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Monday, August 29, 2011

Sola Scriptura is a fraud

Sola Scriptura isn't a fraud per say, so I admit to the somewhat misleading nature of the title.  The doctrine of Sola Scriptura in its essence states the the final authority for all doctrine rests in the Bible alone.  This stands in opposition to Catholic and Orthodox positions that Scripture is one of three equal sources for determining doctrine.

     I think many believers like to think that they come to the Bible with an open mind.  Like the ideal scientist who lets the results of the scientific method determine the outcome of the experiment, Christians think (as I described in my last post) that they let the Bible determine their theology.  They are living in a world of dreams.  Anything approaching a "pure" reading of the Bible, does not exist.  However, do not lament.  It doesn't need to exist.  The trick to reading the Bible well is not to defeat all presuppositions, but to recognize them for what they are, unavoidable determiners for how you read the text.

     What we believe, and are taught about the nature of the Bible, determines much about our reading of the Bible.  Many more "conservative" (I HATE this label), Christians presuppose things like inerrancy, infallibility, and inspiration.  To be sure, these beliefs find a basis in the Scripture itself. These are self-descriptions of the word of God, but their nature is one of presupposition because they cannot be proven.  These things are matters of faith not fact.

     Likewise, other (less conservative?) people who approach the Bible, Christian and otherwise, do so with their own set of assumptions about the text.  Many who study the Bible academically totally deny divine origin, experience (miracles), or existence at all.  (How one can properly study a document and understand it while at the same time denying its most foundational element, the existence of God, is beyond my comprehension).  Needless to say, this leads them down a totally different rabbit hole than their conservative counterparts.  Their problem is one of faith also though.  I know of no conclusive proof that God can't or doesn't exist.  Atheism is nothing more than the belief that there is nothing higher to believe in, but I digress.

     So, in my opinion, the pursuit of an honest reading of Scripture does not begin by choking out all presuppositions.  But by coming to terms with what exactly they are and how they will direct your doctrinal development.


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