Sola scriptura or prima scriptura

Discussion in '2004 Archive' started by Matt Black, Mar 25, 2004.

  1. Matt Black

    Matt Black
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    As good Baptists, I hope that we all acknowledge the supreme role of the Bible in our doctrines and practices. My question relates to how we interpret the Scriptures.

    ISTM that some kind of systematised approach is needed wrt biblical scholarship and doctrine. if we go down the road of sola scriptura alone (if you'll pardon the syllogism) then logically that leads to a free-for-all of individualistic interpretations, manifest to a degree in the plethora of Baptist denominations; Baptist guy A interprets verse x one way whereas Baptist gal B from the church down the road interprets it a different way.

    So how do we get round this? Do we, whilst acknowledging that scripture is supreme and the final authority, look to the teaching role of the church - and do we by that mean what the church has taught down the centuries, what our local church teaches, what our Baptist denomination/ association teaches, what the whole Baptist community teaches, or what?

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  2. Squire Robertsson

    Squire Robertsson
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    The best solution to the problem I've come across are the Categories of Truth I posted in the Fundamental Baptist Forum.

    Hoping to shed more light than heat,
    Keith
     
  3. Daniel Dunivan

    Daniel Dunivan
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    Matt,

    I have posted statements like this before, but I'll give it another whirl.

    It seems impossible to say sola scriptura without including the function of tradition. Luther himself would agree that we need to remove dead tradition rather than tradition totally. It is sola scriptura not nuda scriptura. The text means nothing without interpretation, and no matter what we claim about the inspiration and infallability of the scriptures the point is still moot until we move to interpretation--which will never be infallable.

    Our troubles expecially arise when central issues like the atonement are given multiple understandings by scripture (just within the gospel we have at least 2 different interpretations of Jesus' death, and at least two different understandings of what atonement intales). Squire's hermeneutic is too simplistic (not to meantion the fact that a hermeneutic always involves reason, experience, and a particular tradition of interpretation, so whether one admits it or not these other aspects of interpretation are at play).

    Tradition, experience, and reason while not on the same plane as scripture, are central to interpretation and both doctrinal and practical application. The question is not whether they are there, but are we naive or critically aware of our employment of them.

    Grace and Peace, Danny [​IMG]
     
  4. Daniel David

    Daniel David
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    Daniel, your post is laced with neo-orthodoxy. Sorry, but scripture alone is the only option for believers.
     
  5. Matt Black

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    Yes, but on what basis do we turn scripture into doctrine?

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  6. Deacon

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    I posted something on this a short while back.
    The key point of SOLA SCRIPTURA then is, the church's role is to recognise and eliminate false doctrine within it's midst. SOLO SCRIPTURA lets the individual run amuck.

    Rob

    [ March 29, 2004, 05:59 AM: Message edited by: Deacon ]
     
  7. Matt Black

    Matt Black
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    OK, thanks for that. Next question: who is the church (your ref to the communion of saints)?

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  8. Squire Robertsson

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    Simplistic only because it is a framework. A model if you please. I was not trying to be exhaustive in my treatment of the subject. Pray, let me expand my coments here for the moment. Category 1 (CAT1) Truths are truths from Scripture that to deny them is to deny the meaning of words and language. (disagreements here can lay one open at the very worst to charges of heresy) Category 2 Truths are derived from CAT1 by logical conclusions (herein begins traditions). (disagreements here make me a Baptist and you a Presbyterian) A CAT 1 Truth is:</font>
    • Believers are commanded to be baptized.</font>
    The derived CAT 2 truth is:</font>
    • the mode of baptism.</font>
    The problem comes when we elevate CAT2 truth or even worse CAT3 to the level of CAT1. Accepting sprinkling as a valid form of baptism does not make you a heretic.

    As for the multiple actions that took/take place through our Lord's death on the Cross, all together now let's say:Parallel Actions. (At least from the human point of view, since when is God limited by this universe's time?)
     
  9. CalvinG

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    Interesting discussion. Squire Robertson, at what level do you regard the present disagreement between the literal-Genesis folks and those who reinterpret Genesis in light of what they regard as truth derived from the scientific method? (YE creation vs. OE evolution (or creation by means of evolution))

    I could see a YEC person alleging category 1 heresy in this situation.
     
  10. Squire Robertsson

    Squire Robertsson
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    The question goes to your position of the inerrency, infalliblity ect. of Scripture. Yes it is a CAT1 question, but personally, I would be slow to lay charges of heresy at someone's feet solely based on their position on this question. However, OE position would be inconsistant with holding to the basic hermeneutic of
    With the further proviso,
    This is a matter of one thing leading to another and to another. Such that a person arrives someplace they did not intend to go at the start of their journey.

    [ March 29, 2004, 03:18 PM: Message edited by: Squire Robertsson ]
     
  11. Deacon

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    I’d say the unequvically clear evidence is that God is the Creator (directly confronts the philosophy of materialistic evolutionism) (level 1); Regarding the methods and timing of creation; that is not a catagory 1 doctrine.

    Although the church fathers predominately accepted a younger earth, the precise chronological duration of the six days of creation has never been regarded by the church as a matter on which the Scriptures themselves speak with decisive clarity. Prior to the introduction of Darwin’s theory of evolution, the date issue was never regarded as a test of Christian orthodoxy, until some have sought to make it such in the modern period.

    What is it about the early creeds that independent Baptist churches find abhorrent?

    Rob
     
  12. Charles Meadows

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    I certainly believe that scripture is the only real means od revelation. But as others have stated the hermeneutic is important!

    In evangelical circles it has become normative to interpret scripture literally - as if the words were being spoken ONLY to us today, reflecting OUR culture. I find this often quite unsatisfactory. Often a literal interpretation is compared to an "allegorical" or "spiritual" one, with the intention of showing the superiority of the former. This is a straw man argument!

    Now there is some reasoning behind this. Obviously if we allow for other than literal interpretation then the scriptures are seen to be "left open" to the individual's discretion. The worry is if we give 'em an inch they'll take a mile! Where does it stop? Where is the absolute?

    I believe that there is ONE correct interpretation of each passage. Sometimes it is literal, sometimes figurative, sometimes intentionally poetic or literary. We can discern the correct interpretation using context and some knowledge of languages and history.

    Consider the prophecy in Mt 12:40 about Jonah and the whale. In another thread it is being debated whether or not the 3 days and 3 nights must be taken literally. I would argue that the important point here is that Jesus is fulfilling the prophecy. The 3 days and 3 nights is mentioned because Jesus is QUOTING Jonah. Thus it does not have to be EXACTLY 72 hours. Contrary to the views of some I DO NOT THINK that the Bible's cerdibility rests on Jesus' being in the grave 72 hours exactly.

    One final problem I have with absolute literalism is that is causes us to not see the big picture. Scripture is seen as a series of "one-liners" rather than a cohesive entity. We have 4 wonderful Gospel accounts of Jesus' life, illustrating not only what He said but also how He interacted with others, how He approached sinners, how He dealt with the Torah. But this glimpse of the big picture is often lost when we are told to simply memorize as many verses as possible and then spit them out here or there in response to a question. In order to render a biblically sound opinion on something we don't just have to "whip out" 4 or 5 verses - we should consider what the whole of scripture has to say about this, context and all.

    Now I'm not condemning all literal interpretation - just cases where context tells us otherwise.
     
  13. Squire Robertsson

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    Like I wrote above
    Sometimes the plain sense of Scripture doesn't.
     
  14. Deacon

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    Agreement with Sola Scriptura does not mean that we believe that Scriptures are the only means of revelation. Sola Scriptura means ”Scripture alone” or a better way to say it is “Scripture above all”. Once more, neither Sola Scriptura or Prima Scriptura phrase means Scripture is the only means of revelation. This is why the role of tradition is questioned.

    I wasn’t familiar with Prima Scriptura until looking it up, it means “Scripture first”. Scripture is the ultimate source and norm for Christian faith and practice. There is nothing above Scripture.

    Remember, there is a witness in His creation;
    Also see Psalm 19:1-4; Acts 14:17
    And there is the inward witness of conscience:
    Also see Romans 1:32; Romans 2:14-16.

    Keith is right to critically question old-earth creationists in this regard to the doctrine of Sola Scriptura because a delicate balancing act is being done in regards to this doctrine. On one hand, we see God’s revelation in nature proclaiming the great antiquity of the creation, on the other we see the Scriptures, (which is the primary, unique and unsurpassable authority)when read literally, saying another. It does require the OEC’s to read the passage using a slightly different hermeneutical structure than the literalists. Still, the words can be defined within the Scriptural context of the Word of God. OEC’s are not playing willy-nilly with the language.

    While researching this issue I came across this article and thought it was interesting, http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2003/011/2.52.html

    Rob
     
  15. Matt Black

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    Thanks, but you still have not answered my question re whose tradition one accepts as being the normative interpreter of Scripture

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  16. Squire Robertsson

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    Tha be tha rub. From what I've seen over the last 30 some odd years, Baptists are for the most part a fairly eclectic bunch. So, we have no one line of tradition that we consider normative. Speaking for myself, I can see where I follow the Calvinist/Reformed tradition in one area (in the area of the total depravity of man and the security of the believer in Christ), the Wesleyan in another (I have and will give an invitation), the Plymouth Brethren in another (I'm dispensational, pre-mil and pre-trib), and the Northern Baptists in yet another (not enough room to describe this so, I refer you to Francis Wayland's Principles and Practices of Baptist Churchs and Hiscox's Directory of Baptist Churchs). Sorry if this seems confusing, but if I was more thorough in my logic, I'd problably be a Presbyterian.
     
  17. Daniel Dunivan

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    First, Daniel David...what I said above has nothing to do with neo-orthodoxy--that's just an attempt to dismiss my statements rather than deal with the actual material (something the referent poster possesses as a besetting sin).

    Second, Squire...when you say that "believers are commanded to be baptized" you are using the tradition of the church whether you relize it or not. Why not say "believers are commanded to wash feet"? Any hermeneutic that starts outside of the individual interpreter's experiences (which include their experience of tradition) is doomed to this short-sited end.

    Third, Matt...when I refer to tradition above, I mean Tradition (with the capital T) and not the tradition of a particular group. There is a sense of indeterminancy in than answer and the corresponding approach, but that seems to be the nature of the beast rather than absolute certianty--something reserved for revelation of the first order.

    Grace and Peace, Danny [​IMG]
     
  18. Pastor Larry

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    Daniel Dunivan,

    While I am not usually one to make statements and run, your statement was actually what neo-orthodoxy teaches ... an existentialism that Scripture is not really God's word until it communicates with meaning. That is essentially a reader reconstruction theory that has been soundly refuted in a number of places. There is inherent meaning in SCripture, even if no one ever reads it, because meaning is determined by the author's intention, not by the readers' comprehension.

    Second with respect to baptism, the difference between baptism and feet washing is what makes an ordinance an ordinance.
    1) Sovereign authorization
    2) Symbolic of saving truth
    3) command for perpetuation
    4) evidence of practice in teh early church (i.e, Acts or Epistles).

    Baptism scores on all four counts as does communion. Footwashing fails on three counts. That is why Baptists hold to two ordinances.

    A hermeneutic must necessarily start outside the interpreter's experience in order to be rational and not self-referencing. We must remember that our experience is not inspired and inerrant. In fact, many time we do not even understand our own experiences. The truth of Scripture is always the same. The refutation of your view is found in the fact that people with two completely dissimilar experiences can arrive at the same conclusion for a text. Meaning is always in the text and rooted in teh author's intention. Our experience may flavor our interpretation, but it does not determine the meaning fo the text. The goal of Bible study is to bring our understanding into conformity with the author's meaning.
     
  19. Squire Robertsson

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    While I have not thought of the situation in the manner that Pastor Larry laid it out, I'd give foot washing 2 for 2. It lacks confomity with #2 and #4 on his list and good men can and will debate #3.

    Some how or another (pardon my literalness on this matter), I've always thought Matthew 28:18-20
    to be fairly clear on this point of practice. To the best of my knowledge, the verbs Go, teach, baptizing, Teaching are all in the impertitive voice. To me, that makes them direct "Thus sayeth the Lord" commands, thus putting them solidly in CAT1. It fails me to see how this literal acceptence of a command is
     
  20. Pastor Larry

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    In Matt 28, the imperative is "make disciples" (translated "teach" in teh KJV). Go, baptize, and teach are all participles that get their force from teh connection with teh main verb, "Make disciples."
     

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