March 23, 2007

Another strike against "Scripture Alone"

John 5:39-40
Jesus said:
"You search the SCRIPTURES,
because you think that in them
you have eternal LIFE;
and it is they that bear witness to me;
yet you refuse to come to me
that you may have LIFE."

John 17:20-21
[(In the presence of his disciples)
Jesus lifted up his eyes to heaven and said
"I do not pray for these [MY DISCIPLES] only,
but also for those who believe in me
through THEIR word,
that they may all be one;
even as you, Father, are in me,
and I in you,
that they also may be in us,
so that the world may believe
that you have sent me.”

1 Timothy 3:14-16
I am writing these instructions to you
so that … you may know
how one ought to behave
Great indeed, we confess,
is the mystery of OUR RELIGION:
He was manifested in the flesh,
vindicated in the Spirit,
seen by angels,
PREACHED among the nations,
believed on in the world,
taken up in glory.


Blogger Hidden One said...

I hope you don't mind that, loving this post, I have linked to it over at one of my blogs -

[If it's an issue, I can delete the post.]

Sincerely in Christ,
Hidden One

5:28 PM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

You are welcome to link all you like.

5:33 PM  
Blogger Hidden One said...

Thank you!

8:04 PM  
Anonymous Christopher said...

I fail to see how this disproves Sola Scriptura. Perhaps you could expand on your thinking?

2:32 PM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

I entitled this as "ANOTHER strike...." It is not the complete argument.

A more complete response to the question:
Use that URL or click HERE for it.

- - - -

A shorter response from me.

The Nicene or "Niceno-Constantinopolitan" Creed.

The Council of Nicea, A.D. 325, authored this Creed up to the affirmation of faith in the Holy Spirit. The Council of Constantinople, A.D. 381, added the remainder.

The two councils were responses to controversies concerning what to think and believe about Christ, the Trinity and the Church.

The establishing of a Christian list or measure (canon) of Scripture by the Church happened subsequent to the formulation of the Creed.

In the Gospel, Jesus tells his disciples to go and teach. He never tells them to go and write.

The writings of the New Testament grew out of the Church's obedience to Jesus: go teach!

In other words, the New Testament is the fruit of the Church teaching as Jesus commanded. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Peter, James.... Their teachings and testimony are handed down.

That is why Christianity did not get around to defining what the "canon of Scripture" was until after A.D. 390. Until then, the Church simply taught, since that was what Jesus told his disciples to do.

The Councils of Nicea and Constantinople were about what could and could not be reconciled with Church teaching. There was no officially recognized and published canon. The Church was the arbiter and teacher, of what was Christian or not. As Jesus says it in the Gospel, "Whoever hears you, hears me."

So the "Nicene" (and Constantinopolitan) Creed, as a binding "canon" of Christian teaching, was the stage on which, after A.D. 390, the Church stood in order to add the teaching that, "These— and not those— are the writings that Christians shall acknowledge as the inspired word of God."

If you banish the Church and its Creed, your understanding of Scripture has no foundation historically, theologically or spiritually. Your understanding and interpretation of Scripture then have no connection to authentic Christian teaching.

The canon of Sacred Scripture rests on the authority of the Church teaching in obedience to the command of Jesus, "Teach!"

3:03 PM  
Anonymous Christopher said...

I appreciate your take on this issue, but I think it fails to address the fact that the reformers weren't seeking to abolish or damage the Church in any way by citing Sola Scriptura. What they were aiming at was a final, and common authority not precariously placed on the head of a man; e.g., the Pope. Their emphasis became Scripture as the final empirical authority, with all other authorities (clergy, and tradition) under it.


10:44 AM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

That was the emphasis of the reformers, but it is not the emphasis of Scripture itself.

11:18 AM  
Anonymous Christopher said...

From the link to Catholic Answers you provided:

"Protestants claim the Bible is the only rule of faith, meaning that it contains all of the material one needs for theology and that this material is sufficiently clear that one does not need apostolic tradition or the Church’s magisterium (teaching authority) to help one understand it. In the Protestant view, the whole of Christian truth is found within the Bible’s pages. Anything extraneous to the Bible is simply non-authoritative, unnecessary, or wrong—and may well hinder one in coming to God."

That is the opening paragraph, and represents a historical misconstruction of the principle of Sola Scriptura; it in fact describes the tongue-in-cheek sobriquet Solo Scriptura, a very different animal than Sola Scriptura.

If what the Reformers meant by Scripture Alone is what is described above, why do we observe the continued traditions of Lutheranism, Anglicanism, Presbyterianism? That is, they have held to some authoritative traditions very similar to the Roman Catholic Church, and in some cases have continued on in the very same traditions. Those traditions are used as guides, and sources of authority alongside Scripture, so the link you provided must be pointed to:

1) Certain fundamentalist groups that reject historical authorities;
2) All of Protestantism -- which is easily shown to be ergregious (enter the traditions/authorities of Lutheranism, and Anglicanism);
3) The ignorant looking for a definition to cling to;
4) Catholics who are trying to educate themselves.

I would guess that at least numbers 1 and 4 are true.

In any case, Sola Scriptura does not reject tradition as authoritative; it allows it for order and tranquility in the Church. It does, however, reject that observance of certain inculcations and teachings are necessary for justificaton, or the fulness of the faith (e.g., being part of the Roman Catholic Church).

I hope you don't mind me taking the time to sharpen my mind by discussing this issue with you. It is a very important issue to me and, as you well know, to the whole of historical Christianity.


7:07 AM  

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