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Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Michael Wrenn, Aug 26, 2012.
Can one be a Baptist and believe that scripture is the final authority but not the sole authority?
No. The Baptist distinctive on Scripture is usually stated as "The Bible as the sole rule of faith and practice."
IMO, there is a great weight to the writings of the early church fathers and they can give a great deal of insight.
i.e. The doctrine of the Trinity took about 300 years to develop and codify coming out of the Council of Nicea (AD 325).
However when reading their writings one also sees a lot of error.
So, everything, no matter how weighty, must be held up to the light of the scripture.
But, there is still something missing and that is the illumination of the Holy Spirit who ultimately reveals the truth at an individual level.
That is why we have so many differing scriptural views (calvinism vs. arminianism; futurism vs. preterism; etc, etc...), lack of spritual discernment.
I do not have a problem with saying scripture alone is the final authority for faith, i.e. what we believe, and practice, i.e. not only how we carry out church services, but also how we live our lives.
For example all of us that do not read from the original languages, stand on the shoulders of the translators. So we believe the Bible is the final authority as we understand it based on the work of other men. And this can easily be expanded to include the sound exegesis of past and current theologians.
So while I agree that everything must mesh with our understanding of scripture, I also see my understanding of the meaning of scripture has been informed by the work of men explaining what we think was the intended meaning of the passage.
This is especially true when confronted with apparent paradoxes, and we ask how can we believe in faith alone when James says if faith is alone, i.e. not accompanied with works, it is dead. I thank God for providing light through the insight of other indwelt believers.
So how do we explain the radically differing views. I think this problem is driven by a lack of clarity in the translations, we fail to look at it from a first century perspective, and we fail to do our homework, i.e. study God's word rather than accept every wind of doctrine.
There seems to be such a dependence on orthodoxy by many of this board, among the reformed and fundamentalist camps in determining whether an idea/person is heresy/a heretic.
Wholehearted agreement. I wish all here would consistently hold to that excellent rule.
I do not hold to the sole authority of the scriptures, but I do hold that scripture is the primary and final authority. I believe that tradition, reason, and experience are secondary authorities but that they must line up with scripture to be considered authoritative in a secondary sense.
At least one person on the forum thinks that puts me out of the Baptist camp, but I consider that the principles I hold are Baptist/Anabaptist.
Can you quote any Baptist authority smilewinkgrin who agrees with you? I have in my hands Hiscox, Principles and Practices for Baptist Churches. He disagrees with you. I could give many quotes from Baptist scholars and historians who disagree with you. So, where is your authority to say this? What is your epistemology for this?
Michael Wren. You posted...
I am a bit confused.
You say that you "do not hold to the sole authority of the scriptures" but in the next statement you say that "scripture is the primary and final authority.
Which is it?
Based on what you have said here, because secondary issues must line up with scripture it appears to be that scripture is the sole authority. All Baptists look at experience and reason in the same way you do and claim scripture is their sole authority because those things are held to the standard of scripture.
Would it be similar to the authority of scripture itself in that, take for instance the new testament: The original autographs are the sole authority as to what we believe scripture actually says. The autographs are what are actually and solely inspired. All copies and translations have 'derived authority'.
How can scripture though be the sole authority when without logic or reason they could not have come into existence and since scriptures' existence could not be understood without the use of reason or logic? Maybe I'm misunderstanding the claims though.
I have been told different when I tried to maintain the same thing, so your post is refreshing.
Primary and final is not the same as sole.
For your consideration, from a Baptist Catechism with Commentary;
Quest. 1: What is the only inspired, infallible and inerrant truth for
Ans: The only inspired, infallible and inerrant truth for man is the
inscripturated Word of God, the Bible.
2 Tim. 3:16–17. 16All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is
profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in
righteousness: 17That the man of God may be perfect, throughly
furnished unto all good works.
Matt. 4:4. …It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by
every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
See also: Gen. 2:17–19; 3:1–12; Deut. 8:3; Heb. 1:1–3; 2 Pet. 1:20–
Some catechisms and works on theology begin with God and then reason
to the Scriptures as a necessary revelation of and from God. This is a
philosophical approach. We must begin with the Scriptures. The Bible alone
is objective, inscripturated truth (2 Tim. 3:16–17). This should ensure that our
thinking will remain scriptural rather than philosophical in both consistency
and in our approach to Divine realities.
The Bible is our sole rule of both faith [belief, doctrine] and practice [life].
The Scripture is our one objective source of truth and knowledge, and our
standard for proper living because it is the very Word of God inscripturated
[written down]. See Questions 7, 9 and 10. It is through the Scriptures that we
have a true knowledge of God, ourselves and universe about us. We may
know much about God from his creation (Rom. 1:18–20) and from our own
instinctive thought–process, as we have been created in God’s image and
likeness [natural revelation]. But God’s moral self–consistency [his absolutely
righteous character], his redemptive love, his grace and mercy, and other
necessary moral characteristics can be known only through the redemptive
history inscripturated in his Word [special revelation]. See Question 5. It is in
the Scriptures alone that we find salvation from sin, hope of deliverance in the
active and passive obedience of the Lord Jesus Christ; true, objective
reconciliation with God, and the certainty of hope for the future. Nature may
cheer us with its beauties and wonders; we may have high and lofty thoughts
in our imaginations, but only in the Scriptures do we find the heart of God
revealed and discover the glory and sweetness of the gospel.
Further, we must understand that the Fall has affected the thought–
processes of man, and his perception of spiritual realities is either very limited
or distorted by sin [the noetic effects of sin, from the Gk. noeō, “to perceive,
understand.” Fallen man’s intellectual and moral thought–process and
judgment have been crippled by the Fall. Cf. Rom. 1:21–25; 1 Cor. 2:14; Eph.
4:17–19]. See Questions 37 and 38. Thus, natural revelation [God revealed
through his creation] becomes distorted through a fallen and sinful
perspective. Finally, what truth man does know through natural revelation to
any extent [sufficient to hold him inexcusable], he seeks to suppress, as it
aggravates his mind, convicts his conscience and sets itself against his natural
and sinful presuppositions (Rom. 1:18–20). See Question 10. The Scripture
does not reveal everything (Deut. 29:29), but it does reveal sufficiently what
we need to know: that we are sinners before God, how to have forgiveness of
sins, how be reconciled to God through the Lord Jesus Christ, how to live
acceptably before him in this life and prepare ourselves for eternity. It is
through the Scriptures alone that we have a consistent Theistic Christian
world–and–life view, a valid Christian experience and a transcendent, yet
practical faith. See Question 121.
Believing that the Bible is the very Word of God inscripturated is not
merely theoretical or abstract. It is the substance of a living faith which rests
in the truth of God’s Word regardless of circumstances. Such belief is not
mere fideism [a bare irrational faith]. Our faith is grounded in the rational
Word of an intelligent, self–revealing God. The witness of the Holy Spirit
authenticates this Word to the mind, heart and soul of the believer. Its
commandments, prophecies, warnings and promises are wholly and infallibly
true. The Scriptures are therefore to form the very fabric of our lives.
Depends on the context. In your case it is.
I have been told that my view is Anglican, not Baptist. But it seems that they, in effect, would reach the same conclusion you do. It seems then that you, they, and I are all on the same page.
I tend to agree that what you are saying sounds like it would be agreed upon by all but very tradition-heavy Roman Catholics who would put scripture and church tradition at the same level...
I think anyone here would likely say scripture is the final and ultimate authority, but that scripture itself vests authority in other things, while retaining its own highest authority (things like parents of children, government authorities, Pastors and overseers, our own consience, which we should not violate). All of these are valid when submitted to Scriptures authority.
All I can say is that based on what you have posted in this thread your view on this issue is very orthodox and very tradtional and you can clearly be counted as holding to scripture as the sole authority.
Any "Baptist" that says otherwise is most likely a KJVO and no one takes them seriously anyway. (Except maybe Fred Phelps)
I'll tell DHK you said that.
This thread has similar ideas and roots as this one .