Sola Scripture—What does it mean?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Craigbythesea, Aug 31, 2005.

  1. Craigbythesea

    Craigbythesea
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    Sola Scripture—what does it mean and how do we apply it to the interpretation of the Bible?

    DHK wrote in another thread,

    This post very well demonstrates the total misunderstanding that is found among some Baptists today regarding the doctrine of Sola Scriptura. This doctrine does NOT teach that the Bible is to be interpreted exclusively from Biblical evidence; it teaches that the 66 canonical books in the Bible, and only the 66 canonical books in the Bible, are the Word of God.

    But what do we do when we find two conflicting doctrines and the proponents of both doctrines base their doctrine exclusively upon the Bible? The answer to this question is that we examine the verses that each group interprets as teaching their point of view and we consider and weigh all the evidence available to us for and against each interpretation. This consideration and weighing of all the evidence is known as hermeneutics and one of the principles of hermeneutics is that the correct interpretation MUST be represented by at least some individuals throughout the history of the Church. And of course any doctrine that is found to be absent from church history for the first 400 years is to be considered highly suspect. And indeed, one of the primary means that we have to identify pseudo-Christian doctrines is their late origin. And Baptists have been applying this principle of hermeneutics to doctrines for hundreds of years.

    The logic behind this principle of hermeneutics is that if any given interpretation of a passage in the Bible is the correct interpretation, at least some readers of the Bible must have been aware of the fact down through the ages. And of course any interpretation of a passage in the Bible that is not found anywhere in the vast quantity of church documents that we have for the period after the close of the New Testament Canon and up to the 16th century is virtually for certain a false interpretation. And if instead of that interpretation, which we shall call interpretation A, we find another, conflicting interpretation of the passage in the Bible to be the unanimous interpretation of the Church during that 1500 year period, we can be even more certain that interpretation A is a false interpretation. And if we do not find the unanimous interpretation to be defended but considered to be the obvious interpretation during that entire period, we can be certain that interpretation A is a false interpretation.

    And, of course, this in not just basic hermeneutics, this is also very basic common sense. The Bible is the inspired Word of God and it cannot be, therefore, so poorly worded that it cannot be understood, especially when it comes to the essential Biblical doctrines of salvation. Therefore, ALL new and novel interpretations are false interpretations. The Bible has not changed, and new interpretations are wrong interpretations.

    There are thousands upon thousands of documents that have been preserved from the period between the close of the canon of the New Testament up to the 16th century in which passages in the Bible are interpreted to teach conditional security. And many years ago the claim was made that there is not even one document that has been preserved from the period between the close of the canon of the New Testament up to the 16the century in which passages in the Bible are interpreted to teach eternal security. If this claim were found to be true, it would be obvious that these passages in the Bible cannot be correctly interpreted today to teach eternal security, but rather they must be interpreted to teach conditional security. Therefore very many Baptists began searching for documents from this period of time in which at least one passage in the Bible was interpreted to teach eternal security, but even after many years of searching not a single such document has been found, but thousands upon thousands of documents were found in which passages in the Bible were interpreted to teach conditional security. But in spite of the thousands upon thousands of documents supporting the interpretation of conditional security and not a single document supporting the interpretation of eternal security, the large majority of Baptists have tenaciously clung to their pet interpretation.

    Some have argued that the Roman Catholic Church, which has always interpreted these passages in the Bible to teach conditional rather than eternal security, destroyed all of the documents in which Bible passages were interpreted to teach eternal security. However, there is NO evidence of any kind that the Roman Catholic Church did such a thing, and there is a mountain of evidence that they did Not do such a thing, and if they had, we would find documents in which the doctrine of conditional security was argued for against eternal security, but no such documents have been found. Indeed, during this 1,500 year period there is NO evidence that any passages in the Bible were interpreted to teach eternal security.

    Others have argued that such documents exist, but they simply have not been found, but that is an argument from silence in the face of thousands of documents to the contrary. It makes about as much sense as arguing that the earth is not round but flat. Yes, there is a huge amount of evidence that the earth is spherical (or approximately so), but someday we might find some evidence that the earth is flat, and in the meantime, being Baptists, we need to teach that the earth is flat!

    Personally, I believe that the earth is spherical rather than flat and that the security passages in the Bible should be interpreted today as they were for 1,500 years rather than in a new and novel manner.

    My Summary: If the security passages in the Bible are really accurately interpreted to teach eternal security, someone, somewhere would have noticed that during the 1500 years period between the close of the New Testament Canon and the 16th century—but no one did. Many thousands of people, however noticed that they should be interpreted to teach conditional security. The Bible has not changed, but due to changes in our language and culture and other changes, the historical interpretation of the security passages has been abandoned by many Baptists and replaced by the new interpretation of eternal security.

    Both interpretations are based exclusively upon the Bible (Sola Scriptura); the study of the evidence for and against the interpretation one chooses has nothing to do with the doctrine of Sola Scriptura unless one introduces security passages from extra-biblical sources and argues that the Biblical passages need to be interpreted in agreement with the extra-biblical sources, and of course no one in any of our threads on these topics has done that. We are discussing only those passages that appear in the Holy Bible and their correct interpretation throughout the history of the Church.

    [​IMG]
     
  2. DHK

    DHK
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    This post very well demonstrates the total misunderstanding that is found among some Baptists today regarding the doctrine of Sola Scriptura.</font>[/QUOTE]Many of us do not adhere to a technical definition of sola scriptura as defined by Luther, or sola scriptura in its traditional sense. I know I do not. I believe that the Bible is our final authority in all matters of faith and doctrine. Others will correct me and say that it is our "only" authority. I use the word final due to the fact that we do use other "authoritative" works, such as concordances and reference works. But the only work that is inspired are the Scriptures. It is our final authority.
    We, as good brothers and sisters in the Lord agree to disagree. It is one of the Baptist distinctives known as soul liberty. Now if you are speaking of things pertaining to the person of Christ or of salvation, that may be a different matter. That would no doubt fall into the category of heresy, and separation would be necessary. Yet the Bible is our final authority in all matters of faith and doctrine, not man.
    I am sure glad you are not a computer technician. My computer would be "highly suspect" by that reasoning. :laught: So would most other things in life. We don't live in the past. In fact, just like in every other area, we build upon one another's foundation. I am sure the Apostle Paul would have appreciated the Bible in a "printed" edition like a book, instead of having perhaps 50 or so scrolls. I am sure that he would have appreciated a Strong's Concordance. What would Spurgeon have done if he could have had a good computer to use? We have an ever-growing amount of information infront of us all the time. Almost anyone has access to the church fathers if they want them. They are all on the web at ccel.org as well as many other commentaries. We have access to information that the church fathers did not. Many of the church fathers believed in some heresy or another. Why then, should we take them as trustworthy? The Bible is our guide, not man.
    This is not a hermeneutical principle. It is a pet peeve of yours IMO. Hermeneutics does not depend on church history. The interpretation of a passage of Scripture has nothing to do with who believes what. Objective Bible study is putting away the church fathers and other commentaries, and using only those reference works which are impartial to your study, such as a concordance or lexicon. Anyone can copy and paste someone else's work. But that is not what the Bible commands of us. It tells us: "Study to show yourselves approved unto God; workmen that need not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." That takes work. It means putting your biases and prejudices aside and digging into the Word itself.

    Not very good logic. It is like saying that for x number of years all the people believed the world was flat, therefore that was the correct doctrine. It was universal in its scope. It wasn't until 1500 years after the fact (1492 A.D.), when they thought that Columbus would surely fall off the edge of the world, did some people even venture to guess that maybe the world wasn't flat. But even then it was considered a new doctrine. To this day there remains a flat earth society. So just as you can find evidence of the doctrine of transubstantiation in the church fathers, you can find evidence of a flat earth. That doesn't make either one correct. Just because you cannot find evidence of belief in a spherical earth in the church fathers, nor a pre-trib, pre-mil rapture, that doesn't mean they are wrong doctrines. We build upon what we know--often upon the foundation and building blocks that others have already laid for us. Personally I am thankful for Strong and his concordance.

    The only new and novel ones I know of are held by cults and heretics (when it comes to salvation). The plan of salvation has never changed.
    I am sure that there are many here that disagree with you, and possibly could find the evidence that you assert does not exist. I am not going to waste my time doing it because as I said previously I don't care. I know what the Bible teaches on the subject and it doesn't matter if Dr. John Doe agrees with me or not. If God plainly says that the gift of God is eternal life, then who am I to question him, call him a liar, and say: No, it can sometimes be temporary even when you said it is eternal???
    Nope, never heard that one before.
    Isn't that pretty close to a universal negative. You do know that universal negatives are impossible to prove, and totally illogical, do you?
    Rather to be consistent in your logic
    The believers of the churh age believed the earth was flat. If they are the ones that believed in conditional security then you should believe the earth is flat too.
    I believe that as time went by new evidence was discovered and people found out that the earth was spherical in its shape. I also believe that further study in the Bible shows OSAS to be a doctrine which cannot be refuted. Man changes; God's Word doesn't. Many times the reason man is in error is the simple reason that he copies the person before him. He is too lazy to think for himself. Along came Augustine with some novel ideas: allegorical method of interpretation, hyper calvinisim, etc. And many after followed in his footsteps blindly, without thinking, an Augustinian. That is where Calvin got his ideas from.

    You have made some unproven statements. No doubt no one has taken up your challenge (if that is what it is). Otherwise it is an unproven dogmatic assertion: "someone, somewhere would have noticed that during the 1500 years period between the close of the New Testament Canon and the 16th century—but no one did."
    This is an assumption you have made based on your own prejudicial thinking. It is unproveable. You do not have ALL the resources available in order to prove it. Again it is akin to a universal negative--something that cannot be logically proved. To make statements like this is no better than the atheist who declares "There is no God." and then cannot offer up proof that no God exists. You are doing the same thing. The atheist in all of his lifetime has never come across any evidence of a god. You in your lifetime have never come across evidence of OSAS (so you claim). But the atheist has not and cannot look everywhere for God, and neither have you looked every possible place for the evidence that you need. Both are impossible.
    Not so. Extra biblical evidence has nothing to do with it. It is not necessary to pit Robertson against Wesley or Gill, etc. This is a debate forum, Give your best argument from Scripture. It is the Bible that we need. And it is the Bible that is our final authority: not Gill or Beasley or Robertson. The best interpretation is the one that harmoonizes all the Biblical facts the best.
    It also takes into consideration the author of the book, the time and date it was written, the people to whom it was written, their culture, the historical setting at the time of writing. Hermeneutics takes into consideration those things, as well as grammar and syntax, and how it fits in with the rest of the Bible. It does not necessarily have to do with any other scholar or church father from any other age.
    DHK
     
  3. Gold Dragon

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    Craig, I agree that extra-biblical sources are valuable to seeing how Christians indwelled with the Holy Spirit through lifetimes of study in ancient ages have interpreted the bible. Sometimes correctly, sometimes incorrectly.

    I disagree that newer interpretations are wrong. It is valuable to see how Christians indwelled with the Holy Spirit through lifetimes of biblical study in more modern ages have interpreted the bible. Sometimes correctly sometimes incorrectly.

    Understanding of God's word is not exclusive to a certain age, nor held completely in any one person or set of people. We can always learn from other Holy Spirit indwelled Christians.

    Regarding the Eternal vs. Conditional Security issue, I believe the fact that there is biblical support for both indicates that neither side has it quite right.

    [ August 31, 2005, 09:47 AM: Message edited by: Gold Dragon ]
     
  4. HankD

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    Actually (as has been implied) Sola Scriptura is not exactly a Baptist term but came from Luther.

    The Baptist distinctive is:
    Scripture is the final authority, the opinions of men, no matter how ancient those beliefs (apart from the Scriptures) even theose which are believed by all yet erroneous when held up to the light of the Scripture (such as the Real Presence of Christ in the "Eucharist" or a less than Eternal Savior) are rejected.

    John 5:24
    24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

    John 10
    26 But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.
    27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
    28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
    29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.
    30 I and my Father are one.

    HankD
     
  5. HankD

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    Isn't it a purely binary proposition? There is nothing in between Eternal and finite life.

    Either the life He gives is Eternal or it is not. How is life on Sunday which can be lost on Monday Eternal?

    HankD
     
  6. Gold Dragon

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    Isn't it a purely binary proposition? There is nothing in between Eternal and finite life.

    Either the life He gives is Eternal or it is not. How is life on Sunday which can be lost on Monday Eternal?

    HankD
    </font>[/QUOTE]There are many seemingly binary things in Christianity that are not. Many of these binary distinctions are logical constraints created by human limitations of perception of space and time.

    Is Jesus God or Man?
    Predestination or Free Will?
    The bible as God's writings or human writings?
    Wrath and justice or mercy and love?
     
  7. Pipedude

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    That's easy!

    Eternal things have no beginning.

    It was eternal before you got it.

    It'll still be eternal after you lose it.

    See? :D
     
  8. Pastor Larry

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    Incorrect. Sola Scriptura teaches that the Scripture alone is the authority for faith and practice. The doctrine that the 66 books alone are Scripture is the doctrine of canonicity. Don't confuse the two things.

    Again, incorrect. You have confused hermeneutics and historical theology. Hermeneutics has nothing to do with what interpretations (the results of heremeneutics) are found in church history. Hermeneutics is simply the science of interpretation. A given interpretation (OSAS, conditional security) is th result of hermeneutics. Historical theology is the discipline that studies what has been believed and taught throughout church history. Don't confuse these things.

    To the point of historical theology, we must realize that historical theology is not inspired and cannot be the final test of orthodoxy. Strange and even heretical things have been believed by large numbers of vocal people, with the result that their theology still remains. Historical theology serves as a part of the theological process, but it is unbiblical and unwise to discard a teaching simply because historical theology gives a different reading on it.

    On the issues of a controversy, such as OSAS, the final authority is Scripture. It is said that history hasn't always taught it. That is simply not provable, as was pointed out. It also ignores the teaching of the early church, when Paul, Peter, and John taught eternal security. The route that Craig has gone down is essentially to ignore the true fathers of the church and their writings, for a later generation of uninspired men.

    In short, let's not confuse the issue by misdefining things and by giving a wrong amount of creedance to other things.
     
  9. HankD

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    No, because I can't lose it according to the one who gave it.

    "I give unto them eternal life and they shall never perish"

    I'de rather believe Him than you. [​IMG]

    HankD
     
  10. Pipedude

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    Hey, pay attention!

    You asked how something could be eternal if it could be lost.

    All I did was demonstrate that the two categories aren't mutually exclusive, hoping that folks might quit using dumb arguments when better ones are readily available.

    Fond hope...
     
  11. HankD

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    I was trying to show with Jesus promise - the only argument that really counts ("they shall never perish") that "eternal" is both qualitative (from an eternal being) as well as quantitative (everlasting), without an end.

    So in this case you are mistaken with your human reasoning when it is held up to the Word of God which you (IMO) have inadvertantly called a "dumb argument" namely: - "they shall never perish".

    "never" is a very simple word.
    Did Jesus mean what He said or not?

    John 5:24
    24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

    John 6
    37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

    I'm only trying to help you brother to understand and grow in the salvation that you possess.

    HankD
     
  12. Pipedude

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    You actually have no idea of what I believe about eternal security, as I've never addressed the issue, and have no interest in the debate. All I addressed is the dumb argument that something can't be eternal if it can be lost.

    Whether or not you have something

    or used to have it

    or may someday have it

    is irrelevant to the matter of whether or not it can be eternal. They are distinct and unrelated categories. Relating them is poor style for an educated polemicist, even though it's ubiquitous in the OSAS crowd. The argument gets used so much, nobody ever stops to turn on his brain and realize that it's nonsense.

    You can build a strong, healthy OSAS argument in twelve different ways. You don't need to drag in the "How can it be eternal?" ditty.

    If that's not clear yet, tell me and I'll try again.
     
  13. HankD

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    "they shall never perish".

    HankD
     
  14. HankD

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    When all else fails, deploy the ad hominem attack.

    HankD
     
  15. webdog

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    John 10:28 in the greek is powerful: "kagw didwmi autoiv zwhn aiwnion, kai ou mh apolwntai eiv ton aiwna..."
    Where we translate it in english "I give unto them eternal life, and they will never perish..." we fail to leave out the double negative. It probably read more like this in the greek "I give them life without end, and they will never perish, forever (or no, not ever)...". It's powerful because Jesus is saying this.
    This verse alone should put an end to the OSAS debate about losing something that is eternal and "not perishing, forever".
     
  16. RightFromWrong

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    I agree with DHK and Pastor Larry. RIGHT on [​IMG] The Bible is our final authority.

    The Mormons count on other books more than they do the Bible and so do you Craig :(
     
  17. Pipedude

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    I resign.

    Beam me up.
     
  18. UZThD

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    I'm a Five Pointer who happily trusts God for my security, but coincidentally I try to surrender all to Him. I don't want to argue about it ; I'm enjoying too much the living of it.

    Bill
     
  19. UZThD

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  20. UZThD

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