Saturday, October 30, 2010

Why Sola Scriptura doesn't work

I am going to be providing a short list of reasons why I reject the doctrine commonly called Sola Scriptura. However, before I continue, I need to clarify which version of the doctrine I am addressing.  Since there is no unified belief system to which all Protestants adhere, definitions become important.  I am drawing the definition of Sola Scriptura from my own Fundamental Baptist background.  That is, that the Scriptures are the sole rule of faith for doctrine and practice.  So, without further ado:

  • The Bible dies not define which books are to be included. Try as I might, I can't seem to find a divinely inspired table of contents.  Truthfully, the contents of the Scriptures was discussed in four local synods in the 4th century, reiterated at the Council of Florence in the 15th century, then officially closed at the Council of Trent in the 16th century.
  • The Bible never defines the Scriptures as the final authority in matters of discipline. For settling disputes between the brethren, Jesus instructs the Apostles to take the offending brother to the Church, and does not instruct them to search the Scriptures.
  • The Bible is at times unclear. There are stories in the Bible that are difficult to understand at any level.  There are others that on the surface seem easy to understand, but they contain much deeper typology that cannot be readily seen without instruction.
  • There are doctrines held by virtually all Christians that cannot be found explicitly in the Scriptures.  The Trinity, prohibition against abortion, Sunday worship, and other things are not found explicitly in the Scriptures.  These doctrines and practices developed over time.
  • The Bible is never given exclusive authority. Yes, the Scriptures are held in high regard, but there is nothing in the Bible that indicates it is to be held as an exclusive authority.  Yes, it is useful, but it is never given sole authority.
  • When an authority is named, it isn't the Bible. There is a verse that gives ultimate authority as the "pillar and bulwark of truth," and this authority is the Church, and not the Bible.
So there you have it.  The basic reasons why I do not adhere to Sola Scriptura.  There are others as well, but I think that this is sufficient to refute this particular error.

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