Thursday, May 1, 2008

Announcing a New Debate - Sola Scriptura vs. Roman Catholicism

Mr. Matthew Bellisario (an author and editor of "Catholic Champion") and I (TurretinFan) have agreed to debate the topic of Sola Scriptura. TurretinFan will be affirming the resolution, "Resolved: That Sola Scriptura (as expressed in the Westminster standards) is properly derived from Scripture." The principle portion of the Westminster Standards that deals with the issue is Chapter I, "Of the holy Scripture." This chapter is reproduced below. Sections VII, IX, and X are usually the most hotly debated sections, though of course it will be up to the debaters to identify what they believe are the important points to debate.

The current schedule for the debate is as follows:

1. Affirmative Constructive Essay (5k words maximum) and simultaneously Negative Constructive Essay (5k words maximum) - due June 1
2. Affirmative Rebuttal Essay (5k words maximum) - due July 1
3. Negative Rebuttal Essay (5k words maximum) - due August 1
4. Affirmative Cross-Examination Questions to the Negative (5 questions - 1k words each maximum) - due September 1
5. Negative Cross-Examination Answers to the Affirmative Questions (5k words maximum) and Negative Cross-Examination Questions to the Affirmative (5 questions - 1k words each maximum) - due October 1
6. Affirmative Cross-Examination Answers to the Negative Questions (5k words maximum) - due November 1
7. Affirmative Conclusion Essay (5k words maximum) and simultaneously Negative Conclusion Essay (5k words maximum) - due December 1

The debate will posted both to my debate blog ( and Mr. Bellisario's blog (

The debaters have also agreed on some housekeeping rules, which are summarized below:

1. Each writer agrees to send his essay to his opponent on the designated blog on the 1st each month.
2. The blog entry will be for the debaters only, no comments from the peanut gallery.
3. Each writer agrees to the time limitation to complete the necessary essay of one month.
4. Each writer agrees that all rebuttals will be limited to the writing of his opponent. Small quotes from others, are allowed. However, the opponents agree to defend what they have written, not what someone else has.
5. Each writer agrees that his essays will simply be in black and white, no graphics or links.
6. Each writer agrees to conduct the debate in English and not primarily in Greek, Latin, or Hebrew. Small quotes from Greek Lexicons, Scriptures, or Greek Scholars will be allowed. However, the debate is to be conducted for the understanding of the average person.
7. Each writer agrees that no new material will be added in the fourth and final closing essay.
8. Each debater agrees that they will conduct themselves in such a way as to demonstrate charity. (No personal attacks, no name calling, etc.)
9. Each writer agrees that the time and page limitations of essays cannot be exceeded without the prior written acknowledgment of the opponent. The limit is 5000 words per essay.
10. Each writer agrees to use any of the following English Translations of the Bible: Confraternity-Douay Version, Douay-Rheims Version, and Catholic Edition-Revised Standard Version, The New American Bible, the New American Standard Version, King James Version and the New King James Version.
11. The essay format will consist of an opening statement of each debater, one in affirmation the other in the denial position. Then we will have 2 rebuttal essays by each debater followed by each debaters closing essay, summarizing their position using the material they have presented from the first 3 essays. Thus 4 essays total will be presented not exceeding 5000 words each.


Of the holy Scripture.

I. Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence, do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God, and of his will, which is necessary unto salvation; therefore it pleased the Lord, at sundry times, and in divers manners, to reveal himself, and to declare that his will unto his Church; and afterwards for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the Church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing; which maketh the holy Scripture to be most necessary; those former ways of God's revealing his will unto his people being now ceased.
II. Under the name of holy Scripture, or the Word of God written, are now contained all the Books of the Old and New Testament, which are these:
Of the Old Testament

Genesis Ecclesiastes
Exodus The Song of Songs
Leviticus Isaiah
Numbers Jeremiah
Deuteronomy Lamentations
Joshua Ezekiel
Judges Daniel
Ruth Hosea
I Samuel Joel
II Samuel Amos
I Kings Obadiah
II Kings Jonah
I Chronicles Micah
II Chronicles Nahum
Ezra Habakkuk
Nehemiah Zephaniah
Esther Haggai
Job Zechariah
Psalms Malachi

Of the New Testament

The Gospels according to Thessalonians II
Matthew Timothy I
Mark Timothy II
Luke Titus
John Philemon
The Acts of the Apostles The Epistle to the
Paul's Epistles to the Romans Hebrews
Corinthians I The Epistle of James
Corinthians II The First and Second
Galatians Epistles of Peter
Ephesians The First, Second, and
Philippians Third Epistles of John
Colossians The Epistle of Jude
Thessalonians I The Revelation
All which are given by inspiration of God, to be the rule of faith and life.
III. The books commonly called Apocrypha, not being of divine inspiration, are no part of the Canon of Scripture; and therefore are of no authority in the Church of God, nor to be any otherwise approved, or made use of, than other human writings.
IV. The authority of the holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed and obeyed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man or Church, but wholly upon God (who is truth itself), the Author thereof; and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God.
V. We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the Church to an high and reverent esteem of the holy Scripture; and the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole (which is to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man's salvation, the many other incomparable excellencies, and the entire perfection thereof, are arguments whereby it doth abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God; yet, notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit, bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.
VI. The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man's salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men. Nevertheless we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word; and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and the government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.
VII. All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all; yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed, for salvation, are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.
VIII. The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which at the time of the writing of it was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and by his singular care and providence kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical; so as in all controversies of religion the Church is finally to appeal unto them. But because these original tongues are not known to all the people of God who have right unto, and interest in, the Scriptures, and are commanded, in the fear of God, to read and search them, therefore they are to be translated into the vulgar language of every nation unto which they come, that the Word of God dwelling plentifully in all, they may worship him in an acceptable manner, and, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, may have hope.
IX. The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture, is the Scripture itself; and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it may be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly.
X. The Supreme Judge, by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture.


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