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Liberals vs. Sola Scriptura

Sola Scriptura is a subject that is attacked from all angles. Liberals deny it and thus they are thrown into a spiral of subjectivism. Conservative Roman Catholics must attack it because the Bible alone doesn’t support many of their “infallible” teachings. These two groups are not the only ones that attack Sola Scriptura but they are the hefty majority. Before we dive into this article we need to define Sola Scriptura. I like the definition that Kenneth R. Samples gives in an article he wrote for Christian Research Journal. This is what he said:

Sola Scriptura- A Definition
By sola Scriptura Protestants mean that Scripture alone is the primary and absolute source for all doctrine and practice (faith and morals). Sola Scriptura implies several things. First, the Bible is a direct revelation from God. As such, it has divine authority. For what the Bible says, God says. 

Sola Scriptura- The Sufficiency of Scripture
Second, the Bible is sufficient: it is all that is necessary for faith and practice. For Protestants “the Bible alone” means “the Bible only” is the final authority for our faith. 

Sola Scriptura- The Authority of Scripture
Third, the Scriptures not only have sufficiency but they also possess final authority. They are the final court of appeal on all doctrinal and moral matters. However good they may be in giving guidance, all the fathers, Popes, and Councils are fallible. Only the Bible is infallible. – “What Think Ye of Rome?” from the Christian Research Journal DC170-3

Samples went on to give two more points but for this article the three will suffice. Now let’s take a look at how liberals dismiss Sola Scriptura.

Brian McLaren is a widely known and respected person within the emergent church movement. The emergent church is a difficult subject because it is hard to define. The definition is difficult because they do not have many faith statements. You cannot pin them down on a topic because where one person holds one view you will find a dozen more that hold to a different view. What does this create? It creates utter subjectivism. This subjectivism can only come from denying Sola Scriptura and that is exactly what McLaren does in his works. Notice what he says:

…if you’re going someplace where no one has ever been a map cannot help you.  That’s where the name “Off The Map” comes from in part.  But another problem with maps is that sometimes they change.  -(Brian McLaren, “A New Kind Of Christian – Part 1“, Copyright: 2004, Off The Map)

And the maps that used to accurately reflect reality don’t reflect reality anymore. -(Brian McLaren , “A New Kind Of Christian – Part 1“, Copyright: 2004, Off The Map)

Scripture is something God had ‘let be,’ and so it is at once God’s creation and the creation of the dozens of people and communities and cultures who produced it. -(Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy, p. 162)

With this view of Scripture where does one get their understanding of God? Does it come from within? Personal Experience? Culture? That is the question that needs to get answered. Denying that the “road map” is capable of directing the Christian in the 21st century leads to the conclusion that truth about God isn’t something that we can really know. It is something that is up for grabs. If you look at the second quote referring to McLaren he undermines Sola Scriptura because he asserts that the Bible could not possibly give us insights on how to live now because it was written too long ago. So, McLaren apparently believes that the Bible is insufficient because our culture has changed. And guess what…our culture will change again and again and again. So how do we know the truth about God? In a world filled with darkness how can we know a God of light? I guess we can’t…or can we? I believe that we can and, thankfully, the Bible contradicts McLaren’s claims.  2 Timothy 3:16-17 says:

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, forreproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” -ESV

Paul’s words to Timothy are clear and precise. The man of God is complete and equipped for every good work through the God-breathed Scriptures. The Scriptures are how we know God. our knowledge of God doesn’t come from culture or personal experience. Those are subjective grounds for truth because culture changes and everyone’s experiences are different. God does not change thus he cannot be subjected to a changing foundation (Mal. 3:6, James 1:17). God is capable of speaking to his creation throughout every generation and has done so in the Scriptures.

Sola Scriptura matters.

Thanks for reading.

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About Travis Berry

I am a blatantly honest person who loves to think, read, discuss, and write about God and theology. I have a bachelor's degree in Youth Ministry from Crown College. I work at a church in Houston, TX as a Youth Director and love every minute of it! I am married to a wonderful woman named Becky and we have one amazing child! I have a love for God's Word, and a fervor to live it out in the fullest, and I pray this blog reflects that. Thanks for checking out AnotherChristianBlog!.

Posted on March 7, 2012, in Christianity, Theology and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. I would love to hear your comments on what role culture plays in interpretation. How do we see beyond on our culture to that of Scripture’s, and how do we deal with those Scriptures which are culturally conditioned?

    • Culture does play a role in interpretation. However, it isn’t our culture that really matters but the culture of the writers of Scripture. Thankfully we know the culture of the time of inscripturation.

      What do you mean by “culturally conditioned”? I agree that many OT passages are directed to the nation of Israel to prepare them for the coming of Christ but I am not really sure what you are driving at. Could you give an example?

      Thanks for reading,

      Travis

  2. Travis,
    Thanks for the post. I have one question:
    Are there any scriptural passages that affirms the doctrine of sola scriptura? In other words, where in the Bible does it say that the Bible is the only rule of faith? I have the the Bible, and I do not remember seeing anything about it.

    Pax et bonum,
    T.J. McKenzie

    • Hey T.J.,

      Thanks for reading the blog. You may be interested in the next few articles because I will be addressing common Roman Catholic arguments against Sola Scriptura. To answer your question there is no passage that says, “the Bible is the only rule of faith.” However, the Bible does make it clear by the passage I quoted in this post that all Scripture is God-breathed. From your perspective you need to show us where Catholic tradition is also “God-breathed”. If you cannot then why should I hold to a tradition that is not up to the state of Scripture?

      In Christ,

      Travis

  3. Hey Travis,
    Here is another question:
    What is Saint Paul referring to when he uses the word ‘scripture?” What is he actually describing?

    -T.J.

  4. T.J. McKenzie

    Travis,
    I think good biblical exegesis would show that Saint Paul is only referring to the Old Testament and not the New Testament. Heck, the Gospels were not even written before Saint Paul wrote this letter to Timothy. Here is a logical argument in the line of Aristotle that I created:
    1. (A or B) Either the New Testament Scripture authoritatively affirms the Inspiration of New Testament Scripture or an outside authority affirms the Inspiration of New Testament Scripture.
    2. (If C, then ~A) If there is no New Testament Scripture passage in the New Testament affirming the Inspiration of New Testament Scripture, then the New Testament Scripture cannot authoritatively affirm the Inspiration of New Testament Scripture.
    3. (C) There is no New Testament Scripture passage in the New Testament affirming the Inspiration of New Testament Scripture.
    4. (~A) Therefore, New Testament Scripture cannot authoritatively affirm the Inspiration of New Testament Scripture.
    5. (B) Therefore, An outside source of authority affirms the Inspiration of New Testament Scripture.

    I’ll let you have the last word since it is your blog after all. Thank you for providing this opportunity for dialogue between so many people. I know it is a lot of work on your part.

    Pax et bonum,
    T.J.

    • T.J.,

      Paul describes all Scripture as God-breathed. If the New Testament is God-breathed then it is authoritative because it comes from the mouth of God.

      To place authority outside of Scripture that determines and interprets Scripture is then an authority above Scripture. And that goes against the teachings of Jesus. There is no way you can point me to your tradition being God-breathed. If you cannot then why should I hold to traditions of men instead of that which comes from the mouth of God?

      Thanks for the kind words and the comments,

      Travis

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