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  • A Discussion of Sola Scriptura

    The first thing I have to say, before anyone mistakes me, is that Sola Scriptura is not the same thing as Inerrancy. I affirm that the Word of God is authoritative. Denying Sola Scriptura is not a denial of inerrancy. Just so we’re all clear. I’ll define my understanding of Sola Scriptura also, so that no one thinks I am disputing something here that I am not. I have to say this upfront as sometimes these things run together.
    I know the nature of this forum is primarily evangelical, and I usually try not to push my beliefs that are well outside the evangelical mainstream here. However, I would like to discuss this issue with some Reformation Protestants, get a better understanding of where the notion comes from, and explain why at this point I find it dubious.

    Sola Scriptura, meaning “scripture alone,” has a few different understandings, but basically means something like “Scripture is the only authoritative source of doctrine, it is clear, sufficient, and self-interpreting.
    Hilighted above are the parts I dispute.

    1. The doctrine of Sola Scriptura fails its own test.
    If every doctrine must be proved Biblically, then so must that doctrine itself.2 Timothy tells us that Scriptures is authoritative, but it does not tell us anything about “scripture alone” as far as I can tell.
    On this board I often see people respond with something like “I need a chapter and verse for that.” Of course, it seems the natural response to such a thing would be “Actually, I need a chapter and verse for that.” So the first question for believers in Sola Scriptura is, “can you prove Sola Scriptura scripturally?”

    2. Sola Scriptura appeals to an authority other than scripture.

    Of course, some authority other than Scripture has to define authority. The early church accepted the LXX as canonical. I would imagine that most you accept the rather limited canon of what is left after Luther demoted a number of books found in the LXX to a lower class, which later disappeared entirely. I assume this because I do not often see 2 Maccabees cited, for example. So – a question for believes in Sola: What authority defines Scripture? Did Luther have authority to define Scripture? Did the Council of Trent or the earlier Councils? If so, does it not follow that the Church or Church Councils have authority in matters of doctrine and interpretation?
    All of us assert an authority other than Scripture in order to have a Scriptures. I would suggest that if your Bible only has 66 books, the authority to which you appeal is a bit more convoluted than what I consider the complete canon. But either way – what is that authority and what are its implications regarding doctrinal authority?

    3. You actually don’t believe Sola Scriptura, you accept the concept of Tradition

    The vast majority of you believe in the Trinity (I assume and hope!). I know you did not all independently arive at this conclusion through private study and devotion. You accepted it in a manner similar to the way the older Churches accept Tradition, the concept that teachings handed down from the Apostles to the Church Fathers and preserved in the Church are authoritative. I know Matthew gives us the Trinitarian format for Baptism, and the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all over the Bible. For instance, I know Protestants affirm the Nicene Creed – not all of which is explicit in the Bible. It is an interpretation that Protestants accept as inerrant. So the questions: Is it permissible to entertain anti-Nicene notions or is Church Tradition authoritative? Or did you all develop the Nicene Creed directly on your own from the Bible on your own?

    4. Apostolic Tradition is Biblical

    It is in Thess 2:15 in what is my opinion complete black and white. Paul exhorts them to hold fast not only to what was written but what was verbally taught. Polycarp, for example, was taught by John. We do not have access in the Scriptures to everything Paul said must be held to. Tradition (that is, the teachings of Jesus to the Apostles, of the Holy Spirit inspired Apostles to their followers, and so on and so forth) is necessary for doctrinal completion and correct interpretation, no?

    Please give any thoughts and I would love dicussion of these questions, and I welcome challenges to position with open arms and open ears.

    I feel the msot important questions under discussion are related to 1 and 2.
    -Can you prove Sola Scripture using only scripture?
    -What authority defines scripture for us?
    “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”
    -R.A. Heinlein

  • #2
    Re: A Discussion of Sola Scriptura

    Originally posted by adampjr View Post
    The first thing I have to say, before anyone mistakes me, is that Sola Scriptura is not the same thing as Inerrancy. I affirm that the Word of God is authoritative. Denying Sola Scriptura is not a denial of inerrancy. Just so we’re all clear. I’ll define my understanding of Sola Scriptura also, so that no one thinks I am disputing something here that I am not. I have to say this upfront as sometimes these things run together.
    I know the nature of this forum is primarily evangelical, and I usually try not to push my beliefs that are well outside the evangelical mainstream here. However, I would like to discuss this issue with some Reformation Protestants, get a better understanding of where the notion comes from, and explain why at this point I find it dubious.

    4. Apostolic Tradition is Biblical

    It is in Thess 2:15 in what is my opinion complete black and white. Paul exhorts them to hold fast not only to what was written but what was verbally taught. Polycarp, for example, was taught by John. We do not have access in the Scriptures to everything Paul said must be held to. Tradition (that is, the teachings of Jesus to the Apostles, of the Holy Spirit inspired Apostles to their followers, and so on and so forth) is necessary for doctrinal completion and correct interpretation, no?

    Please give any thoughts and I would love dicussion of these questions, and I welcome challenges to position with open arms and open ears.

    I feel the msot important questions under discussion are related to 1 and 2.
    -Can you prove Sola Scripture using only scripture?
    -What authority defines scripture for us?
    2nd Thessalonians 2:15
    "Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle."

    There is nothing future about this verse. Does Paul say to stand firm and hold fast to traditions that "will be" delivered? Does Paul say to hold on to interpretations and understandings that have not yet developed? No, this oral tradition [paradosis] or ordinance that they have been taught has already been delivered to the entire Church at Thessalonica. Now, what does oral refer to? We first note that the context of the passage is the Gospel and its work among the Thessalonians. The tradition/ordinances Paul speaks of are not traditions held by the Catholic Church. It wasn't the traditions of Papal Infallibility. Instead, the traditions Paul refers to have to do with a single topic. It was a topic that was close to his heart. He is encouraging these believers to stand firm--in what? Was it in oral traditions about subjects and doctrines not found in the scriptures? God forbid! No, he is exhorting them to stand firm in what he has orally taught them of what is already in the gospel. The Old Testament concealed is the New Testament revealed. There is simply nothing in these passages to support the theory of a separate oral tradition "different" from what was written or what Paul taught concerning Old Testament prophecy. Note it says what Paul taught "whether by word, or our epistle (letter). He's stressing that whether they heard it in a sermon or testimony, or whether they read it in a letter. It's not oral versus word, it's the oral of the word. i.e., explaining the word orally. Likewise note that in passages like 1st Peter chapter 1, the consistency of his Peter's teaching with that of the prophets, and of the other Apostles is vividly stressed.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: A Discussion of Sola Scriptura

      Originally posted by RogerW View Post
      2nd Thessalonians 2:15
      "Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle."

      There is nothing future about this verse. Does Paul say to stand firm and hold fast to traditions that "will be" delivered? Does Paul say to hold on to interpretations and understandings that have not yet developed? No, this oral tradition [paradosis] or ordinance that they have been taught has already been delivered to the entire Church at Thessalonica. Now, what does oral refer to? We first note that the context of the passage is the Gospel and its work among the Thessalonians. The tradition/ordinances Paul speaks of are not traditions held by the Catholic Church. It wasn't the traditions of Papal Infallibility. Instead, the traditions Paul refers to have to do with a single topic. It was a topic that was close to his heart. He is encouraging these believers to stand firm--in what? Was it in oral traditions about subjects and doctrines not found in the scriptures? God forbid! No, he is exhorting them to stand firm in what he has orally taught them of what is already in the gospel. The Old Testament concealed is the New Testament revealed. There is simply nothing in these passages to support the theory of a separate oral tradition "different" from what was written or what Paul taught concerning Old Testament prophecy. Note it says what Paul taught "whether by word, or our epistle (letter). He's stressing that whether they heard it in a sermon or testimony, or whether they read it in a letter. It's not oral versus word, it's the oral of the word. i.e., explaining the word orally. Likewise note that in passages like 1st Peter chapter 1, the consistency of his Peter's teaching with that of the prophets, and of the other Apostles is vividly stressed.
      I agree that he cannot be referring to traditions that would be made 100s of years later, such as papal infallibility.I don't know how the text refers to exclusively teachings of stuff that is written. Why would the authoritative teachings of Paul in word necessarily all be in writing?
      “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”
      -R.A. Heinlein

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: A Discussion of Sola Scriptura

        Originally posted by adampjr View Post
        The first thing I have to say, before anyone mistakes me, is that Sola Scriptura is not the same thing as Inerrancy. I affirm that the Word of God is authoritative. Denying Sola Scriptura is not a denial of inerrancy. Just so we’re all clear. I’ll define my understanding of Sola Scriptura also, so that no one thinks I am disputing something here that I am not. I have to say this upfront as sometimes these things run together.
        I know the nature of this forum is primarily evangelical, and I usually try not to push my beliefs that are well outside the evangelical mainstream here. However, I would like to discuss this issue with some Reformation Protestants, get a better understanding of where the notion comes from, and explain why at this point I find it dubious.

        Sola Scriptura, meaning “scripture alone,” has a few different understandings, but basically means something like “Scripture is the only authoritative source of doctrine, it is clear, sufficient, and self-interpreting.
        Hilighted above are the parts I dispute.
        You address two issues, which if understood, might shorten the answers to your question.
        1. The first question is; Is the great God of the Universe, who spoke out the billions of galaxies (Ps.33:6), with their massive amounts of matter and energy, able to control the affairs of men to such an extent that He can have the Canon as He wishes, despite the best efforts of men, both friend and foe of scripture trying to intervene? If the answer is no, then the whole discussion is moot, for the bible is subject to the weakness and perfidy of men. If the answer is yes, then the concept of Sola Scriptura is simple to understand and abide by, for this great God has written no other known book of His revelation and precepts.
        2. The bible is not a congenial book. It tells men and women about themselves and it is not flattering. It is actually abhorrent to man's opinion of himself, even to the most honest of us. It also regulates how God wants things done, and this again stands in opposition to man's free will. Therefore, it presents us all with a huge motive for finding an alternate source of instruction, of which "tradition" is the easiest to introduce. If you want and example of this, just look into any evangelical Assembly today and see if the meeting is run according to 1st Corinthians 14 or not. In 99% of these meetings you will see devout and motivated Christians blatantly thwarting the Holy Spirit's instruction on who may speak and who may not.


        Each man must decide for himself...
        1. What are the Words of God
        2. Whether he will abide solely by them or not


        Nothing has changed since the first words of God to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Pleasure some 6'000 years ago. God spoke, Satan called it into question and Eve added to it. The results were catastrophic. Today, God has left a Canon of scripture. Certain men always call it into question. Certain men not only call it into question, but add to it. However much I would like to enter into the questions posed above as an intellectual exercise, I have to answer that these questions must be turned around and the questioners of Sola Scriptura must prove why they will accept any authority BUT scripture.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: A Discussion of Sola Scriptura

          Originally posted by adampjr View Post
          I feel the msot important questions under discussion are related to 1 and 2.
          -Can you prove Sola Scripture using only scripture?
          -What authority defines scripture for us?
          Good thread and opening post, adampjr. Sola Scriptura can be disproven using only scripture. However, the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, as I was taught it is a bit different that what you've provided. The difference lies in the word, sufficient, and the idea was that the scriptures contain all we need to get us to heaven. The notion that our purpose it to get to heaven is a flawed premise, so the conclusion will be flawed as well. Our purpose is to become sons of God, brothers of Jesus, part of God's family. Heaven is simply where we will all party together eternally. (Use the word, celebrate or worship, if party offends!) Oh wait...I haven't used any scripture yet...silly me.

          “Scripture is the only authoritative source of doctrine, it is clear, sufficient, and self-interpreting.”

          Let's see here...

          John 16:12-13 I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

          Romans 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

          Ephesians 2:10 For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

          From these fragments, it can be seen that there are things each of us will need to know that are not contained in scripture. Each of us has a set of good works prepared for us in advance, yet the scriptures do not contain the list for each of us. The only way we can know whether we are walking in God's will at any given point in time is via attentiveness to the Holy Spirit. In effect, these passages disprove only the sufficiency aspect of Sola Scriptura, and at that, only a misguided part of it that is based on a flawed premise. The doctrine (that we each have unique paths prepared by God and that they are brought to us as we need to know them by His Spirit) came from scripture, but the application of it, which is doctrine as well, does not.

          Oh well, I need more coffee before I think about this any more...

          blessings,

          W
          Sunset remembers Eden...sunrise prophesies its return.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: A Discussion of Sola Scriptura

            Originally posted by Walls View Post
            You address two issues, which if understood, might shorten the answers to your question.
            1. The first question is; Is the great God of the Universe, who spoke out the billions of galaxies (Ps.33:6), with their massive amounts of matter and energy, able to control the affairs of men to such an extent that He can have the Canon as He wishes, despite the best efforts of men, both friend and foe of scripture trying to intervene? If the answer is no, then the whole discussion is moot, for the bible is subject to the weakness and perfidy of men. If the answer is yes, then the concept of Sola Scriptura is simple to understand and abide by, for this great God has written no other known book of His revelation and precepts.
            2. The bible is not a congenial book. It tells men and women about themselves and it is not flattering. It is actually abhorrent to man's opinion of himself, even to the most honest of us. It also regulates how God wants things done, and this again stands in opposition to man's free will. Therefore, it presents us all with a huge motive for finding an alternate source of instruction, of which "tradition" is the easiest to introduce. If you want and example of this, just look into any evangelical Assembly today and see if the meeting is run according to 1st Corinthians 14 or not. In 99% of these meetings you will see devout and motivated Christians blatantly thwarting the Holy Spirit's instruction on who may speak and who may not.


            Each man must decide for himself...
            1. What are the Words of God
            2. Whether he will abide solely by them or not


            Nothing has changed since the first words of God to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Pleasure some 6'000 years ago. God spoke, Satan called it into question and Eve added to it. The results were catastrophic. Today, God has left a Canon of scripture. Certain men always call it into question. Certain men not only call it into question, but add to it. However much I would like to enter into the questions posed above as an intellectual exercise, I have to answer that these questions must be turned around and the questioners of Sola Scriptura must prove why they will accept any authority BUT scripture.
            Thanks for the reply walls.

            Firstly, let me affirm the omnipotence of God. I do believe He is capable of just that. However, that does create problems. He seems to have failed for over 1,000 years if your Bible has only 66 books, and now numerous different Christian groups have varying canons. So either, He preserved it once and for all and the early church had the right canon OR despite being capable of preserving the Word, He chose to leave us to our own devices. Neither bodes well for the Protestant canon IMO, so I think a 66-book canon is somewhat of a difficulty for Sola Scriptura.
            Setting all that aside, even if God DID preserve His Word perfectly (which I affirm He did, but NOT as you probably see it) and even if it were YOUR Bible, it does not follow that Sola Scriptura is true IMO. Inerrant, yes. Solely sufficient on its own, I doubt.

            By tradition, what I advocate BTW is not something in 99% of Evangelical circles that you describe, but Apostolic Tradition as affirmed by all pre-Protestant Christian groups.

            Thanks for the discussion!
            “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”
            -R.A. Heinlein

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: A Discussion of Sola Scriptura

              Originally posted by Watchman View Post
              Good thread and opening post, adampjr. Sola Scriptura can be disproven using only scripture. However, the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, as I was taught it is a bit different that what you've provided. The difference lies in the word, sufficient, and the idea was that the scriptures contain all we need to get us to heaven. The notion that our purpose it to get to heaven is a flawed premise, so the conclusion will be flawed as well. Our purpose is to become sons of God, brothers of Jesus, part of God's family. Heaven is simply where we will all party together eternally. (Use the word, celebrate or worship, if party offends!) Oh wait...I haven't used any scripture yet...silly me.

              “Scripture is the only authoritative source of doctrine, it is clear, sufficient, and self-interpreting.”

              Let's see here...

              John 16:12-13 I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

              Romans 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

              Ephesians 2:10 For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

              From these fragments, it can be seen that there are things each of us will need to know that are not contained in scripture. Each of us has a set of good works prepared for us in advance, yet the scriptures do not contain the list for each of us. The only way we can know whether we are walking in God's will at any given point in time is via attentiveness to the Holy Spirit. In effect, these passages disprove only the sufficiency aspect of Sola Scriptura, and at that, only a misguided part of it that is based on a flawed premise. The doctrine (that we each have unique paths prepared by God and that they are brought to us as we need to know them by His Spirit) came from scripture, but the application of it, which is doctrine as well, does not.

              Oh well, I need more coffee before I think about this any more...

              blessings,

              W
              Ah, just waking up? Enjoy that coffee. I'm off to church then to bed. Night shift! I always have to catch up on what is said during the day. Excellent point about the Holy Spirit and John 16. Good stuff.
              My opinion is that we need Apostolic Tradition and the visible Church, we may differ a bit here - but I appreciate your view.

              As it were, we need something to interpret scripture. My opinion is that we need Apostolic Tradition and the visible Church (apart from which is not the usual realm of the Holy Spirit's work IMO), we may differ a bit here.
              “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”
              -R.A. Heinlein

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: A Discussion of Sola Scriptura

                Originally posted by adampjr View Post
                Ah, just waking up? Enjoy that coffee. I'm off to church then to bed. Night shift! I always have to catch up on what is said during the day. Excellent point about the Holy Spirit and John 16. Good stuff.
                My opinion is that we need Apostolic Tradition and the visible Church, we may differ a bit here - but I appreciate your view.

                As it were, we need something to interpret scripture. My opinion is that we need Apostolic Tradition and the visible Church (apart from which is not the usual realm of the Holy Spirit's work IMO), we may differ a bit here.
                Not sure whether we differ or not...depends upon what you mean by apostolic tradition. The scriptures teach that apostles were given to the church by Christ for the equipping of the saints until the church grows into the full stature of Christ, so that gift is ongoing. They cannot teach in contradiction to what has been written, but what has been written is not all truth...not the entirety of truth, I should probably say. In fact, Daniel 10:21 refers to the Book of Truth of which we have no copy. Many adherents of Sola Scriptura have a people-centered view of the scriptures, rather than the correct view Jesus gave us--that they testify of Him.

                Sleep well, but not during church!

                W
                Sunset remembers Eden...sunrise prophesies its return.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: A Discussion of Sola Scriptura

                  Originally posted by adampjr View Post
                  Thanks for the reply walls.

                  Firstly, let me affirm the omnipotence of God. I do believe He is capable of just that. However, that does create problems. He seems to have failed for over 1,000 years if your Bible has only 66 books, and now numerous different Christian groups have varying canons. So either, He preserved it once and for all and the early church had the right canon OR despite being capable of preserving the Word, He chose to leave us to our own devices. Neither bodes well for the Protestant canon IMO, so I think a 66-book canon is somewhat of a difficulty for Sola Scriptura.
                  Setting all that aside, even if God DID preserve His Word perfectly (which I affirm He did, but NOT as you probably see it) and even if it were YOUR Bible, it does not follow that Sola Scriptura is true IMO. Inerrant, yes. Solely sufficient on its own, I doubt.

                  By tradition, what I advocate BTW is not something in 99% of Evangelical circles that you describe, but Apostolic Tradition as affirmed by all pre-Protestant Christian groups.

                  Thanks for the discussion!
                  You have a good argument. And I commend your honesty for using the plural "groups." But Apostolic Tradition "as affirmed by pre-Protestant groups" is actually what is under discussion. If the last Apostle was John then Apostolic Tradition is limited to the sum of scripture. And this in turn predates Constantine in 313 AD, the founder of that "pre-Protestant group" which contends for the extra books. So if Apostolic Tradition is the sum of scripture, have we not proven Sola Scriptura? But if you claim (from tradition) that Peter is your source of "Apostolic Tradition", I would like to show from Peter how Apostolic tradition is limited to scripture already written. In his second letter, in Chapter 1:12-15 and Chapter 3:1 he does not add anything new, but calls all to put things that have been said (past tense to Peter's writing) "in remembrance" (including those said by Paul - 2nd Pet.3:15-16).

                  If there was anything new to come after his writings, or his death, he would not have had to call men to put things in remembrance. He would have said that men should heed those who would show us things to come. Moses, chosen and inspired of God, did this when predicting Christ (Deut.18:15). He said that Israel was obliged to hear and do what he said UNTIL that other One came and spoke. This was affirmed by the thunderous voice on the Mount of Transfiguration. When a battle-hardened Marine sergeant trains his troops over six months, his final briefing before they go into battle contains only this admonition, "remember what I taught you" (past tense). He does not allow for something new on the eve of battle, for what he has taught is the only proven way to go.

                  I propose that all "Apostolic Tradition" stops with John.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: A Discussion of Sola Scriptura

                    Originally posted by Walls View Post
                    You have a good argument. And I commend your honesty for using the plural "groups." But Apostolic Tradition "as affirmed by pre-Protestant groups" is actually what is under discussion. If the last Apostle was John then Apostolic Tradition is limited to the sum of scripture. And this in turn predates Constantine in 313 AD, the founder of that "pre-Protestant group" which contends for the extra books. So if Apostolic Tradition is the sum of scripture, have we not proven Sola Scriptura? But if you claim (from tradition) that Peter is your source of "Apostolic Tradition", I would like to show from Peter how Apostolic tradition is limited to scripture already written. In his second letter, in Chapter 1:12-15 and Chapter 3:1 he does not add anything new, but calls all to put things that have been said (past tense to Peter's writing) "in remembrance" (including those said by Paul - 2nd Pet.3:15-16).

                    If there was anything new to come after his writings, or his death, he would not have had to call men to put things in remembrance. He would have said that men should heed those who would show us things to come. Moses, chosen and inspired of God, did this when predicting Christ (Deut.18:15). He said that Israel was obliged to hear and do what he said UNTIL that other One came and spoke. This was affirmed by the thunderous voice on the Mount of Transfiguration. When a battle-hardened Marine sergeant trains his troops over six months, his final briefing before they go into battle contains only this admonition, "remember what I taught you" (past tense). He does not allow for something new on the eve of battle, for what he has taught is the only proven way to go.

                    I propose that all "Apostolic Tradition" stops with John.
                    Interesting. I would agree that any traditions taht were first concocted after the last Apostles died cannot be considered Apostolic. But the Apostles went all around the known world teaching, so i'm not sure why the sum of Scripture is the limit of the Apostolic Tradition. Really, everything ever said by the Apostles under the influence of the Holy Spirit or memory of the words of Christ are part of it as well. Surely not all things ever preached by the Apostles are recorded in epistles and the Acts of the Apostles. Surely Paul wrote even more letters than those that survived, as well as John and probably all the others. This is why I do not think we can limit Tradition to the sum of canonized Scripture. Remember the Jesus spent a year a with the Apostles in the end and that they taught Paul for a while too. And all of them spent time with their disciples in turn. If Peter closes authority to what has already been said, that cannot be taken to necessarily mean only those things which have been written, much less those that would make it into the canon of Scripture.

                    PS: The Apostles all quoted the Septuagint, which includes those 'extra' books, and the next two generations of Christians all believed in the inspiration of the LXX (see Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Ignatius) the latter being very probably a personal disciple of the Apostle John.
                    “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”
                    -R.A. Heinlein

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: A Discussion of Sola Scriptura

                      Originally posted by adampjr View Post
                      Interesting. I would agree that any traditions taht were first concocted after the last Apostles died cannot be considered Apostolic. But the Apostles went all around the known world teaching, so i'm not sure why the sum of Scripture is the limit of the Apostolic Tradition. Really, everything ever said by the Apostles under the influence of the Holy Spirit or memory of the words of Christ are part of it as well. Surely not all things ever preached by the Apostles are recorded in epistles and the Acts of the Apostles. Surely Paul wrote even more letters than those that survived, as well as John and probably all the others. This is why I do not think we can limit Tradition to the sum of canonized Scripture. Remember the Jesus spent a year a with the Apostles in the end and that they taught Paul for a while too. And all of them spent time with their disciples in turn. If Peter closes authority to what has already been said, that cannot be taken to necessarily mean only those things which have been written, much less those that would make it into the canon of Scripture.

                      PS: The Apostles all quoted the Septuagint, which includes those 'extra' books, and the next two generations of Christians all believed in the inspiration of the LXX (see Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Ignatius) the latter being very probably a personal disciple of the Apostle John.
                      I think we are at the correct place for this discussion. If both of us agree in the inspiration of what we call the Canon (let's include the Apocrypha in that for the sake of the argument), and both of us agree that God is omnipotent in the matter of sustaining that part He has chosen, you must now put forth the proof for the validity of Tradition, as this lies outside the Canon.

                      But before we go there I must comment on your statements above. While all scripture is inspired (2nd Tim.3:16), not all other writing is inspired, and not all the actions and words of the Apostles are inspired. There is a difference between the Lord being with the Apostles and the Lord inspiring the Apostles. For instance, Paul is warned twice by bona-fide sources from the Holy Spirit, not to go to Jerusalem or his ministry of Church-building in various parts of the world would be over. Paul goes anyway and the end result is as predicted. But in his captivity, Paul writes that God has turned the failed situation to His (God's) favor (Phil.1:12). Here we see Paul's words and actions not in accordance with the Holy Spirit. Paul had been specifically sent to the Gentiles by the direct instructions of the Holy Spirit (Rom.15:16; Gal.2:7), so his final trip to Jerusalem flew in the face of this. Even though Philippians 1:12 shows how God is with His servants and turns their failure to "furtherance of the Gospel", it would be folly for us to say that Paul's behavior sets the pace for Tradition.

                      I do not doubt that other letters were written. But if God, in His omnipotence, has rejected these writings for His Canon, who are we to include them?

                      Finally, as I posted in a previous post, the bible sets forth behavior - the Law for the Jews and the New Testament writings for the Church. I cited the example of how even devout and Evangelical Christians of today, willingly overthrow God's instructions on how a meeting is to be run (citing 1st Corinthians Chapter 14). Now, why do you think that the Christians would do this? And what is their authority for the overthrow of direct instruction from the Apostle and his inspired writing? It is tradition. Tradition is given for one reason only. To do what scripture does not require. It is given credence because it allows men to overthrow scripture. Let's look at some examples;
                      • I repeat the behavior of Catholic AND Evangelical Christians in a Church meeting
                      • Most Catholic and Evangelical Churches have one leader, either Priest or Pastor - scripture always associates "Elders (plural) to a Local Church).
                      • In a Catholic Church there are graven images, something forbidden in the Old Testament and not changed in the New.
                      • In a Catholic Church, among the graven images, is one of Mary crushing the serpents head with her foot. Scripture said it would be the "seed" of the woman who crushed the serpents head.
                      • The Catholic Church commanded fasting before the Lord's Table (Communion). Scripture commands to eat before the Lord's table (1st Cor.11:21-22)
                      • The Catholic Church forbids meat on a Friday but scripture says the forbidding of foods is a doctrine of demons (1st Tim.4:1-2)
                      • Again the Catholic Church forbids its Elders (Priests) to marry. Again, a doctrine of demons in scripture (1st Tim.4:1-2)
                      • The Catholic Church has steps up to its altar. In reference to this in the Old Testament, this was forbidden, and in the New the place of worship is the human spirit, not a place (Jn.4:23-24).
                      • The Catholic Church lights a lamp to indicate Christ's presence in their Church buildings. Scripture says that God does not live in houses made with hands (Act.7:48).
                      • The Catholic Church requires confession before Mass and Holy Communion. Scripture says let ever man examine himself before this (1st Cor.11:28).
                      • In Catholic and Evangelical Church buildings a cross is hung. But scripture did not give this sign.
                      • Catholics and Evangelicals celebrate Christmas and Easter, both known pagan feasts. These feast were never even alluded to by scripture except in the negative sense in the Old Testament (e.g. Jer.10:3).


                      The list can go on. I do not think the behavior of the Catholic Church, or the Evangelicals, is the theme of this thread, but the motive behind the above list is not found in scripture. So Tradition does not enhance scripture in any way. It annuls it. That is why our Lord Jesus, when addressing the leaders (who sat in Moses' seat) of the only God-given religion on earth at that time, said that by their traditions they did two things;
                      1. they had made the Word of God of no effect
                      2. the resulting worship was "vain" (Matt.15:6-9)


                      Shall we not examine the current traditions in the light of scripture and judge whether they added to the Canon, or subtracted?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: A Discussion of Sola Scriptura

                        Originally posted by Walls View Post
                        I think we are at the correct place for this discussion. If both of us agree in the inspiration of what we call the Canon (let's include the Apocrypha in that for the sake of the argument), and both of us agree that God is omnipotent in the matter of sustaining that part He has chosen, you must now put forth the proof for the validity of Tradition, as this lies outside the Canon.
                        I think that is the wrong place to ask. I am denying Sola Scriptura (only scripture) and it appears you want a defense of Tradition using only scripture. Let me respond to another portion and we can see where specifically we part.

                        Originally posted by Walls View Post
                        But before we go there I must comment on your statements above. While all scripture is inspired (2nd Tim.3:16), not all other writing is inspired, and not all the actions and words of the Apostles are inspired. There is a difference between the Lord being with the Apostles and the Lord inspiring the Apostles. For instance, Paul is warned twice by bona-fide sources from the Holy Spirit, not to go to Jerusalem or his ministry of Church-building in various parts of the world would be over. Paul goes anyway and the end result is as predicted. But in his captivity, Paul writes that God has turned the failed situation to His (God's) favor (Phil.1:12). Here we see Paul's words and actions not in accordance with the Holy Spirit. Paul had been specifically sent to the Gentiles by the direct instructions of the Holy Spirit (Rom.15:16; Gal.2:7), so his final trip to Jerusalem flew in the face of this. Even though Philippians 1:12 shows how God is with His servants and turns their failure to "furtherance of the Gospel", it would be folly for us to say that Paul's behavior sets the pace for Tradition.
                        I can't deny that right here you raise a strong objection to at least the idea that everything from the Apostles is ipso facto infallible. But we also know that the Holy Spirit would give them the words to say, and that at many times they prophesied directly from the Holy Spirit. So it does follow that not everything done or said by all the Apostles at all times is perfect. But I don't know how we can on the other hand say that only those things they said in their epistles or as recorded in Acts were inspired. I suppose that's the key here. Why do you suppose that we must limit authority to only those actions of the Apostles recorded in canonized Scripture?
                        Don't we already know that Paul must have written other letters, presumably under direction of the Holy Spirit? Don't we know that there were other prophets beyond those whose writings are canonized in the Old Testament.

                        Most importantly of all, don't we know that Jesus taught much more than what is in the gospels, as John concludes his account with a hyperbole about this very thing?

                        Originally posted by Walls View Post
                        I do not doubt that other letters were written. But if God, in His omnipotence, has rejected these writings for His Canon, who are we to include them?
                        I don't want to include anything new in the canon in the sense of adding any books. I don't think there are any surviving authoritative works from this time. But there are things we know as consistent teachings of the early church that claimed to be the teachings of the Apostles to their disciples, etc. It's on oral passing down of the faith preserved within the Church that is Tradition.

                        Originally posted by Walls View Post
                        Finally, as I posted in a previous post, the bible sets forth behavior - the Law for the Jews and the New Testament writings for the Church. I cited the example of how even devout and Evangelical Christians of today, willingly overthrow God's instructions on how a meeting is to be run (citing 1st Corinthians Chapter 14). Now, why do you think that the Christians would do this? And what is their authority for the overthrow of direct instruction from the Apostle and his inspired writing? It is tradition. Tradition is given for one reason only. To do what scripture does not require. It is given credence because it allows men to overthrow scripture. Let's look at some examples;
                        • I repeat the behavior of Catholic AND Evangelical Christians in a Church meeting
                        • Most Catholic and Evangelical Churches have one leader, either Priest or Pastor - scripture always associates "Elders (plural) to a Local Church).
                        • In a Catholic Church there are graven images, something forbidden in the Old Testament and not changed in the New.
                        • In a Catholic Church, among the graven images, is one of Mary crushing the serpents head with her foot. Scripture said it would be the "seed" of the woman who crushed the serpents head.
                        • The Catholic Church commanded fasting before the Lord's Table (Communion). Scripture commands to eat before the Lord's table (1st Cor.11:21-22)
                        • The Catholic Church forbids meat on a Friday but scripture says the forbidding of foods is a doctrine of demons (1st Tim.4:1-2)
                        • Again the Catholic Church forbids its Elders (Priests) to marry. Again, a doctrine of demons in scripture (1st Tim.4:1-2)
                        • The Catholic Church has steps up to its altar. In reference to this in the Old Testament, this was forbidden, and in the New the place of worship is the human spirit, not a place (Jn.4:23-24).
                        • The Catholic Church lights a lamp to indicate Christ's presence in their Church buildings. Scripture says that God does not live in houses made with hands (Act.7:48).
                        • The Catholic Church requires confession before Mass and Holy Communion. Scripture says let ever man examine himself before this (1st Cor.11:28).
                        • In Catholic and Evangelical Church buildings a cross is hung. But scripture did not give this sign.
                        • Catholics and Evangelicals celebrate Christmas and Easter, both known pagan feasts. These feast were never even alluded to by scripture except in the negative sense in the Old Testament (e.g. Jer.10:3).


                        The list can go on. I do not think the behavior of the Catholic Church, or the Evangelicals, is the theme of this thread, but the motive behind the above list is not found in scripture. So Tradition does not enhance scripture in any way. It annuls it. That is why our Lord Jesus, when addressing the leaders (who sat in Moses' seat) of the only God-given religion on earth at that time, said that by their traditions they did two things;
                        1. they had made the Word of God of no effect
                        2. the resulting worship was "vain" (Matt.15:6-9)


                        Shall we not examine the current traditions in the light of scripture and judge whether they added to the Canon, or subtracted?
                        Some of that list I agree with you about and some of it I do not and would dispute. We should certainly examine current traditions and see if they have Apostolic and IMO Patristic (that is, the generations of disciples immediately following the Apostles - in other words people who grew up passing on Apostolic teachings) roots.
                        “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”
                        -R.A. Heinlein

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: A Discussion of Sola Scriptura

                          adampjr

                          You've been a fair and courteous debater. May I just add a comment on what I perceive (I could be wrong) is a case of mistaken conclusion. The blame though most probably lies with me for not being more explicit.

                          I can't deny that right here you raise a strong objection to at least the idea that everything from the Apostles is ipso facto infallible....
                          I maintain that while the actions of some characters in the bible are obviously contrary to God's will, the record of these actions is inspired and infallibly correct. When Satan spoke to Eve in Genesis Chapter 3 his words were untrue, but the record of them is infallibly correct. Paul, after writing in Romans chapter 8 that we are to be led by the Holy Spirit, "purposed in his spirit" to go to Jerusalem (Act.19:21). His history and attachment to his brethren according to the flesh most probably lead him into this mistake. God records and verifies the account. Paul was fallible, but the account is not. Paul had an immoveable "thorn" in his flesh which obviously caused him to stumble somewhat. God chooses not to remove it, but to add grace. Peter was fallible and Paul rebukes him (Gal.2:11), but the account is infallibly correct. The doctrines set forth by Paul and Peter, both fallible men, are infallibly correct.

                          All through this exchange of ideas, I have been wondering why you want the freedom that "Tradition" affords when scripture is sometimes so immoveable. Are we going to hear why you argue so astutely for it? Is there something or some doctrine you wish to strengthen that scripture alone cannot (or will not)?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: A Discussion of Sola Scriptura

                            Yes, we take the accounts as infallible. Paul was fallible. But he was not fallible at all times, as we know he wrote with the Holy Spirit and preached as well.

                            I argue against Sola Scriptura for no other reason than I think its false.

                            Allow me an analogy regarding this freedom that supposedly comes with Tradition. I lose track of who participates in the political discussions and what framework everyone is in. But I would like to submit an example of what I mean that should make sense to anyone coming from anywhere within the conservative spectrum (I'm a conservative -leaning libertarian myself).

                            So, taking Scripture into account without the concept of Apostolic Tradition (that is, the words and actions and doctrinal legacy of the Apostles and Early Church Christians) sounds an awful lot like taking the Constitution's words and wholly ignoring the words, actions, and interpretations of the very people who compiled it! Ignoring the latter leads to all sorts of novel concepts of what is permissible and what the meaning. One must only look at the early American history and most importantly the Federalist Papers to learn what the limitations of teh ICC are, what a "militia" is, and all sorts of other supposedly "controversial" pieces of the Constitution that are by no means up for real debate when you factor in historical context. Ignoring that Tradition in American jurisprudence leads to more freedom of interpretation of the Constitution (and, usually, less freedom for us!). In other words, Tradition limits, not liberates, what interpretations are permissible. This is true of everything, including the Bible and the Constitution.
                            We can see the result of Sola Scriptura in the bajillions of Protestant denominations (I know I am using the word 'Protestant' rather loosely here, technically only churches that broke off from the Roman Church of broke off from those churches can be considered 'Protestant' not the many churches that formed out of the blue - but they share the Sola Scriptura legacy) including the doctrinally independent Baptist groups and the ecclesiastically anarchist "emergent" church. The result of Sola Scriptura is more freedom and we can see in practice that Scripture is not so immoveable after all when it is removed from all ecclesiology and tradition (Apostolic Tradition, ecumenical councils, patristics, etc). We can see the resurrection of classical heresies, even including Arianism, when Scripture is decontextualized like this.

                            As it were, I am strictly arguing against Sola Scriptura, and for the concept of tradition, I in no way wish advance any particular doctrine here (although I may try and form an argument for Mariology and post that some time).
                            “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”
                            -R.A. Heinlein

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: A Discussion of Sola Scriptura

                              Originally posted by adampjr View Post
                              Yes, we take the accounts as infallible. Paul was fallible. But he was not fallible at all times, as we know he wrote with the Holy Spirit and preached as well.

                              I argue against Sola Scriptura for no other reason than I think its false.

                              Allow me an analogy regarding this freedom that supposedly comes with Tradition. I lose track of who participates in the political discussions and what framework everyone is in. But I would like to submit an example of what I mean that should make sense to anyone coming from anywhere within the conservative spectrum (I'm a conservative -leaning libertarian myself).

                              So, taking Scripture into account without the concept of Apostolic Tradition (that is, the words and actions and doctrinal legacy of the Apostles and Early Church Christians) sounds an awful lot like taking the Constitution's words and wholly ignoring the words, actions, and interpretations of the very people who compiled it! Ignoring the latter leads to all sorts of novel concepts of what is permissible and what the meaning. One must only look at the early American history and most importantly the Federalist Papers to learn what the limitations of teh ICC are, what a "militia" is, and all sorts of other supposedly "controversial" pieces of the Constitution that are by no means up for real debate when you factor in historical context. Ignoring that Tradition in American jurisprudence leads to more freedom of interpretation of the Constitution (and, usually, less freedom for us!). In other words, Tradition limits, not liberates, what interpretations are permissible. This is true of everything, including the Bible and the Constitution.
                              We can see the result of Sola Scriptura in the bajillions of Protestant denominations (I know I am using the word 'Protestant' rather loosely here, technically only churches that broke off from the Roman Church of broke off from those churches can be considered 'Protestant' not the many churches that formed out of the blue - but they share the Sola Scriptura legacy) including the doctrinally independent Baptist groups and the ecclesiastically anarchist "emergent" church. The result of Sola Scriptura is more freedom and we can see in practice that Scripture is not so immoveable after all when it is removed from all ecclesiology and tradition (Apostolic Tradition, ecumenical councils, patristics, etc). We can see the resurrection of classical heresies, even including Arianism, when Scripture is decontextualized like this.

                              As it were, I am strictly arguing against Sola Scriptura, and for the concept of tradition, I in no way wish advance any particular doctrine here (although I may try and form an argument for Mariology and post that some time).
                              Thanks for the answer.

                              In your example of the Constitution, the operative word is "interpret." I dare say that the Founding Fathers were educated and astute men. Did they not produce a document that was not to be interpreted. Is it not all the attempts to "interpret" it that have led, or will lead to diminished freedom? Let us take the militia. Without repeating a whole history book, I am aware of the flavor of the Puritan background and the lessons learned as far back as Cromwell. The guarantee of an armed militia is THE solution to despotic government. Equal and even superior arms are the sign of free men, and the first thing every despotic government in history did was disarm the people (as you are now in the process of). Supposing there was NO attempt to "interpret" the Constitution? I dare say that the wording is clear enough and the endless debates you have over it would have been spared. The Supreme Court should not interpret the Law. It should apply it as it stands.

                              Your example of the Denominations is a good one. You need not use nice language with me. According to the first three Chapters of 1st Corinthians, all the Denominations are (a) works of the flesh, (b) a sign of stunted spiritual growth, or spiritual immaturity, and (c) as they "divided" the Body of Christ, can only expect severe judgement of that fateful day (1st Corinthians 3:16 in context of the previous verses on building the Church). But there is quicksand in this for you too, for we all know that the Roman Church is based on "tradition" and dates back, not to Jerusalem and Peter, but Constantine and a dream. The Roman Empire, as it waned, became the "Holy Roman Empire" even unto today. The armor was simply swapped for priest's clothes (and Old Testament priests at that).

                              According to scripture, and history as far as it can be traced, there is (a) no evidence of the headquarters of Christ's Church in Rome, and (b) no evidence of Peter ever being there. To have been there he would have overthrown scripture which says;
                              1. Peter was sent to the circumcision, not the Gentiles like Paul (Gal.2:7-9 - three times in three verses)
                              2. Peter is last recorded as staying in Jerusalem even after the great persecution dispersed Christians all over (Act.8:1)

                              The single event of Peter going to Cornelius is simply to show that what had been dealt to Jews in Jerusalem, the scene of Jesus, was available to the Gentiles too via the same source. It was never repeated. And Peter's letters are directed at those in "dispersion" (1st Pet.1:1). The only nation in dispersion is Israel. The rest are kept in their borders (Deut.32:8; Act.17:26).

                              I dare say that we have got to the crux of the matter. Scripture or Tradition? I can understand all Roman Catholics fighting for their doctrine of Tradition equal to Scripture. The whole existence of the most politically powerful, and wealthiest entity on earth, is based on it.

                              Comment

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