14 December, 2007

The Sufficiency of Scripture in Sola Scriptura

I have finished a paper that I have been working on for 4 months on the doctrine of Sola Scriptura. This doctrine is abused in many ways, and has been since the time of the Reformation when the doctrine was fully developed (I say 'fully' because the doctrine is in the Scriptures as early as the Torah.). There are three ways that it is historically abused:
  • A doctrine cannot be required to be believed that is not EXPLICITLY found in Scripture.
  • Nothing can be done without the warrant of Scripture. (We can't sit in chairs during worship- where is that in the Bible?)
  • Traditions and Creeds of the Church are not important because the Bible is all that matters.
This third abuse is discussed by Allister McGrath and he does a good job of showing that sola scriptura does not negate our traditions, as long as they are supported by the Word of God.

“A number of points bring out the importance of the sola scriptura principle. First, the Reformers insisted that the authority of the popes, counsels, and theologians is subordinate to that of Scripture. This is not necessarily to say that they have no authority… the Reformers allowed certain councils and theologians of the patristic era genuine authority in matters of doctrine. It is to say however, that such authority is derived from Scripture, and is thus subordinate to Scripture. Luther tends to defend the sola scriptura principle by emphasizing the confusion and incoherence of medieval theology, whereas Calvin and Melanchthon argue that the best catholic theology supports their view on the priority of Scripture.”

Allister E. McGrath, Reformation Thought, (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994), 145.

1 comment:

Mark said...

Nice summary, I heartedly agree with your three points. Any chance I get my hands on a copy of the full paper? I'd love to see the entire thing. I've got a copy of Keith Mathison's book on the subject, and found it to be pretty much spot-on.

Congrats, too, on finishing both the paper and your semester.