Remembering that this book is basically an exposition of the Westminster Larger Catechism and requires at least a rough idea of the history of the Westminster Assembly (read the introduction to the book), it is not surprising that Dr. Morecraft addresses the Roman Catholic view of Scripture.
He quotes Roman priest Henry Graham:
[The Scriptures] nowhere claim to state the whole of Christian truth, or to be a complete guide of salvation to anyone…the Church existed and did its work before they were written, and it would still have done so, even though they had never been written at all…and we may confidently assert that the very last place we should expect to find a complete summary of Christian doctrine is in the Epistles of the New Testament. (p. 208)
…both sacred Tradition and sacred Scripture are to be accepted and venerated with the same devotion and reverence. (Vatican II, Dei Verbum, 9) (p. 209)
The Protestant Reformation (whose doctrines are clearly laid out in the Westminster Confession) went about refuting Rome's claim on truth. The entire first chapter of the Westminster Confession of Faith is quite clear as to what the Reformers believed concerning Scripture, but I'll only quote a small portion of it.
[I]t pleased the Lord, at sundry times, and in divers manners, to reveal Himself, and to declare that His will unto His Church; and afterwards, for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and
comfort of the Church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing: which maketh the Holy Scripture to be most necessary; those former ways of God’s revealing His will unto His people being now ceased. (WCF, I, i)
The supreme judge, by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture. (WCF, I, x)
"The Protestant teaching that the Bible is the sole spiritual authority--sola Scriptura—is nowhere to be found in the Bible."
"Sola Scriptura contradicts the clear teaching of God’s Word that there exists, alongside Sacred Scripture, a divine Tradition and a Teaching Authority (the Magisterium of the Church) which must equally be heeded and without which
Scripture is inevitably misinterpreted." (p. 210 and 211)
We are not arguing that all truth, such as mathematics, physics, industrial science, etc., is to be found in the Bible.
Or that the Bible is the only form in which God’s truth has come to His people: “God…spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways” (Heb. 1:1).
Or that every verse in the Bible is equally clear to every reader. Some passages are less clear than others to be sure (e.g., Rev. 20).
Or that the church in its preaching-teaching office is not of great value and assistance to the people of God in understanding the Bible, for preachers and teachers are gifts of the ascended Christ “for the equipping of the saints for the work of service to the building up of the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:10–2).
Or that all extra-Biblical knowledge is unnecessary, like how to cook a meal or how to perform brain surgery.
Or that there is no need for textual and historical study of the Bible. Or that theology is merely a matter of proof-texting.
Or that Christian living was impossible before the invention of the printing press.
Or that God has failed to reveal Himself elsewhere, as in creation.
Or that we only study the Bible and never read theologians or early church fathers, as if we do not appreciate them. (p. 211)
It is our one and only source of truth about God and salvation, our only infallible rule of faith and practice. Everything that is necessary for salvation, for glorifying and enjoying God is taught in the Bible clear enough for the ordinary believer to understand it. This is the viewpoint of the Old Testament as well as the New Testament. (p. 212)
“God’s Law never directs the priests or the people to give equal reverence to some ecclesiastical or priestly tradition; instead, they are repeatedly pointed back to the clear revelation of God’s covenant.” (99. Douglas Jones, “Issue and Interchange,” Antithesis, 1:5 (September/ October 1990), 47.)
Furthermore, the Law itself explicitly forbids both the covenant people and the Levitical priests from adding another standard to God’s written revelation: “You shall not add to the Word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you” (Deut. 4:2). (p. 214)
Likewise, the New Testament contains a case for Sola Scriptura. There are four points brought forth in the New Testament: 1) the contrast between the wisdom of God versus the wisdom of man; 2) the relation of the Word of God to the traditions in Christ's teachings; 3) the nature of apostolic teaching; and 4) the necessity of inscripturation of the Word. We'll go into each of these with a little more depth.
First, the wisdom of God and the wisdom of man. Human wisdom is fallible and therefore insufficient as a foundation for any belief concerning God. (I Cor. 2:11)
In 1 Corinthians 2:5, Paul informs the Corinthian church, “your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.” Here he sets over against each other the power of God and the wisdom of man and says that our faith is not to stand in the wisdom of man, but in the power of God. (p. 215)
in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining Spirit-produced thoughts with Spirit-produced words.” I Cor. 2:12-13
The contrast comes out also in Colossians 2:8: “See to it that no one take you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.” The exhortation here to the Colossian church is regarding the choice that
believers have before them: allow themselves to be enslaved to human, empty, deceptive philosophy that does not come from God or lead to God, which is found in the traditions of men, or be “firmly rooted and…built up in Christ,” by rooting themselves in the tradition that originated with Christ and is about Christ and through which Christ comes into a person’s life. (p. 216)
And so, the contrast cannot be any stronger or clearer: (1) The wisdom and power of God versus the foolish and impotent wisdom of men; (2) The words and ideas that originate with God versus the words and ideas that originate with men; (3) The tradition of Christ versus the tradition of men; (4) The divine authority of Christ versus the pseudo-authority of men; (5) The Word of God versus the word
of men. And the apostolic command to Christ’s church is that “your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God". (p. 217)
The Pharisees added rabbinical traditions to the written Law-Word of God so as to protect that Word from misinterpretation. Jesus told them that rather than protecting the Law-Word of God they were “neglecting…nicely setting aside…invalidating the Word of God by your traditions which you have handed down.” They had emptied the Scripture of meaning and authority. Having placed their traditions alongside Scripture as the final authority for the people, they had in effect supplanted Scripture, lowering the prerogatives of Scripture and raising the value of traditions originating in human wisdom. (p. 217-218)
"But if the normal Biblical practice is to reject any secondary explications or traditions, then the burden is on the Roman Catholic apologist to prove that Christ now approves of secondary traditions. In short, the Roman Catholic apologist has the burden of demonstrating that God has now changed His normal practice and established an infallible and authoritative explicator of His Word." (102. Jones, “Issue and Interchange,” 48.) (p. 218)
Jesus commissioned certain men to act as His authorized representatives in the church and world, to speak for Him in His name. They are called apostles. An apostle of a person, in the ancient legal sense of the term, was viewed as that
person himself whom he represented in a court of law. The apostle’s words were legally received as the words of the one who commissioned him. Christ’s apostles
were His apostles in this sense. The apostles’ word was Christ’s word, and it was to be received as Christ’s word, and not merely the word of men. To receive their message was to receive Christ, and to reject their message was to reject the Christ who commissioned them. (p. 218-219)
Notice that Christ was not speaking to Peter alone [in Matthew 16] but to them, i.e., to all the apostles. And you in His question is plural, so that He was not asking Peter what he as an individual believed about Him, rather He was asking all the apostles what they thought of Him. And Peter answering for all the apostles said, “Thou art the Christ” (16:16). Then Jesus says to Peter, speaking to him as a representative of the apostles in whose behalf he had spoken, and not merely for himself: “Upon this rock I will build My church” (16:18). (p. 220)
Paul’s exhortation to Timothy was: “Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Guard through the Holy Spirit who dwells in you, the treasure [the good deposit] which has been
entrusted to you” (2 Tim. 1:13–4). What does this exhortation tell us about the nature of apostolic tradition? “The standard or pattern of sound words,” i.e., the revealed system of theology and ethics, is what Timothy received from the apostle Paul. Paul received this “deposit” of truth, “this treasure” of sound doctrine from
Christ and passed it on, or delivered it, to Timothy who in turn was to “retain” it, “guard” it and “preach” it to Christ’s church. (p. 221)
That “treasure-deposit” is to be the church’s one standard of faith and life, theology and ethics. (p. 222)
Why was the oral transmission of the apostolic traditions by the apostles as authoritative in the church in the New Testament as the inscripturated form of those traditions? Because those orally communicating those traditions had apostolic authority directly from Jesus, the revelation of the Father, and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and that authority bound the church to believe and obey what was contained in the treasure of sound doctrine. (p. 225)
The author of the epistle of Jude lived when the apostles were still alive and still transmitting the truth of God orally, and yet he could still urge his readers to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). He knew of a body of revealed truth, called “the Faith,” i.e., that which is to be believed because it is divinely revealed. He knows that this had been “once for all delivered” to the church of Christ. Therefore all claims to additional revelation—oral or written—were false claims. This “Faith” was accomplished and completed in the generation of the apostles. (p. 226)
The Word of God that was originally delivered in oral form needed to be reduced to writing in order for the rest of God’s people to know the truth about Him and His
will for them down through their generations, so it could operate as an effective standard for faith and obedience, truth and life, theology and ethics. In written form it is an objective infallible standard to govern the church through all generations, to test the truth claims of prophets and teachers, for the establishment of the church in all ages, to guard against Satan, to give the assurance of salvation
against human opinion expressed by preachers or priests. (p. 228)
The written Word of God was also the standard for testing the preaching and teaching of the apostles’ oral instruction. Paul considered the Berean Christians more “noble-minded” than the Thessalonican Christians, “for they received the Word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things [the preaching of Paul and Silas] were so” (Acts 17:11). The point is that the apostles themselves appealed to an objective and written standard as the basis for what they taught, and they encouraged their hearers to compare what they taught with that written standard. (p. 230)
Any teaching which does not square with Scripture is to be rejected even if it snows miracles every day. (117. Luther, quoted in John Armstrong, “The Authority of Scripture,” Sola Scriptura, 141) (p. 234)