Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Materially Sufficient?

Some well known theologians such as Pope Benedict XVI, John Henry Newman, and Matthias Scheeben (not to mention the Fathers of the Church) posit that Scripture is materially sufficient. This means that Scripture contains, whether explicitly or implicitly, all that is needed for salvation. It must be noted clearly that this is not the Protestant view of Scripture. Protestants hold that Scripture is formally sufficient, meaning that not only does it contain all that is needed for salvation, but that what is revealed is so clear and obvious that anyone can interpret without any guidance from an outside source such as the Church. Formal sufficiency is of course false. As Dei Verbum 12, paragraph 3 states: “Sacred Scripture must be read and interpreted in the light of the same Spirit by whom it was written.” Theologians who hold for material sufficiency affirm the above, while Protestants who hold for formal sufficiency deny it.

It seems to be though, that material sufficiency would be extremely easy to disprove. All one would have to do is show a part of the deposit of the faith that isn’t contained at least implicitly in Scripture and material sufficiency ceases to exist. I’ve been thinking about this for a while and cannot come up with anything not implicitly contained in Scripture. Thus, I am forced to hold for material sufficiency.

Can anyone out there think of any part of the deposit that is not contained in Scripture explicitly or implicitly?

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