A dialogue with a sola scriptura Guy


The point he’s making is that, in practice, Scripture isn’t the SOLE final norm. It isn’t the ONLY final judge. In fact, it isn’t the judge at all. In the end, the judgement part comes from the Churchman who reads it and decides whether it is being applied correctly.


Huh? I think you missed the point entirely. If people can’t read, how is Scripture their sole final norm? It can’t even be their first norm.

This goes to the fact that the vast majority of people were illiterate up until the last century. And, I think the numbers say that the majority of people remain illiterate, even today.


That’s part of the problem, Jon. Where, in Scripture, does it say anything about Scripture being the sole final norm of anything?

Sola Scriptura is also a non-biblical norm imposed upon Scripture. The doctrine of Sola Scriptura is not based upon Sola Scriptura.


Perhaps this article will help.


I didn’t misread. I do not need to know how to read in order to hear the word. I do not need to know how to read to listen to the teachings of the Church. This is the original reason for stained glass windows in churches, because people couldn’t read.
SS is not a personal act. It is a practice of the Church, under the scriptural role given the Vhurch to teach


But how does a person decides which bible to read/hear purely based on sola scriptura? There is no divinely inspired “table of contents”.


That was a very insightful article. Thanks.

The main point I got from the article …

The Lutheran reformers, who used the term sola scriptura, meant by this the fact that Scripture stands above (other parts of) Tradition. But Scripture was still to be read within a living ecclesial Tradition, and especially though the writings of the Church Fathers. One can, of course, discuss to which degree they were successful in this, but they did not use the term sola scriptura as a way to exclude Tradition.

Luther had 1500 years of Catholic Church tradition under his belt. To what degree do you think Luther was successful in reading the scriptures through this 1500 years of living Catholic Church Tradition?

The reason I ask it this way is because the author states the Tradition should be from a living Church. The only Church alive from the beginning would have been the Catholic Church. So if the author is correct this is the Tradition one should be reading scripture through.

Also, how well do you think the other sola scriptura reformers and the sola scriptura churches of today hold to the living ecclesial Traditions in there interpretations?

Thanks if what this author says is what is meant by sola scriptura that opens up a whole new door for discussion.

God Bless


You should get this guy together in a room with a preacher from the non-instrumental Church of Christ. Put this statement in front of them, pop some popcorn for yourself and ask them their thoughts on baptism.


How do you decide? You do what your communion says. Correct?


So the communion has authority on what scripture to read then?


It is best to have real dialogue with Protestant brothers or sisters and not a hot debate. Let’s help Pope Francis unite all Christians through mutual respect and collaboration in charities :pray:


How is that sola Scriptura? Someone is reading outloud.

I do not need to know how to read to listen to the teachings of the Church.

What does that have to do with the SOLE final norm?

This is the original reason for stained glass windows in churches, because people couldn’t read.

Exactly. Scripture and stained glass windows. Not Scripture alone.

SS is not a personal act. It is a practice of the Church, under the scriptural role given the Vhurch to teach

That makes no sense. Either it is the SOLE final norm. Or it is Scripture plus something else. In this case, it is very much the Church. Since the Church is the sole final judge who applies the norms of Tradition and Scripture as it sees fit.


This guy is very close to being Catholic. He says:

The question often boils down to this: Why must Tradition judge me, and my reading of Scripture? The answer is that one person’s reading of Scripture is not identical with Scripture itself. That person’s interpretation of Scripture is not necessarily correct. Although Scripture cannot be normed by Tradition (norma normans non normata),

it can be, and is, interpreted through Tradition. Tradition is still a norm (norma normata).

It all boils down to the question of whether or not Scripture is ‘clear’ and ‘easily understandable.’ As a man with a master’s degree in theology, and who loves Greek, I can say that it is far from.

Now, all he has to do is come to the issue of Authority. Who has the authority to decide whether Scripture and Tradition, both of which are forms of the Word of God, are being interpreted correctly?

If the Apostolic Tradition means anything, and if the Creeds, the Councils, and the Fathers are worthy of any credit at all as faithful witnesses to that Tradition, then it seems to me that we must see our Confessions as part of that tradition, and consistently read them in the context of that tradition. Otherwise how can we possibly claim to be the Catholic Church, rightly reformed? And if that leads us to the conclusion that our Lutheran fathers were mistaken about the necessity of episcopal ordination, then that ought to lead us not to put the “Catholic principle” out of court, but to repent of that error. If we have made a mistake, we ought to admit it – not re-interpret Church history to make the mistake somehow not a mistake. After all, if one should never admit a mistake in doctrine or practice, there never could have been a Reformation.

Oh, he did. Wow! Great article.


It isn’t. Sola scriptura is a hermeneutical principle.

Nothing. The question was related to an individual’s reading skills. That is irrelevant.

Correct. The Church uses scripture as a sole final norm. Are there other norms? Of course. Councils, ECF’s. Creeds.


That’s why I posted it. :wink:


If that is the question. The broader question of how scripture is used is dependent on the teachings of each communion.


Which is not in Scripture.

Reading skill is not irrelevant to Biblical hermeneutic.

By Church, you mean Lutherans. Where do Lutherans get the idea that Scripture is the sole final norm? The terminology is not in Scripture. And Scripture says:

Matthew 18:117 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

And again:

Hebrews 13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

So, the sole final norm says that the Church is the final norm. The final arbiter. The Church isn’t even required to check Scripture:

2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

Profitable does not mean necessary.



Which proves that the bodies or communions are the final arbiters. Not Scripture.


That’s right it doesn’t. It is “profitable” for inspiration, doctrine, reproof and instruction …

Put this together with Eph. 4:11 and we see that those things, done by the teaching Church, bring us to the fullness of Christ:

And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, for the equipment of the saints, for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ;"


Which is why SS is not a doctrine.

Sure, but a Christian can have significant knowledge of the faith without being able to read. Think of your lectionary that covers virtually all of the Bible over, what, three years? Faith comes by hearing, and receiving the sacraments. The teaching role belongs to the Church.

I don’t think this reflects Catholic teaching. I have been here long enough to hear numerous Catholics speak of the “three-legged stool”, Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, Magisterium.
Claiming that the Church has no obligation to scripture is a remarkable admission if true. I’m happy to be corrected by Catholics, however.

Well, for Lutherans, yes. Perhaps we have a different idea of what norm means. I see no conflict with saying, on the one hand, the Church in its teaching role determines doctrine, while on the other hand saying that the sole final norm for that process is scripture.

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