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“Sola Scriptura” - is it enough to base your Christian life upon?

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To the Protestant “Sola Scriptura” means the only infallible source of information on which to base Christian doctrines and principles, is the canonised Bible. To the Roman Catholic that is not enough. They rely upon Scripture, Magisterial documents and Papal tradition and for 1500 years that was good enough. ( https://freetruth.ca/docume...

ACTS 15:4-6
"And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received by the church, and by the apostles and ancients, declaring how great things God had done with them. But there arose some of the sect of the Pharisees that believed, saying: They must be circumcised, and be commanded to observe the law of Moses.
And the apostles and ancients assembled to consider of this matter."


Holy Scripture demanded that they be circumcised but the apostles and elders assembled to consider the matter. (The early Church had no NT only OT scriptures). Thank goodness for that because men would have to have been circumcised if scripture alone had prevailed. So to base your faith purely on your personal view point of scripture is dangerous because you have to reject Church traditions, doctrines, and interpretations of other equally pious men as having no authority whatsoever. Only your narrow understanding of scripture has authority.

Martin Luther was perhaps the most famous person to preach sola scriptura, the idea that the Bible is the sole source of religious truth. Yet it is impossible to hold to the idea of scripture only with logical consistency. The reason is simple; the determination of what the sacred writings make up the Bible is wholly extra-scriptural and based on church tradition, doctrine, and politics. Initially one must go outside of the scriptures themselves to determine which writings should be in the Bible, which renders the claim of "scripture only" false.

In other words who determined what must be in the canonised Bible to begin with? This would depend on Church politics and doctrines. In order to support scripture, one must appeal to Church doctrine, and to support Church doctrine one must appeal to scripture. Talk about circular reasoning.
The Holy Bible is a list of approved (Canonised) books. Protestants since 1640 say 66 books. Prior to that, for many 15 centuries, there were many more books in the Roman Catholic Bible. Even Luther's Bible had the Apocrypha, which he put between the "testaments" (and thus they became "inter-testament books.") He put the NT books he disputed at the back of the NT, hence James, Jude, Hebrews, Revelation, etc, are at the back of the NT.
The truth is, according to James Barr a famous Bible scholar:

“we seldom know very well the grounds on which decisions about canonical questions were reached, and even when some grounds are mentioned it is often difficult to know whether they were the ones that were really effective.” “n so far as such things existed [they] existed in the form of the different opinions of different groups; and a settlement was eventually reached not through a ‘decision’ but through the fact that one group became dominant, its opinion became more powerful and important, and that other views simply faded away with the fading of the groups which had maintained them.” Barr goes on to say, “Arguments for and against the canonicity of books may in many cases be reasons after the fact, arguments for what has been done after it had already been done.
A good example is Irenaeus’ famous argument over the necessity that there should be precisely four Gospels, as there are four regions of the world, four winds, four faces of the cherubim: if, however, there had been three Gospels, e.g. if Mark had dropped out, one could (and no doubt would) have argued decisively that there could in the nature of things only be three gospels, since three is the number of the Holy Trinity, the number of the basic cosmic elements (heaven, earth, and sea)---who knows?”


Christians must believe hopefully that somehow God guided this whole process from start to finish even though it involved so many uninspired people (the original oral second hand stories; Q; other compositions; the many gospels, including the gospels of Judas and Peter and Thomas etc; scribal copyists; scribal errors and additions, church canonical pronouncements). Nope it is quite simple; the determination of what the sacred writings that make up the Bible is wholly extra-scriptural and based on church tradition, doctrine, and politics. Therefore Sola Scriptura has to be illogical.

What do you think?
 
Loyal
Jer 31:31; "Behold, days are coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah,

People in OT times knew a new covenant was coming.
Yes sometimes the Holy Spirit speaks to us, but He never disagrees with the Word.

The people Jesus's time didn't have a 'new Testament' written down yet. But many of them got to see it with their own eyes.
We don't have that excuse today, we DO have a new testament written down.

There are plenty of people trying to discredit it. They've been trying since the dawn of man.

Gen 3:1; Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, "Indeed, has God said.....

Plenty of people trying to say "did God really say that?" When in fact... He did.
 
Member
Jer 31:31; "Behold, days are coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah,

People in OT times knew a new covenant was coming.
Yes sometimes the Holy Spirit speaks to us, but He never disagrees with the Word.

The people Jesus's time didn't have a 'new Testament' written down yet. But many of them got to see it with their own eyes.
We don't have that excuse today, we DO have a new testament written down.

There are plenty of people trying to discredit it. They've been trying since the dawn of man.

Gen 3:1; Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, "Indeed, has God said.....

Plenty of people trying to say "did God really say that?" When in fact... He did.
" we DO have a new testament written down."

Who wrote it down? The Roman Catholic Church. And there is nothing in the Bible that says Christians must make the Bible their standard of faith. This is because the Bible has no idea that it is a single book with a universal message for all mankind, and because the NT declares that the Church, not scripture, is the pillar of Christian faith (1 Timothy 3:15).

Sola Scriptura conveniently ignores the historical fact that the NT evolved out of the Church, not vice-versa. The Church, as a believing community, wrote a multitude of scriptures and only later selected-out a relative few of them as its official Canon. The Bible has always been the RC Church's creation.

The concept of the "Bible-believing Christian" never applied to the first few generations of Christians because 1) they had no principle of Sola Scriptura and 2) they had no official Christian Testament. Of course they believed that the Jewish Bible was inspired, but their core Christian life was centered in prayer, liturgy and the Eucharist. The original Gentile Church was always sacramental - and it always depended on what Catholicism calls "Tradition" for its doctrinal integrity - Tradition being the living, on-going source of guidance of the Holy Spirit, out of which, according to the Church, both its doctrines and the New Testament itself sprang. As did the "discernment" to decide which Christian texts were acceptable and which were heretical.

So no chicken-egg problem applies to this issue because it was the RC Church that wrote, selected and preserved its Bible. The Church created its own Greek Testament, even while preserving the Jewish Bible.

The Scriptures did not create the Church, and the Church knew it. Why don't you? Cognitive dissonance are we?
 
Loyal
Who wrote it down? The Roman Catholic Church.
So you deny it was the apostles who wrote most of these "letters". There either wasn't a John, Paul, Peter, James and Jude... or if there was they didn't write anything down?
If if they did write anything done, it doesn't pertain to us anyway? Some books of the new testament weren't written by Apostles, but they were written by people the Apostles "sponsored".
(in other words they were mentioned as Christians in letters from the Apostles) The only exception is Hebrews. No one is sure who wrote it, but Paul usually gets the credit.

John 20:30; Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book;
John 20:31; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.

John 5:38; "You do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He sent.

Rev 22:19; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.

Jas 1:21; Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.

The nice things about not having a written word is we can make up whatever we like. If we don't like a certain teaching we can say it's not written down anywhere. It gives us free reign
to do and believe whatever we like.

2 Tim 2:15; Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

I do agree with you that the Bible isn't our only source of inspiration from God, but it is our main source.

1 Jn 2:14; I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you , and you have overcome the evil one.

There are plenty of scriptures that say we need to believe what is written, but then I guess if you don't believe those scriptures are part of the Bible in the first place, they don't apply to you.

John 1:1; In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

So... what part of the Word of God do you think didn't come from God? The entire new testament? The entire new covenant.

2 Tim 3:16; All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;
 
Member
So you deny it was the apostles who wrote most of these "letters". There either wasn't a John, Paul, Peter, James and Jude... or if there was they didn't write anything down?
If if they did write anything done, it doesn't pertain to us anyway? Some books of the new testament weren't written by Apostles, but they were written by people the Apostles "sponsored".
(in other words they were mentioned as Christians in letters from the Apostles) The only exception is Hebrews. No one is sure who wrote it, but Paul usually gets the credit.

John 20:30; Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book;
John 20:31; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.

John 5:38; "You do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He sent.

Rev 22:19; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.

Jas 1:21; Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.

The nice things about not having a written word is we can make up whatever we like. If we don't like a certain teaching we can say it's not written down anywhere. It gives us free reign
to do and believe whatever we like.

2 Tim 2:15; Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

I do agree with you that the Bible isn't our only source of inspiration from God, but it is our main source.

1 Jn 2:14; I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you , and you have overcome the evil one.

There are plenty of scriptures that say we need to believe what is written, but then I guess if you don't believe those scriptures are part of the Bible in the first place, they don't apply to you.

John 1:1; In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

So... what part of the Word of God do you think didn't come from God? The entire new testament? The entire new covenant.

2 Tim 3:16; All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;



Sola Scriptura has always had problems from the beginning. I can understand its appeal, especially when you set it against the rather blatant financial and political corruption in the Catholic Church at the time of the reformation. Much like the current scandals, it didn't inspire much confidence in the "just trust us" argument that the Church was putting forth. And there were a lot of practices that went against the spirit, if not the letter of what Jesus is purported to have said in the Bible.

However, when the Reformation kicked off, "Scripture" meant the Latin Vulgate.

The Latin Vulgate had stood word for word as the definitive version of the Bible for thousands of years. It must have looked like a rock that was equal to the task of anchoring doctrine. Luther and others began translating the Vulgate into the languages that the common people spoke, and soon there were German, English and Dutch translations - which were revolutionary.

But that rock didn't remain solid for long.

Famous scholar Erasmus of the Northern Renaissance, (Google him) who could read Greek and Hebrew, thought that the Latin Vulgate was clumsy and wanted to do his own "new revised version" in Latin, and went back to existing Greek and Hebrew manuscripts and published them along side his new Latin translation. Among his numerous challenges (including the Vulgate having passages that weren't in his Greek manuscript) was the conundrum of what to do when the best translation contradicts established doctrine?

Erasmus, wary that he was already treading on dangerous ground producing an alternative to the Vulgate, fudged his translations toward doctrinal compatibility. And where he had no corresponding Greek to translate, he translated the Latin Vulgate back into Greek, so there would be no "holes" in his published Greek text. He collected all the Vulgate manuscripts he could find to create a critical edition. Then he polished the language.

He declared, "It is only fair that Paul should address the Romans in somewhat better Latin."

Which is reasonable seeing Paul wrote most of the NT. Which is quite ironic because he never ever meet Jesus Christ in the flesh. Never ever quoted the Sermon on the Mount or any of the mighty miracles and happening of Jesus etc. He never knew or meet Jesus even though he was in the same area and time and the stories about Jesus had made Him famous through out the land. (Galatians 1:11–17)

Move forward a century and you have the King James translators working off the same patchy Greek text and also making similar decisions about conforming to Anglican Church doctrine at all costs. As a matter of fact, the King had given them the mandate to produce a translation that would support Anglican attitudes toward church government. ( Story Behind King James Bible )
King James warmed to the new translation because he despised the then popular Geneva Bible and it conformed to his personal tastes, aspirations and convictions.

In the late 18th and early 19th centuries all hell as it were broke lose as more ancient Biblical manuscripts were discovered all over the world, and few of them were 100% in agreement. Most of the discrepancies were small, but still the Scriptures were supposed to be the solid rock on which all doctrine was based.

But consider this, if that were actually true, then as errors were found and corrected in the manuscripts used for, say, the King James version, then that would mean that Christian doctrine would evolve as through research and study we got closer and closer to an understanding of what the original writers had written. But, that didn't happen. Instead, Bible translation committees were often forced to decide whether it was more important to produce a "doctrinally pure" translation, rather than a more accurate one.

That is why even today some Christians today will spurn any modern more accurate English translation version, preferring the King James from which their familiar Protestant doctrines were derived.

In short, sola scriptura, if one is to be intellectually honest, must apply to the original text only.

Of course, we don't have the original text. Now do we? So there you are. Now faith must enter and we believe comes into play. Not we know nope we believe that through textual criticism we believe that we have come reasonably close. But even today, scholars make slight adjustments year by year in what is the consensus of the best Greek and Hebrew texts. It is, and probably always will be, a moving target.

Which leaves Christian Protestants with a problem. They have "unchanging" doctrine in an unchanging God, supposedly tied to a shifting text. So really, they are just as tied to "tradition" as Roman Catholics, and are willing to filter the Bible through that tradition, even when the best translations no longer function as the proof texts they once did.

The assumption at the Reformation was that we absolutely knew what the Bible said.

We now know that we didn't. On the other hand, we have the strongest consensus ever today of what the original manuscripts said. It just means that some of what the original reformers thought it said, it didn't. So we walk by faith not by sight still applies.

We believe not we know.
 
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