I would like to invite my friend from Protestant to explore our Catholic faith, but one of his hangups is that Catholic do not believe in Sola scriptura. Can you please explain the Catholic stance on Sola scriptura? Is this explained in the Bible?
Fr. Francis' answer:
The idea of sola scriptura, or Scripture alone, was introduced by Martin Luther in the 16th century. Originally, Luther was an Augustinian monk who, seeing the corruption in the Church, requested a reform. But having been ignored by the Church, and encouraged by many princes who wanted to use this opportunity to break away from the control of the Holy Roman Empire and the political influence of the Pope, he decided to leave the Church and started his own. Because of his disappointment in the Church authority, he decided that he could no longer trust mere human teachings that are not recorded in the Bible, and so established the rule of sola scriptura. As a result, any Christian practice that cannot be directly found in the Bible was removed by him and other subsequent Protestant denominations, including the sacraments of baptism, Holy Orders, confession, and Holy Eucharist, the Holy Mass, devotion to Mary and the saints, as well as the Church’s authority to sanctify, teach and govern, etc.
“Unfortunately, Luther at the time did not realize that the majority of these so-called extra-biblical teachings were actually not man-made, but could be traced back to the apostles, which means that they were taught by Jesus Himself. Meanwhile, the authority of the Scriptures is also founded on the fact that they were taught and passed on by the apostles. Hence, the real foundation is not merely the Bible, but on Jesus, transmitted through the apostles; some of it written down as Bible, some in liturgies, some as living tradition, and some in pictures and artworks.”
Some may argue that since these other forms are less certain, it may be best that we don’t put our trust in them. But sola scriptura still has other problems.