If Scripture is as vulnerable as this account makes it out to be, how can we have certitude that our claims of faith are true and accurate? The simple answer is that we can’t. The quest for the kind of theory of authority that so many evangelicals seek through their tired, parenetic rhapsodies about Sola Scriptura (and, ironically enough, often end up thinking they’ll find in Roman Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy) is a Quixotic quest for a Holy Grail we shouldn’t even care to own. Faith is inherently risky and vulnerable or it is no faith worthy of the name of Jesus. A formalized book of allegedly inerrant truths or an allegedly infallible Magisterium both tend to function as an attempt to avoid having to make the distinctively foolish claims of faith. They embody the longings for security, control, and that great smarmy sense of just knowing you’re right that we all want so desperately. However, Jesus does not allow us such contrived (and fictional!) certitudes. He allows us only himself. And he stays beyond us, eluding our attempts to domesticate and control him and his Gospel. He as left his reliable witnesses, in whom we can have proper confidence. But to confuse the assurance of faith with the pathological need for epistemic certitude is to make a great theological mistake. I hope the evangelical church can learn to un-make this mistake.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
sola scriptura and authority
Halden posts a few comments on sola scriptura. The last bit is, I think, quite insightful.