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Sola Scriptura

Started by RogerMartim, May 10, 2012, 06:18:30 PM

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Donald_Kirchner

I always thought it was "It is written..." ala the temptations. But, "It is finished" works. :-)
Don Kirchner

"Heaven's OK, but it's not the end of the world." Jeff Gibbs

James Gustafson

#31
Quote from: Weedon on May 15, 2012, 07:35:04 PM
To James, the truth is that there are not 10,000 confessions; there are still only about four or five.  Just as at the Reformation.  There's a Lutheran confession; a Roman Catholic; an Orthodox Confession; a Reformed Confession; and for lack of better term an "experiential" Confession (think Pentecostal et al.) sort of akin to the more radical Reformation.  All the many groups around today really still fit into these confessional categories.  There's just not a whole lot of other options you can come up with.

It is true enough and easy to agree that there are about five basic groups.  However, the vehemency of the disagreement within those 5 categories is sufficient for maintaining my point that sola scriptura is in practice, unable to resolve their differences.  Whereas a Lutheran may see little difference between a southern baptist and a holy roller pentecostal faith healer, they themselves believe there is a great difference between them and they both point to scripture and say, we follow it and they don't. Thus, we are back to my point, sola scriptura works, but it works for whom?  How does it work?  I'll address my answer after quoting your next point...
 
Quote from: Weedon on May 15, 2012, 07:35:04 PM
To Roger raising the initial question:  again I'd invite some pondering of what the Fathers themselves taught on this matter.  Because what they taught is NOT what Rome or the East of today teaches.  If their belief in the clarity and sufficiency of the Scripture has proven (to moderns) untenable, it is still what they taught.  And it is also what the fathers of the Reformation taught, who were in no way innovating when they urged Scripture alone as the touchstone for the veracity of doctrine.  "Where is this written?" remains a key question.  Because in the end, what holds, what lasts, what's for sure is what God Himself says and and promises.  "Ein Wortlein kann ihn fallen."  And only the little Word from God is what has the power to knock Satan down, to hold a man safely through tribulation, suffering, and finally death itself.  You can cling to a promise of God and find it will land you safely in eternity.  Pax!

First let me stress that I agree that scripture is essential to guiding right doctrine, I do not believe that anyone disagrees, but I don't want to be misunderstood by some who might read this so I'm stressing it now.  What I now questions is the concept that every man answers to his own interpretation, to his own consciousnesses alone in discerning what scripture means when we read it.  Rather, every man can read the scripture and hold it as the lone authority, for fifty years even, and still not discern the apostolic faith of the fathers, as evidenced by eighty year old Pentecostal theologians who read scripture for hours every single day of their lives and never step an inch closer to understanding the sacraments.   

When I read the church fathers, I see what I now recognize as the assumption of what we call the church magisterium today.  When they argue that this or that thing needs to be shown in scripture, who are the talking to?  The every man?  Or others in the Church hierarchy?  I suggest the later.  When you say; If their belief in the clarity and sufficiency of the Scripture has proven (to moderns) untenable, it is still what they taught. I do not disagree, but I think they 'expected' the everyday Christian to be told and taught what the Bishops agreed with, not what they might discern from being handed scripture and being told, 'have at it', as if scripture can explain itself without the living voice of the Bishops. When they wrote to the people, they said things like 'obey your bishops', when they wrote to heretics and error, they wrote about other bishops and priests that had gone wrong.  And this, then, I think, does closely resemble Rome, I'm not expert enough with eastern orthodoxy to say one way or the other there.  The magisterium needs the scripture and the scripture needs a living authority to hold the apostolic translation.

peter_speckhard

Actually, sola scriptura holds up well, the recent complication being between those who think words mean things and those who don't. But what separates the five groups Will mentioned is precisely the ordering of authority. Catholics have popes and councils, the Orthodox have tradition, the Reformed have human reason, and the "emotional" group has human experience, all of which can sometimes contradict Scripture. Only Lutherans stick to Scripture against (when they are opposed) those other authorities, and only traditionalist Lutherans do so meaningfully and coherently.

cssml

Quote from: readselerttoo on May 15, 2012, 03:24:46 PM
Quote from: James Gustafson on May 15, 2012, 02:33:27 PM
Quote from: Weedon on May 13, 2012, 12:22:09 PM
Yet this is a truth that is worth reiterating:  we learn from the Sacred Scriptures the value of apostolic traditions (1 Cor 11:2; 2 Thes. 2:5); we learn from the Church's traditions (see my earlier citations from the Fathers) the Church's utterly clear conviction that only Sacred Scripture can incontrovertibly establish articles of faith (sola Scriptura) and that they are in every sense the final umpire and judge of doctrine.  FWIW.

The final umpire and judge of doctrine?  How so?  When two pastors read the same passage, agree with what the words say, and then disagree with what they mean (what the church looks like when obeying them), how then can sola scriptura work as an active judge of doctrine?  Does it speak?  Can it judge between the two sides and tell us who is correct? 

Some think scripture agrees with one side, some think the other, and the next thing you know you have two protestant denominations from one.  This continues on, for five hundred years, and we have thirty four thousand denominations, most of which are arguing that they all follow sola Scriptura, that the scripture is their final umpire and judge of doctrine.  Just start with the ELCA and LCMS, it can't even work for Lutherans how can it work for all of Protestantism?   

It's a nice sound bite, but in practice, it doesn't seem to be working for the churches that have been proclaiming it for hundreds of years.


The issue is not about which side is right in its interpretation.  The issue is that it is Scripture that is always correct and that we sinners both individually and collectively as denominations are commanded to return to the voice of Scripture as the final rule, judge and norm.

I would agree that it is not which side is right, and in some cases multiple sides may even have perfectly valid interpretations (Origen, and others speak of the various senses of scripture).  However, the Church has always had the ability (through the Holy Spirit) to definitively discern and say confidently when, not someone, but an idea being proclaimed by someone is wrong. 

For instance, it was not about whether Arius or Athanasius was right, but it most certainly was about the (false) understanding of the nature of Christ as taught by Arius.

I suppose one may claim that anyone who reads 'scripture alone' will see clearly that Arius was wrong and that Christ was consubstantial with the Father, and was/is co-eternal with the Father.  He existed with the Father from the beginning, and was not created by the Father (an interpretation of scripture discerned by the Church).  The Church felt it important to meet and discern the truth on this particular issue for the good of the faithful, and we (thanks be to God) have the extra-scriptural Nicene Creed which we all profess.  Even so, Arianism (falsehood) raged on for decades after Nicaea I, and probably even persists today.  I would say that we each individually, guided by the Holy Spirit, reading scripture, would not come independently to the Creed (or the canon of scripture).  If we were lived at the time and were listening to Arius and other voices, some of us could easily have been led to a false understanding.

Satan attempted to use 'scripture alone' to tempt Christ:   "for it is written that..."  (scripture was correct, but not Satan's misuse of it)

Christ of course could not and would never embrace false understandings of scripture put forth by Satan (He is the Word, the Truth, and Life itself).  At the same time, I believe (and the Church teaches that) he left his Church the ability to discern life giving proper understanding of scripture from false understandings.  He did not reveal all truth in perfect clarity to the Church, or promise to keep it perfect and without struggle or sin.  But He did not leave his Church simply a collection of inspired writings alone, without the very ability to properly understand them, and even to discern the canon and say with confidence that other widely read books were indeed non-canonical (scripture did not give us the canon of scripture, the final rule and judge here was not scripture, but the Church).   Christ and also promised to guide, empower and protect the Church so that it could proclaim Him authentically to the world through the unending stream of falsehood it would encounter from the ascension to the parusia, even if it had to stumble along perfectly imperfect in its mission to do so.

James Gustafson

Quote from: peter_speckhard on May 15, 2012, 11:43:17 PM
Actually, sola scriptura holds up well, the recent complication being between those who think words mean things and those who don't. But what separates the five groups Will mentioned is precisely the ordering of authority. Catholics have popes and councils, the Orthodox have tradition, the Reformed have human reason, and the "emotional" group has human experience, all of which can sometimes contradict Scripture. Only Lutherans stick to Scripture against (when they are opposed) those other authorities, and only traditionalist Lutherans do so meaningfully and coherently.

If we agree that the traditionalist Lutherans are currently holding a meaningful and coherent interpretation of the Apostolic faith today (we can agree because we do, I'm not blowing air for politeness sake), how do we know they will hold to it tomorrow?  What keeps them Apostolic?  Have they not simply created a new magisterium of their own?  Are we as individuals then to measure one authority against the other and decide individually which one is more Apostolic?  If so, aren't we quickly going to be right back to "every man deciding for himself" which doctrine he wants to follow?  Scripture and Apostolic tradition do not seem to me to be telling us that we are allowed to tell it what it should say.  When did we get the right to remove half of the balance of the Apostolic faith equation (we remove the magisterium half from the balance and replace it with ourselves)?  Are we right to disobey simply because we think they are wrong?  Are we brave, or are we arrogant and vain?

J.L. Precup

From Ed Schroeder:

"We need to remember that in the Book of Concord only one sola ever gets mentioned. Sola fide. There is no debate on the sola gratia nor on the sola scriptura when the Lutheran Confessors are wrestling with the Roman theo logians at Augsburg. In fact the RC response to Augsburg (The Confutation) does more hyping of sola gratia and much more scripture-quoting than the Augsburg Confession does. It's only the sola fide in the Augsburg Confession that the RC theologians can't tolerate. It is the hot potato--as we see when Melanchthon addresses it directly in Apology IV. [And here he starts out with a (first ever?) proposal for a "Lutheran" hermeneutic for reading the Bible.] Sola scriptura has consensus between the two conflicting parties. No debate there. But THE issue is: HOW you read the Bible, with what lenses? So that's where Melanchthon starts in Apology IV. If you don't read the Bible with the proper lenses, you'll never get to the "sola fide."

The article continues, and focuses on Christ forgiving sins as the "sola fide."

The entire article may be found here:

http://www.crossings.org/thursday/2011/thur011311.shtml
Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love's sake. Amen.

cssml

#36
Quote from: Weedon on May 10, 2012, 07:31:29 PM
Roger,

Most helpful to actually LISTEN to the fathers of the Church on the question of Scripture:

There comes a heathen and says, "I wish to become a Christian, but I know not whom to join: there is much fighting and faction among you, much confusion: which doctrine am I to choose?" How shall we answer him? "Each of you" (says he) "asserts, 'I speak the truth.'" No doubt: this is in our favor. For if we told you to be persuaded by arguments, you might well be perplexed: but if we bid you believe the Scriptures, and these are simple and true, the decision is easy for you. If any agree with the Scriptures, he is the Christian; if any fight against them, he is far from this rule. -- St. John Chrysostom, (Homily 33 in Acts of the Apostles [NPNF1,11:210-11; PG 60.243-44])

"Regarding the things I say, I should supply even the proofs, so I will not seem to rely on my own opinions, but rather, prove them with Scripture, so that the matter will remain certain and steadfast." St. John Chrysostom (Homily 8 On Repentance and the Church, p. 118, vol. 96 TFOTC)

"Let the inspired Scriptures then be our umpire, and the vote of truth will be given to those whose dogmas are found to agree with the Divine words." St. Gregory of Nyssa (On the Holy Trinity, NPNF, p. 327).

"We are not entitled to such license, I mean that of affirming what we please; we make the Holy Scriptures the rule and the measure of every tenet; we necessarily fix our eyes upon that, and approve that alone which may be made to harmonize with the intention of those writings." St. Gregory of Nyssa (On the Soul and the Resurrection NPNF II, V:439)

"What is the mark of a faithful soul? To be in these dispositions of full acceptance on the authority of the words of Scripture, not venturing to reject anything nor making additions. For, if 'all that is not of faith is sin' as the Apostle says, and 'faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God,' everything outside Holy Scripture, not being of faith, is sin." Basil the Great (The Morals, p. 204, vol 9 TFOTC).

"For concerning the divine and holy mysteries of the Faith, not even a casual statement must be delivered without the Holy Scriptures; nor must we be drawn aside by mere plausibility and artifices of speech. Even to me, who tell you these things, give not absolute credence, unless you receive the proof of the things which I announce from the Divine Scriptures. For this salvation which we believe depends not on ingenious reasoning, but on demonstration of the Holy Scriptures." St. Cyril of Jerusalem (Catechetical Lectures, IV:17, in NPNF, Volume VII, p. 23.)

"It is impossible either to say or fully to understand anything about God beyond what has been divinely proclaimed to us, whether told or revealed, by the sacred declarations of the Old and New Testaments." St. John of Damascus, On the Orthodox Faith, Book I, Chapter 2

"Nevertheless, sacred doctrine makes use of these authorities as extrinsic and probable arguments; but properly uses the authority of the canonical Scriptures as an incontrovertible proof, and the authority of the doctors of the Church as one that may properly be used, yet merely as probable. For our faith rests upon the revelation made to the apostles and prophets who wrote the canonical books, and not on the revelations (if any such there are) made to other doctors. Hence Augustine says (Epis. ad Hieron. xix, 1): "Only those books of Scripture which are called canonical have I learned to hold in such honor as to believe their authors have not erred in any way in writing them. But other authors I so read as not to deem everything in their works to be true, merely on account of their having so thought and written, whatever may have been their holiness and learning."--St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologia, Part 1, Question 1, Article 8

I won't reproduce the list of quotes here, but some of these same fathers firmly upheld the importance of a Apostolic Tradition.  A summary of scripture quotes from the fathers on apostolic tradition is here:

   http://www.catholic.com/tracts/apostolic-tradition

As a sample, here is one from St John Chrysostom, where he quotes scripture to uphold the oral tradition of the apostles:

"[Paul commands,] 'Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you have been taught, whether by word or by our letter' [2 Thess. 2:15]. From this it is clear that they did not hand down everything by letter, but there is much also that was not written. Like that which was written, the unwritten too is worthy of belief. So let us regard the tradition of the Church also as worthy of belief. Is it a tradition? Seek no further" (Homilies on Second Thessalonians [A.D. 402]).

There are others from Papias, Eusebius of Caesarea, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Cyprian of Carthage, Athanasius, Basil the Great, Epiphanius of Salamis, Augustine, Vincent of Lerins, Pope Agatho


Weedon

Do note, though, cssml, I would never argue that the Fathers or the Scriptures do not teach the importance of holding to apostolic tradition.  What the tradition teaches us explicitly is that we can depend absolutely upon the Scriptures to convey the truth to us that we need to know for salvation.  They do this even when the magisterium totally messes up (as it has more than once in the past - as even the Catholic and Orthodox Churches confess).  Think what it meant in the years right before Luther when you had all those popes at the same time, mutually excommunicating each other and all who were in fellowship with them.  Who could be saved if salvation hung upon the fellowship with the right pope?  How could a common Christian know or arrive at any level of confidence that he had chosen the right one?  The same issue strikes me today when those who repose trust in the magisterium must choose between the East or Rome or (I suppose) Canterbury.  The Lutheran way simply suggests that final trust can and ought be reposed in the sure promises of God alone.  They will hold.  They will not fail.  They remain the Christian's constant through the vicissitudes of the magisterium.  When a man departs to the Judgment Seat, he stands there trusting in what God Himself has promised and delivered to him, not in hoping that he made the right choice about which magisterium was guaranteeing the real deal. 

Lutherans, of course, rejoiced MUCH in the traditions of the Church; we did so recognizing that they often witness to the truth of God's Words and promises.  But we also recognized where venerable and cherished practices could at times obscure that truth and relying on the truth of what God has promised us.  Then we stood solidly with the Word against the tradition.  We'd still invite our Roman friends to consider whether the superstructure of indulgences and the merits of the saints actually is the authentic development they think it is; or whether it is a growth that obscures the very Gospel it originally sought to express. 

I guess I'd express the matter like this:  the Sacred Scriptures are a piece of the Tradition of the Church - but they are unique in the Tradition as being the touchstone of the truth of all the rest.  Nothing can be authentically part of the Tradition of the Church that contradicts them or obscures the Gospel the Sacred Scriptures so clearly hold forth:  Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved....for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life... He is the propitiation for our sins and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world... God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting men's sins against them.  These can be believed and they will hold.  It is the magisterium's job to hold them forth, to encourage the people of God to rely upon them absolutely, and to help the people of God spread their joyous hope into all the world.

Team Hesse

Quote from: Weedon on May 16, 2012, 07:20:10 AM
Do note, though, cssml, I would never argue that the Fathers or the Scriptures do not teach the importance of holding to apostolic tradition.  What the tradition teaches us explicitly is that we can depend absolutely upon the Scriptures to convey the truth to us that we need to know for salvation.  They do this even when the magisterium totally messes up (as it has more than once in the past - as even the Catholic and Orthodox Churches confess).  Think what it meant in the years right before Luther when you had all those popes at the same time, mutually excommunicating each other and all who were in fellowship with them.  Who could be saved if salvation hung upon the fellowship with the right pope?  How could a common Christian know or arrive at any level of confidence that he had chosen the right one?  The same issue strikes me today when those who repose trust in the magisterium must choose between the East or Rome or (I suppose) Canterbury.  The Lutheran way simply suggests that final trust can and ought be reposed in the sure promises of God alone.  They will hold.  They will not fail.  They remain the Christian's constant through the vicissitudes of the magisterium.  When a man departs to the Judgment Seat, he stands there trusting in what God Himself has promised and delivered to him, not in hoping that he made the right choice about which magisterium was guaranteeing the real deal. 

Lutherans, of course, rejoiced MUCH in the traditions of the Church; we did so recognizing that they often witness to the truth of God's Words and promises.  But we also recognized where venerable and cherished practices could at times obscure that truth and relying on the truth of what God has promised us.  Then we stood solidly with the Word against the tradition.  We'd still invite our Roman friends to consider whether the superstructure of indulgences and the merits of the saints actually is the authentic development they think it is; or whether it is a growth that obscures the very Gospel it originally sought to express. 

I guess I'd express the matter like this:  the Sacred Scriptures are a piece of the Tradition of the Church - but they are unique in the Tradition as being the touchstone of the truth of all the rest.  Nothing can be authentically part of the Tradition of the Church that contradicts them or obscures the Gospel the Sacred Scriptures so clearly hold forth:  Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved....for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life... He is the propitiation for our sins and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world... God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting men's sins against them.  These can be believed and they will hold.  It is the magisterium's job to hold them forth, to encourage the people of God to rely upon them absolutely, and to help the people of God spread their joyous hope into all the world.

Ahhhhh......a breath of cool fresh air on a warm spring morning.

Lou

Weedon

Lou,

The Gospel is always that breath of Resurrection air blowing with the sweet scent of forgiveness over us, isn't it?  Glory to the Forgiver of all sin, the Destruction of all death!

James,

You ask what is an absolutely crucial question.  I worried over it a bit:  what can guarantee the future of the Lutheran confession?  My dear friend Jay Webber (ELS pastor) put this to me so very well that I've never forgotten it.  He said:  Lutheranism has no plan B.  No backup or safeguards should the Gospel fail.  Everything but everything is hinged upon the promise of the Gospel not failing.  IF we lose the Gospel, it doesn't matter what other trappings we may preserve:  they preserve nothing worth preserving.  And we don't have the power to guarantee that we will NOT lose the Gospel.  We can only pray the Lord of the Church to not let it happen.  Hence Luther's hymn that rings out with greater fervency when we remember that without Him we shall certainly bring it all to ruin:  "Lord, keep us steadfast in Your Word; Curb those who by deceit or sword Would wrest the Kingdom from Your Son And bring to naught all He has done.  Lord Jesus Christ, Your power make known, For You are Lord of lords alone; Defend Your holy Church that we May sing Your praise eternally.  O Comforter of priceless worth, Send peace and unity on earth; Support us in our final strife, And lead us out of death to life."  (LSB 655)

Dave Likeness

Christ had no Plan B when he gave the Great Commission
in Matthew chapter 28.  He entrusted His apostles and
followers to share the Gospel with the world.   2000 years
later the Holy Spirit has accomplished some great things and
the Holy Christian Church is alive through Word and Sacrament
ministry.

Weedon

Very well said, Pr. Likeness.  The Lord still has Himself a Church as He goes on dishing out the gifts of life and salvation through His appointed means and by His Holy Spirit's power they gather His elect children into His kingdom and bring them into eternal joy. 

Team Hesse

Quote from: Weedon on May 16, 2012, 09:47:48 AM
Lou,

The Gospel is always that breath of Resurrection air blowing with the sweet scent of forgiveness over us, isn't it?  Glory to the Forgiver of all sin, the Destruction of all death!

James,

You ask what is an absolutely crucial question.  I worried over it a bit:  what can guarantee the future of the Lutheran confession?  My dear friend Jay Webber (ELS pastor) put this to me so very well that I've never forgotten it.  He said:  Lutheranism has no plan B.  No backup or safeguards should the Gospel fail.  Everything but everything is hinged upon the promise of the Gospel not failing.  IF we lose the Gospel, it doesn't matter what other trappings we may preserve:  they preserve nothing worth preserving.  And we don't have the power to guarantee that we will NOT lose the Gospel.  We can only pray the Lord of the Church to not let it happen.  Hence Luther's hymn that rings out with greater fervency when we remember that without Him we shall certainly bring it all to ruin:  "Lord, keep us steadfast in Your Word; Curb those who by deceit or sword Would wrest the Kingdom from Your Son And bring to naught all He has done.  Lord Jesus Christ, Your power make known, For You are Lord of lords alone; Defend Your holy Church that we May sing Your praise eternally.  O Comforter of priceless worth, Send peace and unity on earth; Support us in our final strife, And lead us out of death to life."  (LSB 655)

The scented breeze, the aroma of Christ, continues to waft over us......

Plan B? don't be silly.

Lou

Brian Stoffregen

Quote from: The Rev. Steven P. Tibbetts, STS on May 15, 2012, 03:23:56 PM
Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on May 15, 2012, 02:03:13 PM

What I'm arguing against is the theory that because they had eyewitnesses it must all be historically true and factual in every detail.


So, once again, you create a Straw Man, then argue against it....


I did not start the eyewitnesses argument. I am arguing against what TV wrote. I don't think he's made of straw.
I flunked retirement. Serving as a part-time interim in Ferndale, WA.

Brian Stoffregen

Quote from: Tom Eckstein on May 15, 2012, 10:13:44 PM
Pr. Weedon says:  "Because in the end, what holds, what lasts, what's for sure is what God Himself says and and promises.  'Ein Wortlein kann ihn fallen.'  And only the little Word from God is what has the power to knock Satan down, to hold a man safely through tribulation, suffering, and finally death itself."

Just some fun speculation on my part.  What was the "Wortlein" Luther was thinking of when wrote "Ein Wortlein kann ihn fallen" ?  Maybe he had in mind any Word of God.  However, I've always considered the possibility that Luther had in mind τετελέσται (John 19:30). What do ya'll think?


"I am baptized" (or however Luther said it in Latin or German).
I flunked retirement. Serving as a part-time interim in Ferndale, WA.

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