Questioning Our Protestant Tradition of Sola Scriptura
It is becoming apparent to me that no church, no theologian, no follower of Christ actually lives out their faith based on the idea of Sola Scriptura.
Sola scriptura as a principle states that Scripture alone is authoritative for the faith and practice of the Christian. The Protestants among us recognize this and embrace it wholeheartedly. It sounds good on paper. It really does. Why do we need anything but the Scriptures to help us form the doctrinal positions that shape our faith? “WE DON’T” shout the reformers among us!
The problem with their answer is it is demonstrably not true. I’ve never met anyone who actually practices this idea and neither have you. The New Testament church certainly did not. That is also demonstrably true. The fact of the matter is that our protestant theologies are shaped by those who have gone before us and who taught us what the Scriptures mean. Our Catholic and Orthodox brothers and sisters are at least honest enough to admit that they hold this view.
We protestants, on the other hand, are heavily influenced by our own traditions. We say we believe in the Bible alone. We trash Catholics and Orthodox for their use of tradition. Yet our theology is shaped by how men in the 15th century understood it. Calvin, is our tradition. Or, Arminius. Or Knox, Luther, Zwingli or some other later day theologian. We interpret the scriptures through the filter of their theology which in turn shapes what we believe the Scriptures teach.
We don’t see this for what it is because we believe that those guys mentioned above got it right. Fifteen hundred years after the fact, we believe that they understood the scriptures in the way they were written to be understood. We follow their understanding of Scripture, somehow failing to grasp that we have embraced their understanding as our own “tradition”.
A classic example of this is the Pre-tribulation rapture theory. Those who believe the Bible teaches this view fail to grasp that the church never understood the Bible to teach this. It was not until the 1800’s that this theory emerged in churches. Still, those who believe it today are convinced that this is what the Bible teaches. They fail to see that this is simply a tradition of man that has been passed down since the 1800’s. How any protestant believer can not see that we ALSO use tradition to interpret any number of scriptures baffles me. Of course we do!
The discussion should not be about tradition vs scripture. Instead, it should focus on whose tradition is closer to the New Testament era, and hence more reliable.
For a fascinating read from an Orthodox priest challenging Sola Scriptura, read our 4 part series called: A Compelling Argument AGAINST Sola Scriptura? (Scripture Alone) Part 1. Or read a serious challenge to the Reformers concept of Total Depravity in a post aptly titled: “Could the Doctrine of Total Depravity Be Totally Depraved?”This is definitely NOT for one who has itching ears. Be prepared, it will challenge you!
Posted on December 14, 2014, in Christianity, Contemporary Church Culture, Early Church History, Theology and tagged Arminius, Calvin, catholic, christianity, Eastern Orthodox, El cristianismo, Gospel, knox, Luther, Not For itching Ears, Sola Scriptura, spirituality, Zwingli. Bookmark the permalink. 89 Comments.