This was to be a reply to a Catholic who posted Armstrong's apologetic on a forum, but which was pulled before I could post it. It takes me a long time to type with my arthritic fingers, and rather than let my work go to waste I thought I would post it here.
Note that (as i suspected and later found out) Armstrong's work is from many years ago (2003), and he has posted a reply to a challenger that I have not read, and most likely will not be dealing with, but which has the the link to the original and is here: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/2016/01/defense-of-my-ten-step-refutation-of-sola-scriptura.html
I tried to notify Armstrong of my response here but received this when I tried: "We are unable to post your comment because you have been banned by Biblical Evidence for Catholicism"
1. Catholics agree with Protestants that Scripture is a “standard of truth”—even the preeminent one
Actually papal teaching is that.
Catholic doctrine, as authoritatively proposed by the Church, should be held as the supreme law; for, seeing that the same God is the author both of the Sacred Books and of the doctrine committed to the Church... (Providentissimus Deus; http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/leo_xiii/encyclicals/documents/hf_l-xiii_enc_18111893_providentissimus-deus_en.html)
but not in a sense that rules out the binding authority of authentic apostolic Tradition and the Church. The Bible doesn’t teach that.
Which means that Armstrong is teaching sola Roma, that she, "The Church" alone is the sure supreme and sufficient standard for faith and morals, infallibly providing all the essential oral and written express revelation of God.
However, while men such as the apostles could speak as wholly inspired of God and provide new public revelation thereby, yet even Rome does not presume its popes and ecumenical councils do either in declaring what they "infallibly" assert is the word of God.
Infallibility must be carefully distinguished both from Inspiration and from Revelation... God Himself is the principal author of the inspired utterance; but infallibility merely implies exemption from liability to error....God is not the author of a merely infallible, as He is of an inspired, utterance; the former remains a merely human document. - Catholic Encyclopedia>Infallibility; http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07790a.htm
Catholics agree that Scripture is materially sufficient. In other words, on this view, every true doctrine can be found in the Bible, if only implicitly and indirectly by deduction. But no biblical passage teaches that Scripture is the formal authority or rule of faith in isolation from the Church and Tradition. Sola scriptura can’t even be deduced from implicit passages.
Actually, SS does not need to mean that sufficiency refers to only what is formally provides (such as by clear statements), but that,
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:...
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...
and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and 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. The Westminster Confession of Faith (1646), CHAPTER I (emp. mine).
And actually Catholics can and do disagree on whether every true doctrine can be found in the Bible, if only implicitly and indirectly.
As James White states,
"Rome's official statements do not explicitly define whether Tradition is the second of a two-part revelation (known as partim-partim), or if both forms of revelation contain the entirety of God's revealed truth." http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=3319
2. “Word” in Holy Scripture often refers to a proclaimed, oral teaching of prophets or apostles. What the prophets spoke was the word of God regardless of whether or not their utterances were recorded later as written Scripture. So for example, we read in Jeremiah: “For twenty-three years . . . the word of the Lord has come to me and I have spoken to you again and again . . . ‘But you did not listen to me,’ declares the Lord. . . . Therefore the Lord Almighty says this: ‘Because you have not listened to my words. . . .’” (Jer. 25:3, 7-8 [NIV]). This was the word of God even though some of it was not recorded in writing. It had equal authority as writing or proclamation-never-reduced-to-writing. This was true also of apostolic preaching. When the phrases “word of God” or “word of the Lord” appear in Acts and the epistles, they almost always refer to oral preaching, not to Scripture.
SS holds that men such as the prophets and apostles could speak as wholly inspired of God and provide new public revelation thereby, yet this does not validate the "infallible" claim of Rome to infallibly do so, (see under for as pointed under #2, yet even Rome does not presume its popes and ecumenical councils do either in declaring what they say is the word of God.
Moreover Armstrong's polemic "proves too much," for the only reason Armstrong can cite this is because it was written.
For God manifestly made writing His most-reliable means of authoritative preservation. (Exodus 17:14; 34:1,27; Deuteronomy 10:4; 17:18; 27:3,8; 31:24; Joshua 1:8; 2 Chronicles 34:15,18-19, 30-31; Psalm 19:7-11; 102:18; 119; Isaiah 30:8; Jeremiah 30:2; Matthew 4:5-7; 22:29; Luke 24:44,45; John 5:46,47; John 20:31; Acts 17:2,11; 18:28; Revelation 1:1; 20:12, 15;
And that as written, Scripture became the transcendent supreme standard for obedience and testing and establishing truth claims as the wholly Divinely inspired and assured, Word of God. As is abundantly evidenced
3. Tradition Is Not a Dirty Word Protestants often quote the verses in the Bible where corrupt traditions of men are condemned (e.g., Matt. 15:2–6; Mark 7:8–13; Col. 2:8). Of course, Catholics agree with this. But it’s not the whole truth. True, apostolic Tradition also is endorsed positively. This Tradition is in total harmony with and consistent with Scripture.
Which polemic presumes what it cannot prove, that, "This Tradition is in total harmony with and consistent with Scripture." And what is the basis for this assertion is True? Because Rome has presumed to infallibly declare she is and will be perpetually infallible whenever she speaks in accordance with her infallibly defined (scope and subject-based) formula, which renders her declaration that she is infallible, to be infallible, as well as all else she accordingly declares.
(Consistent with this, in Catholic theology it is taught than man cannot now what Scripture consists of apart from her, and thus Scripture is to be appealed to as a merely historical document. By which the potential convert is supposed to see that the RCC is of God even though the poor soul cannot discern wholly inspired Scripture as being of God. Which is consistent Rome's exalted view of herself.)
Thus as Keating said regarding (the assumption of) the Assumption,
The mere fact that the Church teaches the doctrine of the Assumption as definitely true is a guarantee that it is true.” — Karl Keating, Catholicism and Fundamentalism (San Francisco: Ignatius, 1988), p. 275.
Which is circular, and is to be remembered when Armstrong later tries to argue the SS position is.
4. Jesus and Paul Accepted Non-Biblical Oral and Written Traditions Protestants defending sola scriptura will claim that Jesus and Paul accepted the authority of the Old Testament. This is true, but they also appealed to other authority outside of written revelation.
This is true, as we know. And Paul also quoted a pagan, (Acts 17:28) and Jude quoted from Enoch.
But only texts from the Hebrew's canonical books are referred to as Scripture. Meanwhile again, men such as the apostles could speak as wholly inspired of God and provide new public revelation thereby, yet even Rome does not presumes its popes and ecumenical councils do either in declaring what they say is the word of God.
5. The Apostles Exercised Authority at the Council of Jerusalem In the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15:6–30), we see Peter and James speaking with authority. This Council makes an authoritative pronouncement (citing the Holy Spirit) that was binding on all Christians:
Indeed they did, with James providing the final judgment. And which is not contrary to SS, for as Westminster states again,
It belongs to synods and councils, ministerially to determine controversies of faith, and cases of conscience; to set down rules and directions for the better ordering of the public worship of God, and government of his Church; to receive complaints in cases of maladministration, and authoritatively to determine the same; which decrees and determinations, if consonant to the Word of God, are to be received with reverence and submission; not only for their agreement with the Word, but also for the power whereby they are made, as being an ordinance of God appointed thereunto in His Word. ( CHAPTER XXXI.)
The distinction Armstrong misses is between being the sure and supreme sufficient standard on Truth, versus judicial authority for church on earth. The OT version of the supreme court certainly had authority, (Dt. 17:8-13) - dissent was a capital offense - but it was not infallible. And the ensured perpetual magisterial infallibility as per Rome is nowhere promised or necessary in Scripture.
6. Pharisees, Sadducees, and Oral, Extrabiblical Tradition.. The Pharisees, despite their corruptions and excesses, were the mainstream Jewish tradition, and both Jesus and Paul acknowledge this. So neither the orthodox Old Testament Jews nor the early Church was guided by the principle of sola scriptura.
This again "proves too much," for those who sat in the seat of Moses were no more infallible than Rome is, and taught traditions of men that the Lord reproved from Scripture as being supreme. And even the veracity of the apostles was subject to testing by the Scriptures by noble men. (Acts 17:11)
Yet Rome effectively presumes she is above such, even declaring belief in the Assumption of Mary to be dogma, which was so lacking even in early testimony of Tradition (where it would be found) that chief scholars of Rome opposed it being declared apostolic doctrine . But for Rome, history, tradition and Scripture only authoritatively consist of and mean what she says
Thus we see distinctive Catholic teachings that are not manifest in the only wholly inspired substantive authoritative record of what the NT church believed (which is Scripture, especially Acts thru Revelation. and which best shows how the NT church understood the OT and gospels).
7. Old Testament Jews Did Not Believe in Sola Scriptura To give two examples from the Old Testament itself: a. Ezra, a priest and scribe, studied the Jewish law and taught it to Israel, and his authority was binding under pain of imprisonment, banishment, loss of goods, and even death (cf. Ezra 7:26).
This also fails to make distinction between being the sure and supreme sufficient standard on Truth, versus earthly judicial authority. Meanwhile Ezra could also speak and write as wholly inspired of God, unlike popes and councils.
b. In Nehemiah 8:3, Ezra reads the Law of Moses to the people in Jerusalem. In verse 7 we find thirteen Levites who assisted Ezra and helped the people to understand the law. Much earlier, we find Levites exercising the same function (cf. 2 Chr. 17:8–9). So the people did indeed understand the law (cf. Neh. 8:8, 12), but not without much assistance—not merely upon hearing. Likewise, the Bible is not altogether clear in and of itself but requires the aid of teachers who are more familiar with biblical styles and Hebrew idiom, background, context, exegesis and cross-reference, hermeneutical principles, original languages, etc. The Old Testament, then, teaches about a binding Tradition and need for authoritative interpreters, as does the New Testament (cf. Mark 4:33–34; Acts 8:30–31; 2 Pet. 1:20; 3:16).
Which is not an argument against SS, seeing as it affirms the magisterial office, and thus Armstrong is arguing against a strawman. For what Armstrong is not stating is that of his novel and unScriptural premise, that of ensured perpetual magisterial infallibility as per Rome
8. Ephesians 4 Refutes the Protestant “Proof Text” “All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16–17). This passage doesn’t teach formal sufficiency, which excludes a binding, authoritative role for Tradition and Church. Protestants extrapolate onto the text what isn’t there. If we look at the overall context of this passage, we can see that Paul makes reference to oral Tradition three times (cf. 2 Tim. 1:13–14; 2:2; 3:14). “And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ” (Eph. 4:11–15).
Which argument is again invalid since Rome does not speak as wholly inspired apostles, prophets and writers, and what Scripture materially provides is part of SS sufficiency, and thus it affirms teachers, and evangelicalism abounds with teaching aids. What we lack is a central magisterium, which is Scriptural, but which concept Rome has poisoned by presuming too much of herself and by her corruption.
If 2 Timothy 3 proves the sole sufficiency of Scripture, then, by analogy, Ephesians 4 would likewise prove the sufficiency of pastors and teachers for the attainment of Christian perfection. In Ephesians 4, the Christian believer is equipped, built up, brought into unity and mature manhood, and even preserved from doctrinal confusion by means of the teaching function of the Church. This is a far stronger statement of the perfecting of the saints than 2 Timothy 3, yet it does not even mention Scripture.
This logical fallacy is akin to Armstrong's failure to differentiate between the only infallible source/authority on Truth, and earthly judicial authority. Here the difference is between pastors and teachers etc. and what materially equips them to be part of the church and for it to grow in grace.
For the church itself was manifestly prophetically and doctrinally built upon Scripture, and by which use in doctrine, reproof, correction, instruction in righteousness, "the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
9. Paul Casually Assumes That His Passed-Down Tradition Is Infallible and Binding If Paul wasn’t assuming that, he would have been commanding his followers to adhere to a mistaken doctrine. He writes: “If any one refuses to obey what we say in this letter, note that man, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed” (2 Thess. 3:14). “Take note of those who create dissensions and difficulties, in opposition to the doctrine which you have been taught; avoid them” (Rom. 16:17). He didn’t write about “the pretty-much, mostly, largely true but not infallible doctrine which you have been taught.”
Which again both proves too much, since we only know of this reference because God manifestly made writing His most-reliable means of authoritative preservation. And that once again, popes and councils do not speak as wholly inspired of God, though councils can be the supreme judicial authority in the church on earth.
Nor can Rome prove she is teaching what the apostles orally did, as instead faithful Catholics are supposed to take her word for it.
10. Sola Scriptura Is a Circular Position When all is said and done, Protestants who accept sola scriptura as their rule of faith appeal to the Bible. If they are asked why one should believe in their particular denominational teaching rather than another, each will appeal to “the Bible’s clear teaching.” Often they act as if they have no tradition that guides their own interpretation. This is similar to people on two sides of a constitutional debate both saying, “Well, we go by what the Constitution says, whereas you guys don’t.”
Asserting that the Constitution (or Bible) is true because it says so is circular, but once that is settled, arguing about what the Constitution teaches and says about itself is not circular.
The U.S. Constitution, like the Bible, is not sufficient in and of itself to resolve differing interpretations. Judges and courts are necessary, and their decrees are legally binding. Supreme Court rulings cannot be overturned except by a future ruling or constitutional amendment. In any event, there is always a final appeal that settles the matter.
Again, SS affirms the judicial office, but not as possessing ensured infallibility, which is the real argument Armstrong does not make.
And rather than an infallible magisterium being required for writings to be established as being from God, Scripture attests that a body of authoritative wholly inspired writings had been manifestly established by the time of Christ, as being "Scripture, ("in all the Scriptures") " even the tripartite canon of the Law, the Prophets and The Writings, by which the Lord Jesus established His messiahship and ministry and opened the minds of the disciples to, who did the same . (Luke 24:27.44,45; Acts 17:2; 18:28, etc.)
But Protestantism lacks this because it appeals to a logically self-defeating principle and a book that must be interpreted by human beings. Obviously, given the divisions in Protestantism, simply “going to the Bible” hasn’t worked. In the end, a person has no assurance or certainty in the Protestant system.
This also is a logically self-defeating since Rome herself has neither defined all the issues that RCS can disagree on, nor what magisterial level each belongs to, and what she has taught is subject to varying degrees of variant interpretations.
And as what we really believe is shown by what we do, Rome shows her interpretation of what constitutes a member by manifestly considering liberal proabortion, prohomosexual souls as members in life and in death.
In addition, considering what is broadly classed as Protestantism then comparing one church, albeit existing in schisms and sects, with such a broad class is invalid.
'But the Bible doesn’t teach that whole categories of doctrines are “minor”
Actually, once again Armstrong needs to be schooled:
In Catholic doctrine there exists an order or hierarchy of truths, since they vary in their relation to the foundation of the Christian faith." (CCC 90)
and that Christians freely and joyfully can disagree in such a fashion."
Armstrong here in engaging in sophistry by blaming SS for division, a problem which his alternative has no solved, while most what he describes is among those who do not take Scripture seriously, and mischaracterizes such.
Meanwhile Catholics attest to being far less unified in core beliefs/values than those who most strongly esteem Scripture as the accurate and wholly inspired word of God, which Catholics attack as a basis for unity.
And under his alternative to SS then submission to Rome is the answer, and Rome shows her interpretation of what constitutes a member by manifestly considering liberal proabortion, prohomosexual souls as members in life and in death, while officially teaching false doctrine even on salvation , then hers is a unity that leads to Hell.
And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. (Revelation 18:4)
2. What became the established supreme authoritative source for testing Truth claims: oral transmission or "it is written/Scripture?"
3. Which came first: the written word of God and an authoritative body of it, or the NT church?
4. Did the establishment of a body of wholly inspired authoritative writings require an infallible magisterium?
5. Which transcendent sure source was so abundantly invoked by the Lord Jesus and NT church in substantiating her claims to the nation that was the historical instruments and stewards of express Divine revelation: oral transmission or writing?
6. Was the veracity of Scripture subject to testing by the oral words of men or vice versa?
7. Do Catholic popes and councils speak or write as wholly inspired of God in giving His word like as men such as
apostles did, and also provide new public revelation thereby?
8. In the light of the above, do you deny that only Scripture is the supreme, wholly inspired-of-God substantive and authoritative word of God, and the most reliable record and supreme source on what the NT church believed?
9. Do you think sola scripture must mean that only the Bible is to be used in understanding what God says?
10. Do you think the sufficiency aspect of sola scripture must mean that the Bible formally provides everything needed for salvation and growth in grace, including reason, writing, ability to discern, teachers, synods, etc. or that this sufficiency refers to Scripture as regards it being express Divine revelation, and which formally and materially provides for what is necessary for salvation and growth in grace?
11. What oral source has spoken to man as wholly inspired the public express word of God outside Scripture since the last book was penned?
12. Where in Scripture is a magisterium of men promised ensured perpetual infallibility of office whenever it defines as a body a matter of faith or morals for the whole church?
13. Does being the historical instruments, discerners and stewards of express Divine revelation mean that such possess that magisterial infallibility?
14. What is the basis for your assurance that your church is the one true apostolic church? The weight of evidence for it or because the church who declared it asserts she it cannot err in such a matter?