Is getting rid of "Sola Scriptura" step 1 in reuniting the Church?

In moving toward One Body in Christianity, is getting rid of the false doctrine of sola scriptura step #1? In what perhaps were good intentions, this doctrine seems to be at the heart of the church being sifted like wheat.

From there, you could move onto other steps among the Churches that accept Tradition as well.

Yes? No?

It would be a start. Then you’d have to get around the obstacle of accepting SOME Traditions and not others… it’s a long long road, but the shortest shortcut is acceptance of papal authority. Everything else would logically fall into place after that.

Essentially, I think we have to get squared away on what the difference is between Catholic vs n-C beliefs about the Bible.

Can Catholics ever agree with Sola Scriptura as defined by the majority of the n-C denoms and non-denoms? No.

However, there is an excellent short article on MATERIAL AND FORMAL SUFFICIENCY by Jimmy Akin that I think should be the starting point for every discussion of this issue.

There are certain things that we Catholics believe that come very near to SS but which do not err as the n-Cs have.

The other thing that absolutely has to be part of this effort is the maximum of charity in dialog. When that slips then any discussion/debate becomes a waste of time.

I think getting rid of the *phrase *“Sola Scriptura” as something one either agrees or disagrees with would be an excellent step. Then we can discuss the real issues. For many Protestants, a knee-jerk adherence to the slogan “sola scriptura” is a serious obstacle to their appreciation of the teaching found in *Dei Verbum, *for instance.

I’m not just talking about the slogan, but similar slogan-like statements that don’t dig very deep. For instance, the National Association of Evangelicals has a statement of faith describing the Bible as “the inspired, the only infallible, Word of God.” The weird commas in this seem to be inserted to make the assertion of sola scriptura clear. But it’s not clear how this works: Jesus is certainly the Word of God, and is surely infallible in at least all the ways in which the Bible is. One can make an excellent case that what Dei Verbum calls “Tradition” is no more the same kind of thing as Scripture than Jesus is. Tradition is the living process by which the Church transmits and interprets the Word of God. It can’t simply be identified with some non-Scriptural document or practice or whatever. Therefore, it could be argued that the only possible coherent meaning of the NAE’s statement is that the Bible is the only thing of its kind (a written document, body of documents, or similar concrete embodiment of teaching and/or practice) which is infallible by virtue of itself being the Word of God. And I don’t think Catholics would disagree with this statement (or at least it is quite possible to be a Catholic and agree with it).

I think we need to get away from slogans like “sola scriptura” and pay closer attention to the precise wording and implications of the actual language our traditional confessional and liturgical texts (on both sides) use. Of course, this is tough for the more free-church Protestants, because their radical version of “sola scriptura” means in practice that they rely on such vague slogans rather than on careful confessional statements.

Edwin

The fundamental issue at play here is that Protestants in general reject all earthly authority except the authority of self - proxied through the bible. By proxied I mean they attempt a faux modesty by ostensibly deferring to the “authority of scripture alone” (sola scriptura). But this is just a means to put the Holy Spirit to the test so to speak and essentially cast lots to interpret scripture in any way that makes sense to them personally. Clearly this is not an objective standard and is prone to human weakness and bias and is subject to deficiencies in personal moral and intellectual facilities.

This is a very difficult thing to get Protestants to see since they are in a hubristic comfort zone that they are simply blind to. This is the very nature of hubris. So through a self inflicted delusion that they rely on scripture to self-interpret they may freely ignore the natural conscience and the bliss of faux certitude in scripture still pragmatically leave themselves “in control” through private interpretation. This error replaces the pope in a way that let’s each sola-scripturist be their own private pope and in so doing each eventually loses the benefit of external checks and balances against personal bias.

As a point of illustration consider bookkeepers and accountants. Frankly I can’t imagine how any bookkeeper or accountant could ever be a protestant since these objectively know through training that the principal of self-auditing is unreliable and objectively impossible. We need checks and balancing as well as external auditing.

So, what needs to be overcome is the inherent seductive power of self-interpretation of scripture that permits anyone to interpret scripture to suit and promote any-one’s personal whim or proclivity from orthodox principals. This personal empowerment (which is really enslavement to personal bias), except for the secular benefit of social networking and support, renders “the church” irrelevant to salvation. This is the core error that we face and it is figuratively seen as individual sheep leaving the safety of the flock. It’s not just a matter of going out and finding the scattered sheep - its also a matter of convincing them to stay and not run off again once we get them back.

Thus a Protestant secure in his own apparent empowerment sees no compelling reason to adapt the Catholic conviction that “the church” as a necessary and integral part of God’s salvation plan. They simply and mistakenly think they have everything they need for salvation in their own personal “church of one”. So Protestants under the domination and seduction of “self-determination” and “self-sufficiency” find it nearly impossible to escape a self-centered individualized and personalized perspective of salvation.

So I agree with the prior poster who sees rejection of ecclesial authority as an important factor. To accept the Catholic alternative the Protestant has to radically reconfigure her thinking and: 1) accept that The Church is not only valuable but in fact integral to salvation and 2) accept that there is such a thing as valid divine given ecclesial authority while being convinced of the extreme bias inherent in self-policing private interpretation.

At a spiritual level the spiritual demon at work here is the top demon - Lucifer, the demon of Pride. Catholics know through our teaching authority that the antidote to demonic pride is humility. Catholics get aquainted with humility in sacramental confession - but Protestants do not belive in this. So we need to find a way to get Protestants to recognize the self-limitations of individualism and get them to bend their knee to legitimate authority and deffer personal will to a collective greater good. This is a very hard task and usually requires that one fall victim to the consequences of “self” and come to realize one can’t reliably “do it” alone.

The first step then is to replace pride with humility. This is a very tough voluntary sell in this secular post-enlightenment era that values reason and individualistic self-expression over moralistic and all other considerations. My own opinion is that reason competing in the context of self-interest will never prevail to discover the deficiency in self determination and self sufficiency. I pray for reason to prevail of course. But I am afraid that it will take a divine act of God to wake up the planet so reason can prevail and let everyone see that we are all “in the womb of creation together”.

If there is a human solution it is to provoke reason on a grand scale to increase anxieties to get everyone to wake up and come to their senses. But this is revolutionary in nature and very dangerous. So this is really God’s domain, not man’s domain. Therefor prayer is really our only best single first step.

The larger problem is that I think the fundamental Islamics are way ahead of us. They are hard at work on their own private ideas about just how best to provoke the planet to come to their deficient and disordered interpretation of how best to submit to God. So, we Christians are facing a count-down and are compelled by urgency to come together in prayer before an incompetent and unmerciful human solution is attempted.

Bottom Line: Prayer.

James

Ditto, I think the attitude reflects what James and I agree on below.

That is a peculiar statement by the NAE which seems, in what little context I have, to express that only Scripture can hold revelation or authority. I had the same thought as you…what about Jesus as the Word? Also, it depends on how the Catholic understands your last statement quoted above…we believe when the Church speaks infallibly that it is indeed Christ speaking, and therefore His Word. So we would not agree with the NAE that “only” Scripture is the infallible Word of God. There would have to be some kind of caveat for this Word. Perhaps something describing the Spirit-breathed truths God chose to transmit via select human authors in the scripted Word.

I would agree that humility is needed first to take on one of the first issues: sola scriptura. I also agree that there is no human solution, not human alone that is…the ultimate enemy as you say is the Enemy and we need powers from heaven in this matter without which we are powerless.

The full statement is here. I was quoting from memory and see that I omitted the word “authoritative.” This is a matter of importance to me because subscription to this statement is a condition of my present employment.

As I understand the Catholic position, Catholics do not understand papal encyclicals or conciliar documents or any other such product of the Church to be the Word of God. Rather, such statements contain the Word of God. Protestants don’t disagree with this. In fact, the Protestant Reformer Henry Bullinger, in what became one of the classic Reformed confessions of faith (the Second Helvetic Confession), said, “the preaching of the Word of God *is *the Word of God.” The question between Catholics and Protestants is rather about how confident one can be in the Church’s proclamation of the Word of God. Protestants would argue that you can never implicitly trust the Church, but must make sure that the Church’s teaching is found in Scripture (if it is to be seen as authoritative) and does not contradict Scripture (if it is not to be rejected outright). Just how one deals with the many things that don’t fall into either category is a point of difference among Protestants.

But no one disputes that when a preacher preaches true doctrine, or when a theologian or exegete interprets and applies Scripture correctly, this is the Word of God. That is why I’m not sure (admittedly I have personal reasons for wanting to believe this, though I doubt that my employers would renew my contract if I became a Catholic no matter how I argued) that the NAE statement actually contradicts Catholic teaching. It’s not saying that other things can’t proclaim and interpret the Word of God, but that nothing else can be simply identified with the Word of God. Can you point to any other specific embodiment of Tradition which can itself be called “the Word of God”? Not vague language like “when the Church speaks, Christ speaks” (which as I understand it is only true because you’re using “Church” in a rather rarified sense–Catholics don’t claim that whenever the Pope or a Council speaks, Christ is speaking), but something specific and concrete in the way the Bible is specific and concrete.

Edwin

Since the Catholic Church teaches that Scripture and Tradition have “equal weight”, I’m not sure where the dividing line might be. You may have articulated it well in your first 2 sentences here. But rest assured, plenty of Protestants today believe only vile comes out of the Catholic Church. :stuck_out_tongue:

Can you point to any other specific embodiment of Tradition which can itself be called “the Word of God”? Not vague language like “when the Church speaks, Christ speaks” (which as I understand it is only true because you’re using “Church” in a rather rarified sense–Catholics don’t claim that whenever the Pope or a Council speaks, Christ is speaking), but something specific and concrete in the way the Bible is specific and concrete.

Without getting reckless in speaking for the Church, I understand things not specifically concrete in Scripture like the Assumption are dogmatic and God’s Word, but perhaps in concept rather than phraseology like Scripture is. Need to research more to make sure the fine line is considered!

The various liturgies, rites, prayers and even songs are excellent examples of codified tradition. The Old Creed for example goes all the way back to the early church in the 200AD time frame and its clear it is apostolicly inspired.

James

So would you say that the Creed is the Word of God in the same way the Bible is?

I agree that the Creed comes close. Protestants have traditionally regarded the Creeds as summaries of divine revelation as contained in Scripture.

Edwin

I’m not aware of “equal weight” language. What I am aware of is “equal veneration” (Trent). As I understand that, this is a claim that the word of God should be regarded with equal veneration however it comes to us.

You may have articulated it well in your first 2 sentences here. But rest assured, plenty of Protestants today believe only vile comes out of the Catholic Church. :stuck_out_tongue:

But many fewer than in the past.

Without getting reckless in speaking for the Church, I understand things not specifically concrete in Scripture like the Assumption are dogmatic and God’s Word, but perhaps in concept rather than phraseology like Scripture is. Need to research more to make sure the fine line is considered!

Well, me too. That’s why I brought up the issue here!

Thanks for your thoughts.

Edwin

Is that because there are fewer Protestants going to church, or because more Protestants are becoming more universal in their beliefs or because more are swimming the Tiber to convert to Catholicism? :smiley: :wink:

James

The second. Although the first may play a role in some cases. The third has, if anything, the opposite effect, if it is in fact happening (I don’t think we have figures for Protestant-Catholic conversions over the past 500 years, so I’m not sure how one would determine this, though one certainly does seem to hear of a lot of such conversions in recent years).

Edwin

Yes, it is definitely Step 1. In fact, if SS is shown to be false then the Reformation was founded upon error and likewise must be false.

Picture this scenario, a Protestant pastor walking up before his congregation and saying: “I’ve got good news and bad news. The bad news is that I have been wrong this whole time about Justification by Faith Alone, it is false. The good news is that Sola Scriptura is still true, and thus we need not worry about finding the Truth.”

In practice, disproving Sola Fide should be enough to demonstrate the Reformation was illegal and false, yet in theory someone could still reject Sola Fide and still claim Sola Scriptura is true. I have actually gotten Protestants to admit they would not abandon Protestantism if SF were shown to be false because SS would still be true.

I think that a difficulty in getting rid of Sola Scriptura would be that there are different interpretations of its meaning. Sola Scriptura as it was conceived by the early reformers is, in my experience, very different from SS as held by modern evangelicals.

Lutherans and Anglicans in practice seem to hold to a view of Tradition and Scripture that is almost identical to the Catholic view. The difference seems to really be in a caveat that it is possible for The Church to err in doctrine and thus a Scriptural litmus test must approve or deny the doctrine.

Of course this, in my mind, is ironic as the litmus test would be based on an understanding of Scripture from the view point of the giving denomination’s Tradition. Still, mainline Protestant denominations still give heavy respect to Sacred Tradition and revere historical doctrine as handed down by the Apostles and Early Church. So there is much to build on there.

In theory many modern Evangelical denominations hold a more extreme view of SS in which all things are in dependant on what can found in Scripture. Yet, in practice these same denominations or sects often rely on their assumed theological Traditions to degrees that are disturbing to even the most strident Catholic or Anglican (dispensationalists, Fundamentalists, etc.).

It would seem to me that whether or not SS can, should, or will be done away with is secondary to enlightening all Christians regardless of sect, community or denomination just how much they actually rely on Sacred Tradition themselves. Once, that revelation is accepted, and everyone realizes that we’re on common ground in theological practice, and then the work of validating those Traditions can begin.

Thanks Edwin,

I am aware of *Dei Verbum *which references Scripture and Tradition to be "accepted and venerated with the same sense of loyalty and reverence."
Small thread here on this from back in May when I was first looking into this.

I got the phrase “equal weight” I think from one of Father Corapi’s talks on the Catechism, or perhaps his Word of God series on Dei Verbum.

Help me understand! Is “GETTING RID” of sola scriptura step one…Church?
How do you get rid of a belief in an article of faith in those who believe it? Is it by tyrannical or totalitarian means ? Or are you suggesting another Inquisition? Or a plot to rid of protestants ? Perhaps prayer for an erlier rapture? Just jesting but I do have a question on something along the same lines that I like help with and that is “prima scriptura”.As I read in a forum it meant that Scripture and Holy Tradition align to ea. other but if they were not to match, H.T. must give way to Scripture. How does that differ from S. Scriptura being the supreme authority? I must have misunderstood the definition but if anyone of you knows it send me a thread.
There is something about God’s word that people are willing to perish for and this is one of them but is not the reason often thrown around of not wanting authority over oneself. It is wanting to be under the authority of the word of God first and foremost.

I think if you read the thread, we believe the way to do it is by humility. We understand it is a doctrine of many Christians, but it is a false doctrine and tearing us apart due to all the self-appointed interpreters out there. Don’t worry, no plans to hang anyone. :slight_smile:

“prima scriptura”.As I read in a forum it meant that Scripture and Holy Tradition align to ea. other but if they were not to match, H.T. must give way to Scripture. How does that differ from S. Scriptura being the supreme authority? I must have misunderstood the definition but if anyone of you knows it send me a thread.
There is something about God’s word that people are willing to perish for and this is one of them but is not the reason often thrown around of not wanting authority over oneself. It is wanting to be under the authority of the word of God first and foremost.

Prima Scriptura has been thrown out here before. There was a very reasonable Christian who hung out here a few months ago named bengal_fan, I think…he espoused prima scriptura, you might want to do a search for that phrase in posts made by him. The concept at least is willing to consider what exists in Tradition, but as you said, ultimately Scripture is the “trump” card. That being said, a problem results because Catholics do not consider any facet of Scripture or Tradition to contradict each other. Prima or sola scripturists are de facto self-appointed arbiters of truth.

Also, you use the term “word of God” as if it means “Scripture only.” That is not the case. The Word of God is a person, Jesus Christ. See John 1…

No.

The problem is disobedience, of which sola scriptura is simply a fig leaf.

The first step in reuniting the Church is to get more people to place Christ first. The Body of Christ will then become as important as it ought to be, and the unity of the Body will be recognized as essential.

If every Protestant woke up tomorrow and denounced the heresy of sola scriptura, we would only be closer to reuniting the Church in the sense that at last Protestants would agree on something.

Great insight Teflon. So you are essentially saying that if Protestants suddenly woke up and denounced sola scriptura that they would be just as inclined to find a new fig-leaf to cover up their naked contempt for human ecclesial authority?

If this is true it is leading right into my theory that we need a divine spanking or an ultimatum or some massive event before anyone will change.

It have studied one private Catholic prophesy that says that just prior to a severe chastisement God will give everyone an inner locution to reveal the state of their souls as God sees them. This will so shake everyone to their core being it will precipitate wide spread repentance and appeals to God’s Mercy. In the aftermath of the actual chastisement those that are still with us will all be “Catholic” but the population of the planet is radically reduced and with few modern comforts.

James

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