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Sunday, March 16, 2008

sola scriptura and authority

Halden posts a few comments on sola scriptura. The last bit is, I think, quite insightful.
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.

4 comments:

  1. Amen...

    and, I'll have to start slipping the word "smarmy" into casual conversation..good stuff :)

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  2. "But the point remains, the idea that all doctrine must be derived only from the Bible is not a biblical doctrine at all."

    What, exactly, is this supposed to mean? Where do we get doctrine, if not from scripture? What about 2 Timothy 3:16?

    "Of course, one doctrine that clearly is not taught in the Bible is that the Bible alone should be the source of theological doctrines."

    This one is a little out there as well... Even if not explicitly stated, it is quite obviously implicitly asserted that scripture is the primary if not the only source for what we believe. For example, what does Jesus teach that you can't find to be backed by old testament scripture? Then, assuming Christ did bring new scripture through what He said, who has the authority besides Him to add new doctrines? Again, I realize I'm wading into dangerous waters in arguing with professional word scramblers here.(I often get misunderstood by and misunderstand those who like to argue about theology.) It always seems as if they take what I say and twist it so badly that I end up not sure what I said to begin with. I had a teacher once who called them Wizards...I agree.

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  3. "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."

    Faith:
    #1 religion: a strong belief in a supernatural power or powers that control human destiny; "he lost his faith but not his morality"
    #2 complete confidence in a person or plan etc; "he cherished the faith of a good woman"; "the doctor-patient relationship is based on trust"
    #3 religion: an institution to express belief in a divine power; "he was raised in the Baptist religion"; "a member of his own faith contradicted him"
    #4 loyalty or allegiance to a cause or a person; "keep the faith"; "they broke faith with their investors"
    wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

    Which definitition (or which ones) are we using here? I hate this type of argument where different parties argue about something using the same words with different meanings. I agree that a faith unfounded is a risky thing, but I would not say that a faith(trust) in Jesus Christ need be risky(in that there is uncertainty in Christ) or vulnerable. Faith(#2 which, I think, portrays our "faith" in Christ.) is not "risky" when one places it in a faithful person; it is a truly rational trust.

    And what does he mean by "allegedly inerrant truths"? I would also assert that in holding firmly to scripture as doctrine we are not at all avoiding "the distinctively foolish claims of faith." Why? Because these "claims" are found in scripture! Making doctrine from a book that holds forth such "foolish" claims as does the Bible is certainly foolish to the world, far from avoiding anything

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  4. Faith in a sense is "risky," but not a gamble like betting on how many fingers I have behind my back. Faith is reasonable and is based firmly on what we know, or it's not human faith, but unreasonable fideism or worse, superstition. [This doesn't mean that faith is contained by reason, merely that it cannot be against reason.]

    Indeed, we are presented with the figure of Jesus in the New Testament. But what does the NT witness about Jesus mean? The Arian heresy is but one example of the difficulty of interpreting the NT witness.

    Although some people may misuse the teachings of the Magisterium as some kind of false security blanket, they do so w/o the Church's blessing. The Magisterium of the Catholic Church merely aims to clarify what the witness of Scripture means. It doesn't propose to substitute for faith, but to help clarify (when necessary) what it is that is proposed for belief in the NT witness.

    The Magisterium is to safeguard the witness of the Apostles to Jesus so that we may have confidence that what was given by Jesus in the 1st century is what we receive today. This witness, which the Church endeavors to proclaim to every creature, is proposed for belief, that all might receive salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.

    Confidence in the Magisterium is grounded by our faith in Jesus who guarenteed that the gates of hell would not prevail against his Church, which is the pillar and bulwark of the truth.

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