Does Solo Fides trump Sola Scriptura?


#1

C Thomas said the following on another thread:

[quote=C Thomas]the vast majority of Protestants would answer that you don’t have to read the Bible at all to be saved.
[/quote]

And I answered:

[quote=Ani Ibi]If we do not have to read the Bible, then what purpose does SS serve?
[/quote]

I am wondering if folks would explain to us what Solo Fides means to them personally. If you could give us a reference or two that explains the doctrine of Solo Fides that would also be very helpful.

Similarly, for Sola Scriptura, if you could explain to us what this means to you personally and give us some idea of what it means as a doctrine that would be very helpful.

Basically the questions for this thread are:

[LIST]
*]Does Solo Fides trump Sola Scriptura?
*]If it does, then why have Sola Scriptura?
*]If we do not have to read the Bible, then what purpose does Sola Scriptura serve?[/LIST]Thank you! :slight_smile:


#2

Thanks for the new thread. Since I caused the thread to be started, I suppose I owe you answers to your three questions, butt based on our interactions from the last thread, I’m not sure they are going to satisfy you. But if I take another crack at it, perhaps your response will allow me to see where exactly the issue is.

(1) “Does Solo Fides trump Sola Scriptura?” My answer is that neither trumps the other. They both address different issues. The former goes to the requirements for justification. The latter goes to what sources supply infallible teaching. To the extent there’s a relationship between the two, it is that the infallible teaching (the scriptures) teach us the conditions for justification (a saving faith, which is inevitably accompanied by works, incidentally).

(2) “If it does, then why have Sola Scriptura?” It does not, so I suppose this question drops out.

(3) “If we do not have to read the Bible, then what purpose does Sola Scriptura serve?” The Bible is the ultimate infallible source of what you need to be justified. But you can get the relevant information through some fallible source and be just as saved. If a friend tells you the relevant information you need to come to a saving faith in Christ and you respond to it, the information has been transmitted to you fallibly. But nonetheless, it can be enough if it produces a saving faith. There is no requirement that a saving faith be acquired through an infallible source. Sola scriptura becomes very important on this view, though, where the question is how to judge fallible claims about doctrine. If sola scriptura is correct, then we ultimately need to weigh any extra-biblical claims about doctrine to see if they conform to scripture. If they violate scripture, they must cannot be accepted. So scripture is the ultimate authority, although it does not follow that anybody needs to read it to be saved.

Best regards,

CThomas


If Sola Scriptura is true
#3

How convenient Thomas. So basically I can do nothing and know nothing except what a friend tells me to be saved. Somehow, I don’t think Christ intended it that way and the apostles and early church fathers sure didn’t live that particular theology, but I can see how it would appeal to people in this particular day and age. I don’t think I will take my chances with that because one thing I have learned in my 53 years is how easy and tempting it is for humans to deceive themselves. Good Luck with thinking that way though.


#4

Megaterang, I’m not sure I follow your critique of my response. I certainly did not mean to suggest that a friend telling someone about the Gospel is the only way to be saved. I was just using that as an illustration of how you can learn about the Gospel without reading the Bible. There are all sorts of ways to get this information, and I wholeheartedly join you in condemning any view that we can know and do nothing apart from what a friend tells us. And I enthusiastically share your view that self-deception is a real and constant danger against which we must always be on guard.

Regards,

CThomas


#5

Hi CThomas,

Your replies are always charitable and forthright, and I would like to ask a sincere question regarding your perspective. If saving knowledge of Christ can come from many different sources, what advantage if any does knowledge, especially deep knowledge, of the bible provide?


#6

Thanks very much, VociMike. I would answer that there are a variety of reasons why a deep knowledge of the Bible is very, very valuable even if it’s not a requirement for salvation. First, I think the Bible teaches that we will all have a “performance review” of sorts when we reach heaven, that there are varying degrees of reward in heaven, and that you can squeak through with just enough to have a saving faith, but you’ll still have to answer to God when you get there for your conduct and receive rewards in heaven appropriate to your conduct. Learning God’s word is very important in this regard, because it provides all sorts of important informaiton about our expected conduct on Earth.

Second, I think the Bible supplies a hugely important manual for living one’s life successfully and happily here on Earth.

Third, I think that anyone in a saving relationship with Christ would naturally be interested in learning as much as possible about God out of subservience and reverence toward God.

Fourth, I think that immersion in the Bible increases one’s faith, the efficacy of one’s prayer life, and the development of a fully Christian worldview.

These probably overlap to some extent, and I’m sure there are others I’m leaving out, but I very much appreciate the opportunity to elaborate on this point because the last thing I want to do is leave the impression that I think reading the Bible is unimportant. To the contrary, I think it’s one of the most important things a person can do. I just think there are ways an illiterate, or someone who never had access to a Bible, for example, could be saved without ever reading a word of it.

Best regards,

CThomas


#7

Thanks, CThomas. I think every Catholic would agree wholeheartedly with your comments. In fact, St. Jerome says “to be ignorant of scripture is to be ignorant of Christ”.

It so happens that Catholics would also extend your comments to being in visible communion with the Church. “Why should I join the Catholic Church” gets the same sort of answer from us as “Why should I read the bible” gets from you (and us).


#8

Understood. Thanks again, VociMike.


#9

Thanks for this clarification, C. Let me see if I understood you well.

[LIST]
*]Saving faith can come from anywhere.
*]Infallible doctrine can only come from Scripture (Sola Scriptura).
*]Solo Fides is not relevant to this consideration.[/LIST]Is this an accurate representation of the nitty gritty of what you have said?


#10

That’s the gist of it, Ani. I don’t mean to overly parse your language, but before agreeing to your statements as written, I’d want to modify some of them slightly. I would say that a saving faith can come from a variety of different sources, but I don’t know about literally “anywhere.” I think I can sign onto your second statement without modifying it. On the third, “not relevant” may be slightly too strong. As I indicated, sola fides can be considered relevant in some respects, as that is something that we believe falls out of the scriptures being the only infallible source of doctrine. So it’s not like they’re totally unrelated to each other. But yes, I think they do address different issues and in that sense I agree with your third point.

Regards,

CThomas


#11

Thank you for this as well. So much has not been clear for a long time in the course of discussions on this forum.

Now, I have a couple more requests for clarification.

It is difficult for we Catholics to place ourselves in conversations with communities of Protestants inasmuch as something may be very plausible articulated by an individual (such as yourself) but it may neither be the general understanding among Protestants nor may it be the official or ‘prescribed’ understanding among Protestants.

This is significant for these reasons:

It provides points of contact – common understanding, if you will – from which rapprochements may emerge between Catholics and small clusters of Protestants or even just individual Protestants. (A good thing considering Jesus’s prayer for unity)

It confuses us as to how to work toward common understandings and rapprochements with the remaining Protestants. (Not a good thing considering Jesus’s prayer for unity)

If there were on central source of Protestant doctrine, it would not matter as much to us. Why? Because as Catholics we certainly understand variances in development, variances in faith, and variances in compliance among our own peoples. But with our own people, we have one standard against which all Catholics may measure themselves.

Knowing is useful in learning. We need stability zones in order to risk change. Growth is a kind of change. Learning – acquiring more things to know – is a kind of growth. Lord Kelvin said, “To measure is to know.” So having one standard against which all Catholics may measure themselves is a tremendous life aid among Catholics.

Catholics can know if they have strayed and even if another Catholic has strayed. We have something stable against which we can be measured. Thus the question of correction is straightforward. Whether a Catholic responds favourably to being corrected is a whole nuther ballgame.

But how does a Protestant know that he/she has strayed or if another Protestant has strayed? Does it not then revolve around differences in doctrinal interpretation? Thus the question of correction is not straightforward at all. Whether a Protestant responds favourably to being corrected – well that question may never come up.

Also, I would like to know if there is any relation between doctrine and salvation. Or is this a question of Once Saved Always Saved?


#12

[quote=CThomas] I would say that a saving faith can come from a variety of different sources, but I don’t know about literally “anywhere.”
[/quote]

OK, fair enough.

[LIST]
*]Saving faith can come from a variety of sources.[/LIST]


#13

It may surprise you to hear that I think that the global hierarchy of Catholicism is a valid factor cutting in favor of Catholicism in light of the biblical passages urging unity among Christians. For me, it isn’t enough by itself, but in all candor I think that’s one of the better points for Catholicism. So I understand your frustration in this regard. Still, there are a number of things to say in response. You say that “with our own people, we have one standard against which all Catholics may measure themselves.” Of course, Protestants, too, have one standard against which they may measure themselves – the Bible. The diversity of views and beliefs among Protestants really isn’t quite as bad as you make it out to be when you take into account Paul’s instruction to tolerate non-essential differences in beliefs among Christians. A minority of the differences among Protestant sects involve the core essentials that require Christian unity. Outside principles clearly set out in the Bible, there is no violation of Christian unity by different people having their own beliefs on certain issues, with everyone respecting everyone else.

Anyway, to answer your question, the Church, through the local congregation, has an important role in letting a Christian know if he “has strayed.” That’s the function of Church discipline. Ultimately, excommunication could be necessary where a purported Christian obstinately refuses to reconcile himself with Christian doctrine. But short of that, careful reflection and study on the part of each and every Christian is necessary to prevent himself from straying, or to correct such a straying where it has occurred.

CThomas


#14

[quote=CThomas]You say that “with our own people, we have one standard against which all Catholics may measure themselves.” Of course, Protestants, too, have one standard against which they may measure themselves – the Bible. The diversity of views and beliefs among Protestants really isn’t quite as bad as you make it out to be when you take into account Paul’s instruction to tolerate non-essential differences in beliefs among Christians.
[/quote]

Of course I understand immediately what you mean when you refer to Paul. He was a teacher. He assessed what stage his audience was at before he gave his teaching; he assessed what the next step was; he assessed what was the most important teaching to put forward for this group and what could be dickered over later.

But just because someone is a student in, say, Theology 101, does not mean that that student is not expected to charge with all energies toward Postgrad.

It is not an either/or scenario. This is an other problem Catholics have in dialogue with groups of Protestants. We are synthesizers. Protestant points of view appear to us to be analytical.

We have tried to obtain clarification about what are the ‘essentials’ on which we can agree. To no avail. What does one do if one group says that something is a nonessential and another group says that it is essential?

Who is the umpire?

[quote=CThomas] A minority of the differences among Protestant sects involve the core essentials that require Christian unity.
[/quote]

To measure is to know. Please quantify ‘a minority.’

[quote=CThomas] Outside principles clearly set out in the Bible, there is no violation of Christian unity by different people having their own beliefs on certain issues, with everyone respecting everyone else.
[/quote]

This is too vague for me to gain any understanding from it. Could you specify please?

[quote=CThomas]Anyway, to answer your question, the Church, through the local congregation, has an important role in letting a Christian know if he “has strayed.” That’s the function of Church discipline. Ultimately, excommunication could be necessary where a purported Christian obstinately refuses to reconcile himself with Christian doctrine.
[/quote]

This strikes us as relative among congregations and among denominations. The guy who runs the Toronto Airport Revival was excommunicated as a Baptist pastor because, he claims, he prayed with his hands in the air. Now surely praying with your hands in the air – or even seeking the anointing of the Holy Spirit, if you will – surely that is not something to be excommunicated for.

[quote=CThomas] But short of that, careful reflection and study on the part of each and every Christian is necessary to prevent himself from straying, or to correct such a straying where it has occurred.
[/quote]

Of course it is. Who would dispute that?

But are we the measure of ourselves?

Is our own interpretation of Scripture the measure of our righteousness?

If these two things were true, then why would we need the Church – at least why would we need the Church for anything to do with our faith. Of course no one would dispute that we need coffee and donuts at the church bazaar. :wink:


#15

Ani, this responds to your last posting. You say, “We are synthesizers. Protestant points of view appear to us to be analytical.” Now it’s my turn to ask you for clarification. I’m curious what you mean by that. I do like to think of myself as analytical, but I don’t see that as in opposition to synthesizing different strands of information. I see the two as reinforcing each other, so I’m curious what you have in mind with this distinction.

You ask “Who is the umpire?” This seems to be underlie much of the discussion in your post. And the answer, to my mind, is that God is the umpire. That does mean that there is no infallible human authority to answer all our questions for us. But that doesn’t bother or surprise me. The vast majority of areas of human experience are the same. If we were doing mathematics, what would you think of someone who said, “But all humans make mistakes. Who is the ultimate umpire where mathematicians disagree or err?” We would say, “Well, ultimately God is the author of all truth, but it’s silly to think that there should be an ultimate infallible human arbiter of all mathematical questions. We do our best recognizing that we are fallible, and in most cases that’s good enough. We seldom make errors of simple arithmetic once we are adequately trained, and the more complex problems are indeed difficult, but we all accept that we must do our best with the finite capacities we have been given.” The same is true in innumerable other areas. God has given us the Church, and the Church has an important role in teaching and discipline. But it doesn’t really bother me that at the end of the day we’re all (in my view) fallible even in areas of religious doctrine. That’s life. The infallible Bible supplies information that allows salvation through a method so simple that even a child can do it. But yes, we can all err and that fact does not seem deeply troubling or surprising to me.

Sorry if this is long-winded and repetitive (as I’m sure it is). Long day.

CThomas


#16

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