The Roman Catholic Church neither believes nor teaches that Scripture is the highest authority and only source of inspired and infallible truth for God’s people. In other words, they do not teach or believe “sola Scriptura.” In fact, at the Second Vatican Council, Rome said that “…it is not from sacred Scripture alone that the Church draws her certainty about everything that has been revealed. Therefore both sacred tradition and sacred Scripture are to be accepted and venerated with the same sense of devotion and reverence.” Along with Scripture and Tradition, Rome also says that the decrees of the Pope are infallible and must be revered and obeyed: “In virtue of his office, the Roman Pontiff…enjoys infallibility when he makes a definitive pronouncement of doctrine on faith or morals….”
For those of us in Protestant and Reformation circles, this teaching is absolutely unbiblical and terribly repulsive in many ways. When we refuse ecumenical ties with Rome, we do so on firm biblical grounds. I appreciate John Murray’s response (d. 1975) to the topic of Rome’s authority:
“What we do find in the claims of the Roman Catholic Church is a pretentious superstructure, based upon assumptions for which there is no evidence in the revelation God has given us. The consequence is a tyrannical distortion of what our Lord himself affirmed, and the Scriptures of the New Testament witness, respecting apostolic authority. The most recent pronouncements of Rome continue to reiterate and enforce the usurpations in respect of authority whereby the basic principles that God alone is the source of all authority, and his revealed will the norm, are made void in the magisterium of the Church, and most particularly in the supreme magisterium of the Roman Pontiff. It is the irony of this usurpation that in Roman claims we have the most blatant example of lording it over God’s heritage in contravention of Peter’s own inspired utterance: ‘Neither as lording it over those committed to your charge, but becoming examples to the flock’ (1 Pet 5:3).
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015