Author Topic: Sola Scriptura  (Read 11760 times)

RogerMartim

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Sola Scriptura
« on: May 10, 2012, 06:18:30 PM »
As a simple Lutheran layman I don't have the erudition that so many of you have and so I beg your pardon.

I am having trouble with the phrase sola scriptura as one of the few solas that the Lutheran Church subscribes to.

The canon wasn't formalized until a few centuries after the apostles. As it is stated in John 21:25, "Jesus did many other things as well. If everyone of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be writen."

Yet the Lutheran Church insists that our belief system is based on sola scriptura.

It is not a problem in the Roman Catholic Church as Tradition is every bit as doctrinal as the Bible, Oral Tradition, that is. Where is the line drawn when it comes to the Infallibility of the Pope; the Marian Doctrines; etc. Some of Lutheran practices relies on tradition but again, where is the cutoff point where we then come to say that it is sola scriptura.

Sorry that I am such an ignoramus. It can be confusing.

peter_speckhard

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Re: Sola Scriptura
« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2012, 07:05:01 PM »
To be sola scriptura in theology is not to deny the existence and helpfulness of extra-Scriptural traditions, writings, and historical facts concerning Christ and the Church. It is to say, along with John, that THESE are written to so that we may believe. We may rely on the truth of Scripture absolutely, whereas other writings and traditions might also be false. But yes, even the Scriptures acknowledge that there is more to the story than Scripture. But the Scriptures are sufficient and only Scripture is infallible. Everything else is normed according to the Bible.

Weedon

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Re: Sola Scriptura
« Reply #2 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

George Erdner

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Re: Sola Scriptura
« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2012, 07:44:00 PM »
As a simple Lutheran layman I don't have the erudition that so many of you have and so I beg your pardon.

I am having trouble with the phrase sola scriptura as one of the few solas that the Lutheran Church subscribes to.

The canon wasn't formalized until a few centuries after the apostles. As it is stated in John 21:25, "Jesus did many other things as well. If everyone of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be writen."

Yet the Lutheran Church insists that our belief system is based on sola scriptura.

It is not a problem in the Roman Catholic Church as Tradition is every bit as doctrinal as the Bible, Oral Tradition, that is. Where is the line drawn when it comes to the Infallibility of the Pope; the Marian Doctrines; etc. Some of Lutheran practices relies on tradition but again, where is the cutoff point where we then come to say that it is sola scriptura.

Sorry that I am such an ignoramus. It can be confusing.

As another, equally simple layman, I always imagined that the Holy Sprit guided the hands of those who wrote down the Gospels, Acts, the Epistles, and Revelations. Everything was included that told the entire story of what we needed to know. If Jesus repeated Himself a few times, I don't think that means we need to read of all the times He said the same things. For example, I suspect that He probably preached the same sermon that he preached on the Mount and on the Plain many different times. I have trouble believing that He'd preach something new and different in each village He visited. So, I'm comfortable accepting that there are no important missing pieces of His message.
 

RogerMartim

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Re: Sola Scriptura
« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2012, 09:29:14 PM »
Thank you Pastors Speckard and Weedon; and to you Mr. Erdner for your perspectives. I shall study the issue some more and hopefully I will be able to see the congreuency in Lutheran-talk on the sola scriptura language. It is still puzzling to me.

Charles_Austin

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Re: Sola Scriptura
« Reply #5 on: May 10, 2012, 09:48:48 PM »
But I am sensing here the inadequacy of online "discussion." This is the sort of topic that - to be helpful and complete - ought to be discussed with one's pastor and members of the congregation over a period of time. Online treatment in a forum such as this one is just not enough.

Linda

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Re: Sola Scriptura
« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2012, 09:38:36 AM »
Thank you RM for posting a question that troubled you.  One of the beauties of this on-line community is the generosity of those who have studied, researched and done some pondering of their own, and then are willing to take the time to share their reflections.

Linda   
« Last Edit: May 13, 2012, 11:20:56 AM by Linda »

Dave Likeness

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Re: Sola Scriptura
« Reply #7 on: May 13, 2012, 09:55:57 AM »
Sola Scriptura means that everything we need to know
about our salvation in Jesus Christ is found in the Holy
Scriptures.  God's Word is sufficient to point us to Christ
who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

George Erdner

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Re: Sola Scriptura
« Reply #8 on: May 13, 2012, 12:12:30 PM »
Sola Scriptura means that everything we need to know
about our salvation in Jesus Christ is found in the Holy
Scriptures.  God's Word is sufficient to point us to Christ
who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Isn't that a bit terse of an answer, in light of the reference to "John 21:25, 'Jesus did many other things as well. If everyone of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be writen.'"
 
Isn't the question whether or not the Bible, as "God's Word" contains all of His words? How are we to be certain that everything all of God's words were included when the early church fathers formalized the canon of Scripture, and decided what to keep and what to exclude? I ask those rhetorically, not because I doubt that the Holy Spirit did guide those who separated the wheat from the chaff in picking what to include in and exclude from the final canon, but because that is the sort of issue that bears closer scrutiny.
 
If someone asks you, "How do we know everything God wants us to know made the final cut in defining the content of the Bible", isn't answering, "Because it did" just a bit unhelpful?
 
Besides, if everything we need to know is in Scripture, why do we Lutheran Christians even need the Creeds or the Book of Concord?
 
 
 

Weedon

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Re: Sola Scriptura
« Reply #9 on: May 13, 2012, 12:22:09 PM »
   But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
   
(2 Timothy 3:14-17 ESV)

Here St. Paul tells St. Timothy that the sacred writings (the OT) are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Jesus; that they are God-breathed and profitable for use in such a way that the person who has them is complete, equipped for every good work.  How much more the NT which teaches us how to interpret the Old, and which even in the time of the NT was counted as Scripture (2 Peter 3)?  Scripture thus teaches its own sufficiency.

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.

Don Whitbeck

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Re: Sola Scriptura
« Reply #10 on: May 13, 2012, 12:41:57 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 couldn't even begin to imagine what the Saints would of thought at our post-modern look at Scripture is compare to theirs.  I think all of them would be shocked beyond belief.
The Voice of God will NEVER Contradict the Word of God

George Erdner

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Re: Sola Scriptura
« Reply #11 on: May 13, 2012, 12:51:40 PM »
   But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
   
(2 Timothy 3:14-17 ESV)

Here St. Paul tells St. Timothy that the sacred writings (the OT) are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Jesus; that they are God-breathed and profitable for use in such a way that the person who has them is complete, equipped for every good work.  How much more the NT which teaches us how to interpret the Old, and which even in the time of the NT was counted as Scripture (2 Peter 3)?  Scripture thus teaches its own sufficiency.

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.

But, to belabor the key point that you didn't address, the second epistle to Timothy was written centuries before the church leaders decided that the Gospel according to Matthew was "scripture" and the Gospel according to Peter was not. One may repeat the teachings of the church on the issue of whether or not the selection process of what was kept and what was cast aside, but that doesn't address bona-fide questions on how we can be certain that process was totally in compliance with the Holy Spirit's guidance.
 
"Because I said so" is seldom a satisfying answer, is it? (Unless it comes direct from God.)
 

Don Whitbeck

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Re: Sola Scriptura
« Reply #12 on: May 13, 2012, 01:07:06 PM »
   But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
   
(2 Timothy 3:14-17 ESV)

Here St. Paul tells St. Timothy that the sacred writings (the OT) are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Jesus; that they are God-breathed and profitable for use in such a way that the person who has them is complete, equipped for every good work.  How much more the NT which teaches us how to interpret the Old, and which even in the time of the NT was counted as Scripture (2 Peter 3)?  Scripture thus teaches its own sufficiency.

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.

Sorry to say, it seems in the post Modern World this doesn't hold water anymore. Sad fact of our culture acceptance, and the work of the Devil himself, that we just threw, this out with the bath water.  I guess it all depends what Lutheran Church one belongs to and what it believes, based on their interpretations.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
The Voice of God will NEVER Contradict the Word of God

George Erdner

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Re: Sola Scriptura
« Reply #13 on: May 13, 2012, 01:31:53 PM »
Sorry to say, it seems in the post Modern World this doesn't hold water anymore. Sad fact of our culture acceptance, and the work of the Devil himself, that we just threw, this out with the bath water.  I guess it all depends what Lutheran Church one belongs to and what it believes, based on their interpretations.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

How do we know that the Gospel according to Peter isn't also "scripture", breathed out by God but rejected from inclusion in the Holy Bible by error? Is this something we simply accept on faith, or is there additional evidence to support the choice of putting Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in, but Peter, Thomas and others out?
 
For example, has there been a scholarly analysis of the Gospel according to Peter that demonstrates that it contains nothing that isn't already well covered in the other four, and is therefore redundant? Or are there serious discrepancies between the Gospel of Peter and the four that made the final cut?
 
I'm not arguing that there are other worthy writings from antiquity that we should elevate to the level of what made it into the canon of Scripture. But from the perspective of a layman, I'd like to see something that demonstrates that the hand of the Holy Spirit was at work in the process that determined the final canon of Scripture, and that there were no mistakes made by the humans who were attempting to follow the Holy Spirit's guidance.

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Sola Scriptura
« Reply #14 on: May 13, 2012, 03:38:58 PM »
Sorry to say, it seems in the post Modern World this doesn't hold water anymore. Sad fact of our culture acceptance, and the work of the Devil himself, that we just threw, this out with the bath water.  I guess it all depends what Lutheran Church one belongs to and what it believes, based on their interpretations.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

How do we know that the Gospel according to Peter isn't also "scripture", breathed out by God but rejected from inclusion in the Holy Bible by error? Is this something we simply accept on faith, or is there additional evidence to support the choice of putting Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in, but Peter, Thomas and others out?


Most of the pseudepigrapha were considered inspired "scriptures" by some group. That's why they were preserved. The Gnostics certainly looked to the Gnostic gospels as their sacred scriptures.
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