Theological Method: Is sola scriptura possible?

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by Daniel Dunivan, Oct 8, 2002.

  1. Daniel Dunivan

    Daniel Dunivan
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    In the discussion "The Holy Trinity: Defined," there has been a sort of side debate concerning the ability of scripture alone to form our theology.

    I hope in making this a discussion of its own that the Trinity discussion can be focused more upon this foundational doctrine.

    I am interested in seeing if you think sola scriptura is possible.
     
  2. Jeff Weaver

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    Very interesting topic. My answer:

    In theory yes, it is possible, in practical application exceedingly rare.

    To elaborate. We all have our own experience which, being human, will color our thoughts. We all have a history personal and church which will influence how we deal with Biblical issues.

    We all have slightly different understanding of how language is used, especially idiomatic speech.

    To few of us have sufficient historical knowledge to understand the circumstances of Biblical events to clearly understand them.

    Our memories are faulty, and many people of good faith think they know a scripture for this or that, and fail to look it up to re-read it, check the context, etc.

    So, to sum up sola scriptura is a goal we should strive to attain, but this sinner saved by the mercy of God realizes he will probably never reach that ideal. He also has serious doubts about any one else reaching that goal either.

    Warm regards
    Jeff Weaver
     
  3. Daniel Dunivan

    Daniel Dunivan
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    Jeff,

    You said:
    My point in this debate has been that it is impossible to escape the use of our experience, tradition, and reason in applying biblical texts, and because of this our theology is not formed by scripture alone.

    [ October 09, 2002, 10:16 AM: Message edited by: Daniel Dunivan ]
     
  4. swaimj

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    Sola Scriptura would say that the scriptures are the sole source of belief and the sole authority for belief. I consider neither experience nor tradition to be a source or an authority for belief. As for reason, it is a tool by which humans seek to understand and logically sumarize what we conclude from the scriptures. The fact that there are areas of theology in which we hold to a mystery (or some might say a paradox) is evidence that we intentionally do not exalt reason over the scriptures. If we come to a scriptural teaching that defies human reason, we accept the teaching by faith in spite of our inability to understand it.

    Since neither tradition, experience, or logic serves as a source or authority for belief, I would argue that Sola Scriptura still stands.
     
  5. Jeff Weaver

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    Then I would agree with you on this one. I reiterate that sola scriputra would be an ideal goal, but due to our nature, whether we like it or not, it is exceedingly difficult to attain.
     
  6. Jim1999

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    Sola Scriptura is the essence of theological truth.

    There are, however, some doctrines we combine scripture and logic. For instance, creation and the existence of God.

    We can neither prove nor disprove the existence of God, but by a combination of scripture and logic we come to an understanding of God. Hence we conclude that God is, and then follow scripture totally to define God.

    On the other hand, the trinity defies logic, and we must rest solely on scripture. St Patrick tried to illustrate the trinity by using a three-leaved clover.....this failed when he found one with four leaves.

    With this in mind, I support the idea of sola scriptura.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  7. Helen

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    Tradition, experience, and logic certainly influence us. But I think the idea of Sola Scriptura is that if there is a disagreement between any of the first three and Scripture, Scripture wins.

    I have found after so many years of reading and then teaching Bible that it is pretty definite about what God is asking of us, still leaving a lot of latitude for guidance by the Holy Spirit in our personal lives.

    The Catholics depend on tradition.
    Eve depended on logic.
    Experience? That can be a help, but it's awfully narrow since it's only what I have gone through!

    I would add, that learning from an authority I have learned to trust is also something that can help, but again, if there is a difference between that teaching and Scripture, Scripture is my final and sole final authority.
     
  8. jerryMschneider

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    This is quite an interesting and important concept to discuss! Already I see that there seems to be a misunderstanding of what Sola Script. is. (Or at least it seems to me that there is some confusion). First would any one care to advance a definition for Sola Script. so we all can agree on that and then move the discussion forward. [​IMG]
     
  9. Scott J

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    Reason is not only necessary but commanded by scripture under guidance of the Holy Spirit. We are to be discerning. You cannot have any system of belief without an element of reason. However, reason must always be subjected to scripture (the standard) or else it becomes an expression of feelings (experience).

    Both experience and tradition are dangerous traps of Satan. Most of the errors we see in American Christianity today can be directly related to experential religion.

    Usually any debate with an Arminian, in particular those opposed to eternal security, will quickly turn from what scripture says to what they "have seen." They will deny whole chapters of scripture in context such as Romans 8-9 and Ephesians 1 based on their experience with someone they thought was saved.

    The pentacostal/charasmatic/health & wealth perversions stem from this idea that if it "feels" right then it must be from God. Based on this, they have churches where people speak in gibberish calling it "tongues", go into trances for hours, roll around on the floor, etc. then attribute it to the Holy Spirit.

    Any scriptures they offer in defense are taken badly out of context.

    [ October 10, 2002, 09:48 AM: Message edited by: Scott J ]
     
  10. Rev. Joshua

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    Yet for thousands of years when the Bible said that God "stopped the sun" that was interpreted literally. Now that we are certain that we live in a heliocentric universe, our extra-biblical reason has led us to interpret that metaphorically.

    Sometimes we do let reason trump a literal reading of the Bible.

    Joshua
     
  11. rlvaughn

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    Before answering, I would define my understanding of the term: Sola scriptura is the teaching that the Bible is the sole spiritual authority. It is the belief that there is only one special revelation from God that man possesses today, the written Scriptures. Consequently the Scriptures are sufficient to be the ultimate authority for the God's people and His churches.

    With that understanding, I would say that sola scriptura is something that is, not something we do. But from the practical standpoint, though we may believe that sola scriptura is the truth, we do not always allow the scriptures to be the all-sufficient rule of faith and practice because of certain reasons (experience, tradition, self-interest, etc., as mentioned by others).
     
  12. Bible-belted

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    "Sometimes we do let reason trump a literal reading of the Bible."

    Not at all.

    What you see as reason trumping a literal reading is simply having the wisdom to be appropriately literal. It is never wrong to speak of the sun rising and setting for so it appears to us phenomenally. Indeed, we speak that way today even knowing the scientific truth.

    To speak as you do implies that we should hold the Bible to the standards of 20th century science, that it should describe things scientyifically.

    That is simply untrue.
     
  13. tyndale1946

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    Daniel Dunivan said:
    I shall speak as one who was in that debate and withdrew because to me it was an exercise in futility. Even if you use your experience, tradition, and reason in applying biblical texts to the Holy Trinity how can we as mortal sinful humans understand the immortal Holy Triune Godhead? I just take it with an eye of faith and if God wanted us to know he would tell us. The following scripture will illustrate my point.

    I Timothy 3: 16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory... We should contend for those things God did reveal and not those that he didn't... That to me brethren is Sola Scriptura!... Brother Glen [​IMG]
     
  14. Johnv

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    The concept of one scripture is flawed. We don't have one scripture. We have 66 scriptures. We must see each one separately. It's true that they all have one unifying purpose, but we must remember the purpose of each.

    We're not going to learn much about salvation from Song of Solomon.
     
  15. Scott J

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    Since this was a miraculous event, how do you know what the mechanics of performing it were? By definition, miracles defy science.

    Yes... which goes to the core of the matter. Our reasoning is not infallible nor God inspired. The Bible obviously uses figurative language at times but we should not work from the premise that anything that offends our reason is by necessity non-literal.
     
  16. KenH

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    Actually, we can learn quite a lot. We can learn of the love of Christ Jesus for His people. [​IMG]

    Ken
     
  17. Helen

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    Amen, Ken.

    Joshua, the only parts of the Bible which are not written from an 'earth's eye' view are Genesis 1:1-2:4a and Revelation. What Joshua was aware of what that the sun itself appeared to stop in the sky. We still talk about the sun rising and setting, so there is no reason we cannot understand that what Joshua saw and what caused him to see that are different.

    Scott, it may have been a direct miracle, but there is evidence that it wasn't. There are records of a 'double night' or such in both China and Central America which date from this time. We were probably experiencing a true natural occurence. George Dodwell, for years government astronomer for South Australia and a strong Christian, spent a number of years studying evidence that the earth had tilted not just once, but a couple of times, and then wobbled afterward. One of the wobbles dates exactly to the time of Joshua and this may have been the cause of what happened in terms of nature. In terms of timing it was pure God!
     
  18. Ransom

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    jerryMschneider said:

    First would any one care to advance a definition for Sola Script. so we all can agree on that and then move the discussion forward.

    Since no one has yet done this, I propose the following:

    In other words, all that is necessary to believe to be a Christian is contained in the Scriptures. Conversely, the Christian conscience is not bound by that which is not contained in the Scriptures.
     
  19. Johnv

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    Your point is well taken Ken. What I was getting at was that Song of Solomon is book of love poems (and good ones at that), and when we study SoS and keep that in mind, we end up with a better and more accurate understanding.
     
  20. Johnv

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    By definition, miracles defy science.
    Not true. The biblical word for miracle means "to wonder at" and has no bering on whether or not it defies science.

    Scott, it may have been a direct miracle, but there is evidence that it wasn't. There are records of a 'double night' or such in both China and Central America which date from this time.

    Don't confuse a miracle to be a work of magic instead of a work of wonder. Miracles are works of wonder, not magic. If every miracle in the Bible had a scientific explanation, they would be miracles nonetheless.

    The event you described was indeed a miracle, even if it can be explained.

    [ October 10, 2002, 05:58 PM: Message edited by: Johnv ]
     

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