Reading Scripture in Tradition: Why Sola Scriptura Doesn’t Work

readingscriptureintradition

Orthodox Christians do not hold to the Reformation principle of Sola scriptura. Instead, we view the scriptures as the pinnacle or “summit”1 of holy tradition, neither separating the two as wholly distinct, nor eliminating one or the other.

The reason for this is simple: the scriptures are a witness to divine revelation, given from God to mankind (and specially, to God’s holy people—Israel and now the catholic Church). Holy tradition refers to the totality of this divine revelation, and includes our liturgies and hymns, the lives of the Saints, the writings of our fathers, and the decrees and canons of Ecumenical Councils. Atop this foundation rests holy scripture. To divorce scripture from tradition—or vice versa—is to both needlessly and dangerously tear apart the whole of divine revelation:

Taken from its context within Holy Tradition, the solid rock of Scripture becomes a mere ball of clay, to be molded into whatever shape its handlers wish. It is no honor to the Scriptures to misuse and twist them, even if this is done in the name of exalting their authority.
—Fr. John Whiteford, Sola Scriptura, p. 46

Even when Sola scriptura is given nuance2 to make room for creeds, confessions, and councils, the final arbiter is still a person’s interpretation of the Bible. While one might hold to a document such as the Westminster Confession of Faith, if there are doctrinal disagreements, the consistent Biblicist will come down in favor of a particular interpretation of the Bible over-and-against the Confession. This has led to some difficulties over the years for certain Protestant churches, but I believe that this nuance is—ultimately—pointless.

For example, one might confess a creed that states Jesus is a bunny rabbit. While this belief could theoretically be held by many, anyone can deny it as being contrary to the Bible (which it obviously is), rendering the creed both incorrect and unnecessary. It doesn’t really matter what creeds or confessions say, so long as the Bible is held to be the final authority. This foundationalist or positivist approach might seem tidy, but a tree is known by its fruit: hundreds of denominations (and growing), along with dozens of splits within these major, confessional gatherings. Even with the best intentions, Sola scriptura is a doctrine of confusion, not union (1 Cor. 14:33).

It’s worth noting that Sola scriptura presumes both faith and piety can be deduced from—and reduced to—a set of propositions. The chief mechanism for this investigation is human reason, aided by rational tools like exegesis, hermeneutical methods, historical-critical scholarship, contextual studies, and more. (All of which are potential ‘traditions of men.’) But if the scriptures are a witness to the divine revelation given to God’s people (the Church), then their understanding can only take place within that community, and as a consequence of the interpreter’s union with God:

In the Orthodox approach to Scripture, it is the job of the individual not to strive for originality in interpretation, but rather to understand what is already present in the traditions of the Church. We are obliged not to go beyond the boundary set by the Fathers and Creeds of the Church, but to faithfully pass on the Tradition just as we have received it. To do this requires a great deal of study and thought—but even more, if we are to truly understand the Scriptures, we must enter deeply into the mystical life of the Church. —ibid., p. 44

At the Ecumenical Councils—such as Chalcedon in A.D. 451—the synodal decisions are outlined in what is called (in Greek) ‘horos.’ This is sometimes translated ‘definition,’ but is more accurately ‘a boundary.’ In other words, the Church sets the boundary for orthodox belief in Her creeds, liturgies, and canons, but there is a great deal of freedom within this boundary for scholarly investigation, dialogue, and even debate. For example, the Church does not have a single, infallible interpretation for every verse of the Bible. So while one should not strive for “originality in interpretation” or to go “beyond the boundary set by the Fathers,” this is not a call to intellectual suicide, nor should it be seen as an attempt by the Church to be always stuck in the past. There is still much to be said, so long as it does not contradict the apostolic faith.

But if there remains much to be said regarding the scriptures—within the boundaries of orthodoxy—who is capable of rightly dividing the word of truth? Can anyone do this? Is it something for the intellectual elite alone?

St. Augustine describes the type of person fit for the proper study and understanding of scripture in On Christian Doctrine. Fr. John Whiteford summarizes for us in his helpful tract on Sola scriptura. Such a person3:

  1. Loves God with his whole heart, and is empty of pride;
  2. Is motivated to seek the knowledge of God’s will by faith and reverence, rather than pride or greed;
  3. Has a heart subdued by piety, a purified mind, dead to the world; neither fears, nor seeks to please men;
  4. Seeks nothing but knowledge of and union with Christ;
  5. Hungers and thirsts after righteousness; and
  6. Is diligently engaged in works of mercy and love.

Absent from this description is the kind of Ph. D. they have acquired, the university that granted it, or a mastery of the finer points of Ancient Near Eastern history. While all of these things are great in their own right, they neither guarantee nor even suggest that a person with that sort of experience is equipped to understand the scriptures as part of holy tradition. Without rejecting scholarship, we must be careful to balance scholarship with the necessary holiness, piety, and mystical union with Christ—which can only take place in his Body, the apostolic and catholic Church—of the interpreter.

If we truly believe that the scriptures are divinely-inspired by the Holy Spirit, then their right-understanding can only be the result of theosis. If our salvation is an acquisition of the Holy Spirit (e.g. St. Seraphim of Sarov), then with that acquisition comes the Mind of God—a Mind that is attuned to the breath of the Spirit as he breathes through the life of the Church.

The Church is not some other, competing academic institution alongside seminaries and universities. Those led astray by the Academy can be tempted to subvert tradition for the sake of academic merit badges. But rather than pitting the Church against the scholarly community, we must learn to appreciate both in their proper context—reminding ourselves that the qualities of a true interpreter of divine revelation are more related to holiness than they are academic credentials. If a scholar’s primary goal is to blaze new trails, be controversial, or directly subvert holy tradition, they are not seeking the Mind of Christ.

The Church is the very Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:27), the fullness of God (Eph. 1:23), and the pillar and ground of truth (1 Tim. 3:15). It is only in the life of that mystical, theanthropic (Divine-human) communion that a person can ever hope to acquire this Mind and to both read and understand the scriptures rightly—as the precious summit and anchor of God’s revelation to his people.

Show 3 footnotes

  1. Fr. John Whiteford, Sola Scriptura: An Orthodox Analysis of the Cornerstone of Reformation Theology, p. 46
  2. e. g. Keith A. Mathison’s The Shape of Sola Scriptura
  3. Saint Augustine, “On Christian Doctrine,” A Selected Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series 1, Vol. II, Henry Wace and Philip Schaff, eds. (New York: Christian, 1887–1900), pp. 534–537

Comments

  1. Ted Bigelow says

    Gabe – two questions from a guy coming from a sola scriptura commitment…

    1. Do you have the capital M Mind of Christ you describe at the end of the article?

    2. Did you mean to refer to 1 Cor. 10:17, or 1 Cor. 12:27 at the end of the article?

    • says

      1. Likely not, which is why I default to trusting the wisdom of the Church (as outlined above, the various witnesses of divine revelation). We even pray during the Liturgy that our Bishops would be able to rightly divide the scriptures, as it is not a given for anyone, clergy or not.

      2. 12:27 (corrected)

      • Ted Bigelow says

        So, while your article speaks of attaining the Mind of Christ (It is only in the life of that mystical, theanthropic (Divine-human) communion that a person can ever hope to acquire this Mind and to both read and understand the scriptures rightly) you do not, but you pray your bishops do. So if you cannot interpret them with the Mind of Christ, how do you know you can interpret the Church, since you also believe that to be a “witness to revelation?”

        2. 1 Cor. 12:27 does not refer to “the Church” (as you claim) but only to the body of Christ at Corinth. Is “the Church” able to overrule that which the apostle did not intend, or is that an example of you not having the Mind that you hope to one day acquire?

        • says

          1. I think you’re reading too much into what I’m saying. It is not a potential for anyone to have a perfect understanding of divine revelation in its entirety. Even granting theosis, we are always creatures, and God is always creator. Theosis does not assume that we become equal to God and are therefore able to perfectly understand all things.

          Which brings up another point: It seems that you are presupposing a sort of logical positivism applied to the scriptures. Determining the one, true meaning of any given scripture, for example, is not the goal here. The goal is understanding the scriptures in the context of the life of the Church, which can reveal multiple meanings or applications for any given passage (e.g. moral, anagogical, typological, historical). While the Church might show us that Jonah’s time in the belly of a fish is a type of Christ’s descent into Hades, this is not the only viable interpretation or application of this scriptural narrative. We simply know that whatever we might deduce from this story (aided by both reason and spiritual attainment), it should not contradict or ignore such a perspective. That’s all I’m getting at.

          I don’t know many people that would claim to have the Mind of Christ, but it is certainly our goal. I hope and pray that I do, and that my reading of the scriptures, my prayers, and my piety is not hindered or skewed, as a result. Spirituality is not flipping a switch from off to on, but is rather a journey, a relationship between the individual and God, lived out in the life of the Church.

          I don’t think I ever stated that the Church is a witness to divine revelation, although She does contain such (e.g. the Saints, Ecumenical Councils, etc.).

          The Church is beyond that—it is the pleroma (fullness) of God himself. It is a true experience of the Divine life. In Her mysteries, we partake of the divine nature and are transformed after the likeness of God. We eat and drink for the redemption of both soul and body. This is beyond simply a witness to divine revelation (as with the writings of the Saints, for example), but is revelation itself. The Church is not something to be “interpreted,” like a written text. I have been careful not to say these things are “sources” of divine revelation, but rather a witness to it—because they are not the source. The Source is God, and the Church is His Body.

          2. Every local gathering of the church—gathered around an apostolic Bishop and the celebration of the Eucharist—is the fullness of the catholic Church. While you may not agree, this is standard, orthodox dogma (cf. St. Ignatius of Antioch).

          • Ted Bigelow says

            1. It was you who spoke of attaining the Mind, not me, and further, upon attainment, would come to “understand the Scriptures rightly” – your words. When pressed you backed off that point, and then in the next comm box pressed it, as if I were the one talking about some earthly perfection.

            If by logical positivism you mean I believe the Scriptures are perfect harmony and never contradict themselves, then I am guilty. I read them that way, and my Lord promised that what He would speak to the apostles through the Spirit after His resurrection would be “all the truth” (John 16:12-15). He did not speak this promise to “the Church” but only to the disciples gathered with Him.

            I wonder how you can avoid growing agnostic? If I read you, you might be described as having an ecclesial positivism – the Church being revelation itself, but not open to interpretation. Therefore, you seek to bring the Scriptures under the Church, since your article describes Scripture only as “a witness to revelation.” But since you don’t have the Mind you claim can help you understand Scripture rightly, how can you understand your Church rightly? Are you not simply thrust upon yourself?

            2. Which maybe helps explains why for you (i.e., Orthodoxy), the bishop is necessary to consecrate the eucharist, but such is not true for the apostle Paul, who only wants the people of the church gathered, and mentions no need of a bishop (1 Cor. 10:16-17, 11:18-34). You believe the life of Christ in the church requires a charism, and its all mystery based on…. ? what? You interpretation of your church, and when confronted with Scripture that doesn’t support it, you’ll go where, but to your interpretation of your church.

            And you want to call people to join you in this faith?

            Nor have you (i.e., your Church) correctly interpreted Ignatius, for when he speaks of “where Jesus Christ is” (Smryna, 8:2)- he speaks of Christ connected to the church, not the bishop. You may read my article at http://www.churchsonefoundation.com/the-importance-of-being-catholic/ for a longer explanation.

            And I’m betting that he too will have to come under your interpretation of your church.

          • says

            Ted, you wrote:

            1. It was you who spoke of attaining the Mind, not me, and further, upon attainment, would come to “understand the Scriptures rightly” – your words. When pressed you backed off that point, and then in the next comm box pressed it, as if I were the one talking about some earthly perfection.

            By “understand the Scriptures rightly,” I mean an understanding that is in harmony with the life of the Church—thus the title of the post, “Reading Scripture in Tradition.” I haven’t changed my position from the original post to our conversation, we have seemingly just had a misunderstanding on this point.

            If by logical positivism you mean I believe the Scriptures are perfect harmony and never contradict themselves, then I am guilty. I read them that way, and my Lord promised that what He would speak to the apostles through the Spirit after His resurrection would be “all the truth” (John 16:12-15). He did not speak this promise to “the Church” but only to the disciples gathered with Him.

            No, by logical positivism I mean the idea that we can have a complete, total, and singular understanding of each verse, as if that’s for what they are meant. The scriptures are harmonious insofar as they are inspired by the same Spirit. That Christ promised the Holy Spirit would lead the apostles into all truth is a great comfort to me, and why I believe in the apostolic Church as I do. To bifurcate on Church and apostles here is nonsensical, and betrays how every apostolic father understood both the Church and the implications of apostolic succession.

            I wonder how you can avoid growing agnostic? If I read you, you might be described as having an ecclesial positivism – the Church being revelation itself, but not open to interpretation. Therefore, you seek to bring the Scriptures under the Church, since your article describes Scripture only as “a witness to revelation.” But since you don’t have the Mind you claim can help you understand Scripture rightly, how can you understand your Church rightly? Are you not simply thrust upon yourself?

            The Church is a theanthropic communion, not a book. How can it be interpreted? Something doesn’t make sense to me here. The scriptures are of course a part of the life of the Church—it was the Church who wrote, gathered, copied, and preserved such over the centuries. Our monks ensured that we could read and study the scriptures today. The Church struggled to defend the faith against various heresies through Her preservation of not only the text of scripture, but also its proper interpretation, as needed. This was all guided by the same Spirit who inspired the scriptures through human authorship to begin with.

            The Church, again, is a body, a Divine-human communion, not something like a text to be “interpreted” or “understood” as a set of propositions. I’m really confused by your arguments on this point, but that is obviously a result of our disparate ecclesiological presuppositions and experiences.

            2. Which maybe helps explains why for you (i.e., Orthodoxy), the bishop is necessary to consecrate the eucharist, but such is not true for the apostle Paul, who only wants the people of the church gathered, and mentions no need of a bishop (1 Cor. 10:16-17, 11:18-34). You believe the life of Christ in the church requires a charism, and its all mystery based on…. ? what? Your revelation/interpretation of your church, and when confronted with Scripture that doesn’t support it, you’ll go where, but to your revelation/interpretation of your church?

            Ministers ordained faithfully in succession from the apostles has been a necessary aspect of the Church and her mysteries since the first century. The Spirit was breathed upon the twelve apostles alone, and to them alone was given the so-called Great Commission (in both the Gospels and Acts). The Church is built upon this foundation of the apostles, of course. This is ontological, not epistemological.

            Since I don’t presuppose Sola scriptura, a selection of verses that supposedly support your bodiless or headless ecclesiology are of no concern. I believe you’re wrong, because the Church has always believed that such ecclesiology is wrong. Consult the apostolic fathers, for example—Irenaeus and Ignatius especially.

            And honestly, none of this is really about me or my own personal beliefs. These are catholic and ecumenical beliefs going back—in most cases—to the apostles and their immediate successors. We no doubt disagree, but that isn’t due to my personal intuition or opinions, but rather your variance with the Orthodox Church.

            And you want to call people to join you in this faith and acquire a “Mind” you know they’ll never get?

            I’ve never claimed as much. Everyone who is a part of the Church can attain to the Mind of Christ, living and breathing as one Body of Christ, called and led by the Holy Spirit. This is about harmony and spiritual communion, not a perfect, rational understanding of a set of propositions or proof-texts. We do not find it necessary to know everything there is to know about God and divine revelation, because such is impossible. We are creatures, and he is the creator, and this will never change. Even the prophets and apostles were mortal, and with limitations.

            Nor have you (i.e., your Church) correctly interpreted Ignatius, for when he speaks of “where Jesus Christ is” (Smryna, 8:2)- he speaks of Christ connected to the church, not the bishop.

            I think you need to re-read all of his epistles. But here we are again, arguing about interpretation! This is why I rely not on my intellect alone, but also on the life of the Church that has existed for centuries before me, and will continue to exist on into eternity.

            The truth is not dependent upon me. The Truth is a person, it is Christ himself, and we partake of that truth by being baptized into his Body, the Church. This is more about ontology than it is epistemology, and that is where our largest disagreement or misunderstanding seems to rest.

          • Ted Bigelow says

            Gabe, you wrote,

            by logical positivism I mean the idea that we can have a complete, total, and singular understanding of each verse, as if that’s for what they are meant

            That’s the sola scriptura straw man you think Orthodoxy knocks down? Kindly name one person who ever claimed that.

            This is about harmony and spiritual communion, not a perfect, rational understanding of a set of propositions or proof-texts…

            Same thing – straw man. Who ever taught or claimed that?

            Ministers ordained faithfully in succession from the apostles has been a necessary aspect of the Church and her mysteries since the first century.

            Same thing – straw man – but now ecclesiological. nowhere did Jesus or the apostles teach the need for succession, or teach the churches to expect a succession of apostolic ministry. It’s oxymoronic – apostles are foundational, and any succession of apostles as apostles would have to be foundational.

            So if your article is saying, “sola scripture doesn’t work when you have a prior commitment to reading Scripture in light of my chosen tradition,” then I agree.

            Yet, at the end, you say,

            It is only in the life of that mystical, theanthropic (Divine-human) communion that a person can ever hope to acquire this Mind and to both read and understand the scriptures rightly—as the precious summit and anchor of God’s revelation to his people.

            See, it is you who lay a paradigm on top of the Bible – your tradition. Yet it is a tradition not taught in the Bible itself, making it inherently false. Your faith springs from human tradition, not the apostolic teaching of the gospel.

          • Sylvan says

            Just a quick thought, but your logic of “It is a tradition not taught in the Bible itself, making it inherently false” seems a bit shaky when you consider that Sola Scriptura is not a Biblical concept, but a tradition invented by European lawyers.

          • Ted Bigelow says

            “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. (Mat 4:4)”

            Jesus was a European lawyer?

          • Sylvan says

            That’s such a huge contextual error I don’t even know where to begin… hmm. It’s interesting because at the time when that verse was written, the “Bible” was merely the Old Testament.. We are to live by the words that come from the mouth of God! But how you’re getting Sola Scriptura out of that.. and your reductionist “if it’s not in the Bible I want no part of it” completely overlooks things like this: 2 Thessalonians 2:15. “Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.”

            One has to wonder, if Sola Scriptura is what Jesus “really meant” by saying that verse you claim supports it, why the Apostles totally didn’t get it.. nor did their apostles.. in fact, nobody truly understood Jesus till the Reformation? Is that rather what you’re claiming?

            Tradition is not a dirty word.. the Bible is quite obviously not anti-traditional.

          • Ted Bigelow says

            Sylvan, your traditions don’t come out of the mouth of God. But Jesus’ words did – when did His words become Scripture – check out 1 Tim. 5:18.

          • Sylvan says

            Please elaborate. Your comment seems to be unsupported assertion based on your singular personal opinion and interpretation of one verse of the Bible. You also have to remember that the Book of the New Testament were not handed down on a golden platter. They became “Scripture” through the life of the Church. Spurious gospels were judged by Tradition and Scriptures. You have to understand also that sola scriptura would have been impossible for the Early Church, since most Churches had a letter or two and certainly not the Bible we have today. So until you can support your idea that Tradition (that the Apostles said to cling to!) is not of God…… I find it taxing to argue with someone who just makes assertions without any basis.

          • Ted Bigelow says

            Have you not read 1 Tim. 5:18? Both Deuteronomy and Luke are called Scripture, equally. And Luke had been written a year or two prior. Thus, your claim “They became “Scripture” through the life of the Church” is not only false, but undoes the teaching of an apostle by making Christ’s own words subject to your traditions.

            See, your tradition is wrong or Paul is wrong. Worse, all who believe it are incapable of believing Scripture’s own teaching – in this case, of when Scripture becomes Scripture. Right answer -the moment it was written – 1 Cor. 14:37.

          • Sylvan says

            Hmm my earlier comment didn’t seem the post.

            Anyways, I don’t see what you’re getting at with 1 Tim. 5:18. Deuteronomy is called Scripture, and that’s not a point I’m disputing.

            In your terms, you’re presenting a straw man and reading things into what I’m saying that simply aren’t there. I didn’t say it wasn’t Scripture when it was written. But you know just as well as I do that the Canon as we know it did not fully appear for nearly 400 years.

            You’re bifurcating between Tradition and Scripture as if they’re at odds.. when in reality, Tradition is the lens of understanding through which we interpret Scripture. Just as in your tradition, your own personal exegesis (or eisegesis, as is often the case) is the lens.

          • Sylvan says

            And I really must ask.. if Bishops were considered unnecessary… then why was St. Ignatius of Antioch, the student of St. John the Apostle (therefore contemporary with the apostles, the *third* Bishop of Antioch?

          • Ted Bigelow says

            Hey, take it up with Paul the apostle in 1 Corinthians. How come he didn’t think a bishop necessary for the Lord’s Supper, and for the constitution of a local church?

            You’re the one who want to make Eusebius more authoritative than an apostle, not me. And the church is founded on apostles, not the Fathers.

          • Sylvan says

            Would I be right in assuming that your argument here is one from silence? And is it not a bit arrogant to assume that you have a better idea of what St. Paul meant than St. Ignatius, who spent a good part of his life literally at the feet of an Apostle?

          • DPrince says

            I think this is the heart of the matter concerning Sola Scriptura. It is not as if bishops are held higher than the apostles, it is that we understand that we cannot think ourselves more worthy interpreters of scripture than those who either had had direct interaction with an apostle or have succeeded them without error.

            This is not an abandonment of reason nor of our duty to study scripture; we ought to do it the right way – keeping always at the forefront of our minds how the Church has always (since before the 1500s) interpreted the Scriptures. I do not see how other protestants fail to understand this.

          • says

            You seem to be asserting things that are only assumed, even using the standard of Sola scriptura. Paul speaks to the necessity of ordaining bishops, presbyters, and deacons for the ordering of the Church in his letters.

            I’m not sure what Eusebius has to do with anything?

            Again, according to the beliefs of the Church (and this site), the Church’s foundation on the apostles and prophets is a ministry continued in their faithful successors. The apostolic ministry did not cease to exist when St. John reposed. As Christ promised, the Spirit is still within the Church; we are not abandoned.

          • says

            Kindly name one person who ever claimed that?

            Okay, Dr. Bill Gothard, educated at both Wheaton and Louisiana Baptist University (cf. Point 5):

            “The Bible makes it clear that there is only one interpretation of Scripture.”

            You’re a Baptist minister, as well, right?

          • DJ says

            I haven’t read (or followed) all of this exchange, but I do think that it’s significant, Mr. Biegelow, that you have used the phrase “attained the Mind of Christ” and the article originally stated that one should be “seeking the Mind of Christ.” There’s a tremendous disparity is those two verbs that you seem to be overlooking.

          • DPrince says

            It’s become, more or less, an argument in circles. Gabe continues explaining himself, but Tim doesn’t seem to stick to the issue (of course, he’d claim otherwise – and probably point out something in the words I’ve said and take issue to them, dodging the very point of my comment). Gabe clarified the issue of having the Mind of Christ quite well when he said “Spirituality (i.e., having the “Mind of Christ”) is not flipping a switch from off to on, but is rather a journey, a relationship between the individual and God, lived out in the life of the Church.”

            It reminds me of what John Wesley (and other Arminians/holiness theologians) called entire sanctification, being not static (“switch from off to on”), but dynamic, itself. One can ‘be’ saved and in a state of ‘being’ saved simultaneously (Matt. 24:13, 1 Cor. 1:18, 15:2, 2 Cor. 2:15). In fact, you cannot be saved and not in a state of being saved.

          • Ted Bigelow says

            DP,
            Tim here. The “switch” comment is a straw man – who believes that spirituality is a switch, at least when arguing sola scriptura?

          • Evan Lygeros says

            Hey mr. Bigelow.
            Your talk is with Gabe about his article so i don’t want to intrude.

            Just I’ve noticed your dedication to the tradition that’s been passed on to you by those that you trust and I get that. I’ve been there too.

            But I’m not getting the impression from you that you go into these talks with an open spirit and being ready for wherever the evidence might point no matter if it’s one way or another. I can usually tell when one prefers their own interpretation of what the article says rather than what the author in order to support a polemic. I’ve been guilty of this ego problem of mine in my past and had ‘burned’ many people in my Protestant days.

            I have no negative feelings toward you. It’s clear by your aggressiveness that you care about the Lord and if you were to do anything, you’d want to be sure. So why not wait to interact with the Orthodox tradition? You know a couple of things as reference so why not just let them simmer in the back of your mind? It can take a week, a couple of months, five years as in my case but at least then your mind can be still and more open about the topic.

            I hope you take what I wrote in the brotherly spirit in which i intended.

            In Christ
            Evan

          • DPrince says

            Sorry. “Ted” not ‘Tim’. My bad.

            I don’t think it’s a straw man. Gabe is not arguing against a particular perspective in his comments about flipping a switch on and off. He is defining, for you and for general clarification, what is meant by the phrase he (and Augustine) used “Mind of Christ.”

            His reference was concerning the interpretation of scripture based heavily on Augustine’s On Christian Doctrine. I admit, Gabe did not make that part clear enough, but are you debating something he did not make clear or some actually mistaken assertion? If it is clarity, teach the rules of English. If it is a false assertion, state your case against it.

            Also, you haven’t made clear, from what I’ve read, what your case against Gabe’s thoughts on sola scriptura is in the first place.

            Belief in sola scripture is itself based on the work of the reformers. Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, never declared that sola scripture was a lost doctrine and must be recaptured. They did something (or at least those immediately after them) new to Church theology. There is no way around this, Ted.

          • says

            Do you believe in once saved, always saved? As a Baptist, I would imagine so (or at least some differently-named derivative of the same doctrine).

            That’s what I’m referring to, and it is being invoked here (by me) in contradistinction from the idea of salvation as a transformational relationship whereby a person partakes of the divine nature through true union with God.

            This is connected in our present discussion with my thoughts on acquiring the Mind of Christ and seeking to understand the scriptures in light and as part of the holy tradition of the Church (rather than as an individual).

          • Ted Bigelow says

            DJ – that goes back to Gabe’s conclusion. He’s backed of any real hope of knowing it in this life, which makes sense to me given that he uses a tradition as paradigm through which to read Scripture, and not Scripture itself.

          • says

            This is very true. It is not taught by the scriptures themselves, and one cannot even define the scriptures (the “table of contents”) without the Church and her sacred tradition.

          • says

            If your purpose is simply to try and point out logical fallacies or inconsistencies—whether actual or perceived, I’ll leave that to the readers—then you won’t continue to have approved comments here. If you’d like to work towards actual understanding, discussion, and profitable dialogue, let me know, and we’ll restore your commenting ability on a moderated basis.

            Thanks,
            Gabe

          • Sylvan says

            Take care to do all things in harmony with God, with the bishop presiding in the place of God, and with the presbyters in the place of the council of the apostles, and with the deacons, who are most dear to me, entrusted with the business of Jesus Christ, who was with the Father from the beginning and is at last made manifest — Letter to the Magnesians 2, 6:1

            St. Ignatius of Antioch.

          • says

            Exactly, yes. There are dozens of these statements in Ignatius, and it is completely untenable to say that he does not argue the Church is connected with and dependent upon a bishop ordained in succession from the apostles. This is so foundational to the early Church fathers it isn’t worth belaboring the point.

  2. Ikarus says

    This article reminded me of a quote from Dr. David Fagerberg, “The beginning of theology is not the card catalogue, but doing battle against the passions; and the end of theology is not becoming a professor, but becoming a saint.”

  3. damascus-gate says

    Great set of propositions. Soundly reasoned, aided by rational tools like exegesis, hermeneutical methods, historical-critical scholarship, contextual studies, and more.

    • says

      I only said in the article that such things are what scriptural study has been reduced to in some circles, not that these things are in-and-of-themselves anathema. Far from it.

  4. Oruaseht says

    “Anything but the Bible is merely a tradition of men.” “How many books are in the Bible?” “Well, that’s easy, 66. 39 in the Old Testament & 27 in the New.” “Where does the Bible say that?” “Ummmmmm.” “Hmmmm?” “It doesn’t.” “Oh.” #SolaScriptura

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