The theological bankruptcy of Sola Scriptura

Discussion in '2005 Archive' started by Matt Black, Apr 1, 2005.

  1. Matt Black

    Matt Black
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    I've hinted elsewhere of my progressive disenchantment with this (evangelical) doctrine. Permit me to elaborate that here, dear BB members!

    As I dialogue with other evangelical Christians, the more I become convinced that sola Scriptura is a nonsense and that there is a need for a single church teaching authority to interpret the Bible. This trend seems to be more marked the more fundamentalist the parties tend to be. For instance, I recently had the misfortune to observe a heated debate in the Theolgy Forum here between a whole load of Christians on whether it was theologically correct to be pre-millenialist, post-millenialist or a-millenialist. These 'armed factions' further broke down into those who believed vehemently in a pre-tribulation rapture (and they in turn divided into those who thought that would be open or secret), post-trib rapturists, total and partial preterists ad nauseam . Each faction was absolutely convinced that they had it right and were busy flinging personal insults and anathemas at everyone else, and generally presenting an appalling witness.

    But - get this; here's the real rub - they were all quoting the same Scriptures at each other and all claiming that their interpretation of those verses was the correct one ! All claimed to be inspired by the Holy Spirit in their interpretation and all were determined to rely on just the Bible alone for their doctrine.

    (The same could be said for cessationist v charismatic debates, Calvinist v Arminian, dispensationalist v covenantist, presbyterian v episcopalian v congregationalist, paedo-baptist v believers' baptist etc)

    This leads me to a rather obvious conclusion: if relying on the Bible alone plus the individual inspiration of the Holy Spirit leads to this doctrinal anarchy, then clearly either the Holy Spirit isn't doing a very good job...OR there is the need for some kind of singular teaching authority to interpret scripture....

    Discuss! (I'm particularly interested in the views of the evangelical camp here, although the thread is of course open to all; I'm also aware that I am to a degree preaching to the converted to those who hold Tradition in high esteem )

    I should add that this is not just about eschatology either; it's about all the issues (and more) to which I referred above. Now, some are peripheral issues to you and I like eschatology (though not, it seems to some of the protagonists!). But some are critical to eg: mode of salvation - is it faith alone, faith plus works, once saved always saved, salvation through baptismal regeneration (if we are sola Scriptura then we can all have endless dialogues of the deaf about I Peter 3:21 - but the interpretation of that verse is crucial soteriologically).

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  2. Monergist

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    :eek: :eek: :eek:

    MATT, PLEASE, TURN AROUND!!!!!

    The problem is NOT Sola Scriptura.

    I know that these discussions get ugly sometimes, but we got to chalk that up to our fallen sinful nature. Do you think a "single church authority" is gonna fix it?

    Matt, we have got to have the scripture alone as our source of authority, or we will find ourselves and especially our childrens generations in a mess. Just look at the hundreds of years for which that hideous Roman "single church authority" virtually extinguished the light of scripture.

    I agree that there is only one correct interpretation of scripture; I think thats what you are saying here. The problem is; There ain't nobody got that only one correct interpretation completely down pat yet. So the authority that you want simply does not exist. Except in the one who gave us the scripture.
     
  3. Living4Him

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    Please tell me where this is scriptual.

    If you are referring to II Tim. 3:16-17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
    That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

    Then you are taking these passages out of context.

    Verse 10, Paul lauds them for following his doctrine. What is his doctrine? Is it a book that he wrote? No, Paul spoke orally. His doctrine was oral Tradition which he passed on to others.

    Verse 14, "continue in the things you have LEARNED and that have been ENTRUSTED to you". What can this verse possibly mean, except to KEEP THE TRADITIONS of which you have been taught?

    Verse 15, "from your infancy, you have known the Sacred Writings which are able to instruct you unto salvation..." Since 2Timothy was written probably between 63 and 66 and before 67 A.D., when St. Paul was martyred, then the infancy of Timothy, to whom Paul addressed this epistle, had to have been many years earlier, before any New Testament (N.T.) book was written. Timothy was regarded as the Bishop of Ephesus (1Timothy 1:3) and had to have been at least 25-30 years of age at the time the epistle 2Timothy was written. If we subtract an age of just 25 from a possible 66 A.D., Timothy would have been an infant in 41 A.D., and even earlier if he was older than 25 and/or the Epistle was written before 66. Paul had to have been talking about the Old Testament (O.T.)only. The SS believer is then forced to accept only the O.T. to which Paul referred in this verse. The same is also obligated to reject the entire New Testament altogether, since none of it was even written by 41

    Paul said, "ALL Scripture is inspired by GOD...". Just what Scripture did Paul have at the time? The only Scripture available to Paul was the Old Testament in either of two forms, the Hebrew, or the Greek Septuagint. Scholars agree that the Septuagint was the most quoted in the N.T., and it had all of the books including those which Protestants rejected during the reformation. This then puts SS believers in the difficult position of having to accept the "Deuterocanonicals" (called "Apocrypha by them"), which were in the Septuagint which Greek speaking Jews, including Saint Paul used.

    Also some claim that it is the Bible which is the "Pillar and the Foundation of Truth", and will reject the fact that it is not the Bible, but the Church, as stated in 1Timothy 3:15.
     
  4. Doubting Thomas

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    (Never mind.)
     
  5. Matt Black

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    I'm not arguing for a single Roman teaching authority here; I'm not sure that is possible after 1054. But it did seem to work before then, and the problem you highlighted in your last paragraph,namely that no-one has got the correct interpretation, does not assist epistemologically at all

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  6. Joseph_Botwinick

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    DT,

    You should consider looking and the date of the Original Post in this thread.

    Joseph Botwinick
     
  7. Matt Black

    Matt Black
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    It's not an April Fool, Joseph

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  8. Joseph_Botwinick

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    Matt,

    I was merely cluing him in that you were back.

    Joseph Botwinick
     
  9. 4His_glory

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    The Roman Catholic Chruch posed itself (and still does) as that single church authority. It cause many problems by doing so.

    Suppose we do have a single church authority and it turns to some unorthodox positions. What do we do then? If we were told that it is the single authority, and we must subscribe to its interpretation all the time, then we will not disputed the false doctrines it proposes.

    One of our Baptist disctinctives, which I believe can be supported from Scripture, is indivudual soul liberty, and the preisthood of the believer. We are all allowed to worship God according to the dictates of our own consience.

    This at times cause dispute over the interpretation of certain passages, but it is better to have this freedom than live in the bondage of a "singal church authority".
     
  10. Matt Black

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    Joseph, thanks!

    4His_glory, and those distinctives help us epistemologically how, exactly? On what basis and with what authority do we assert that doctrines are false or true?

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  11. Gold Dragon

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    I would say that Sola Scriptura and biblical inerrancy both present similar issues.

    That even if the bible were inerrant and the final authority, it is still being interpreted by non-authoritative and errant humans. It is only through the grace of the Holy Spirit that there is even a some semblance of what we can consider to be orthodoxy.

    And to dispel any confusion, I state with absolute confidence that the Bible is God's completely authoritative and trustworthy scriptures to mankind.
     
  12. Matt Black

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    But how then do we interpret it; if there is no infallible or inerrant interpretation what value is an infallible or inerrant Bible?

    Yours in Christ

    Matt
     
  13. Gold Dragon

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    That is our dilemma isn't it. I would say there is still much value to be had despite our non-authoritative and errant interpretations.

    1) Just because we are not infallable and inerrant doesn't mean we are wrong all of the time and our interpretations have no authority. Just that we aren't perfect. God has bless us with hermeneutical tools that allow us to arrive at the correct interpretation much of the time. Things like the ability to read contextually in addition to documented evidence of the historical and cultural context to arrive as close as we can to the original intent of the authors. The contributions of other Holy Spirit indwelled Christians (some under the tradition of the Catholic Church) are also valuable for consideration of that intent.

    2) However, more importantly, He has promised us the Holy Spirit to personally reveal to us his truth. That doesn't mean we are always right because it is still errant us interpreting scripture through the revelation of the inerrant Holy Spirit.

    Additionally from the quotations of the OT by the apostles in the NT, we also see how the Holy Spirit has often indwelled meaning not originally intended by the OT authors into their words. That meaning was revealed later to the NT authors as being fulfilled. While that may happen today, it is with caution and consideration of the rest of scripture that we propose that the Holy Spirit continues to reveal truth in this way.
     
  14. Eric B

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    Still; those "oral traditions" are going to be the same teachings and practices thay they eventually did write down as the "New Testament". That does not give us the license to take any old "church tradition"; including some that outright contradict the OT scriptures (e.g. "you shallnot make any engraven image, nor bow down to worship it"; etc). Even those traditions were in a state of constant change in the early centuries; with new ones conatantly being added. So you end up having to cut it off somewhere and say "THIS was the original apostolic tradition"; but it still odens;lt lie up with what they actually wrote. How then do we know if it's true? We then basically have th take the word of the HUMAN person or institution telling us this. But by now; the "faith" ends up being in the arm of flesh; some man or men who are no less prone to lying to us than the next one you see down the street. So what Gold Dragon and Monergist are saying is right on target.
    That means the truth is SUPPORTED by the Church, for that is what a pillar and ground does. It does not mean that it is DETERMINED (created, manufactured, shaped, etc) by the Church!
     
  15. steaver

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    Where in scripture does it tell us to interpret scripture?

    God Bless!
     
  16. BobRyan

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    #1. I suggest you think through exactly what you "are" proposing and then state it.

    #2. Are you aware of the Lateran IV council and their recommendation for "Extermination" regarding dissenters?

    Certainly an impressive attempt to regain/maintain that pre-1050's ideal of "ONE" and "ONLY ONE" agreed upon authority wouldn't you say?

    #3. In each of the areas you presented both RC and NON-RC groups "take a specific stand".

    How do you propose that ALL are to be forced to "Agree" against their convictions??

    In the RC system - they need a "ploy" to make that happen - and the ploy is "infallibllity for the Pope".

    Take that away and even "they" have a hard to finding one FALLIBLE group that they will always submit to against their convictions.


    Conclusion:

    Basically it is a "pipe dream" to suppose that WITHOUT the claim for infallibility - people can be convinced to yield to some fallible group "Against their convictions".

    In John 14 Christ states that His "successor" is the Holy Spirit. But Christ never took a sword to all who differed with Him and even Peter says to Christ in MAtt 16 "NO Lord may it NEVER BE" when Christ tells of the plan of salvation.

    IN Acts 15 they are all of ONE denomination and then they yield to the Jerusalem council that is factioned - but still submissive to the "judgment" of James.

    That is within a SINGLE "denomination" when Christianity was run by the leadership of the Apostles.

    We have no "Cross Denomination" model forcing all to agree - apart from the wars of the dark ages "owned and operative" for long centuries by the RCC.

    In Christ,

    Bob
     
  17. Gold Dragon

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    I think a more accurate statement would be that the "infallibility of the Magesterium" is the "ploy" used by Catholics while the implied "inerrancy of our interpretations" of an "inerrant authoritative Bible" is the "ploy" used by evangelicals.
     
  18. Living4Him

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    But not everything that Jesus did is contained in the Bible. John 21:25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen

    Also, SS is a man made doctrine. When was the earliest possible time that the New Testament, as we know it now, came into being? For Sola Scriptura to work at all, it had to be available to the people so they could practice it, is that not true? What New Testament Bible did someone living in 333 use? 222? 111?

    How were Bibles reproduced before the invention of the printing press in 1450?

    How did the early Church evangelize and survive and prosper for over 350 years, without knowing for sure which books belong in the canon of Scripture?

    Who had the authority to infallibly decide which books belonged in the N.T. canon and to make this decision binding on all Christians?
    Since there is only one truth in Holy Scripture, and only one Holy Spirit to prompt us,
    how then can:

    Baptists believe once saved, always saved, yet the Church of Christ says this is not scriptural?

    Seventh Day Adventists say we have to worship on Saturday, but Presbyterians say on Sunday?

    Lutherans believe in the 'true presence' in the Holy Eucharist, yet Baptists do not?

    Episcopalians say The Trinity is 3 persons in one GOD, yet Mormons say it is 3 separate GOD's?

    Methodists accept female ministers, yet Baptists say it is not Biblical?

    The Assembly of GOD uses instrumental music, yet the Church of Christ says it is not Biblical?
     
  19. Living4Him

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    It would appear that you may have a misconception with regard to the "infallibilty of the pope"

    "The Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra-that is, when in discharge of the office of pastor and teacher of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine regarding Faith or Morals to be held by the universal Church, by the divine assistance promised to him in Blessed Peter, is possessed of that infallibility with which the divine Redeemer willed that His Church should be endowed in defining doctrine regarding Faith or Morals; and therefore such definitions are irreformable of themselves, and not in virtue of consent of the Church."

    Condensed, this means, a Papal infallible statement, when all conditions are met, has freedom from error in teaching the universal Church in matters of faith or morals.

    So, is the Bishop of Rome, the Pope a sinner?
    Yes, we all are sinners. He is no different from the rest of us in that respect.


    Now what about the authors of the New Testament, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Peter and others? Were they infallible people or were they sinners?

    How then, could fallible men write such inerrant documents as the books they authored? It is because they were guided by the Holy Spirit. GOD prevented them from writing error. GOD is the same yesterday, today, and forever. If GOD prevented these men from writing error, why then could He not do the same for the successor of St. Peter today?
     
  20. DHK

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    There are reports that the Pope just died. Are you hinting that you want to take his place??
    Who then should this "single teaching authority be?"
    DHK
     

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