A Compelling Argument AGAINST Sola Scriptura? (The Scriptures Alone) Part 2
I just couldn’t resist reposting this article by Father John Whiteford, who happens to be an Eastern Orthodox priest. If you are a Protestant like me, then you may have never even heard of the Orthodox church, I know I had not. I am very grateful that I have discovered them. The following is a very well thought out rejection of one of the cornerstones of the Protestant Reformation: Scripture Alone. Read it with an open mind and then share your thoughts with the rest of us. I think he makes some good points. It is a very long article, so I will break it up into 3 parts. Here’s Part 2: Read part 1 HERE
FALSE ASSUMPTION # 2:
The Scriptures were the basis of the early Church, whereas Tradition is simply a “human corruption” that came much later.
“Especially among Evangelicals and so-called Charismatics you will find that the word “tradition” is a derogatory term, and to label something as a “tradition” is roughly equivalent to saying that it is “fleshly,” “spiritually dead,” “destructive,” and/or “legalistic.” As Protestants read the New Testament, it seems clear to them that the Bible roundly condemns tradition as being opposed to Scripture. The image of early Christians that they generally have is essentially that the early Christians were pretty much like 20th Century Evangelicals or Charismatics! That the First Century Christians would have had liturgical worship, or would have adhered to any tradition is inconceivable — only later, “when the Church became corrupted,” is it imagined that such things entered the Church. It comes as quite a blow to such Protestants (as it did to me) when they actually study the early Church and the writings of the early Fathers and begin to see a distinctly different picture than that which they were always led to envision. One finds that, for example, the early Christians did not tote their Bibles with them to Church each Sunday for a Bible study — in fact it was so difficult to acquire a copy of even portions of Scripture, due to the time and resources involved in making a copy, that very few individuals owned their own copies. Instead, the copies of the Scriptures were kept by designated persons in the Church, or kept at the place where the Church gathered for worship. Furthermore, most Churches did not have complete copies of all the books of the Old Testament, much less the New Testament (which was not finished until almost the end of the First Century, and not in its final canonical form until the Fourth Century). This is not to say that the early Christians did not study the Scriptures — they did in earnest, but as a group, not as individuals. And for most of the First Century, Christians were limited in study to the Old Testament. So how did they know the Gospel, the life and teachings of Christ, how to worship, what to believe about the nature of Christ, etc? They had only the Oral Tradition handed down from the Apostles. Sure, many in the early Church heard these things directly from the Apostles themselves, but many more did not, especially with the passing of the First Century and the Apostles with it. Later generations had access to the writings of the Apostles through the New Testament, but the early Church depended on Oral Tradition almost entirely for its knowledge of the Christian faith.
This dependence upon tradition is evident in the New Testament writings themselves. For example, Saint Paul exhorts the Thessalonians:
Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word [i.e. oral tradition] or our epistle (II Thessalonians 2:15).
The word here translated “traditions” is the Greek word paradosis — which, though translated differently in some Protestant versions, is the same word that the Greek Orthodox use when speaking of Tradition, and few competent Bible scholars would dispute this meaning. The word itself literally means “what is transmitted.” It is the same word used when referring negatively to the false teachings of the Pharisees (Mark 7:3, 5, 8), and also when referring to authoritative Christian teaching (I Corinthians 11:2, Second Thessalonians 2:15). So what makes the tradition of the Pharisees false and that of the Church true? The source! Christ made clear what was the source of the traditions of the Pharisees when He called them “the traditions of men” (Mark 7:8). Saint Paul on the other hand, in reference to Christian Tradition states, “I praise you brethren, that you remember me in all things and hold fast to the traditions [paradoseis] just as I delivered [paredoka, a verbal form of paradosis] them to you” (First Corinthians 11:2), but where did he get these traditions in the first place? “I received from the Lord that which I delivered [paredoka] to you” (first Corinthians 11:23). This is what the Orthodox Church refers to when it speaks of the Apostolic Tradition — “the Faith once delivered [paradotheise] unto the saints” (Jude 3). Its source is Christ, it was delivered personally by Him to the Apostles through all that He said and did, which if it all were all written down, “the world itself could not contain the books that should be written” (John 21:25). The Apostles delivered this knowldge to the entire Church, and the Church, being the repository of this treasure thus became “the pillar and ground of the Truth” (I Timothy 3:15).
The testimony of the New Testament is clear on this point: the early Christians had both oral and written traditions which they received from Christ through the Apostles. For written tradition they at first had only fragments — one local church had an Epistle, another perhaps a Gospel. Gradually these writings were gathered together into collections and ultimately they became the New Testament. And how did these early Christians know which books were authentic and which were not — for (as already noted) there were numerous spurious epistles and gospels claimed by heretics to have been written by Apostles? It was the oral Apostolic Tradition that aided the Church in making this determination.
Protestants react violently to the idea of Holy Tradition simply because the only form of it that they have generally encountered is the concept of Tradition found in Roman Catholicism. Contrary to the Roman view of Tradition, which is personified by the Papacy, and develops new dogmas previously unknown to the Church (such as Papal Infallibility, to cite just one of the more odious examples) —the Orthodox do not believe that Tradition grows or changes. Certainly when the Church is faced with a heresy, it is forced to define more precisely the difference between truth and error, but the Truth does not change. It may be said that Tradition expands in the sense that as the Church moves through history it does not forget its experiences along the way, it remembers the saints that arise in it, and it preserves the writings of those who have accurately stated its faith; but the Faith itself was “once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3).
But how can we know that the Church has preserved the Apostolic Tradition in its purity? The short answer is that God has preserved it in the Church because He has promised to do so. Christ said that He would build His Church and that the gates of Hell would not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18). Christ Himself is the head of the Church (Ephesians 4:16), and the Church is His Body (Ephesians 1:22-23). If the Church lost the pure Apostolic Tradition, then the Truth would have to cease being the Truth — for the Church is the pillar and foundation of the Truth (I Timothy 3:15). The common Protestant conception of Church history, that the Church fell into apostasy from the time of Constantine until the Reformation certainly makes these and many other Scriptures meaningless. If the Church ceased to be, for even one day, then the gates of Hell prevailed against it on that day. If this were the case, when Christ described the growth of the Church in His parable of the mustard seed (Matthew 13:31-32), He should have spoken of a plant that started to grow but was squashed, and in its place a new seed sprouted later on — but instead He used the imagery of a mustard seed that begins small but steadily grows into the largest of garden plants.
As to those who would posit that there was some group of true-believing Protestants living in caves somewhere for a thousand years, where is the evidence? The Waldensians 7 that are claimed as forebearers by every sect from the Pentecostals to the Jehovahs Witnesses, did not exist prior to the 12th Century. It is, to say the least, a bit of a stretch to believe that these true-believers suffered courageously under the fierce persecutions of the Romans, and yet would have headed for the hills as soon as Christianity became a legal religion. And yet even this seems possible when compared with the notion that such a group could have survived for a thousand years without leaving a trace of historical evidence to substantiate that it had ever existed.
At this point one might object that there were in fact examples of people in Church history who taught things contrary to what others taught, so who is to say what the Apostolic Tradition is? And further more, what if a corrupt practice arose, how could it later be distinguished from Apostolic Tradition? Protestants ask these questions because, in the Roman Catholic Church there did arise new and corrupt “traditions,” but this is because the Latin West first corrupted its understanding of the nature of Tradition. The Orthodox understanding which earlier prevailed in the West and was preserved in the Orthodox Church, is basically that Tradition is in essence unchanging and is known by its universality or catholicity. True Apostolic Tradition is found in the historic consensus of Church teaching. Find that which the Church has believed always, throughout history, and everywhere in the Church, and then you will have found the Truth. If any belief can be shown to have not been received by the Church in its history, then this is heresy. Mind you, however, we are speaking of the Church, not schismatic groups. There were schismatics and heretics who broke away from the Church during the New Testament period, and there has been a continual supply of them since, for as the Apostle says, “there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest” (ICorinthians 11:19)
FALSE ASSUMPTION # 3:
Anyone can interpret the Scriptures for himself or herself without the aid of the Church.
Though many Protestants would take issue with the way this assumption is worded, this is essentially the assumption that prevailed when the Reformers first advocated the doctrine of Sola Scriptura. The line of reasoning was essentially that the meaning of Scripture is clear enough that anyone could understand it by simply reading it for oneself, and thus they rejected the idea that one needed the Churchs help in the process. This position is clearly stated by the Tubingen Lutheran Scholars who exchanged letters with Patriarch Jeremias II of Constantinople about thirty years after Luthers death:
Perhaps, someone will say that on the one hand, the Scriptures are absolutely free from error; but on the other hand, they have been concealed by much obscurity, so that without the interpretations of the Spirit-bearing Fathers they could not be clearly understood…. But meanwhile this, too, is very true that what has been said in a scarcely perceptible manner in some places in the Scriptures, has been stated in another place in them explicitly and most clearly so that even the most simple person can understand them.8
Though these Lutheran scholars claimed to use the writings of the Holy Fathers, they argued that they were unnecessary, and that, where they believed the Scriptures and the Holy Fathers conflicted, the Fathers were to be disregarded. What they were actually arguing, however, was that when the teachings of the Holy fathers conflict with their private opinions on the Scriptures, their private opinions were to be considered more authoritative than the Fathers of the Church. Rather than listening to the Fathers, who had shown themselves righteous and saintly, priority should be given to the human reasonings of the individual. The same human reason that has led the majority of modern Lutheran scholars to reject almost every teaching of Scripture (including the deity of Christ, the Resurrection, etc.), and even to reject the inspiration of the Scriptures themselves — on which the early Lutherans claimed to base their entire faith. In reply, Patriarch Jeremias II clearly exposed the true character of the Lutheran teachings:
Let us accept, then, the traditions of the Church with a sincere heart and not a multitude of rationalizations. For God created man to be upright; instead they sought after diverse ways of rationalizing (Ecclesiastes 7:29). Let us not allow ourselves to learn a new kind of faith which is condemned by the tradition of the Holy Fathers. For the Divine apostle says, “if anyone is preaching to you a Gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:9).9
B. THE DOCTRINE OF SOLA SCRIPTURA DOES NOT MEET ITS OWN CRITERIA
You might imagine that such a belief system as Protestantism, which has as its cardinal doctrine that Scripture alone is authoritative in matters of faith, would first seek to prove that this cardinal doctrine met its own criteria. One would probably expect that Protestants could brandish hundreds of proof-texts from the Scriptures to support this doctrine — upon which all else that they believe is based. At the very least one would hope that two or three solid text which clearly taught this doctrine could be found — since the Scriptures themselves say, “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established” (II Corinthians 13:1). Yet, like the boy in the fable who had to point out that the Emperor had no clothes on, I must point out that there is not one single verse in the entirety of Holy Scripture that teaches the doctrine of Sola Scriptura. There is not even one that comes close. Oh yes, there are innumerable places in the Bible that speak of its inspiration, of its authority, and of its profitability — but there is no place in the Bible that teaches that only Scripture is authoritative for believers. If such a teaching were even implicit, then surely the early Fathers of the Church would have taught this doctrine also, but which of the Holy Fathers ever taught such a thing? Thus Protestantisms most basic teaching self-destructs, being contrary to itself. But not only is the Protestant doctrine of Sola Scriptura not taught in the Scriptures — it is in fact specifically contradicted by the Scriptures (which we have already discussed) that teach that Holy Tradition is also binding to Christians (II Thessalonians 2:15; I Corinthians 11:2).”
Posted on November 19, 2011, in Christianity, Early Church History, Theology, Worship and tagged christianity, early church history, Eastern Orthodox, Gospel, John Piper, Luther, Protestant, reformed, religion, Sola Scriptura. Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.
Did anyone else find this line of reasoning compelling?
“Yet, like the boy in the fable who had to point out that the Emperor had no clothes on, I must point out that there is not one single verse in the entirety of Holy Scripture that teaches the doctrine of Sola Scriptura. There is not even one that comes close. Oh yes, there are innumerable places in the Bible that speak of its inspiration, of its authority, and of its profitability — but there is no place in the Bible that teaches that only Scripture is authoritative for believers. If such a teaching were even implicit, then surely the early Fathers of the Church would have taught this doctrine also, but which of the Holy Fathers ever taught such a thing? Thus Protestantisms most basic teaching self-destructs, being contrary to itself. But not only is the Protestant doctrine of Sola Scriptura not taught in the Scriptures — it is in fact specifically contradicted by the Scriptures (which we have already discussed) that teach that Holy Tradition is also binding to Christians (II Thessalonians 2:15; I Corinthians 11:2).”
I had never been exposed to this line of argument prior to this. It seriously challenges me because the author makes a very strong case. It is hard for me to disagree and I don’t know where that leads.
If you read both of the posts, I would love to hear your thoughts.
Jim, what are the traditions of the Eastern Orthodox Church that the author is arguing either for or against? I’m unfamiliar with the practices of just about every denomination or line of faith, save for the one I’ve spent most of my life within.
His case, as you say, is compelling. Something inside me wants to parade his statement, “Anyone can interpret Scriptures without the aid of the church is a false assumption,” down main street. While the principle of self-interpretation sounds marvelous, we’re now confronted by a serious issue… everyone and anyone has their own opinion of what God said, and no argument on earth convinces the many we face each day differently. We’ve all convinced ourselves that we alone have the truth. Meanwhile, the world sees right through our facade. They not only see fifty million denominations proclaiming differing messages from a Bible that claims to be the Word from God, but co-workers have to mingle with one another, working side by side, and hear two contradictory testimonies from professed believers of what the faith of Christianity is.
Like you, I’ve never really heard an argument of this sort, I look forward to following along. God bless.
You can google “Eastern Orthodox Faith” and you will find a ton of sites that advocate their faith and position. I find it incredibly odd that all my years of Bible College, Seminary and the ton of systematic theology books I own and have read and I was never once exposed to them or their argument. This group can make a very compelling argument that they have represented the truth faith without any schisms from the first century on. That claim alone, should make the study of their view mandatory in any Theology book or class. I didn’t even know they exist. How is that possible? I have been reading up on them and have found their basic approach to Christianity to be a breath of fresh air. However, they are more like Catholics than they are protestants. They would say that Catholics and Protestants are diffrerent sides of the same coin, which I found interesting. They don’t like Calvin, at all and think he is a total heretic who distorted the faith. They are sympathetic towards Luther, but believe he should have turned to the East rather than starting the Reformation.
I have been studying their views with a very open mind and have been challenged to the core in doing so. I like that!
I just want to be clear here, that the Orthodox Church does not consider herself to be a “denomination” of Christianity. It considers itself to be THE true Christian church, historically, apostolicly, and traditionally. I realize this may not mean anything from ya’lls perspective, but you should know how the Church views herself.
It actually means A LOT to me. Not just that they can lay claim to this, but that they can do so quite convincingly.
Wow, I’m with you Jim. This is an amazing eye-opener and I have to admit, it’s got me thinking and rethinking a few things. I, like you, have never studied the Eastern Orthodox beliefs or practice but I won’t be able to say that in a few days.
Some of what he says has been on my heart for awhile. Namely the desire to search what the early (1st-3rd century) church believed and operated. What I’ve found is astonishing although my study is still in its early stages.
It seems that if we follow the tradition of the Apostles, we’d be forced to abandon Calvinism (thankfully), Pentecostalism (and Charasmania), much of Arminianism, and quite frankly, a vast majority of what we practice in church today.
Again I have to reiterate that it is not that the Word of God is open to interpretation that causes the confusion, it is man’s sensibilities, bias’ and preconceived ideas that create the differing belief systems. The Scriptures do not change, they say what they mean and mean what they say. Understanding the traditions of the Apostles would ultimately wash away the tendency of doctrine and practice to evolve over time.
I couldn’t begin to count the times throughout 22 years of ministry how many times I have said, “Did Jesus, Peter, James, John, Paul, Barnabas, Apollos, Silas, Mark or any other Biblical figure do that?” Normally in reference to Benny Hinn blowing people down or Pentecostals running around the church, dancing, and screaming like Banshees (yes, I am ordained in a Pentecostal church). I have always tried to plum everything by that standard but, as the writer here has pointed out, Scripture isn’t exhaustive when it comes to every single situation that may arise.
If we were to hold the modern “praise service” up against the standard of the first century, I’m afraid we’d be shamed. Due to both our shallowness and flippancy.
“Well we have to mold the church service to be more accommodating or no one will come”, “We have to have a seeker friendly setting to attract the modern crowd”. To borrow a phrase from my grandfather, horsepucky. If a person is sincerely seeking the Lord, that’s enough. They will seek Him without musical instruments, Sunday School, a nursery, padded pews, or air conditioned buildings if necessary. In fact, those things simply won’t matter if Jesus Christ is the passion of their hearts.
Thanks so much for the great article!!!
“If a person is sincerely seeking the Lord, that’s enough. They will seek Him without musical instruments, Sunday School, a nursery, padded pews, or air conditioned buildings if necessary. In fact, those things simply won’t matter if Jesus Christ is the passion of their hearts.”
great sentence!! i agree 100%
even Isaiah says of Jesus that He did not even have anything in His appearancve to attract us to Him!
Truth is what draws us – who He is – who we are(lost sinners) and all of that… true broken contrite hearts will seek and will find no matter what the surrounding is – sometimes I think we use the enemies strategy over Gods strategy when we attract via the senses – isnt that how we get drawn away from the truth usually!!?!!
Anyway -I’m with you Jim, compelling points. I never want to rule out tradition in form – God establishes tradition with israel – however I think whether we embrace it or downright refute it these days – we’re missing something!!! my heads wrecked with it all this year – I just use the Bible I have and I seek what the Lord wants to do in me and use me to do around me and hope that He will help me make sense of the rest
This second installment was even more thought provoking than the first!
Having had a couple of days to digest the first one before reading this, I found myself dwelling more on what components of the Christian faith and worship practices actually originated from tradition, rather than scripture. I would have to say that much of what I see in the modern church has come to us through tradition, and that, not from the original Apostolic source! In fact, much of what I see in the church today leads me to draw the conclusion that the modern church is guilty of committing adultery with the world system that God’s people are supposed to be “set apart” ( the definition of the word “Holy”) from. The majority of the tradition that is being practiced in the church today is aimed at making the church more acceptable to the world. Thereby, bringing in a greater number of people to put money in the offering plate. Oh! But if only we were following in the traditions of the church! What a contrast! I cannot disagree with the point that tradition is an important component, but, as this article rightly points out, the source of that tradition is all-important. Would Jesus wear a Rolex on his television show? The early church fathers did not in any way teach that the members of the church could gain wealth and prosperity through gifts to the televangalists. As this installment tells us, when tradition is held to close scrutiny to the apostolic example, if it doesn’t match up. It is heresey.
Thanks for jumping in here and sharing your thoughts! I find it very interesting that the very early church (disciples who knew the Apostles) taught that the easiest way to spot a false teacher/false prophet was simply that they would ask for money! If they asked for money, they were not to be trusted and were to be considered false teachers! I think things have changed just a little bit.
Hello, I was born and raised Protestant. I eventually became an on fire Calvanist, and even completed the online Theology course at Bible.net, yes, the Canadian guys, ay. In 2009, Palm Sunday, I and my wife were Baptized as Old Calendar Traditional Eastern Orthodox Christians. You see, I like many Protestant Americans have felt like something was missing, the shiny lights, the fancy coffee, the 4 different venues of music, and the Disney land style children’s churches complete with video games, well, just started to lose its luster; and worse for me personally, it really made me start questioning what the heck I was doing, and what the “American Evangelical Movement” was doing as a whole. 5 years ago if you would have even said the words, “Holy Fathers”, “Confession”, or “Tradition” I would have started frothing at the mouth, jumping up and down with my “repent ye worshiper of man, before its too late” sign until I had heat stroke.
I am a musician, and typically would end up playing in the worship band at whatever Church I hadn’t yet decided wasn’t “the right fit” for me. At one point, the very doctrine of original sin, and even the doctrine of appeasement. (Christ (God)) died as a sacrifice to appease God, so that we might be able to approach God on Christs perfect merits. At that point, I was very depressed, I had hit to many problems in reformed theology that were at the very core of things. That and listening to RC Sproul and even the guys at Bible.net, I was learning there was much more than had ever been presented to me in my small town protestant upbringing.
It was around this time that I met a Greek girl and became friends (she is now my God Sister). I had hear about the Orthodox church once before from a co worker who was Bulgarian. Of course, he had turned Atheist but he mentioned how he parents were Orthodox, and that they believed they were the Original True and Apostolic church. Of course, I had dismissed it entirely at that earlier point. However, this time around I decided, what the heck.
I started out by simply confirming the historical claims that this church was what it claimed to be and not just some cult. Once I started studying about Church History, learned about the great Schism, learned about the other financial, and political factors that were involved in Martin Luthers reformation, well, lets just say it was epiphany after epiphany. Please don’t take my word for it, investigate for yourselves. I will point out however, if you really are interested in Orthodoxy make sure you are looking at Old calendar traditionalist churches, as the New Calendar churches have set a course that goes against the very point of the Orthodox or “unchanged” Church. When you start to show interest, basically you can become a Catechuman. This means that you are learning about the church in a serious way, to decided for sure whether it is what you want to do.
Being an Orthodox Christian is not easy. The term, Faith without works is dead, really starts to make sense, that much I will tell you. It is so worth it though, the richness of what I gained and what I was missing all those years, the tools I did not have, etc… blows my mind to this day. When you experience your first Pascha as an Orthodox Christian, or even a catechuman, that is when things start to come together. Our Synod has a youtube channel with some very good videos. I recommend the series called, “The sickness of religion”. Anyway, God Bless and Xristos Anesti!…. Efstathius
Thanks for jumping in and sharing your thoughts. I am pretty intrigued by your testimony as you and I seem to have a lot in common.
Like you, I had never heard of the Orthodox Church, and I had a degree in Theology. I found them because I too was having similar frustrations with the North American church.
I am not an Orthodox Christian, but there is so much about the church that captures my attention. The idea of Theosis makes perfect sense to me. The idea of tradition and scripture appeals to me also. The concept of the penalty for Adam’s sin being death passed on to us, also is appealing. Honestly, the Orthodox understanding of things seems much more in line with scripture and church history than Calvinsim. At least from my perspective.
I have read several Orthodox works in the past year. Currently I am reading “Let Us Attend, A Journey Through the Orthodox Divine Liturgy” and I have been amazed by what I have read. This liturgy shames the North American church. What we so proudly proclaim as a gathering of God’s people, is nothing, nothing compared to this.
The first time I read about the actual communion time of the Orthodox liturgy, I almost began weeping in jealousy!
I do have some issues that I can’t seem to resolve. One of them is praying to Mary. I don’t understand the need for this. As Theotokos, she is worthy of esteem and honor. Much more than Protestants are willing to give. But she is not omnipresent, nor is she omniscient. I find it hard to believe she is capable of interceeding for us, nor that she needs to. Her eternal virginity? I am not sure, but it doesn’t matter much to me.
The issues of icons is becoming less and less of an issue for me. I no longer view this as idolatry, as a traditional protestant would. The more I have looked at it with an open mind, the more I understand the difference. Still, I would be dishonest if I said it didn’t concern me at all. I think many of us here would be interested in knowing how you and your wife resolved those things in your own lives.
How did you cross the line in your heart and mind?
Interesting discussion. I think the reason some find the Orthodox compelling is that at best most Americans experience a 16th century church whereas this is a 5th century church. However, I cannot accept the claim by the author that the Orthodox represent the apostolic church. While they may seem closer than the Reformation traditions in some ways, things like Icons, veneration of Mary, baptism of infants clearly show that they had gone way beyond 1st century Christianity. I guess one question I would pose to anyone seeking them out is why not the Coptic Church? It can trace its roots (ie current practices) to 300s or earlier. Basically the Roman, Orthodox, and Coptic traditions represent what happens over time when people are cut off from each other geographically, linguistically, etc. Each will progress at a different pace or take some different turns. Though it takes living by faith to live by the scripture (and I do believe in interpreting scripture within a community of saints) I will choose that road over simply picking one geographic-linguistic tradition over another.
Thanks for adding to the discussion here!
One of the reasons I find the Orthodox Church’s claim to be compelling is that they can trace their history back to the early church. Of course, just because they have a longer history than others, doesn’t necessarily equate with being right. Granted, one could be first and be wrong!
The Reformers, and those that followed them, fundamentally changed the church. In proclaiming ourselves free from tradition, and only tied to the correct interpretation of Scripture, we opened a pandora’s box of new theological possibilites. The sheer number of protestant denominations and non-denominational congregations stands as clear testimoy in this regard. The point I think we often miss, is that all of us interpret the Scriptures according to our community of faith, our “tradtion” while raising the banner of “Sola Scriptura.” Very few people, when they think through what they believe, can honestly say they only consider what the Bible says. What we believe The Bible says, is largely formed by those we associate with.
The real question, in my mind at least, is who has a better understanding of what the right tradition is? Is it Calvin or Luther? It is Aquinas? Is it John Piper or Rick Warren? Is it TD Jakes or Aimee Semple McPherson? Is it todays theologians, or is it yesterdays? Perhaps it is the the early church Fathers? They were much closer in proximity to The Apostles. In fact several of them were disciples of the Apostles? I submit, it is impossible to rightly interpret the Scriptures without help from those who have gone before us.
In an era where we feel quite at home re-defining what a Church “is” as well as re-defining theology , I find it refreshing to know their are many “churches” that have changed little in their existence.