Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Random Thoughts on Sola Scriptura, Part I

Prompted by some recent conversations I thought I would post a few thoughts on Sola Scriptura. Obviously this topic has been covered countless times by me and by others, but it doesn’t hurt to revisit such an important issue that divides Christians. This will be Part I of everal parts. I have not arranged these thoughts in any particular order; it will simply be a series of brief reflections…
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The Bible was never meant to be used "Alone." Yet there are thousands of Protestant denominations in existence today which adhere to the doctrine of Sola Scriptura – Latin for “Bible Alone.” These churches often claim to be defending the Church’s “ancient faith,” but the principle of Sola Scriptura effectively eliminates any authority that the Church's “ancient faith" might have in interpreting Scripture. In practice, Sola Scriptura does not defend the ancient faith, but rather undermines it.

The Protestant Reformers rejected the faith as taught by the Church of their day, and so they rejected the Church as defender of correct interpretation. Sola Scriptura simply allows for the formation of a new "church" in whose "faith" you can find your own interpretation. And history has shown that there is no end to the number and variety of “churches” this can produce. The “ancient faith” can be altered or deleted as each denomination sees fit. When the Bible stands “alone,” the ancient faith of the Church can be freely discarded.

And so today there are thousands of Protestant “churches” using the “Bible Alone” to arrive at a plethora of interpretations. They assume that God’s Word in Scripture (Alone!) will lead them to doctrinal truth. Yet these Bible Only churches hold doctrines that conflict with their fellow Christians. Can Truth conflict with Truth? Five hundred years of divisions and schisms have continued to skew the Protestant faith. Sola Scriptura does not give us Truth but confusion and a broken Body of Christ.

The Catholic Church understands that Scripture does not stand alone. The Church’s Ancient Faith stands alongside Scripture as its constant companion. We call this Sacred Tradition – the body of beliefs that have grown out of our shared Biblical experience since ancient times. If Protestant churches truly wished to defend the “ancient faith,” then Scripture can never stand alone. The Bible must always stand together with Tradition as a counter-balance against false interpretation.

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