Thursday, March 13, 2008

Beyond 'the Bible tells me so'

The problem with careening into theological debates, such as on the nature of sin (yes, I'm aware that I brought it up), is that we always slam into the same wall: What is the ultimate authority?

For d.j. and many other Christians, it is Scripture, taken at face value. Any argument that can't be backed by clear chapter and verse is dismissed.

For other Christians, especially Catholics like danbo, Tradition is added to the authority of Scripture. Church teachings over the centuries add to and interpret what is found in the Bible.

My own denomination teaches that we are to use Scripture, Tradition and Reason. The Bible is taken seriously as the Word of God, but Reason allows us to interpret it using not only the creeds and insights of the Church but also our own experience and understanding. Revelation is seen as an ongoing, living result of our individual and corporate relationship with God.

Obviously the Bible will be read and quoted differently depending on what authority it is given, and whether that authority is shared.

What authority do you accept? How can believers debate serious issues of faith if they don't accept the same authority in the same way?

Does it make any sense to debate issues of faith at all?

Just this once, I ask that the atheists sit this one out; I'm interested in hearing from believers on this topic. Non-Christians are welcome to chime in with their own approach to the role of authority in faith.

28 comments:

D.J. said...

Jane,

Thanks for the great post, this is definitely an interesting subject to discuss. Obviously, as you stated, my ultimate authority is the Scripture. I don’t believe that it’s the only source of divine revelation (God has also revealed himself through his creation, and we do see more and more of him as we walk with him daily), but I do believe that it is the authoritative source of divine revelation. Creation is by nature vague – it reveals God’s broader attributes such as beauty, creativity, power, etc., but it is powerless to tell us the finer details of God’s nature and what he expects from us (see Romans 1). Personal experience can be misleading – we are frail and fickle creatures tainted by sin, and thus we can often lead ourselves astray. In Scripture, we have the promise that it is “God-breathed…so that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” It is sufficient for all areas of faith and practice.

How can we discuss and debate with those who hold to a different idea of authority than we do? Well, I believe that we have to start precisely there and examine our sources of authority. Have they delivered on their promises over the years? Is their teaching internally consistent? These questions will help us to examine whether the sources we turn to for authoritative instruction should really be as authoritative as we believe. From there we should simply discuss and debate honestly and charitably. Discussion with those whose beliefs differ sharpens the mind and the soul, as it causes one to examine one’s own beliefs with increased scrutiny. I may never convince those I discuss and debate with here, whether they be atheists such as Iztok or those such as Danbo who believe in God yet disagree with me over matters of theology (great or small). That is God’s business. Yet I can say that they both, and many others, have challenged my faith, caused me to think and study more, and driven me to seek God all the more. I am a stronger man and a stronger follower of Christ for having met and interacted with them, even though some discussions have been more profitable than others. And for that opportunity I thank you, Jane.

This may be a minor quibble, but I would have some reservations with the way you presented my viewpoint in your post. I certainly agree with your assertion that Scripture is my authority, but I think that when you portray me as holding to Scripture and yourself as holding to reason in addition to Scripture, it feeds the stereotype that I and others like me are interested only in dismissive Bible-thumping and pay no heed to rationality or logical discussion. I hope that my record here dispels that stereotype, but since you follow the comments I’m sure you know that’s a wall I run into often in discussion. Anyhow, I understand the point you were making, I just feel it carried some unfortunate implications. Like I said, minor quibble.

Soli Deo Gloria

JayCee said...

Jane,

Below is my understanding of how the Episcopal Church views original sin, and as you note, this "doctrine" is based on analysis of Scripture, tradition and reasoning. It is based on a course that was offered by the School of Theology, University of the South. I had intended to post it to your last topic, but I think it also fits here as an example of how one denomination developes its theology:


The doctrine of original sin is that there is an inclination to sin in every human being from the very beginning of his life. That doctrine traces this tendency back to the “Fall” - Adam and Eve.

As DJ noted earlier, Paul in Romans 5:12 said “…sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned…” In the fifth century St. Augustine used this very Biblical text to formulate the doctrine of original sin, which has prevailed in western Christian thought ever since.

The point Paul makes in Romans 5:12-21 is that Christ’s righteousness is, by God’s grace, more than enough to offset the effects of sin. “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous.” (Rom. 5:19).

But this section of Romans is ambiguous because Paul doesn’t make it clear in which way he thinks all were made sinners by Adam. Is sin viewed as a kind of ‘power’ which ‘came into the world” and now grasps everyone so that they sin? Is sin such a ‘power’ which alters the structures of life so that death is now an option for man? Is death for all due to the fact that all sin, so that if some did not, they would not die? Must people sin because Adam did? Paul didn’t say.

What St. Augustine did in formulating the doctrine was to remove this ambiguity. He said that our natures are tainted and corrupted by the sin of Adam so that we inherit an irresistible tendency to sin from birth. This corruption of nature is inherited in the process of procreation, much the way genetic traits are passed on from generation to generation.

The Genesis story of the Fall doesn’t say this. Jewish scholars have never interpreted the story as meaning we all have to disobey God because Adam did. In the great Greek tragedies, the “proud” hero usually refuses to be bound by the decrees of fate. This pride, or hubris, was a virtue to the Greeks, and it also was what Adam and Eve were asserting. They, too, defied the limits set for them by God. What Adam did was to attempt to remove himself from the role of creature and to judge God for himself. But Jews and Christians look upon Adam and Eve’s hubris as an expression of arrogance in the face of their gracious creator who gave them freedom and dignity.

More modern religious thought is that the explanation of sin in the story of the Fall is not, as the doctrine of original sin interprets it, that sin is due to an infection in our nature inherited from Adam. Rather it is, and has always been in the past, that sin springs from the same source as man’s goodness – freedom and dignity – but that it is an overreaching of these gifts.

Rev. Mike said...

Jane, I think that unfortunately this line of discussion ends up becoming a chicken and egg debate--which comes first, the tradition or the community in which the tradition was born and interpreted? Both the New Testament and the Magisterium find their roots in the apostolic tradition, which then also forms the basis by which the Church also understands and interprets the Hebrew Bible. Thus, it seems to me that this whole line of discussion is a non-starter because it inevitably reduces to a matter of de gustibus non disputandum.

The discussion is so divisive to the Body of Christ because unlike the self-emptying Christ whom we see described by Paul in Philippians 2, instead we use this debate as a wedge, not over who is being faithful, but over who is in control. HUGE difference there. We make this an argument over authority, which biblically speaking, is an ontological question, i.e., who we are in relation to Christ and to one another, rather than what it really is, namely, an argument over power, which is about control.

This is not a question of theology but of polity. At best, it is a question of theology misused to justify a polity. Jesus tells his disciples that the rulers of the Gentiles love to lord it over those under their authority, but it shall not be so with us. Instead, we are to serve one another, just as he came to serve and to give his life a ransom for many. Questions of polity and the theology of structuring the institution are rendered moot in that equation. In fact, there is no equation--it's a zero sum matter.

But instead of following that admonition, we have become essentially no different from the culture that surrounds us, and thus, the institution and its forms and the theology that undergird and support them become little more than a concession to human weakness, in much the same manner in which the divinely ordained rulers in Romans 13 are given authority over us as a concession to the need to maintain order because we refuse to submit to one another in Christian love.

D.J. said...

JayCee,
I would disagree on this point – it is not as though Augustine removed ambiguity by formulating his own idea of what the passage meant. The formulation of that doctrine didn’t happen by means of Augustine saying, “I think we’re going to go with this…” It happened by Augustine (and others) searching the Scriptures and looking for other passages to further illuminate what Paul was teaching. Looking elsewhere in Romans, such as chapter 3, gives us further perspective on what Paul (and through him, God) has to say about humanity’s sinful state. Other Old Testament passages, such as Jeremiah’s reflection on the wicked bent of the human heart in Jeremiah 17, further shed light on these ideas. Seeing these truths present in Scripture and seeking to see Scripture whole, Augustine fleshed out the idea presented in Romans 5 through appealing to other Scriptural texts. In other words, though I agree with your statement of the doctrine, I disagree with your statement on how the doctrine was formulated. Augustine isn’t an authoritative interpreter, he appealed to other parts of Scripture as authoritative.

Soli Deo Gloria

rod said...

My own belief is that the Bible is the authority, but that it is read and interpreted via common sense and knowledge of the customs at the time it was written.

Some of the Bible writers were very specific and literal; some wrote in metaphorical terms, knowing that what they wrote would be understood by the "insiders" to whom it was addressed.

While there is much that can be interpreted differently, it seems to me that there is so much which is not subject to different interpretations, and yet we still struggle to conform our lives to those parts of scripture. No need to fuss about the parts where we differ. Let's fully live by the parts upon which we agree, and THEN we can discuss our differences!

JayCee said...

You make some very good points, DJ, regarding Scripture as the ultimate authority, and I certainly respect your denomination’s viewpoint. After all it has attracted more followers than mine!

But St.Augustine not only carefully examined Scriptures. He was a rational man who had experimented with other religions before embracing Christianity. He understood human psychology as well as he did Scriptures. That was the point I tried to make.

I guess my aversion to basing religion strictly upon Scriptures is because I’ve met too many people who feel the Bible is an encyclopedia. They seem to believe it has everything they need to know in order to make a decision in today’s world. I guess I’m just not into flipping through pages, picking a verse, taking it out of the context of the times and trying to apply it to a modern-day problem.

The religion I follow must be one that also fosters rational thought. I refuse to believe that God stopped talking to us 2,000 years ago because we thought we already had all the answers.

I’m sure the bishops who set the canon of scripture thought they were doing the right thing. After all, it’s difficult to keep a religion intact if you have a bunch of “heretics” interpreting things their way. (Ha!) But my religious belief is that God gives us the freedom to seek Him, whether that be by Scripture, ritual, rational thought or anything else.

Regards,

JayCee

John said...

I think it is important to realize that without "tradition" the current bible is only an unconnected series of individual writings. The very list of books that make up the bible was established originally by Catholic tradition.

I've heard Protestants claim that Catholics add to the books of the bible (the Apocrypha)but this is not the case. When Martin Luther led the Protestant reformation, he actually took books OUT of the bible that had long been part of it.

Someone recently pointed out that nobody learns to drive a car by reading the manual, they learn it by being taught by someone who already knows how to drive. The manual supplements that instruction. The same is true of using scripture, tradition is what places the scriptures in context. Without tradition, you cannot truly understand what scripture means.

The first book of what we know as the bible is accepted to have been written more than 50 years after Jesus was crucified. What was used before that?

What is called "tradition" is simply the handed down experiences of those who were there when it actually happened.

Many Protestants take scripture out of context or disregard historical fact to support their own views. For instance, evangelicals who have insisted that the wine of communion was not and never had been fermented. Yet they ignore the passages which implied the opposite.

Most Protestants, while claiming the literal infallibility of scripture believe that communion is symbolic only... yet Jesus himself proclaimed that his "flesh is real food, and his blood real drink" and that "unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you have no life in you...".

Anonymous said...

Questions of theology are always certain to raise different perspectives. Personally, I believe it is important for all believers to continuously read scripture. The older I get, the more I find myself understanding passages that eluded me years or even weeks before. I truly believe that the scriptures provide the information we need - and when I don't understand, I pray for guidance. However, it is also important for believers to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Here is where denominational traditions may sometimes differ.

Some may argue that God is not speaking to us today, and that miracles have ceased. I can't believe that - because God's miracles are made known almost daily. God also speaks to us and sometimes in the most unlikely of circumstances or through the most unlikely of messengers.

I have no doubt in the existence of God in my life - because he has revealed himself through answered prayers all my life.

Iztok said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Danbo59 said...

Jane wrote, "Just this once, I ask that the atheists sit this one out;...."

I guess someone can't read, doesn't care or both.

Danbo59 said...

john wrote, "When Martin Luther led the Protestant reformation, he actually took books OUT of the bible that had long been part of it."

As I've been saying for quite some time. Bravo! Not only did he do that, he added words here and there to change the meaning of certain passages (Romans 3:28). When Martin Luther translated the letter to the Romans into German in the sixteenth century, he added the word alone — but alone is not in the original Greek text. The phrase "faith alone" does occur in the New Testament: one time, in James 2:24. There the inspired apostle denies that justification is from faith alone. Let me quote it: "You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone."

Good post, John. You hit the nail on the head! There was no "New Testament" for 50 years after Christ -- everything was "Oral Tradition" until then.

Danbo59 said...

I found the following article interesting --

Is Scripture the sole rule of faith for Christians? Not according to the Bible [pre-Luther Bible, that is]. While we must guard against merely human tradition, the Bible contains numerous references to the necessity of clinging to apostolic tradition.

Thus Paul tells the Corinthians, "I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you" (1 Cor. 11:2), and he commands the Thessalonians, "So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter" (2 Thess. 2:15). He even goes so far as to order, "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is living in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us" (2 Thess. 3:6).

To make sure that the apostolic tradition would be passed down after the deaths of the apostles, Paul told Timothy, "[W]hat you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also" (2 Tim. 2:2). In this passage he refers to the first four generations of apostolic succession—his own generation, Timothy’s generation, the generation Timothy will teach, and the generation they in turn will teach.


After adding the word "only" to Romans 3:28, no wonder Martin Luther wanted the Book of James removed from the canon of his Bible, as it directly contradicts his editing prowess.

D.J. said...

John said…
"When Martin Luther led the Protestant reformation, he actually took books OUT of the bible that had long been part of it."

Of course, this statement is quite misleading. If you are going to say that Luther single-handedly took books out of the Bible, you’re going to have to demonstrate that these books were universally accepted by the church in the first place. This is simply not the case. Jerome did not view the apocryphal books as canonical, leaning on the ideas of many church fathers as well as the fact that the books were not a part of the Hebrew Bible. Even Cardinal Cajetan, one of Luther’s chief opponents during the reformation, didn’t believe that the apocryphal books were canonical in the same sense as the rest of Scripture. See below…

“Here we close our commentaries on the historical books of the Old Testament. For the rest (that is, Judith, Tobit, and the books of Maccabees) are counted by St Jerome out of the canonical books, and are placed amongst the Apocrypha, along with Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus, as is plain from the Prologus Galeatus. Nor be thou disturbed, like a raw scholar, if thou shouldest find anywhere, either in the sacred councils or the sacred doctors, these books reckoned as canonical. For the words as well of councils as of doctors are to be reduced to the correction of Jerome. Now, according to his judgment, in the epistle to the bishops Chromatius and Heliodorus, these books (and any other like books in the canon of the bible) are not canonical, that is, not in the nature of a rule for confirming matters of faith. Yet, they may be called canonical, that is, in the nature of a rule for the edification of the faithful, as being received and authorised in the canon of the bible for that purpose. By the help of this distinction thou mayest see thy way clearly through that which Augustine says, and what is written in the provincial council of Carthage” (Commentary on all the Authentic Historical Books of the Old Testament, In ult. Cap., Esther. Taken from A Disputation on Holy Scripture by William Whitaker (Cambridge: University, 1849), p. 48. See also B.F. Westcott A General Survey of the History of the Canon of the New Testament (Cambridge: MacMillan, 1889), p. 475.

The assertion that Luther just removed books of the Bible falls flat when we realize that these books were far from universally accepted as equal to the rest of Scripture, even from those in decidedly Catholic circles such as Cajetan. Let me point out that I do find much of the apocrypha to be profitable for Christians – much of the material can be especially helpful in helping one to better comprehend much of the Bible’s wisdom literature.

John said…
“The first book of what we know as the bible is accepted to have been written more than 50 years after Jesus was crucified. What was used before that?”

Actually, scholarship indicates that Paul’s letters to the Corinthians were likely written in the mid 60s A.D., putting them to within about 30 years of the crucifixion. What was used before that? The teaching of the apostles, which became preserved as Scripture. I know that you will say that their teachings were also preserved through Tradition. Here’s my issue with that – many of the doctrines that the Catholic church espouses from Tradition were never taught by the disciples. Many of these doctrines didn’t develop until hundreds of years later – even such monumental church fathers as Augustine were largely ignorant of many articles of faith that the Catholic church now teaches as binding through Tradition. Authoritative tradition has been preserved for us through the words of Scripture.

John said…
“Many Protestants take scripture out of context or disregard historical fact to support their own views. For instance, evangelicals who have insisted that the wine of communion was not and never had been fermented. Yet they ignore the passages which implied the opposite.”

And those evangelicals are flat out wrong. The great irony is that in this case, those who cry “Scripture alone” deny Scripture because of their traditions – the same thing they decry in the Catholic Church. To deny Scripture in the name of tradition is wrong – whether its Catholic tradition or evangelical tradition.

John said…
“Most Protestants, while claiming the literal infallibility of scripture believe that communion is symbolic only... yet Jesus himself proclaimed that his "flesh is real food, and his blood real drink" and that "unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you have no life in you...".”

I claim that Scripture is infallibly true – but that doesn’t always mean that it’s literal. For example, none of us go around plucking out our eyes and cutting off our hands because of Jesus’ instructions to do so – that would be absurd. Christ was speaking with shocking imagery about the seriousness with which we should fight sin in our lives. If metaphor is intended by the author, then we interpret as metaphor. We interpret Scripture by the same rules that we interpret any other piece of written communication. Here, Christ has been giving a discourse on himself as the bread of life (and Jesus is not literally a loaf of whole wheat), and here he says that his body and blood will be that bread of life that gives true spiritual sustinence to his people. The Israelites ate manna in the desert, but it didn’t give them true spiritual life – Christ will do this through the cross. It should be pointed out that the greek word aletheo should be translated as “true,” not “real,” as you rendered it. It is a form of the Greek alethea, which means truth. The word chosen by Christ carries the meaning and connotation of spiritual truth, not literal reality. Every English translation I could find supported that translation. Thus, it is because of my belief in the infallibility of Scripture (in the original Greek manuscripts) that I believe that communion is a symbolic portrayal of a Spiritual truth, not a repeatable sacrifice that results in a literal consumption of Christ’s body and blood.

Danbo59 said…
“When Martin Luther translated the letter to the Romans into German in the sixteenth century, he added the word alone — but alone is not in the original Greek text. The phrase "faith alone" does occur in the New Testament: one time, in James 2:24. There the inspired apostle denies that justification is from faith alone. Let me quote it: "You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.””

The Bible doesn’t have the word “alone.” In fact, no modern English translation that I could find has the word “alone” in Romans 3:28, so I’m curious why you say that Luther added it. There’s no reason to add the word, for the concept is already present in the passage.

“For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.” – Romans 3:28 (ESV)

Why add the word “alone” to faith when the passage already indicates that one is justified (made right with God) by faith apart (Greek: choris - “apart, without”) from works? Sure, it doesn’t say “faith alone.” But it does say very explicitly that one is justified by faith and not works. Paul makes this point very clear by inserting choris to modify pisteuo (“faith”). I’d be interested to hear your alternate proposal for handling the Greek to make the passage say anything else. Luther saw this plain truth in Romans 3:28 and saw a contradiction with James 2, so he tossed James from his Bible. He was dead wrong. Luther is a hero to me, but he was far from perfect – as are we all save Christ. My faith does not stand on the person of Martin Luther (though I do admire him), my faith stands on the person of Jesus Christ. James was addressing people who claimed to have a “faith” that was without deeds. Yet Christ clearly said that our faith would be demonstrated through deeds. It is by our actions that we prove our words. For example, if I show you a chair, and I tell you that I have every confidence that the chair can support my weight, I am proclaiming that I have faith in that chair, in it’s abilities. If, however, I refuse to actually sit in the chair, what does that indicate about my professed “faith.” It indicates that I am lying, and that I really do not have faith in the chair’s ability to hold my weight. Our actions prove our words. Following Christ’s commands demonstrates that we have faith in him - it validates our faith. Thus Paul and James have two different “faiths” in mind here – Paul is saying that we are justified by our faith in the grace freely given by God through Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). James is saying that a simple mental and vocal assent to an idea does not grant one peace with God, but rather a faith that is true and is marked by trust. Thus, I affirm both Romans 3 and James 2 with no reservations and seeing no contradiction. I teach both passionately as truth. My question for you would be – how do you handle the Greek of Romans 3:28 to bring its meaning in line with the interpretation you have given to James 2?

Per your last post on the importance of tradition, Danbo, let me point out that I fully embrace those verses and the teaching that we as believers should hold fast to the teachings passed on by the apostles. Yet beware that tradition is not good in and of itself – it must spring from spiritual truth. Consider the countless warnings in Scripture against holding to empty ideas and practices for the sake of “tradition” (Matthew 15:6, Mark 7:8-13, Galatians 1:14, Colossians 2:8). Thus, I evaluate the many doctrines that the Catholic Church teaches as authoritative because of tradition. Many of these doctrines have…

1) no grounding whatsoever in Scripture, sometimes even flatly contradicting it, and…

2) no evidence suggesting they actually developed even during the time of the church fathers (Clement, Irenaus, Athanasius, Augustine, etc.)

Thus, I see these as empty traditions of men, tradition that is more of the Mark 7:8-13 variety than the 2 Thessalonians 2:12 variety. That is why I asked you on the last thread to give the Scriptural foundations of the doctrines you presented. You flatly refused to even enter into a discussion on the topic. I hope for continued discussion of these ideas, so that we all might be able to better follow the admonition of God to “rightly divide the word of truth.”

Soli Deo Gloria

D.J. said...

Jaycee said…
“But St.Augustine not only carefully examined Scriptures. He was a rational man who had experimented with other religions before embracing Christianity. He understood human psychology as well as he did Scriptures. That was the point I tried to make.”

I agree 100%. My belief that we see Scripture alone as authoritative in no way means that we do not utilize the rational abilities that God has blessed us with – in fact, it demands it.

“I guess my aversion to basing religion strictly upon Scriptures is because I’ve met too many people who feel the Bible is an encyclopedia. They seem to believe it has everything they need to know in order to make a decision in today’s world. I guess I’m just not into flipping through pages, picking a verse, taking it out of the context of the times and trying to apply it to a modern-day problem.”

Valid criticism, for I too have met many of those same people. I believe that the Bible is sufficient for all areas of faith and practice, but that does involve some intellectual work on our parts. After all, Paul commended the Bereans for diligently searching Scripture to make sure that what he was saying was really true (think about that one – Paul was an authoritative apostle, yet he said it was good for them to double check what he said!). I’m not into out-of-context verse picking either – those who treat the Bible in that way do a great disservice to the true meaning of Sola Scriptura.

“The religion I follow must be one that also fosters rational thought. I refuse to believe that God stopped talking to us 2,000 years ago because we thought we already had all the answers.”

Agreed 100%.

I’m sure the bishops who set the canon of scripture thought they were doing the right thing. After all, it’s difficult to keep a religion intact if you have a bunch of “heretics” interpreting things their way. (Ha!) But my religious belief is that God gives us the freedom to seek Him, whether that be by Scripture, ritual, rational thought or anything else.

A council of bishops may have met to recognize the canon of Scripture, but they knew full well that the canon did not derive its authority from them. The canon had been recognized by the church for hundreds of years before Carthage, and the fact that the NT authors explicitly quote one another as Scriptural shows that the authority of what we now possess as Scripture was recognized by the church even as it was being written. God does call us to seek him, and he uses means that are above and beyond human understanding, working in the very depths of the heart. Yet I believe that he always will lead us to where he has revealed himself the most clearly – the revelation of himself in the person of Jesus Christ – whom we see and know through the pages of Scripture. Good thought, my friend.

Soli Deo Gloria

Danbo59 said...

DJ wrote, "I claim that Scripture is infallibly true – but that doesn’t always mean that it’s literal."

So you don't abide by Sola Scriptura, then? You abide by Sola Scriptura and Common Sense! But you don't recognize Apostolic Tradition? Makes no common sense.

D.J. said...

Danbo59 said…
“So you don't abide by Sola Scriptura, then? You abide by Sola Scriptura and Common Sense!”

Actually, you’re putting words in my mouth. I absolutely hold to the reformation principle of sola scriptura - I believe that Scripture alone is our source for authoritative revelation from God, authority rests in Scripture alone. This principle has never denied the fact that we use our brains to understand and interpret Scripture. You’re attacking a straw man, Danbo – a caricature of sola scriptura that has no correspondence to the principle as actually held by myself and other reformed Christians.

Danbo59 said…
“But you don't recognize Apostolic Tradition? Makes no common sense.”

I guess my detailed and thought out explanation of why I don’t accept apostolic tradition in the Catholic sense can’t stand up to that airtight rebuttal. I concede defeat. :)

Soli Deo Gloria

Danbo59 said...

DJ wrote, "...authority rests in Scripture alone."

If that were true, Jesus would have handed Peter a book and not "chanced it" to human interpretation.

Or were Peter and the Apostles incapable of "remembering incorrectly" (infallibility)?

Jesus gave Peter the keys to the Kingdom; he didn't give the keys to a book!

Danbo59 said...

I wonder what would happen if there were another "Reformation?" I mean, if one, why not one hundred and one?

D.J. said...

Danbo59 said…
“If that were true, Jesus would have handed Peter a book and not "chanced it" to human interpretation.”

You realize that all you’re saying here is “If I were Jesus, I wouldn’t have done that.” How do you know what Jesus would and wouldn’t have done?

Danbo59 said…
“Jesus gave Peter the keys to the Kingdom; he didn’t give the keys to a book.”

I believe (as I have discussed with you before) that that assertion is based off of a demonstrably faulty interpretation of Matthew 16. However, before we change the subject to that, I would appreciate it if you would interact with my thoughts on your earlier posts, especially the construction and meaning of the Greek in Romans 3:28. I don’t think this pattern (you make statements, I offer a response, you ignore that response and make other statements) is condusive to meaningful discussion. I’ve put quite a bit of time and thought into interacting with your points, and I would appreciate it if you would offer me the same courtesy.

Danbo59 said…
I wonder what would happen if there were another “Reformation?” I mean, if one, why not one hundred and one?”

Oh, may it be so! As I said, my faith is not built on the foundation of Martin Luther, John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli, or any other men I may admire. As I said, there are some ideas that these reformers had that I reject (e.g. Luther on James). My faith is built on the foundation of Jesus Christ, the chief cornerstone. My goal is to be in a state of constant reformation – ever more closely conforming my life and my thoughts to the image of Christ. Make no mistake, I haven’t arrived, not by a long shot. But “grace has brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.”

Soli Deo Gloria

Gamecock said...

Jane, you have identified one of the most crucial issues of our time that is one of the main reasons for the cultural and political divides in our country, i.e. the authority of Scripture and its interpretation.

I agree with you re reason and Scripture, as does the Pope, and I will leave it to him, and his seminal appeal to the secular leftists in Europe in his Regensburg speech to make my point:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2006/sep/15/religion.uk

Danbo59 said...

DJ said, "...demonstrably faulty interpretation of Matthew 16."

Jesus left Peter as the first "Pope." The faulty interpretation of Mt 16 is not on this side of the debate, I assure you. You're between a kepha and a hard place on that one.

Danbo59 said...

Happy St. Patrick's Day to all and welcome to Holy Week (I'm a day late on that last one).

Anonymous said...

Guess I can "reason" with myself that no sin exists and that I can indeed have a mistress.

Danbo59 said...

Anonymous said, "Guess I can "reason" with myself that no sin exists and that I can indeed have a mistress."

Good luck with that one.

Laura said...

"Does it make any sense to debate issues of faith at all?" I don't really think so. Even the devout Christians posting comments on this blog can't agree; what chance can religions have when each calls the other 'wrong?'

Danbo59 said...

Laura wrote, ""Does it make any sense to debate issues of faith at all?" I don't really think so. Even the devout Christians posting comments on this blog can't agree; what chance can religions have when each calls the other 'wrong?'"

I agree that it's pretty pointless to argue when some sects of Christianity teach that a baby born in a remote section of the world who will never be exposed to Christianity has zero chance of attaining Salvation.

I guess they've forgotten that Jesus came and died for all mankind, not just their own sect.

D.J. said...

Laura,

I understand your frustration. The line between productive debate and silly argumentation can often be a fine one. However, I do believe that debating these issues is important because truth matters. Questions of faith are the most important questions that one can ask because they seek to comprehend the ultimate meaning and purpose of our existence. The importance of a debate is measured by the importance of the truth it seeks to find. For example, we would agree that this fall’s presidential debates will be far more important than a debate over what the best show on TV is. Also, agreement isn't a necessary quality of productive discussion. I don’t believe I’ve ever tuned into a presidential debate where one side convinced the other of its position. That doesn’t, however, make them useless. We debate and discuss in order to wrestle with these truths, to hold our deepest beliefs up to intense scrutiny and see if they are deserving of the great value we have given them. We debate in order to see truth more clearly. We debate to examine ourselves and our beliefs, to check for inconsistency, to check for an absense of love, and to seek a deeper love of truth. That is never a waste of time. Some discussions here are more productive and worthwhile than others – but don’t let that sour you on the notion of spiritual discussion and debate itself. We can’t be afraid to ask the big questions – and we can’t be afraid to test the validity of our answers. The stakes are too high.

Soli Deo Gloria

Laura said...

d.j.,

I agree that the debates are worthwhile, as long as each respects the other's position. But a lot of times I see people taking a position and refusing to entertain or even acknowledge some very well thought out refutations. In other words, I see ego directing the discussion, not an attempt at truth.

Still, you make some good points and I continue to be interested in hearing what everyone has to say on these, and other matters.