Conversation: Sola Scriptura vs Illiteracy Rates

Q. My reply to your question regarding the Canonization of the the New Testament is as follows:

“The New Testament books did not become authoritative for the Church because they were formally included in a canonical list; on the contrary, the Church included them in her canon because she already regarded them as divinely inspired, recognizing their innate worth and generally apostolic authority, direct or indirect. The first ecclesiastical councils to classify the canonical books were both held in North Africa-at Hippo Regius in 393 and at Carthage in 397-but what these councils did was not to impose something new upon the Christian communities but to codify what was already the general practice of those communities.” My point is that the books of the N/T were relied on very early in the Apostolic era, but were not Codified until approximately 400 AD.

A. I agree. There was general agreement on most of the books that were eventually canonized. And you are absolutely correct that the canon of Scripture was not something new, imposed upon the Church but “codified what was already the general practice.” (And this is precisely the same thing that happens at all the Church Councils. Confusion arises, so the general doctrines and beliefs are codified at a council. It is never something new imposed upon the Church.)

But, in addition to the generally accepted writings and gospels, before 400AD, there were other books and epistles that were regarded by many, as equal to the books that now make up our New Testament. And, there were several books currently in our New Testament, that many regarded as not worthy to be canonized. (Who Decided?) So, Sola Scriptura would not have worked until after the whole Bible was Canonized, since no one knew for sure what was scripture and what was not scripture.

Also, the Doctrine of Sola Scriptura requires that the believer owns a Bible, and can read well. This was an outright impossibility for everyone in the ancient world except the very wealthy, who, perhaps could not read well either.


It is still an impossibility for 20% of the world population today, who cannot read.

Please see my post: –>Sola Scriptura and –> Catholic Beliefs oppose Scripture?

My questions for you are:

What was/is a believer to do without a Bible and/or without the ability to read in order to grow in love of God and holiness under the doctrine of Sola Scriptura?

If Sola Scriptura is a foundational, God breathed doctrine, and eternal principle for the Christian Faith, where is it in Scripture or in the Early Church?

Didn’t God know that for 1500 years of Christianity most people would not be able to own a Bible?

What about all the people who have not been able to read for the past 2000 years?

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