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Discussion in '2004 Archive' started by Craigbythesea, May 25, 2004.
Sola Scriptura! Do the Scriptures teach it?
First, what is your definition of it.
James Akin’s definition will do,
“Simply stated, the Protestant doctrine of sola scriptura ("Scripture alone") teaches that every teaching in Christian theology (everything pertaining to "faith and practice") must be able to be derived from Scripture alone. This is expressed by the Reformation slogan Quod non est biblicum, non est theologicum ("What is not biblical is not theological," cf. Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms: Drawn Principally from Protestant Scholastic Theology, Richard A. Muller, Baker, 1985).
“An essential part of this doctrine, as it has been historically articulated by Protestants, is that theology must be done without allowing Tradition or a Magisterium (teaching authority) any binding authority. If Tradition or a Magisterium could bind the conscience of the believer as to what he was to believe then the believer would not be looking to Scripture alone as his authority.
“A necessarily corollary of the doctrine of sola scriptura is, therefore, the idea of an absolute right of private judgment in the interpretation of the Scriptures. Each individual has the final prerogative to decide for himself what the correct interpretation of a given passage of Scripture means, irrespective of what anyone-or everyone-else says. If anyone or even everyone else together could tell the believer what to believe, Scripture would not be his sole authority; something else would have binding authority. Thus, according to sola scriptura, any role Tradition, a Magisterium, Bible commentaries, or anything else may play in theology is simply to suggest interpretations and evidence to the believer as he makes his decision. Each individual Christian is thus put in the position of being his own theologian.”
I believe in Sola Scriptura but I disagree with some of what is said in the above paragraphs. For example:
I don't think that is what Sola Scriptura implies. Sola Scriptura does not mean we can misuse the Bible and read it out of context. We need to read in context of other scripture, in cultural context of when the Bible was written, take into account translation issues, difficult passages are to be read in light of more understandable passages, etc. In other words, we need to follow good hermeneutics.
I don't think the Bible is open to any interpretation; the cults have gone a long way on that idea. I think any Bible passage has one meaning but can have different applications. When we read it, the HS illumines the meaning already there. We should NOT be interpreting it on our own however we want to.
I think the paragraph quoted above by Craig is not a correct understanding of Sola Scriptura. Is this from a Roman Catholic source?
Craig, what is the source for the last 2 paragraphs in your post that you are quoting?
James Akins is a graduate student studying Philosphy at the University of Arkansas. And yes, he is a Roman Catholic.
Where Born: Corpus Christi, Texas
Where Raised: Fayetteville, Arkansas
Siblings: One of each kind (both younger)
High School: Fayetteville High School
Undergraduate Degree: Philosophy, University of Arkansas
Graduate Degree: Ditto (and pending)
Marital Status: Single (and looking)
What do you believe the reformers meant by “Sola Scriptura”?
Do you believe that the Scriptures teach it?
If, so, please quote the verses that do.
I don't know what the reformers meant. Haven't really studied them. I've only been a believer for 13 yrs. and have not had time to study everything and everybody yet. Maybe I shouldn't use the term "Sola Scriptura" in that case, but I've understood the idea of the Bible as God's final authority for doctrine and living the Christian life as sola scriptura.
I am also confused since you say you are Baptist but you sound as though maybe you agree with the statements that you posted. Maybe I'm wrong there, but this just an impression I get so far from what you've said and what you've asked me. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
Do scriptures teach sola scriptura?
I've never been asked that, so bear with me here. I don't think the scriptures need to teach sola scriptura for it to be so. I think the idea of sola scriptura is based on a belief that the Bible is God's word. If the Bible is God's word, and the canon is closed (which I believe to be so), then anything outside that must be measured against God's word since it does not have God's authority. That is what I mean by sola scriptura, which may not be what the Reformers meant.
Although I do not fully agree with any distinctly and exclusively Roman Catholic doctrines, and although I strongly disagree with most of them, that does not mean that the Roman Catholic Church and those who fellowship in it are wrong about everything. Dr. Raymond E. Brown was as Roman Catholic as any Pope, but many Baptists believe that his commentary on the Gospel of John is the best that has been written, and I agree with them. Not only was Dr. Brown’s scholarship impeccable and highly detailed, his writing style and his love for God and His Word makes reading the lengthy two-volume commentary an enjoyable and edifying experience, so much so, in fact, that he was frequently invited by Baptist pastors to preach from their pulpits, and on occasion he accepted the invitation.
That which is true is true, regardless of the lips from which it is spoken. I am not a student of lips; I am a student of the truth. The Reformers strongly attacked the Roman Catholic Church for teaching that extra-Biblical sources are, in some cases, reliable sources of doctrine; and yet at the some time they created from thin air a doctrine of their own and called it Sola Scriptura! What could possibly be more hypocritical and ridiculous than that? I posted a definition of Sola Scripture written from the Roman Catholic point of view to illustrate that hypocrisy.
I didn't say they are wrong about everything. I just wondered if I was right about that quote.
I don't know if the Reformers created a doctrine "from thin air" or not, but I do think that if there is any source of doctrine outside the Bible, it needs to agree with it and not present "new" teaching not indicated in the Bible (like the New Age teaching that Jesus went to Egypt and India and learned from them). Also, an extra-biblical source would not be considered an inerrant teaching from God as the Bible is.
I think the RC statement on sola scriptura goes beyond defining it. They are not talking about sola scriptura but about interpretation in the last paragraph posted above and they are presenting it wrongly. That is not the way I've learned about reading the Bible. Basically, in the last paragraph you posted, they are setting up a straw man, it seems, to justify their Magisterium.
Reading a commentary or consulting books on scripture is not the same as the Magisterium, which is considered an authoritative voice, I believe.
Also, sola scriptura, as far as I know, does not mean we interpret God's word any way we want to, as they are saying. That's a straw man argument. Sola scriptura, I thought, means God's word is the final authority on doctrine.
No, it means that the Bible is the only source of Christian doctrine, and the only standard by which interpretations of it may be evaluated
Do you believe that the Bible is not the only source of Christian doctrine, and if so, what are the other sources and why?
The Bible does not answer these questions, so I choose not to be dogmatic about the answers.
Craig, I'm still confused on one part, though. If doctrine does not come from the Bible, where does it come, and how does it receive any authority in a believer's life? If one says tradition, what was its starting point and authority? Extra-biblical revelation? Seems to me that to answer this question logically requires some spiritual discernment on the part of the believe concerning extra-biblical revelation.
In a nutshell: I personally believe in the doctrine of Sola Scriptura because I feel it is merely a summary of general Biblical teaching concerning its own origin and authority. It claims to be divine in origin and content and authority. The only logical source of doctrine outside the Bible would require the same origin and content and authority the Bible itself claims, which would also require that the Bible by itself is insufficient for doctrine, simply because another source of doctrine would undeniably exist. Right? Or am I missing something here?
If one wants to be a religionist, or know how to function in a certain denomination, there are plenty of sources (uninspired) you can go to. But if you are talking about true Christianity, the is one source (Sola Scriptura) the Word of God. It needs nothing else added. Paul says in 2 Timothy 3: 16-17, that it (the Word) thoroughly or competely equips us for every good work. Once one is thoroughly equipped for everything what elso can be added?
[qutoe]The Reformers strongly attacked the Roman Catholic Church for teaching that extra-Biblical sources are, in some cases, reliable sources of doctrine;[/quote]That wasn't all that it was about. The doctrine of salvation was another major point of the Reformation, one about which the RCC has been in error for centuries.
They didn't create a doctrine out of thin air. The doctrine has indeed been true since the close of the canon. That fact that it was brought back to the fore by the theological study and necessity of the Reformation is not the same as "creating it out of thin air."
I've been studying this topic for a short while recently after reading a book about the subject.
Craigbythesea, I’m okay with the first two paragraphs of the James Adkin’s definition but the third paragraph is utterly false and misleading.
The doctrine of Sola Scriptura denies that the Holy Spirit speaks independently of, or contrary to what is set forth in the Bible, or that personal spiritual experience can ever be a vehicle of revelation apart from the revealed Word. Adkin’s definition goes beyond historical Sola Scriptura and defines “Scripture only” (Solo Scriptura), the current popular evangelical perversion of the historical doctrine.
The term 'Sola Scriptura' (Scripture alone) is a bit misleading in itself. The historical meaning of the term does not mean that we believe there are no other forms of revelation or authorities; it means that all other authorities must be subordinate to the Word of God.
Affirming Sola Scriptura means that we believe that nothing can contradict the Word of God.
IMO, Sola Scriptura doesn’t mean that all truth is found in the Bible, only that necessary for faith and practice.
And it doesn’t mean that every verse in the Bible is equally clear to every reader or that all Scripture is properly understood. Where we find discrepancies between the Word of God and other revelation (such as in traditions), an examination of Scripture is paramount in directing us to the truth.
For Scripture relating to this doctrine you just need to study what the Word of God says about itself.
That is precisely the problem with the doctrine of Sola Scriptura no matter how you define it. The Bible DOES NOT teach it!
Most of the Reformers also taught that the cannon was closed, but the Bible does not teach this. Indeed, the Bible seems to teach the opposite in that extra-Biblical writers are quoted in both the Old and the New Testaments.
Most of the Reformers also taught that the Bible was free from error, at least in the original documents. However, the Bible does not teach this. And we do not have the original documents and thus we have no basis upon which to say that they are free from error other than a personal conviction about the Bible that does not come from the Bible itself.
Most of the Reformers believe in the Nicene Creed. However, it could be argued that most of it is based upon the conviction of the Church Fathers rather than the Bible itself.
Whether the doctrine is true or not, it is not found anywhere in the Bible. It is dependent wholly upon extra-Biblical sources, and that fact nullifies the doctrine. And of course the doctrine that the canon is closed is not taught anywhere in the Bible. It, too, is wholly dependent upon extra-Biblical sources, especially the writing of the Ante-Nicene Church Father. The Reformers criticized the Roman Catholic Church for relying upon extra-Biblical sources and they did the same thing, but to a much lesser extent. Were they wrong in doing that? The Bible is silent on that issue as well!
During the first three centuries, several of the New Testament books that we today refer to as being canonical were not considered to be part of the canon. And other books which we today do not refer to as canonical were quoted as being canonical. And the Bible is not wholly silent about this—we find non-canonical books quoted in both the Old and the New Testament with nothing to distinguish them from quotes from Scripture.
My personal conviction is that the 66 books generally considered today to be canonical belong in the canon, and that no other books belong there. But that is only my personal conviction, it is NOT a Biblical doctrine, and the conviction does not come from anything that the Bible says about itself, but rather it comes from my respect for the convictions of the Ante-Nicene Churches what history tells us about the Bible.
Christian beliefs and teaching are Christian doctrines, and as I have just shown, Christian doctrines need not be based upon the Bible, and indeed, often they are not, even in conservative Protestant circles. The doctrine of Sola Scriptura, as taught by Charles Hodge, and other Reformed theologians of similar mind, is NOT a Biblical doctrine and therefore it refutes itself.
I don’t believe that any of this is found anywhere in the Bible These are merely the personal convictions of Charles Hodge.
The doctrine of the trinity is also not specifically taught in the Bible but it is a strongly supported and a central doctrine to the Christian faith. The same idea applies to 'Sola Scriptura'.
Opening the cannon presents multiple problems and confusion within the body of Christ. Just where would you draw the line? Charasmatic Christians speak the word of God every time they speak in 'tongues'. That, in theory, is the word of God.
Both the Mormons and Muslums claim to have had special revelations from God. Do we add these 'scriptures' too?
If each of us is capable of receiving special revelation, where is the rule of faith? What do we compare other revelation to?
Craig, I wonder if you have read A General Introduction to the Bible by Norman Geisler? I think it would address some of these issues you've raised. One of the things I learned was that the canon of scripture was decided by God but discovered by men. The NT teachings came from Christ via apostolic authority.
If we believe that the Bible is God's word, then we cannot believe it has error. If it has error (in the original autographs), then God cannot be perfect and therefore cannot be God. God is perfect; therefore, His word is perfect.
For the Catholics to say that the Bible does not teach Sola Scriptura is, I believe, a straw man argument. We can logically deduce that if the Bible is God's word, then it is the authority for our faith and doctrine.
Also, we have passages like 2 Peter 1:19-21:
How do we know the canon is closed? Well, of course, there is no verse that says, "Okay, this is the last sentence/statement of the Bible and there is not other." Writings with apostolic authority eventually were completed as the writers died. Other books considered were rejected because the teachings conflicted with the foundational doctrines of the faith or did not have apostolic authority.
The fact that some books are quoted in the OT and some non-Christian sources quoted in the NT (like Paul quoting Greek poets) does not mean that these are God's words. I think some of the OT sources quoted were never found, like the book of Jasher.
Dr. Geisler's book has chapter 12 on "Determination of Canonicity," Ch. 13 on "The Discovery and Recognition of Canonicity", Ch. 14 is on the OT canon, Ch. 14 on the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, and Ch. 15 on "The Development and History of the NT Canon." There is way too much material there to cover here but it would probably address most of your concerns. It's well worth getting and is probably one of the most comprehensive books on the Bible and how it came to be.