By Dr. Robert Morey

Part II

The Reformers did NOT say that the Bible was the ONLY authority.

this is why they appealed to logic, history, science, the Church

fathers, tradition, councils, creeds, confessions, commentators,

Greek and Hebrew scholars, etc.

But what they did say was that when it came to DOCTRINE, there


The "buck" has to stop somewhere. Thus the "final court of appeal"

is the Bible and not the Pope, councils, creeds, tradition, etc.

The other authorities (logic, history, etc.) are as good as far

as they go. But they are not THE ULTIMATE DECIDING FACTOR IN


Just like the prophets, apostles, Jesus and the N.T. Church,

Protestants appeal to the scriptures as the "final court of

appeal" i.e., the ultimate authority in matters of faith.

1. Question: When deciding doctrine, to what did the prophets,

Jesus, the apostles and the N.T. Church appeal as their

ultimate authority, i.e., what was their "final court of

appeals" when seeking to establish doctrine?

Answer: They always appealed to the scriptures as the determin-

ing authority in matters of faith.

2. Question: How do we know this?

Answer: Throughout the Bible, the prophets, Jesus, the apostles

and the N.T. Church used key literary phrases which indicated

an appeal to authority (Isa. 8:20; Matt. 22:23-46; I Cor. 15:3-4;

Acts 15:12-18).

I. "as it is written" used 46 times:

A. O.T.: 13 times (ex. II Kings 23:21).

B. N.T.: 33 times (ex. Romans 1:17).

II. "Scripture says" used 7 times:

ex. Rom. 4:3; 9:17; 10:11; 11:2.

III. "according to the Scriptures"

used 3 times: ex. 1 Cor. 15:3-4.

IV. "the law and the prophets" used

38 times: ex. Luke 24:44-47

4. Question: Did the prophets, Jesus, the apostles or the N.T.

Church ever appeal to "tradition" as the authority for their


Answer: Not once did the prophets, Jesus, the apostles or N.T.

Church appeal to tradition as the authority of their doctrines.

As a matter of fact, the idea of people appealing to "tradition"

instead of Scripture is condemned by the prophets (Isa. 29:13),

Jesus (Matt. 15:1-9) and the apostles (Col. 2:8).

The ONLY Biblical author to use the word "tradition" in a

positive way is the Apostle Paul who clearly used it to refer to

the handing down of scriptural doctrines such as the Gospel.

Since the Church had just begun, it would be logically impossible

for him to be referring to "historical traditions" when the history

of the Church had only just begun! How could it have any "historical

traditions" when it did not have any history yet?



I. Romanism's view of religious authority is usually based on the

fallacy of circular reasoning.

They appeal to their church's authority to prove their church's

authority! This is like rowing with one oar. All you do is go

around in circles.

Romanist: The "Church" is the ultimate authority.

Protestant: Who says so?

Romanist: The "Church" says so.

Protestant: By what authority?

Romanist: The "Church" is the ultimate authority.

II. Romanist are guilty of setting up a false dichotomy between

Scripture and tradition. This is the fundamental logical error

underlying their entire argument.

The moment it is admitted that there is such a thing as a scrip-

tural tradition," the dichotomy falls apart. For example, in 1 Cor.

15:3-4, the Apostle Paul clearly appeals to the authority of the

Scripture as the basis for the Gospel. Then this is scriptural

teaching on the atonement is called a "tradition" to hand down to

others in 1 Cor. 11:2.

III. Romanist use the logical fallacy of appealing to human

authority. Some papist argue, "since there are so many

denominations and interpretations of Scripture, we need

someone to decide what is true. Thus we need the Pope!"

Of course we can point out that Hitler, Joseph Smith,

Rev. Moon and many other people have all made that same

exact argument! We have no more reason to let the Pope

do our thinking for us than to let all the other cult


Romanist Objection #1


Note: Karl Keating is a Roman Catholic apologist and author

of "Catholicism and Fundamentalism." Nowhere does the Bible say,

'Scripture alone is sufficient'" (Karl Keating, "What's Your

Authority For That?").

Protestant Response:


First, this is a logical fallacy. The fact that the Bible does

not contain the exact words "Scripture alone is sufficient" does not

logically imply that the concept which underlies those words cannot

be found in the Bible.

For example, where does the word "Trinity" appear in the Bible?

where does it explicitly say "God in three persons?" Yet, the concept

which underlies the doctrine of the Trinity can be found in the Bible

even though the terminology was developed later on in Church history.

Second, this argument is self-refuting. Where does the Bible say

"immaculate conception," "papal infallibility," "the mass," etc.?

If this argument were valid, it would do far more damage to Romanism

than to us.

Third, the Reformation doctrine simply states that the prophets,

Jesus, the Apostles, and the N.T. Church always appealed to what-

ever written Scriptures existed in their day as basis for their

doctrines (for example, see 1 Cor. 15:3-4). They never appealed to

"tradition," "the Church," "the pope," etc.

Fourth, logically, since they only appealed to Scripture as the

basis for their doctrine, then the burden of proof falls on the

Romanist to demonstrate why we should appeal to anything else.

lastly, in 1 Cor. 4:6 we are told "not to go beyond what is

written" in Scripture. This statement of Paul is the sum and sub-

stance of "sola scriptura."

Catholic Bibles:

Jerusalem Bible: "Keep to what is written."

New American Bible: "do not go beyond what is set down."


Romanist Objection #2:


"The Bible actually denies that it is the complete rule of faith"

(Karl Keating, Catholicism and Fundamentalsim, p. 136).

Protestant Response:


First, this negative argument claims, without substantiation,

that the authors of Scripture explicitly knew of and then clearly

denied the doctrine of "sola scriptura."

Second, please show us passages in the Bible where the authors

deny that Scripture is the complete rule of faith. Protestants have

been waiting several centuries for Romanist to "put up or shut up."

Yet, they have never found a single text to support their argument.

Romanist Objection #3:


"The Church tells us the Bible is inspired, and we can take the

Church's word for it precisely because the Church is infallible"

(Karl Keating, Catholicism and Fundamentalism, p. 125).

Protestant Response:


This argumant is based on circular reasoning: He "proves" the

Bible by the Church and then "proves" the Church by the Bible!

This is irrational to say the least!

Romanist Objection #4:


"The Church existed BEFORE the Bible. The Church MADE the Bible

therefore: a)The Church is OVER the Bible. b)The Church has GREATER

authority than the Bible" (see Keating, Catholicism and Fundamental-

ism, pgs. 121-133 and also "How to Talk To Fundamentalist" tract).

Protestant Response:


There are major problems with this typical Romanist argument.

In Logic, chronology does not determine authority. This is the

fallacy of irrelevance. For example, the Buddha came several cen-

turies BEFORE Jesus. Is Buddha therefore OVER Jesus and does he

have GREATER authority than Jesus? NO!

Second, historically, Romanism did not exist in the first cen-

tury. So, how couldit have anything to do with the canon of Scrip-

ture? The truth is that popery did not exist did not exist until

many centuries AFTER the canon was closed.

Romanist Objection #5:


"But didn't the Church decide doctrine in Acts 15 on the basis

of its own authority instead of Scripture" (Dr. Robert Festiggi,

The Classic Debate, VT-53 (R.E.F. video))?

Protestant Response:


In Acts 15:13-22, James appealed to the Scriptures to settle

the Gentile issue. Once he quoted the Scriptures which applied

to the issue, the discussion was concluded. No Further words

needed to be said. The Scriptures had solved the issue.


Editor's note: Dr. Morey's article has been shortened due to lack

of space in the original "Researcher" newsletter. Those of you

wishing to receive the entire "Biblical Doctrine of Authority"

article please send a $1.00 donation to:

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Dr. Robert A. Morey, is the Executive Director of The Research &

Education Foundation. Dr. Morey has earned degrees in theology,

philosophy, and apologetics and has received personal training

from Dr. Walter Martin, Francis Schaeffer, Gordon Clark and

Cornelius Van Til. He has authored over 20 books. Some of which

have been listed in Christianity Today's annual "best Books of

the Year" and the Christian Booksellers Association's "The Best

of the Good Books."

For a free catalogue of our books, tapes, videos and tracts write


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