“If I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.” 1 Timothy 3:15
Sola Scriptura is a formal principle of Protestant denominations that states scripture alone is the sole infallible source of authority for the Christian faith and practice. Ironically, it does much of what it criticized the Catholics for doing in making the Pope the infallible source of authority. Both are on opposite ends of the spectrum, Orthodox holds a middle ground, knowing that both scripture and holy tradition of the true church coexist together as our standard of truth.
Protestants will immediately jump to verses like Colossians 2:8 and Mark 7:8-13 which state corrupt traditions of men are rejected. Of course one would agree, but context is important. For example, “the world” can have multiple different contextual meanings from the world literally (Acts 17:24, Genesis), the world as a people (John 1:10, John 3:16), and the world as a sinful culture (Romans 12:2, 1 John 2:15). As of tradition in context, the apostolic tradition/church is endorsed positively in the Bible.
- “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the traditions just as I passed them on to you.” – 1 Corinthians 11:1-2
- “Therefore, brethren, stand fast; and hold the traditions which you have learned, whether by word (of mouth), or by our epistle.” – 2 Thessalonians 2:15
- “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” – Matthew 16:18
2 Thess. 2:15 immediately refutes the notion of sola scriptura. As does 1 Thess. 2:13, for according to St. Paul, the spoken word from the apostles was just as much the word of God as was the later written word. If we are to rely on scripture alone, why does Paul and Jesus Himself confirm oral tradition? “The scribes and Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice.” (Matthew 23:2-3). Jesus both refers to an oral tradition—the chair of Moses—and commands the apostles to believe it.
Moreover there is a glaring error in sola scriptura, which holds scripture is clear and evident as our sole teacher, how then did so many denominations that follow sola scriptura come to different conclusions/practices? Unfortunately, this is a doctrine that has birthed every heresy, for even before it was coined during the reformation, a misinterpretation of scripture is the basis for all false doctrines. It only furthers the need for a structured tradition to guide people correctly, hence the One, Holy, Apostolic Church of Orthodoxy.
Scripture is certainly essential, as is the tradition/church. One does not elevate above the other, both are synergistic in the understanding of truth.
More so, the doctrine is self-defeating. If a doctrine must be taught by scripture, in order for it to be binding on Christians, then the doctrine of sola scriptura must itself be taught in scripture. And this is the problem: such a place in scripture cannot be found. One could actually argue that without the tradition of Christ and the apostles, we don’t have scripture in the first place. This is not to be taken as an elevation but an equation. And even so, the scriptures itself are seen as BEING part of the very tradition passed down as well.
I’ll quote from Father Josiah Trenham, “Why could not the reformers agree on the nature of the very central act of Christian worship, the Holy Eucharist, if they were all simply reading the Bible and following it’s teachings? By cutting the cords of Holy Tradition, and placing in its stead the doctrine of sola scriptura, the Protestants ensured theological divisiveness and fracture between themselves and their descendants, and have only multiplied divisions, theories, and interpretations with no end in view to this day. We may judge a tree by it’s fruit. The sola scriptura tree has borne the fruit of division and every conceivable heresy.”
In summary, the bible doesn’t teach it, it nullifies how we got the Bible in the first place, it’s misinterpretations have birthed every heresy (even before it’s coined term), and is ultimately self-defeating.