The defining Question about sola scriptura and Tradition according to Ken Temple is “Has the Roman Catholic Church infallibly defined a single word of Jesus or an apostle, that is not found in Scripture?” That question was posed to Fr. Mitch Pacwa during a debate on sola scriptura back in 1999. Well, actually, the question is easy to answer. Since the only words we have written from Jesus and the Apostles are found in Scripture - the Church has no need to infallibly declare them for she has already recognized Scripture as the infallible word of God.
Before I proceed, let me express the definition of sola scriptura as White & Co. define it. I believe I have debated White enough times on this subject to accurately represent his definition, which is this: Sola scriptura is the teaching/belief that the Scriptures Alone are the sole infallible authority for the Christian Church.
Posted on May 25, 2016 by Ken Temple at the 1:03:48 mark:
“Has the Roman Catholic Church infallibly defined a single word of Jesus or an apostle, that is not found in Scripture?” Dr. James White to (Fr.) Mitch Pacwa
“I cannot think of any.” (Fr.) Mitch Pacwa
This shows that everything the church needed for ministry was written down in the Scriptures.
sw: Well, no it doesn't show any such thing! Has the Church defined any words of Jesus or the Apostles not found in Scripture? No, and again, there is no need to for the Church already recognizes Scripture as the infallible word of God. Contained within that question and answer there is nothing to state that "everything the church needed for ministry was written down in the Scriptures." Mr. Temple is imputing words and thought to that question which simply are not there.
That is the clear implication of the verses below; and combined with the early church’s understanding of the rule of faith / apostolic tradition, when it is specifically spelled out, it indicates that everything needed was written down in the NT.
sw: As I have demonstrated above and will below - the conclusion of Temple and White is not supported by the evidence.
Jude 3 – the faith was once for all delivered to the saints
sw: "The Faith" was, yes, but this does not say the Scriptures were (and they were not!). Scripture was an on-going/living tradition up through Jesus and the Apostles. Protestants agree with Catholics that the Canon of Sacred Scripture ends with the death of the last Apostle - but we need to remind the reader, not all the books of the New Testament, including two of the Gospels, were written by an Apostle!
John 17:7 – Jesus praying to the Father – “the words that You gave Me, I have given to them”
sw: Let us ask Mr. Temple, how many of those words did Jesus Himself write down?
John 14:26 – “when the Holy Spirit comes, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance everything I have told you”
sw: And where does this say anything about "all things" being "written?"
John 16:12-13 – “I have many more things to tell you . . . when the Spirit comes He will lead you into all the truth.”
sw: And again, where does this say any of that would be "writtne?"
2 Timothy 3:16-17 – All Scripture is God-breathed . . . in order that the man of God may be fully equipped for every good work. Verse 15 is about the OT, but then verse 16 expands it to include all Scripture, and so this includes by principle, both all OT and NT books, even those not written yet in 67 AD, when 2 Timothy was written.
sw: I do not disagree with the statement that "all Scripture is God-breathed," but again, that does not say Scripture is the sole infallible authority for the Christian Church.
The fact that 1 Timothy 5:18 has both an OT quote and a NT quote shows that Paul understood this.
1 Timothy 5:18 – both quotes from the OT and NT (Luke 10:7; Matthew 10:10; 1 Corinthians 9:14)) are called Scripture. Shows Paul understood those NT books written by that time as Scripture.
sw: Again, just because St. Paul recognizes what is Scripture does not bring us to "Scripture is the sole infallible authority for the Christian Church."
2 Peter 3:16 – Peter considers all of Paul’s writings as “Scripture”
sw: And again, same as the previous response - recognition of Scripture cannot be equivocated to a statement of sola scriptura.
1 Corinthians 4:6 – “do not go beyond what is written”. This is Sola Scriptura in principle, even though all the NT Scriptures were not written yet. 1 Corinthians being written around 55 AD.
sw: Out of context, that sounds like what some have labelled "solo scriptura" (bad Latin grammar) to mean Scripture is the ONLY source of teaching (which is NOT the definition of sola scriptura adhered to by White & Co.). However, IN context St. Paul is telling them how to judge whether one has been truly given the Gift of Truth to pass on to others. In judging them, do not go beyond that which is written. He then explains WHY they should not go beyond that which is written when judging others - because "Then you will not be puffed up in being a follower of one of us over against the other." This really has NOTHING to do with how or why Protestants adhere to sola scriptura.
2 Peter 1:3-4 – God has given us everything we need for life and godliness
sw: Fine, but where does this verse say He gave us everything IN WRITING?
(the promises of His word and the Holy Spirit) And Athanasius seems to be alluding to this by his statement, after listing the 27 NT books, “In these alone (Mono- Greek, translated into Sola – Latin – alone, “Scripture alone”) is the teaching of godliness”. That is Sola Scriptura in principle. (Athanasius, Festal Letter 39, 367 AD)
sw: Well, again, that is not sola scriptura, not even in principle. "The teaching of godliness" is not a statement that Scripture alone is the sole infallible rule of faith for the Christian Church. Even if it were, a statement from St. Athanasius is not Scripture and thus to use this as an example would be a bit disingenuous in a debate attempting to prove sola scriptura from Scripture alone.