea that the individual alone may reign supreme in their interpretation of scripture:

Sola Scriptura, like the Scriptures themselves, recognizes that God has gifted the church with teachers and pastors. It recognizes that the church has progressed and reached consensus on critical issues in and through the ancient ecumenical creeds. It affirms with vigor that we are all standing on the shoulders of giants. But it also affirms that even these giants have feet of clay. And there is where the Bible does in the end teach sola Scriptura. Sola Scriptura is a biblical doctrine not because the Bible says so. That would be a tautology- the kind of argument we find in that collection of lies the Book of Mormon. Instead the Bible is our alone final authority because it alone is the Word of God. It has been attested, authenticated, by God Himself. Miracles serve as the divine imprimatur, the proof that this is a message of God. This is how Nicodemus reasoned when he said, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him” (John 3:2)

In other words, when there is any type of conflict between Christian traditions, creeds and the Bible, the Bible must win. It alone is authenticated as God’s ultimate word to us by way of the miraculous lives of Jesus and the apostles whom he commissioned to write it. The Bible is clear on the issues that matter. It speaks for itself. And in my opinion, doing away with this view of scripture opens us up to a number of dangerous paths away from the Gospel. As I write this, I’m soberly reminded of Galatians 1:8. The stakes of loosing the Gospel are high.

Now, I recognize that a lot of my Catholic and Orthodox friends will disagree me on Sola Scriptura, and that’s why I want reiterate on what I perceive to be the far bigger apologetics issue for you and I: how Christians work out their disagreements on doctrine.

Too often, we’re at each other’s throats trying to assess the weight we give traditions and Chuch as they relate to scripture, while clearly missing what the Bible tells us: Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.” (1 John 4)

I’m so often guilty of ignoring this. The real evidence that the Word of God is alive in our hearts is this fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. This fruit should be obviously and continuously present in our lives, even when we disagree!

Feel free to message me with any more thoughts/comments Simon. Would love to hear what you think!



Some of the articles that have influenced my thinking on this…