Fatal Errors with Sola Scriptura’s “God Breathed” Argument


scripture-of-the-dayEzekiel and I agreed on just about everything, except for theology and football. He was a dogmatic Calvinist and a Pittsburgh Steelers fanatic (which is different than just being a ‘fan’). He was also an awesome debater and very logical – a bit loud and hyperbolic – but his gift was never being able to arrive at the right conclusions.

After years of going round after round, I finally had enough of Ezekiel’s delusional protestations. Over the course of two days in late July of 2009 I organized every solid argument I ever presented to my Calvinist friend against sola scriptura. On the third day I typed it out and realized that I had accidentally written a book. I decided to call it Dead on Arrival: The Seven Fatal Errors of Sola Scriptura, and self-published it in 2010. I also dedicated it to Ezekiel, and it continues to sell very well, still today, in paperback and on Kindle. Back then I thought I might write a series of books called ‘Dead on Arrival’ about all the other Protestant errors, but I’ve since lost interest.

My favorite argument in that book is found in chapter three where I take on the Protestant interpretation of 2 Timothy 3:16 – “All Scripture is inspired by God.” In his article How NOT to Refute Sola Scriptura, Kevin Tierney astutely writes about the weakness of the typical Catholic response to this proof text; hinging on the word ‘Scripture’ referring to the Old Testament. I think I used that argument once against Ezekiel and had my butt handed to me. To the contrary, the best Catholic response in this verse is not with the word ‘Scripture’, rather, it is with the word ‘inspired’ (some translations ‘God breathed’). That is where we find the death nail to sola-scriptura. It is such a fatal error, that, even today, when I bring it up to Ezekiel his response is always, ‘I’ll have to look into that.’ I am certain he has looked into it by now; he just can’t overcome it.

In my book I spend about seven full pages on just this one word, so I don’t pretend to be able to fully explain the argument with the limited space I have here, but I will try to summarize it as best as I can.

In short, adherents to sola scriptura posit that we know that Scripture alone is the sole source of authority for the Christian and for the church is because ‘God breathed’ (inspired) it. The reason why this argument is a fatal error is because it hinges on the cumbersome translation of the Greek word theopneustos (a very rare word) being rendered in English “God breathed”, rather than the equally cumbersome translation “inspired by God” that most, ancient and modern, translations have so rendered it.


Theopneustos is composed from theo (supreme God) and pneustos from pneo (to breathe hard). Theopneustos is found only twice in the New Testament, never in the Septuagint, and only four other times in the extant Greek writings. Some think that theopneustos was a word coined by the author of 2 Timothy in order to distinctly highlight the Divine origin of the Scriptures.

On its own, pneo is used only twice in the New Testament to refer to ‘wind/air’ (Cf. Acts 27:40, 28:13). Although, the more common use of pneo, which is sure to help us to understand the author’s intent in combining it with theo, is the word pneuma (Holy Spirit), in which pneo serves as its root. Pneuma is used primarily and throughout the New Testament when speaking of the Spirit of God.

Putting theopneustos back together in English in this new light, the new translation that what we come up with is, “the Supreme God’s Spirit.” Through this better translation we find a very insightful play on words in the full passage where we find theopneustos also being used for the word “God”; that is, “All Scripture is the Supreme God’s Spirit by the Supreme God’s Spirit.” This was a very important paragraph. Again, theopneustos, occurs only twice in the New Testament, and it occurs back to back in 2 Timothy 3:16; used both for the word ‘inspired/God breathed’ and for the word ‘God’.


So not only does theopneustos cause problem for Protestants understanding of Divine revelation, but once this word is opened up and tested against their claim, sola-scriptura becomes a house of cards on a very windy day.

The test is as follows, if Protestants believe that Scripture is the sole source authority over the Christian and the Church, by virtue of God breathing it (pneo), then they must remain consistent in this belief. That is, everything that God breathes, or breathes into, or breathes on by, must also have been given to be the sole source of authority over the Christian and the Church. Yet, if we can find any other time in Scripture where God did breathe something, or breathe into something, or onto something, then that would contradict sola-scriptura, because there cannot be two or more sole authorities.

Now comes the nail in the coffin to sola scriptura. When God pneo into the nostrils the breath of life to make man a living being he gave him authority over creation (Cf. Gn. 2:7). When Christ pneo on the Apostles He gave them authority to forgive or retain sins (Cf. Jn. 20:20-23). The Holy pneo of God is the Holy Spirit and the Church of the Apostles is His Temple.

Now the Protestant doesn’t have to arrive at the conclusion that these other things that God breathed on are greater sources of authority than Scripture, but if they are consistent with their belief then they must reject that Scripture alone is the sole source of authority for the Christian and for the church, because, obviously, it is not alone. Clearly, God’s breath has given other things authority.


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  • Brian Sullivan

    Checking the Greek NT I find theopneustos only once in 2 Tim 3:16-17. So I don’t understand your statement in the 3rd paragraph under “God Breathes Scripture” that it is used twice.

    • It depends upon the source you are using, but whether it is once or twice mentioned still raises the issue.

      • Brian Sullivan

        Yes, the point is a good one. But it’s confusing to check the NTG (Nestle Alland) and find one use of theopneustos after you argue for two. What source has two?

        My favorite passage is John 5: 39 “You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that testify on my behalf. 40 Yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

        The problem with sola scriptura here is the refusal to come to Jesus, which is also refusing to come to his Church, to have life–a life not found in the Scriptures alone.

        • I think you are correct Brian. I’ll amend the article to talk about the sources. It seems the most common only has one, so it can be confusing. I’ll have to go back and check what source I used back then.

          Yes John 5:39 also closed the door on scripture ALONE!

        • Justas399 .

          There is nothing in Scripture that says we are to come to the church to have life. There is nothing in John 5:39-40 that even hints at this.

          • Brian Sullivan

            Jesus says that the problem they have is that they search the Scriptures because they think that in them they have eternal life, but they refuse to come to him to have life. So Jesus is the source of eternal life. The Church is the body of Christ; he is our head. We come to Christ through his body, the Church, to have the life of Christ.

  • Justas399 .


    The doctrine of Sola Scriptura does not state that the Scripture alone “is the sole source authority over the Christian and the Church” but that Scripture alone is the highest authority for the Christian. There are other authorities in the church such as pastors and bishops for example. These authorities are not equal to Scripture but are in subjection to it.

    Secondly, only the Scripture is the inspired-inerrant Word of God. No church, no man, or tradition is inspired-inerrant. The Scripture has no equal. Thus it alone is the ultimate authority.

    • This is a legitimately tough topic. There is no one “definition” of sola Scriptura. Yes, there are the confessional definitions, but nobdoy really follows anything from Westminster or the LBC 1689 anymore. They are mostly dead letters in Protestantism.

      And while yes, they do in theory say there are other authorities, there really isn’t, since all of them are subservient to what the individual claims scripture means. There is no external authority outside of what the believer believes. So in that sense, yes, Scripture is “the sole source of authority over the Christian and the Church.”

      I tend to give the concession you make, even if I don’t think it works in reality, but I can certainly see why others refuse to give such a concession.

      As to the rest, we know what “God-breathed” means in Scripture when God actually breathes on man, and Protestants turn into crickets chirping when presented with that. I think that’s Mr. Gray’s point, and it’s a point you evaded.

      • Justas399 .

        Are the Scriptures “God-breathed” or not? Is any tradition “God-breathed”? Any teachings of the RCC “God-breathed”?

        It is not true Protestants don’t have ” external authority”. The Scripture tells us to obey your leaders. Hebrews 13:17

        • Actually, The Word of God is “God Breathed” and comes to us through Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. The extent of either is irrelevant, its God-breathed by its very nature. If something is received as the Word of God, it’s God breathed. End of story. It is then incumbent upon you to show that one half of the Word of God remained the Word of God, but the other didn’t.

          And when you can choose your leaders by simply going elsewhere, the command of Hebrews 13:17 is kind of a dead letter. Consider us unimpressed. You have an “external authority” to the extent you grant an external authority the ability to bind the conscience. It’s subjective and arbitrary.

          Granted, so do we, but with a caveat: If we reject that “external authority”, we’ve left the Church and our salvation is in danger. For us, the Biblical command actually has some teeth.

          • Justas399 .

            No. It is on you to show something else is “God-breathed” besides the Scripture. You will need to give specific examples of such a thing.

            Hebrews 13:7 is quite clear that there are other authorities in the church that are to be obeyed. It is not “subjective and arbitrary” because Scripture tells us what these authorities are.

            There are reasons to reject an “external authority” when this authority teaches and commands things that are not taught in Scripture. This puts the RC in a difficult position because his church authority teach doctrines that are not ground in Scripture.

          • 1.) I just did. 1 Thess 2 and 2 Thess 2 clearly state that the oral teachings existed alongside the written, and both were the word of God, passed down throughout the ages. Paul isn’t talking about what was in them, just sources. Since we’re dealing with the Biblical rule of faith, you have to give me the expiration date.

            2.) Yes, Hebrews 13:7 is quite clear. But all the Protestant has to say is “they are contradicting scripture, so non-serviam.” There’s no way to refute that except by powers of persuasion. At which point, if you can’t persuade, Hebrews 13:7 becomes a joke. Hebrews 13:7 doesn’t say “obey them if they make a persuasive case. that you are in the wrong.”
            3.) I can say “yes, the RC contradicts Scripture, ergo I’m no longer a Catholic.” If I did, then I’d be placing my eternal salvation in danger. So we are in a completely different boat.
            4.) Unless you want to show where such authorities have the power to bind your conscience, even if you feel they are out of line? Where does such authority come from? Did it exist 500 years ago? 1,000? Back during Apostolic times? How can you tell? How can you verify it when people challenge that lineage?
            I give you credit for realizing the quandry of things like Hebrews. I don’t give you much credit for your rationalization of it.

          • Justas399 .

            1) What are the specifics of Paul’s oral teachings that are not recorded in Scripture? Please give me some examples so I know exactly what these are.

            2) If a person is going to reject a leader in the church he needs biblical grounds to do so. For example a Christian is not to listen and obey a false teacher. Scripture warns about this. You as a RC cannot do this. There are a number of clear false teachers in your church that have promoted false teachings. Alphonsus Maria de’ Liguori
            who wrote the Glories of Mary is an example of this. You cannot denounce him because your church has made him a saint and a doctor even though his work is blasphemous and heretical.

            3) Your soul is in danger by believing RC doctrines. Your church has rejected the gospel at Trent. To reject the gospel is to put your soul in danger of condemnation.

            4) Christians are bound only by what the Scriptures teach. If someone comes to us with a teaching that is not grounded in Scripture it is not to be believed but rejected.

          • 1.) Whether or not they are or aren’t recorded in Scripture is completely besides the point. The Catholic Church doesn’t proclaim that the traditions passed down orally are extra-scriptural. Rather that the Word of God was communicated in two ways, and both have been passed down through the ages. That’s entirely Biblical. We can quibble about the other stuff later, but you need to establish the rule of faith first. Sola Scriptura isn’t the rule of faith, because the First Christians couldn’t believe it. Nowhere does Scripture hint that at x point in history, the rule of faith will switch from 2 Thess 2:15 to Sola Scriptura.
            2.) Yes, we should refuse to obey a command which contradicts Scripture. But I say something is scriptural, you say it isn’t. Who decides? The power of persuasion? If so, that makes a mockey of Hebrews 13. Eventually, we have to have that external authority which can bind the conscience. Again, lets leave out the particulars for the moment, and focus only on the Scriptures, which you seem extremely reluctant to do.
            3.) We agree that things must be rooted in the Scriptures. But who decides if they are rooted in the Scripture? Is it up for the individual believer to determine the extent and nature of God’s word?
            4.) This is why God breathing on the Apostles is so darn important. When God breathed upon them, he gave them authority and dominion. That authority and dominion has been passed down through the ages, and we don’t need God’s business card to determine it. You accept one part of something breathed out by God, but not another, for entirely subjective reasons. You determine when you will accept and reject someone based on your own criteria.

          • Justas399 .

            1) It matters if you are making the claim that Paul’s oral teachings have some authority over us today. Since you don’t know what they were it is of no consequence or help for you.
            The only teachings that we have from Paul are found only in the Scripture alone. They are found nowhere else. Sola Scriptura affirms that the Scripture alone is the inspired-inerrant Word of God. Unknown oral teachings of Paul carry no weight because no one knows what they are.

            2) Some issues in Scripture are not clear and so there is no way to say one view is right and the other is wrong. Not even your church has ruled conclusively and clearly on the meanings of Scripture. It has never produced an official-infallible interpretation of the Scripture. This means you can’t tell me what your church officially says Hebrews 13:7 or 2 Thess 2:15 means. You can give me your private interpretation but you can’t give me the official interpretation of your church on those verses.

            3) It is up to both. The church is to teach doctrines grounded on the Scripture and the individual is to know Scripture well so as not to be deceived. The warnings of deception are for all Christians.

            4) Do you claim that your leaders are divine spokesmen and must be believed at all times? It is true that Jesus breathed on the apostles but there is nothing in Scripture that He breathed on bishops and pastors who are to have the same authority as an apostle.

          • 1.) Actually the argument I’m making is quite different. We know from the Bible that there were oral teachings safeguarded, and written teachings safeguarded. Both comprised the Gospel. Since the Apostles died, they can’t write anymore, and they can’t preach anymore. So far so good?

            My point is that the Church Christ founded safeguards and upholds both. Whether or not the revelation is different is entirely besides the point, and the interesting debate of theologians. It matters little to the claim that both existed, and both, whatever they are, are upheld by the Church. Before we can get to specifics, we have to get to the principle the Scripture outlines. And on this one, I’m on a lot more solid ground than you are.

            2.) I don’t need an infallible interpretation of every verse of Scripture to understand my faith. I don’t claim you do either. What I asked was, do you have the ability and authority to decide for yourself what the Word of God means? I don’t need every verse dogmatically defined, because we have the understanding of the word of God passed down through the ages, protected by the successors of the Apostles. To make this an even easier job, they also safegaurded and protected the Sacred Scriptures, which the Catholic Church teaches her doctrines must be based on.

            3.) Yes, the warnings for deceptions are for all Christians. Yet what is the root of such deceptions? Is it through the teaching office of the Church following the path of Moses and Aaron, or those following the path of Korah, who believe that they to have an equal authority? (Jude 23)

            4.) No, my leaders aren’t “divine spokesmen who must be believed at all times.” Individual bishops, even popes can and do error. What we do know is that Christ instituted a teaching and governing office of the Church. When making rules on governance, we have to obey them, even if we don’t like them. On rules of doctrine, we believe that, pursuant to Christ’s words, the Holy Spirit guides us into all truth. When there are questions that touch upon the purity of that doctrine (or on the ability to communicate said doctrine), the Church calls together her leaders, and with and through Peter (Acts 15) a decision is made. When such is made, the discussion is closed.

            As far as “there is nothing in Scripture that He breathed on bishops and pastors who are to have the same authority as an apostle” you so sure about that?
            When Peter speaks of the fall of Judas, and the requirement to have a successor, he states that for Judas, his “episkope” let another take. Episkope is the root word for episcopal, or Bishop. St. Paul writes to Timothy and gives a clear line of succession: Paul, Timothy, Timothy’s successor, and their successor. We know that Timothy received the authority to teach and govern by the imposition of hands from Paul.
            While they aren’t equal to the Apostles in terms of the ability to give revelation (they could not, as they were not witnesses to Christ), today’s bishops most certainly do possess the governing authority the first apostles had. That authority came from God breathing upon the Apostles, giving them authority and dominion, and it continues today, unbroken through the Catholic Church.

          • Justas399 .

            1) I agree that Jesus and the apostles taught orally. The problem is that we don’t know what it was. All we have is the Scripture that recorded what they taught. Your church is not safeguarding or upholding these things since no one knows what they are.

            2) I agree we don’t need any infallible authority to interpret Scripture. None exist. The problem with “we have the understanding of the word of God passed down through the ages, protected by the successors of the Apostles. To make this an even easier job, they also safeguarded and protected the Sacred Scriptures, which the Catholic Church teaches her doctrines must be based on.” is that your church has doctrines that are not based on Scripture. Indulgences, purgatory and the Marian dogmas are examples of this.

            3) Peter warns in 2 Peter 2:1 that false teachers will come from within the church itself. Paul gives the same warning in Acts and Jesus in Revelation rebukes a couple of churches for teaching false doctrines.

            4) Church leaders such as bishops, pastors and elders do have authority. Their authority though is not equal or greater than Scripture but derived from it. Do we agree then that there is no office of an apostle nor that anyone has the authority to speak as an apostle?

          • 1.) You see, this is where you are holding me to a double standard. You want to extent of oral tradition. Can you show me the extent of the written word of God from just the Scriptures? Then why ask of me what you are unwilling to do yourself?
            Here’s what I know: I trust that The Holy Spirit revealed, throughout time, the canon of Scripture to the people of God. The institution He chose to reveal it through was the Catholic Church. Throughout history, the Catholic Church has safegaurded that canon of Scripture, just as she has safegaurded what was revealed orally. There is no difference or distinction in how she upheld them. Since we know both were extent during Apostolic times, where’s the expiration date for one, so then we can follow Sola Scriptura? Is this in Scripture?
            2.) We can quibble about the extent of doctrines later. Not now. Right now, we deal with what the rule of faith laid out in the Scriptures is. Everytime I go to this rule of faith, you try to shift the grounds of the debate. My rule of faith is the same structure as the one in the Bible. Yours isn’t, since they didn’t practice sola Scriptura. That’s the problem you have. And we’re going to continue to focus on that, or I’ll be honest, this discussion really can’t go much further.
            3.) Indeed, false teachers do come up from within the Church. Yet there’s also the promise “the gates of hell shall not prevail” and “the Holy Spirit can lead to all truth.” When there’s a rogue leader, the Church deals with them. It’s what Peter and John did in Acts. It’s what happened in Acts 15. For you guys, there’s really no such system. It’s all rule by consensus. You have to be able to persuade someone they are in the wrong, otherwise they really aren’t bound to accept your judgement, or the judgement of their elders.
            4.) The Scriptures do indeed speak of the authority I outline. They don’t speak of yours. As far as the “office” of Apostle, an Apostle was merely those Christ made bishops (when he breathed on them) who saw the risen Christ. If you didn’t see Christ, you couldn’t be an Apostle. Yet you were still a bishop. Timothy was a bishop, and he spoke with in Paul’s name and with Paul’s authority wherever he went. Why? Because he was a Bishop! To be disobedient to Timothy and his successors was the same as to be disobedient to the Apostle Paul himself.

            Such it continues today. To resist those bishops who are the successors of the Apostles is to oppose the Apostles themselves.

          • Justas399 .

            No need to show that the Word of God is found only in the written Scriptures of the OT and NT. We agree at least on 66 books. We can discuss the other 7 or so books in your Bibles later.

            2) What is this “rule of faith”? Give me some examples so I know what you mean.

            3) Your church has not always dealt with false teachers. I gave you an example of one that they made into a saint and doctor instead of excommunicating him as a heretic. Protestants do indeed have principles in dealing with false teachers etc. Jesus laid it out in Matt 18:15-20. There are also other principles in Scripture that can also be used.

            4) How can you write “The Scriptures do indeed speak of the authority I outline. They don’t speak of yours.” when I gave you a few examples of authorities in Protestant churches? Protestants have bishops, pastors and elders who are authorities. To deny this means you don’t understand how Protestant churches are structured.

            Did Paul, Peter or John refer to themselves as bishops?
            Bishops should be obeyed when their teachings are in line with Scripture and not when it is not. This is why the Protestant Reformation was necessary. The leadership of the RCC had corrupted itself so much that it was no longer a valid church of Christ.

          • 1.) I was more making a point. You accept that the Spirit preserved throughout history the written word, including through a visible Church that proclaimed a Bishop of Rome, Apostolic succession, The Eucharist, etc. Somehow they preserved the written word, but not the oral? We have already established Scripture forsees the preservation of both. What changed in history?
            2.) When I say “rule of faith”, I mean the following: What do the Scriptures state about how the word of God is communicated and preserved? Nowhere does the Scriptures imply sola scriptura. They couldn’t, as the first audience was not Sola Scriptura.
            3.) I’m dismissive of your claims about Protestant bishops because they are, for the most part, paper tigers. Harsh, but consider: they typically lack any credibility or authority outside the consent of their congregations. Outside of democratic debate where people argue over what they think the Scripture means and whether or not they are required to obey, these elders have absolutely no authority.
            Now with me, My Bishop might not have authority in Chicago, but he is recognized as a successor to the Apostles, and that he has jurisdiction over Detroit. This is the Biblical model, as those pastors were instilled and made bishop by the Apostles. They spoke with their authority, and in a dispute, each bishop even today can visibly trace back their succession to the Apostles. So their is a huge difference.
            As far as the Apostles, yes, they most certainly DID refer to each other as Bishops. The language of the time used even in the first century understands “elder” as that of Bishop. Makes sense, since most communities were very small, and they were established by the Apostles, who laid hands on a leader. (Timothy, Titus, etc) Paul uses the phrase bishop explicitly.

          • Justas399 .

            1) The Scripture does not mention anything about the bishop of Rome being the supreme leader of the entire church. No man is the supreme leader of the entire. Only the Lord Jesus is and no one else.

            If any church preserved the oral teachings to this day then where is it? What specifically is it if it exist? If there is no evidence for it then there is no reason to believe it exist.

            2) Where is your “rule of faith” coming from? Does your church say it is “….how the word of God is communicated and preserved?”

            3) If Protestant Bishops are “paper tigers” and “typically lack any credibility or authority outside the consent of their congregations” then how does your church deal with these bishops? Does your pope or magisterium look at the them in the same light that you do?

            Keep in mind that Protestants can say the same things about your bishops as you say about them.

            Where in Scripture does it say the bishop must “visibly trace back their succession to the Apostles”? Where does Scripture say this is the requirement to be a bishop?

            Keep in mind that your church has rejected the qualifications of a bishop as laid out in I Timothy 3. Your church disqualifies a man from being a bishop if he is married. It is apostolic teaching that a bishop is to be married with children but your church has nullified this. This is a sin to do this.

            There is a difference between a bishop and an apostle on many levels. An apostles is one who is one who must satisfy certain requirements that cannot be fulfilled today. See Acts 1:21-22. An apostle is one who went on ahead with the gospel and establish churches. After that, he would appoint church leaders such as bishops and elders. The bishop would stay in one church or region while an apostle was not limited to one geographical area. Paul is a good example of this model.

          • Sam

            Justas 399, 2 Thess 2:15 does not give the whole picture. In 2 Peter 3:16, St. Peter declares St. Paul’s Epistles to be Scripture, placing them on the same level as the Old Testament. St. Paul, in his Epistle 2 Thess 2:15 equates his Epistles with his oral teachings. In Luke 10:16 Jesus says “whoever listens to you listens to me,” not whoever reads what was written. Why? Because as St. Paul tell us in Romans 10:17, “faith comes from what is heard.” How important was spoken teaching and oral tradition? St. Paul tells us in 2 Thess 3:6, “shun any brother who conducts himself in a disorderly way and not according to the tradition they received from us.” And remember that in the first years of the Church there was no Bible to which Christians could refer except the Old Testament. The only authority was the Church herself, which St. Paul calls, “the pillar and foundation of truth,” in 1 Tim 3:15. Jesus himself, in Matt 18:17 instructs his disciples, “if he refuses to listen even to the Church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector,” which in other words, means to shun him as St. Paul also instructs us. The Magisterium of the Church is an infallible teaching authority because it is guided by the Holy Spirit (John 16:13). There must be an infallible authority to interpret Scripture because if there is not, then anything can be correct, even Satan’s twisting of Scripture in tempting Jesus (Matt 4). In fact, 2 Peter 1:20 states that no prophecy of Scripture is open to personal interpretation. And consider this as well: Jesus breathed on his Apostles, yes, but after his Ascension the 11 voted on a new 12th, quoting Psalm 109:8 as their reason. They asked for the guidance of God to do it, and in order for Matthias to actually become an Apostle like them, they had to have the power to pass on the Holy Spirit as Jesus passed it on to them. While Scripture does not state specifically that they did this, it is implied because we know the Apostles were able to bestow the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands (Acts 8:14-18), and it tells us that Matthias was “counted among the eleven Apostles,” after the election. Jesus, just before breathing on them, said, “as the Father has sent me so I send you,” meaning he gave them the power of ordination he had so they could ordain as he had.

          • Justas399 .

            So we agree that we don’t know the specifics of Paul’s oral teachings unless they are his written letters? That is, there is no oral teachings of Paul that have survived outside the NT?

          • Sam

            Justas399, in 1 Corinthians 11:23, St. Paul explains that one oral teaching he handed on was the Consecration from the Mass, which still survives to this day. In fact, the short preamble he writes is used, as is what he writes immediately afterward. Part of what St. Paul handed on verbally was what Jesus meant when he said “do this in remembrance of me,” and “do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” Do what? The Mass involves gestures and actions as well as words. Jesus showed his new priests how to celebrate Mass at the Last Supper, and he showed St. Paul, too. And St. Paul taught those he ordained before he wrote it down. Those teachings still survive and are not in the New Testament.

    • Kevin is a little more generous than I here. All I see is double speak Justas. You are saying that there other authorities than Scripture, such as pastors and bishops, but then you say that Scripture has no equal – that it is the ultimate authority alone.

      I don’t disagree with you – sola scriptura teaches that scripture is the ultimate authority alone.

      • Justas399 .

        You have that right: “sola scriptura teaches that scripture is the ultimate authority alone.” However, this does not rule out other authorities in the church that I mentioned.

        If you want to sustain your disagreement with me then you will need to show something else in the church that is inspired-inerrant and show it to be so as the Scriptures have been.

        • What you suggesting is that Scripture is like the Commander and Chief, but pastors and bishops are like five star and three star generals. They all have authority, but no one has greater authority than the Commander and Chief. That’s fine, but you can’t find that in Scripture. LOL

          Even Paul doesn’t say hold fast to scripture alone. To the contrary, he says hold fast to the traditions that we were taught – both LETTER and WORD OF MOUTH (2 Thess 2:15).

          Moreover, you end by suggesting that for Protestants Scripture has been inerrant. Really? Protestants can’t even figure out of homosexual marriage is wrong or if abortion is wrong. You have so many different denominations before Protestants can’t find the truth outside of the authority of the Church. Thank God we at least told you what books are in the Bible, or else you wouldn’t have been able to figure that out either. Get outta here Justas! LOL

          • Justas399 .

            How could any fallen human being have greater authority than the Word of God?

            What you don’t find in Scripture is tradition being inspired-inerrant nor any man or church.

            Here is what Paul said–“So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.”

            Notice he says to hold firm to the traditions they were taught by him. Paul knew nothing of indulgences, the Marian dogmas nor purgatory etc. His letters never mention these doctrines.

            Hold on. Don’t forget that over 50% of RC’s embrace gay marriage and a large percentage use contraceptives. There is even a Catholics for Choice group. All this is going on with an infallible magisterium in place.

          • Practice and Teachings are two completely different things.

          • Justas399 .

            I can say the same thing for Protestants.

          • IF there were such a thing called the Protestant Catechism of the Catholic Church and there were such a thing as a Protestant Magisterium that ensured that what is in the Protestant couldn’t change by some arbitrary voting mechanism, then you could say the same thing for Protestants.

            But as it is now, there is no such thing as a Protestant religion. What you have are thousands of groups that don’t have unchangeable doctrine or a teaching body that protects it from groups who want to change it. That is why several of your groups have been voting over the last decade to allow homosexual marriage and other things that Scripture clearly forbids. So much for Scripture alone under the rule of these voting congregations.

          • Justas399 .

            We sure do have “unchangeable doctrine”. What Protestants deny the deity of Christ, His death on the cross for sin, His resurrection and that faith in Him is necessary for salvation?

            What you are avoiding is how having an “infallible” magisterium and pope helps given that so many RC’s ignore church teachings. As I said, over 50% of RC’s support gay marriage. Clearly your church forbids this.

          • Protestants absolutely do not agree on the Trinity. What you are missing in your questionable statistic is what Catholic teachings require assent. If a person calls themselves a Catholic but do not assent to that tenet of the Faith then they are not in communion with the Church and not eligible to receive the Sacraments.

          • Justas399 .

            If a Protestant denies the Trinity i.e. the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is God then they are not Protestants. To deny the Son is to deny the Father. I John 2:23

            So what should I make of the over 50% of RC’s that support gay marriage and do receive the sacraments?

          • Some Protestants believe that the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit are all the same person. Some believe that God just manifests himself as either the Father, son, or Holy Spirit.

            Check out Canon law 915 and it tells you that so called Catholics that obstinately reject particular Church teaching are not to present themselves for communion.

          • Justas399 .

            Like I said, those who believe that “the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit are all the same person. Some believe that God just manifests himself as either the Father, son, or Holy Spirit” are not Protestants.

            I understand the same goes for RC’s. Many may think they are RC’s are Rc’s but in reality they deny church teachings. The question is: how much of church teachings can a RC deny or reject and still be considered RC?

          • Justas399 .

            Have Pelosi and Biden been denied communion and excommunicated?

          • We all certainly agree on the Trinity. But it’s a proven fact a good amount of Protestants do not. How can you prevail upon them, except by persuasion? Eventually, the buck needs to stop somewhere.
            That we agree upon. I just think the Catholic Church has a better track record on such matters than Justas399

          • Justas399 .

            Those Protestants who deny the Trinity are not Christians because they must deny some essential characteristic of the nature of God. See I John 2:23

          • Justas by what authority do you declare who is a Protestant and who is not? Isn’t the nature of Protestantism to reject whatsoever Catholics deign to be true?

          • Justas399 .


            Its not a question of authority but of truth and discernment. Someone who denies the Trinity is not a Christian no matter what they say.
            It is not true that “the nature of Protestantism to reject whatsoever Catholics deign to be true”.

          • So people are free to reject what you say?
            Or are they bound to do so, because of some special revaltion from God? Can we verify this?
            Or is it all a matter of democratic debate and consent? Did God just say “eh, they will figure it out eventually. I left them my word afterall!”

          • Justas399 .

            When a JW comes to my door and tells me there is no such thing as the Trinity and Jesus is not the eternal God then I show him from Scripture that his claims are not supported by Scripture.

            If a the JW comes to the door of a RC what would the RC say? Would he say “my church says different than yours”. A smart JW will not be persuaded by such reasoning because your church carries no weight with him.

        • ***If you want to sustain your disagreement with me then you will need to show something else in the church that is inspired-inerrant and show it to be so as the Scriptures have been.***
          The “something else” worth showing you isn’t “in the church”–it *is* the Church…
          Which does Scripture call the “pillar and foundation of truth”–the *Church* or the Scriptures??
          Right–the Church. Scripture says truth is founded on the *Church*. Which of course is why the books of the Bible were identified for us by….the authority of the Church….

  • Dudley

    David, great article. I now think that I need to get your book and will be adding it to my Kindle. Good job.

  • GregB

    In Rabbinic Judaism they have a Written Torah, and an Oral Torah. The Oral Torah was put into written form, and it is about 50 times the size of the Written Torah. The Oral Torah is something of a precursor to Catholic Sacred Tradition. Why do we hear so little about this in discussions about Sola Scriptura?