Posts Tagged ‘Scripture’

luther

Sola Scriptura, What Has it Done?

I was thinking today about Sola Scriptura, which means Scripture Alone. This was and is the clarion call of the Protestant Reformation. It was an announcement that the traditions of the Roman Catholic Church were contrived from the human mind, and did not agree with canon of Holy Scripture. Both the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church declare that Holy Tradition existed before the canon of Scripture was finalized. The Orthodox Church says that it decided upon what we now have in our hands, known as the Bible.

From the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Church viewpoint, Sola Scriptura has been the instrument of division from the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. There have been statements issued by the Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodoxy about how many thousands of Protestant denominations there are. However, it remains a fact that even from within Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy there have been divisions. There are many “Catholic” churches and “Orthodox” churches. Therefore, it is not just within Protestantism that the Church has divided. It is sad that the Church has divided and still continues to divide for one reason or another. I love the Church.

R. C. Sproul (1) makes an interesting comment on a misinterpretation of Sola Scriptura, that Roman Catholic’s and the Eastern Orthodox tend to dwell on the Anabaptist error which ended up becoming Solo Scriptura, which means basically that all a Christian needs is himself and his Bible. This is not what Sola Scriptura means. Sola Scriptura means, “Instead the Bible is our alone final authority because it alone is the Word of God. It has been attested, authenticated, by God Himself. Miracles serve as the divine imprimatur, the proof that this is a message of God.” When you get right down to it, there are innumerable volumes of “traditional” writings in the Roman Catholic Church and within Eastern Orthodoxy. Which one of all of the volumes is infallible or inerrant? Can either come up with an authoritative list of their traditional writings? I am not discounting tradition. The Apostolic faith was handed down, for St. Paul declares, “So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.” 2 Thessalonians 2:15 (ESV) We have received those traditions in Holy Scripture.

It is true that it has been a dangerous thing, the human being interpreting the Bible for himself. It is equally true, I am sure that division has been caused by misinterpretation. However, what I have seen within the Church are traditional statements regarding the Christian faith. That of the Apostles Creed, the Athanasius Creed, and the Nicene Creed – all are based upon the traditional timeless truths revealed in Holy Scripture. Most of the Church adheres to these Creeds, Eastern Orthodoxy, Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Pentecostals, Congregationalists, and everyone in between.

I admit Sola Scriptura has been the cause of error. The fact of the matter remains, because of Sola Scriptura, there are distinctives within each of the above “traditions” of Christianity that differ from one another. It is appalling that some would fain to do away with Christian traditions. The various Christian traditions have distinctives about holiness, the sacraments, the ordinances, the mysteries, the person and work of the Holy Spirit, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the sovereignty of God, mode of baptism, pedo or credo baptism, church government, etc. Therefore, Robert Rothwell (2) says those “of the Reformed tradition devoted their lives to the study of the entire counsel of God, it seems that all too often we do not do the same.” I am sure that our sinful human nature has got in the way dividing the Church into each and every “denomination” that has ever existed.

Martin Lutheran defied Roman Catholic tradition, for example, which made people pay the church for forgiveness of sins, or pay for the reduction of their time in purgatory, etc., ad nauseam. That is why he hammered upon the cathedral doors at Wittenburg his 95 theses. The Church had to change. Now, the Church must change and keep on changing. Karl Barth said at one point, “Ecclesia semper reformanda est,” which means “the church is always to be reformed.” The same is said another way, “Ecclesia reformata semper reformanda,” which means “the reformed church (is) always to be reformed.”

John MacArthur (3) says in the book Sola Scriptura: The Protestant Position on the Bible, “The Reformation principle of sola Scriptura has to do with the sufficiency of Scripture as our supreme authority in all spiritual matters. Sola Scriptura simply means that all truth necessary for our salvation and spiritual life is taught either explicitly or implicitly in Scripture. It is not a claim that all truth of every kind is found in Scripture.”

I swam through three streams of Christianity on my journey of faith, the Reformed/Evangelical, The Sacramental/Liturgical, and The Pentecostal.  Because of Sola Scriptura, there has been a convergence of these streams within me. I adhere to the Reformed tradition, the Sacramental/Liturgical, and the Pentecostal. There is a convergence of worship. Thanks be to God, I belong to the Church.

The Church of the Living God is the Church that Jesus said He would build, and He will complete the building as He has intended. The Church, His Bride will be presented to Him, pure and blameless at His coming. Build Your Church Lord, refine her, clothe her, establish her beauty in You! Maranatha, come Lord Jesus!

Resources:

(1) http://www.ligonier.org/blog/sola-scriptura-bible/

(2) http://www.ligonier.org/blog/what-does-sola-scriptura-mean/

(3) http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/sola-scriptura/

Some have proclaimed that modern versions or their Greek texts deny the deity of Jesus Christ. Certainly there are some, such as the New World Translation (published by the Jehovah’s Witnesses), that seek to diminish Christ’s deity. It is also true that some versions are stronger regarding Christ’s deity than others. While most translations clearly and strongly proclaim this basic biblical truth, the Traditional Text does present a stronger Christology regarding His deity (Matthew 19:16-17; Romans 14:10, 12; Philippians 2:6; 1Timothy 3:16; 1John 5:7; and Revelation 1:8, 11).

Additionally, other aspects of Christology are more strongly presented in the Traditional Text. For example, in Luke 2:33, 43 the Traditional Text calls the stepfather of Christ by his name and separates him from the person of Mary. We read, “Joseph and his mother marvelled” and “Joseph and his mother knew not of it.” However, the Critical Text changes “Joseph” to “father,” making the texts read “his father and mother marveled” and “his father and mother knew not of it.” Such readings do not in themselves deny the virgin birth of Christ; still the reading found in the Traditional Text upholds this doctrine and removes any possible confusion in this regard.

The same may be said of Christ’s redemption. Again, the truth of salvation is found in all Greek texts and English translations. Yet, certain aspects are presented more forcefully in the Traditional Text and the KJV in certain places. We are told that we have redemption “through his blood” in Colossians 1:14. The Critical Text does not contain this phrase at this place, though it does appear in all texts in Ephesians 1:7. This raises two questions. First, why would the phrase be found in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians and not in his letter to the Colossians? Second, how is it possible to have redemption without divine payment for that redemption? Clearly the phrase should remain in regard to this doctrine. The Greek manuscripts are evenly divided as to its inclusion or omission. This can be demonstrated with the two editions of the Majority Text. The internal evidence, based on Ephesians 1:7, would argue for its inclusion in that the phrase is used by Paul elsewhere and is consistent with what he would have written. Overall, when we consider other textual sources, the reading must remain because it is biblical and in character with Paul’s other writings.

An additional example concerns 1Peter 2:2. We are told in the Traditional Text that as newborn babies in Christ we should “desire the sincere milk of the word that ye may grow thereby.” The Greek phrase found in the Traditional Text reads ina en auto auxethete (that ye may grow). The Critical Text adds eis soterian (to salvation) at the end of the phrase, suggesting that salvation is something we grow to. This is why the NRSV renders the phrase as “that by it you may grow into salvation.” Certainly the reading of the Traditional Text omits the confusion and provides a stronger Christology here regarding redemption.

In regard to Christ, Paul reminds us that “in all things he might have the preeminence” (Colossians 1:18). If Christ is to have the preeminence in all things, this would include Bible translations. Just as one can use a modern version to prove the deity of Christ, so modern versions proclaim the person of Jesus Christ. Though this may not be in question, divine names are not always as strongly proclaimed in the Critical Text. Instead of phrases such as “Lord Jesus Christ” we might find “Jesus Christ” or “Jesus.” In fact, there are about two hundred such examples found in the New Testament where the expanded title is found in the Traditional Text.

Sometimes a simple omission has profound impact. 1John 1:7 is a good illustration of this. The Traditional Text reads, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” Modern versions based on the Alexandrian textual line read “Jesus” instead of “Jesus Christ.” The difference seems small on the surface, but we must remember that John wrote this epistle to confront the heresy of Gnosticism. The Gnostics taught that Jesus and Christ were two separate entities. Jesus, they said, was born of Joseph and Mary and was physical. At his baptism the Christ, who was spiritual, was said to have entered into him. At this point, according to the Gnostics, Jesus became Jesus Christ. At his crucifixion, the Gnostics claimed that the Christ left, leaving only Jesus to die. At the resurrection, the disciples saw the spirit Christ, but the mortal Jesus remained dead. Once we understand the heresy John was confronting, the differences between the two readings becomes abundantly clear. If John had written “the blood of Jesus” he would have been making a statement that the Gnostics would have been in agreement with. After all, they believed that it was Jesus who shed his blood. But by writing “the blood of Jesus Christ,” John was making a direct assault on this Gnostic heresy.

~ from Dr. Thomas Holland’s book, “Crowned With Glory”