On the Fallibility of Sola Scriptura

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By Jonathan C. McMonigal, Holy Apostles College and Seminary

Part I: Introduction

On trial at the Diet of Worms in 1521 AD, the German priest Martin Luther defiantly proposed his doctrine of “Sola Scriptura” against the Catholic Church.[1] Due to then ecclesiastical corruptions, Luther protested that Popes and Councils could err in matters of faith and morals, so that Scripture alone was the infallible rule of faith.[2] While the Catholic Church remained one, Luther’s Protestant reform historically splintered into tens of thousands of contradicting sects.[3] The Medieval Christian consensus simply imploded under the weight of Sola Scriptura. In claiming Scripture alone as infallible, Martin Luther subjected Scripture to fallibility by undermining its supporting structures of the canon, tradition, and interpretation.

Part II: The Holy Canon

During the Leipzig Debate of 1519 AD, Martin Luther responded to his papal interlocutor Johann Eck that “No believing Christian can be forced to recognize any authority beyond the sacred Scripture, which is exclusively invested with Divine right.”[4] Luther clearly upheld Scripture alone, but the question must then be asked: what is Scripture? Luther would revolutionize the Catholic tradition of the holy canon of Scripture. For instance, he rejected the inspiration of the epistles of St. James, St. Jude, and the Apocalypse of St. John through subjective discernment.[5] The Western Scriptural consensus would never be the same.

Before Luther’s critique can be examined, a historical development of the holy canon must be mapped out. In the centuries leading up to Christ, the Hellenistic Jews of the Diaspora translated the Old Testament from Hebrew into Greek, and it has been colloquially referred to as the Septuagint (LXX).[6] Of great importance, the LXX was the preferred Greek translation used by the Holy Apostles in the New Testament.[7] It must be noted that copies of the LXX contained books opposed to Luther’s own judgment like 1st and 2nd Maccabees.[8]

The next major Jewish translation was the Targum, rabbinical paraphrase of the Old Testament into Aramaic.[9] As the Hellenistic Jews adopted Greek, the Jews of Babylon and the Holy Land adopted Aramaic. Although the official Targums only cover the Law and the Prophets as opposed to the other books, they nonetheless bear witness to communal authority over the holy canon.[10] The rabbis of old held canonical discernment like the bishops of today.

Moving up to the time of Christ, monastic Jewish communities in the Holy Land crafted their own compilations of the Scriptures.[11] These writings were largely lost to time, but they were rediscovered in the 20th century in the form of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The books preserved in the jars of clay were numerous, and they included several texts no Christians hold as inspired today.[12] However, the Dead Sea Scrolls did contain fragments of almost the entire Old Testament, notably even books disregarded by Luther like Tobit and Sirach.[13]

Arriving now at the early Christian era, the Peshitta was the first ever translation of the Old Testament made for and by Christians.[14] Translated from the Hebrew into Aramaic, the Peshitta was mostly in harmony with the Septuagint in containing similar books.[15] The Western parallel to the Peshitta was the Vulgate, the Latin translation of the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures by St. Jerome.[16] Pope St. Damasus commissioned this translation for the Roman Church, and the Vulgate listed as canonical various books later rejected by Luther like Wisdom and Judith.[17] The two lungs of the Catholic Church—both East and West—contemporarily came to the same conclusion regarding the general scheme of Holy Writ. Even though these translations carried no infallible weight per se, they still served as authoritative renderings of the traditional canon.

As different parishes read from different translations, a universal canon was needed. In the 4th century AD, the Synod of Laodicea—a regional council of Eastern bishops—laid down an authoritative canon of Scripture.[18] This list is in harmony with earlier Eastern canons proclaimed by the famed bishops St. Cyril of Jerusalem, St. Athanasius of Alexandria, and St. Gregory Nazianzus of Constantinople.[19] In parallel, the 4th century AD Council of Carthage—a regional synod of Western bishops—proclaimed a similar canon.[20] This list was represented by St. Augustine of Hippo, Pope St. Damasus of Rome, and Pope St. Innocent of Rome.[21] Again, the Church of East and West worked to arrive at relatively the same canon of Scripture.

Moving onward into the early medieval period, the 7th century AD Council of Trullo—a regional synod in Constantinople—affirmed both canonical lists, even though they were mutually exclusive.[22] At last in the 15th century AD, the Ecumenical Council of Florence settled on the Western list as the authoritative canon.[23] This agreement between the Pope of Rome and the Eastern Patriarchs finally put to rest the age long canonical debate. The Church operated in an authoritative capacity to arrive at a universal, ancient, and traditional canon.

Within this canonical legacy, Martin Luther arrives in the 16th century AD to completely revolutionize the Western consensus. Although Luther did appeal to ancient canonical debates, he ultimately judged the canon from personal witness, stating: “All the genuine sacred books agree in this, that all of them preach and inculcate Christ. And that is the true test by which to judge all books, when we see whether or not they inculcate Christ.”[24] This criteria would lead Luther to disregard books traditionally held as inspired. In response, the Catholic Church at the Council of Trent infallibly dogmatized the canon previously passed down from Carthage, Trullo, and Florence.[25] However, as Episcopalian scholar Floyd Medford noted of the Protestant canons: “though occasionally mentioning the crucial historical and critical considerations, rely on the whole upon subjective tests of personal appeal for the determination of the canon.”[26] Luther shifted the canon from the objective, public consensus of the Catholic Church to the subjective, private insight of men. The canon devolved from the heights of certainty down to speculation.

Part III: The Holy Tradition

After casting doubt on the Catholic Church, Luther moved on to disregard the so called human traditions of the Church. When Cardinal Cajetan inquired of Luther whether he accepted Church teaching, the German monk replied: “The truth of Scripture comes first. After that is accepted one may determine whether the words of men can be accepted as true.”[27] Luther created a dialectic of opposition between the Word of God and the traditions of men, harkening back to the condemnations of our Lord Jesus Christ against the Pharisees.[28] Luther derides traditions of the Catholic Church like clerical celibacy, but in a conservative fashion he holds on to traditions that he deemed were biblically sourced like infant baptism.[29] Luther wanted to prop up Scripture alone as infallible authority while keeping tradition as a subservient resource.

The irony of Luther pitting Scripture against tradition is that Scripture is only known by tradition. What may come as a surprise to most Christians is that many books of Scripture are written without an explicit author. Within the Old Testament, the first five books entitled the Torah are traditionally known as authored by St. Moses the Prophet, yet an explicit author is never listed.[30] The same goes for other narrative books like Joshua, Judges, and Kings, while this is in contrast to the prophetical books which are written by entitled authors like Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel.[31] The authorship of these holy books among many is only known from the authoritative tradition of the Jewish community inherited by the ancient Church.

The same especially applies to the New Testament canon. The Gospel of St. Luke is the only self-entitled text, while the Gospels of Ss. Matthew, Mark, and John are written anonymously and only identified by Church tradition.[32] The most notorious of inspired books to determine is the Epistle to the Hebrews, an anonymous epistle traditionally received by the Catholic Church as written by St. Paul.[33] This is why, for instance, Luther regarded Hebrews as being an uninspired text, for he said “Who wrote it is not known, and will not be known for a while.”[34] Although Luther did have doctrinal reasons for rejecting certain books like Hebrews, the lack of an explicit author sowed the seed of doubt concerning authority.

In response to this criticism, the Catholic Church at the Council of Trent dogmatized the dual modes of revelation, namely oral tradition and written texts.[35] Both equally descended from the Apostles as the deposit of faith, so tradition is to be treated “with as much reverence” as Scripture.[36] In contrast, Luther’s subjective turn reopened the canon. As Anglican scholar Dr. Gerald Bray noted of Luther that he “…regarded the limits of the canon of Scripture as a humanly imposed tradition…”[37] This is why Luther dared to reconsider the authorship of sacred books, such as when he said of the Epistle of St. James: “…I consider that it is not the writing of any apostle.”[38] Free from the bounds of objective tradition, Luther could disregard books based on his own private judgment. Every book was now open for possible criticism and later rejection.

Part IV: The Holy Church

Luther predicated Sola Scriptura upon the concept of the perspicuity of Scripture, which is the claim that Scripture is clear enough for all the faithful to interpret it.[39] This directly undercuts the need for an authoritative Church, for the Holy Scriptures are plainly interpreted by the people and not the hierarchs. The gift of infallibility was thought to be granted by the Holy Spirit to the Catholic Church for dogmatic interpretation.[40] On the contrary, Luther proposed a priesthood of all believers where the Holy Spirit would directly guide the masses.[41] Sola Scriptura hinged on the private judgment of Scripture free from ecclesiastical censure.

After the Diet of Worms, a liberated Luther promulgated the principle of Sola Scriptura throughout Christendom. The myriad of Lutheran pamphlets inspired other Catholic clergymen to defy the institutional Church in favor of dissident reform.[42] The most prominent Reformer that interacted with Luther was Ulrich Zwingli, a former priest who formed the Swiss Reformed Church.[43] At the Marburg Colloquy of 1529 AD, Luther and Zwingli met together with their respective theological camps to draft a joint creed based on Scripture alone.[44] Although fourteen articles could be agreed upon, the last article concerning the Holy Eucharist would spawn an irreversible schism.[45] This would serve as the Protestant paradigm for doctrinal schism.

Although both Luther and Zwingli adhered to the same Protestant epistemology, they could not interpret the nature of the Holy Eucharist in the same manner. Luther held to a realist view, the belief that the body and blood of Christ are substantially and corporately present in the Blessed Sacrament.[46] In contrast, Zwingli held to a metaphorical view, the belief that the body and blood of Christ are only spiritually and symbolically present in the Blessed Sacrament.[47] The two could only quote Scripture passages passed one another unto futility. Although both Reformers disagreed with the Catholic interpretation of transubstantiation, they could not agree amongst themselves. Luther cemented the schism by telling Zwingli’s accomplice “we are not of the same spirit”.[48] Luther considered that Zwingli simply refused to believe the plain meaning.

Before Luther, Zwingli dealt with a schism of his own. By 1525 AD, certain Swiss Protestants nicknamed the Anabaptists came to believe infant baptism was invalid.[49] They predicated this proposition on the teaching of Zwingli that holy baptism is nothing more than a symbolic act.[50] Zwingli claimed infants were still to be baptized as members of the covenant community, while the Anabaptists rejected this out of reverence for individual choice.[51] The city council ultimately sided with Zwingli, subjecting the Anabaptists to harsh persecution.[52] Again, both appealed to the plain meaning of Scripture with total conviction of heart and mind.

The first generation of Protestants immediately splintered into schism due to private judgment. They interpreted after Luther, who stated: “…no-one can receive it from the Holy Spirit without experiencing, proving and feeling it. In such experience the Holy Spirit instructs us as in His own school, outside of which naught is learned save empty words and idle fables.”[53] This completely subjective method excludes anyone but the reader and the Spirit, so that each Protestant reformer could appeal directly to God against their contemporaries. It is no wonder then that Zwingli could openly contradict all of Church history concerning the nature of baptism. As he incredulously remarked: “In this matter of baptism — if I may be pardoned for saying it — I can only conclude that all the doctors have been in error from the time of the apostles.”[54] This radical subjectivity formed a hermeneutical classroom where none but God could exit or enter.

In response to the Reformers, the Catholic Church at the Council of Trent decreed that no one should interpret Scripture “…contrary to that sense which holy mother Church…hath held or doth hold.; or even contrary to the unanimous consent of the Fathers.”[55] This measure was applied to curve private judgment in favor of communal judgment. However, it was too late, as Luther later lamented: “there are almost as many sects and beliefs as there are heads… When the pope reigned we heard nothing of these troubles.”[56] When interpretation is removed from the authority of Church tradition, any unique theology can arise from the private judgment of Scripture. As the old adage goes, if no one is Pope, then everyone is Pope. Luther sadly let open the Pandora’s Box of Protestant sectarianism, one that remains open to this day.

Part V: Conclusion

In claiming Scripture alone as infallible, Martin Luther subjected Scripture to fallibility by undermining its supporting structures of the canon, tradition, and interpretation. On the contents of Scripture, the Catholic Church infallibly defined the Tridentine canon based upon  the Apostolic tradition. In contrast, Luther subjectively judged the canon of Scripture not by the patrimony of tradition but by his own discernment. On the authorship of Scripture, the Catholic Church dogmatized the dual modes of revelation, namely tradition and Scripture. Against this, Luther questions all tradition apart from Scripture, so that many anonymous books are only accepted or received by subjective witness. On the interpretation of Scripture, the Catholic Church defined that none can objectively judge apart from traditional consensus, while Luther rejected this in favor of subjective judgment given by the Spirit. The end result of Sola Scriptura is a fallible list of infallible books, authors accepted despite anonymity, and an infinity of incompatible interpretations. In short, Sola Scriptura renders Scripture objectively unknowable.

The tragedy of Luther is that his appeal to Scripture alone ultimately renders Scripture open to indefinite skepticism. Luther discredits Church and tradition for an infallible notion of Scripture, but one can only come to know this Scripture through trusting the subjective means of Luther. Any appeal to objective standards are denied in favor of a direct appeal to the Holy Spirit. In this framework no individual judgment is worth more than the next. Luther thus is the forerunner to theological Liberalism, where Scripture can only be interpreted according to agnostic opinion. This result of Protestantism doesn’t necessarily prove the truth of the Catholic Church, but it does prove the proposition that an infallible Church is a logical corollary to infallible Scripture. Scripture, tradition, and Church serve as an interdependent whole, a three legged stool, where one is always in need of the others for support.

Bibliography

Armstrong, Dave. “Luther’s Disgust Over Protestant Sectarianism and Radical Heresies.” At National Catholic Register (September 8, 2017), at https://www.ncregister.com.

Beale, Stephen. “Just How Many Protestant Denominations Are There?.” At National Catholic Register, (October 31, 2017), at https://www.ncregister.com.

Bray, Gerald. “Scripture and Tradition in Reformation Thought.” Evangelical Review of Theology 19.2 (April 1995): 157-166. At https://www.biblicalstudies.org.uk.

Britannica, T. Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Colloquy of Marburg.” In Encyclopedia Britannica, at https://www.britannica.com.

Britannica, T. Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Council of Trent.” In Encyclopedia Britannica, at www.britannica.com.

Britannica, T. Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Diet of Worms.” In Encyclopedia Britannica, at www.britannica.com.

Britannica, T. Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Old Testament.” In Encyclopedia Britannica, at www.britannica.com.

Britannica, T. Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Peshitta.” In Encyclopedia Britannica, at www.britannica.com.

Britannica, T. Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Reformation.” In Encyclopedia Britannica, at https://www.britannica.com.

Britannica, T. Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Vulgate.” In Encyclopedia Britannica, at www.britannica.com.

Bromiley, G.W. “Huldrych Zwingli.” In Encyclopedia Britannica, at https://www.britannica.com/biography/Huldrych-Zwingli.

Ciano, Rachel. “Luther’s Doctrine of the Priesthood of All Believers: The Importance for Today,” at Credo Magazine (January 8, 2020), at https://credomag.com.

Davies, P. R.. “Dead Sea Scrolls.” In Encyclopedia Britannica, at https://www.britannica.com

Forell, G.W. “Anabaptists.” In New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2nd ed., 368-370. Vol. 1. Detroit, MI: Gale, 2003.

“Fourth Session of the Council of Trent,” at Papal Encyclicals Online, at www.papalencyclicals.net.

F. X. Lawlor, J. T. Ford, and J. L. Heft, “Infallibility.” In New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2nd ed., 448-452. Vol. 7. Detroit, MI: Gale, 2003.

“Hebrews, Epistle to the,” in New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2nd ed., 698-700. Vol. 6. Detroit: Gale, 2003.

Howell Toy, Crawford, Gottheil, Richard. “Bible Translations.” At The Jewish Encyclopedia (1906). At https://www.jewishencyclopedia.com.

Jedin, H. “Trent, Council of,” In New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2nd ed., 168-176. Vol. 14. (Detroit: Gale, 2003).

“Luther, Martin.” In New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2nd ed., Vol. 8, 877-883. Detroit: Gale, 2003.

Luther, Martin. “Preface to the Books of the Bible,” at World Wide Wolfmueller, at http://wolfmueller.co.

Marlowe, Michael. “Ancient Canon Lists,” at Bible Research, at http://bible-researcher.com

Marlowe, Michael. “Luther’s Treatment of the ‘Disputed Books’ of the New Testament.” At Bible Research, at http://www.bible-researcher.com.

McGuire, M. R. P. “Higher Criticism,” in New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2nd ed., Vol. 6. (Detroit: Gale, 2003), 825.

McNamara, M. “Targums.” In New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2nd ed., Vol. 13, 760-762. Detroit: Gale, 2003.

Medford, Floyd C. “The Apocrypha in the Sixteenth Century: A Summary and Survey.” Historical Magazine of the Protestant Episcopal Church 52, no. 4 (1983): 343-54. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org.

Moldenhauer, Aaron. “Christ’s Presence in the Sacrament,” at Lutheran Reformation (July 23, 2017), at https://lutheranreformation.org.

Moore, Mark. “Zwingli on Baptism,” (December 22, 2018), at https://markmoore.org.

Payne, John B. “Zwingli and Luther: The Giant vs. Hercules.” At Christian History, at https://christianhistoryinstitute.org.

Percival, Henry. “Council of Carthage.” At New Advent, at http://www.newadvent.org.

Percival, Henry. “Council in Trullo.” At New Advent, at http://www.newadvent.org.

Percival, Henry. “Synod of Laodicea.” At New Advent, at http://www.newadvent.org. .

Preus, Stephen. “The Marburg Colloquy.” At Lutheran Reformation (October 21, 2017), at https://lutheranreformation.org.

Root, Michael. “Martin Luther on Canon and Apocrypha.” Academia (6 January 2016), at www.academia.edu.

Saunders, William. “Who Wrote the Gospels.” At Catholic Culture (2006), at  https://www.catholicculture.org.

Schrag, Martin. “Anabaptist Origins.” At The Swiss Mennonite Cultural and Historical Association (1956), at https://swissmennonite.org.

Skehan, P. W. “Septuagint.” In New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2nd ed., Vol. 12, 920-924.

Detroit: Gale, 2003.

Smidstra, Justin. “Ulrich Zwingli: His Life and Work,” at Protestant Reformed Churches in America (November 1, 2019), at https://www.prca.org.

Thompson, Mark. “What Sola Scriptura Really Means,” (2 October 2017), at Crossway https://www.crossway.org.

“The Perspicuity of Scripture,” at The Gospel Coalition, at https://www.thegospelcoalition.org.

Wood, Skevington. “Luther’s Principles of Biblical Interpretation.” At The Tyndale Press, 1960) at biblicalstudies.org.uk.

Zuckeran, Patrick. “The Dead Sea Scrolls.” At Probe Ministries, 17 April 2006, at

https://probe.org.


[1] “Luther, Martin,” in New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2nd ed., Vol. 8. (Detroit: Gale, 2003), 877-883.

[2] Britannica, T, Editors of Encyclopaedia, “Diet of Worms,” in Encyclopedia Britannica, at www.britannica.com.

[3] Stephen Beale, “Just How Many Protestant Denominations Are There?,” at National Catholic Register (31 October 2017), at https://www.ncregister.com.

[4] Skevington Wood, “Luther’s Principles of Biblical Interpretation,” at The Tyndale Press (1960), at biblicalstudies.org.uk.

[5] Michael Marlowe, “Luther’s Treatment of the ‘Disputed Books’

of the New Testament,” at Bible Research, at http://www.bible-researcher.com.

[6] Crawford Howell Toy, Richard Gottheil. “Bible Translations,” at The Jewish Encyclopedia (1906), at https://www.jewishencyclopedia.com.

[7] P. W. Skehan, “Septuagint,” in New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2nd ed., Vol. 12 (Detroit: Gale, 2003), 920-924.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Toy, Gottheil, “Bible Translations.”

[10] M. McNamara, “Targums,” in New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2nd ed., Vol. 13 (Detroit: Gale, 2003), 760-762.

[11] Davies, P. R.. “Dead Sea Scrolls,” at Encyclopedia Britannica, at https://www.britannica.com.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Patrick Zuckeran, “The Dead Sea Scrolls,” at Probe Ministries (17 April 2006), at

https://probe.org.

[14] Britannica, T. Editors of Encyclopaedia, “Peshitta,” at Encyclopedia Britannica, at www.britannica.com.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Britannica, T. Editors of Encyclopaedia, “Vulgate,” at Encyclopedia Britannica, at www.britannica.com.

[17]Ibid.

[18] Henry Percival, “Synod of Laodicea,” at New Advent, at http://www.newadvent.org.

[19] Michael Marlowe, “Ancient Canon Lists,” at Bible Research, at http://bible-researcher.com.

[20] Henry Percival, “Council of Carthage,” at New Advent, at http://www.newadvent.org.

[21] Marlowe, “Ancient Canon Lists.”

[22] Henry Percival, “Council in Trullo,” at New Advent, at http://www.newadvent.org.

[23] Britannica, T. Editors of Encyclopaedia, “Old Testament,“at Encyclopedia Britannica, at www.britannica.com.

[24] Michael Root, “Martin Luther on Canon and Apocrypha,” Academia (6 January 2016), at www.academia.edu.

[25] Britannica, T. Editors of Encyclopaedia, “Council of Trent,” at Encyclopedia Britannica, at www.britannica.com.

[26] Floyd C. Medford, “The Apocrypha in the Sixteenth Century: A Summary and Survey,” at Historical Magazine of the Protestant Episcopal Church 52, no. 4 (1983): 343-54, JSTOR, at http://www.jstor.org.

[27] Mark Thompson, “What Sola Scriptura Really Means,” (2 October 2017), at Crossway, athttps://www.crossway.org.

[28] Gerald Bray, “Scripture and Tradition in Reformation Thought,” Evangelical Review of Theology 19.2

(April 1995): 157-166, at https://www.biblicalstudies.org.uk.

[29] Ibid.

[30] M. R. P. McGuire, “Higher Criticism,” in New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2nd ed., Vol. 6. (Detroit: Gale, 2003), 825.

[31] Britannica, T. Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Old Testament.”

[32] William Saunders, “Who Wrote the Gospels”, at Catholic Culture (2006), at  https://www.catholicculture.org.

[33] “Hebrews, Epistle to the,” in New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2nd ed., 698-700. Vol. 6. (Detroit: Gale, 2003)

[34] Martin Luther, “Preface to the Books of the Bible,” at World Wide Wolfmueller, at http://wolfmueller.co.

[35] H. Jedin, “Trent, Council of,” In New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2nd ed., 168-176. Vol. 14. (Detroit: Gale, 2003).

[36] Ibid.

[37] Bray, “Scripture and Tradition in Reformation Thought.”

[38] Martin Luther, “Preface to the Books of the Bible.”

[39] “The Perspicuity of Scripture,” at The Gospel Coalition, at https://www.thegospelcoalition.org.

[40] F. X. Lawlor, J. T. Ford, and J. L. Heft, “Infallibility,” in New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2nd ed., Vol. 7. (Detroit: Gale, 2003), 448-452.

[41] Rachel Ciano, “Luther’s Doctrine of the Priesthood of All Believers: The Importance for Today,” at Credo Magazine (January 8, 2020), at https://credomag.com.

[42] Britannica, T. Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Reformation,” at Encyclopedia Britannica,at https://www.britannica.com.

[43] Justin Smidstra, “Ulrich Zwingli: His Life and Work,” at Protestant Reformed Churches in America (November 1, 2019), at https://www.prca.org.

[44] Stephen Preus, “The Marburg Colloquy,” at Lutheran Reformation (October 21, 2017),at https://lutheranreformation.org.

[45] Britannica, T. Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Colloquy of Marburg,” at Encyclopedia Britannica, at https://www.britannica.com.

[46] Aaron Moldenhauer, “Christ’s Presence in the Sacrament,” at Lutheran Reformation (July 23, 2017), at https://lutheranreformation.org.

[47] Justin, Smidstra, “Ulrich Zwingli: His Life and Work,” at Protestant Reformed Churches in America (November 1, 2019), at https://www.prca.org.

[48] John B. Payne, “Zwingli and Luther: The Giant vs. Hercules,” at Christian History, at https://christianhistoryinstitute.org.

[49] Martin Schrag, “Anabaptist Origins,” at The Swiss Mennonite Cultural and Historical Association (1956), at https://swissmennonite.org.

[50] G. W. Bromiley, “Huldrych Zwingli.” (January 1, 2021), at Encyclopedia Britannica, at https://www.britannica.com/biography/Huldrych-Zwingli.

[51] G. W. Forell, “Anabaptists,” in New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2nd ed., Vol. 1. (Detroit: Gale, 2003), 368-370.

[52] Schrag, “Anabaptist Origins.”

[53] Wood, “Luther’s Principles of Biblical Interpretation.”

[54] Mark Moore, “Zwingli on Baptism,” (December 22, 2018), at https://markmoore.org.

[55] “Fourth Session of the Council of Trent,” at Papal Encyclicals Online, at www.papalencyclicals.net.

[56] Dave Armstrong, “Luther’s Disgust Over Protestant Sectarianism and Radical Heresies,” at National Catholic Register (September 8, 2017), at https://www.ncregister.com/.

4 Responses

  1. Vatican II, in Dei Verbum 21 says: “Therefore, like the Christian religion itself, all the preaching of the Church must be nourished and regulated by Sacred Scripture; and Dei Verbum 10 says that the Church’s “teaching office is not above the word of God, but serves it, teaching only what has been handed on”. If all of the preaching of the Church must be nourished and regulated by Sacred Scripture; and the Church is not above the word of God, but serves it, this means that Scripture has an authority that the Church does not have.
    Scripture itself is still infallible even if Sola Scriptura, as defined in this article, adds subjective interpretation. Its infallibility is not dependent upon human interpretations.
    There is the element of spiritual discernment from the Spirit of God which is not restricted to the hierarchy of the Church (see Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium 12, 1Corinthians 2:9-16, 1John 2:20, 27, and 1Thessalonians 5:21). This personal discernment from the Spirit of Truth is operational even when we individually read Scripture. When this element is missing among the faithful, there will be a greater possibility for error. Because of this mixture within the membership of the Church, I believe that division is inevitable within and without the Church before Christ returns, especially now that Scripture is so widely available. When it wasn’t, the Church had more control over its interpretation.

    1. Heresies have always existed, from apostolic times, that is why Jesus gave his church the power to bind and loose, and said that he would be with it till the end of time. Those who leave the church therefore are leaving Christ’s church.

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