Reading Scripture in Tradition: Why Sola Scriptura Doesn’t Work

I thought this short article to be quite wonderful and thought I would post it here for the simple reason that it is written by and from an “EO” perspective and to invite comment from our “Sola Scriptura” brothers and sisters.

blogs.ancientfaith.com/onbehalfofall/reading-scripture-in-tradition-why-sola-scriptura-doesnt-work/

May God bless all this day.

Peace
James

Hello James,

First I think it’s worth noting that the Eastern Orthodox doctrine articulated by this writer is rather different from the Roman Catholic doctrine of “Scripture and Tradition” - which holds that Scripture and Tradition are two separate sources of divine special revelation that carry equal weight and authority. (That is, that there are unwritten “traditions” not included in Scripture but given by Christ to the apostles, and handed infallibly down the ages, that are required to be believed to be in good standing with the Roman Church. For example, the Immaculate Conception of Mary.)

The article confuses the Reformation doctrine of “sola scriptura” with the modern phenomenon of “Biblicism”. These two approaches are not the same. Sola Scriptura does not rule out the role of tradition or church authority - it simply asserts that God’s Word stands in authority over the church at all times and in all places, and not the other way around.

The author of this piece notes correctly that trees are discerned by their fruit. The Eastern Orthodox churches practices things which are plainly unscriptural (the most obvious being the monasticism of bishops) and subscribes to a doctrine of salvation that is plainly contrary to the teaching of God’s Word in his Epistle to the Romans and elsewhere.

To place liturgies and hymns, creeds, and councils in the same category as God’s word is to fundamentally misunderstand the nature of divine revelation. In a sense, God could be said to speak through these things - in a general sense, insofar as what is written therein pertains to the truths of nature, and in a special sense, insofar as what is written therein conforms to God’s Word - but their authority is fundamentally derivative.

God actually inspired the very words of Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16-17). God’s revelation in the Bible is unique. As the writers were truly authors of the particular scriptural texts, so God was equally, infallibly, and inerrantly the Author of every word. Every other truth must ultimately be testable against God’s very own speech.

I sincerely believe that no Church Teaching or Pope would contradict this (red highlighted) :thumbsup:

Thanks for your excellent reply.

I did not quite get this same feel from the article…but I guess I can see your point here. I do know that the EO does not feel the same way about “defining” things as the CC does. They take a rather different approach in this. The one is happy to leave things more mystical while the other seems to be drawn toward the more “rational”…Sorry I’m probably not expressing this well…but I hope you know what I mean.

But fundamentally I really think that both communities hold nearly identical views on the relationship of Scripture and Tradition - despite the some differences in how they are expressed. In fact, I am not aware that the Catholic Church views Scripture and Tradition as two separate things. After all, the Canon of Scripture IS part of Tradition.

The article confuses the Reformation doctrine of “sola scriptura” with the modern phenomenon of “Biblicism”. These two approaches are not the same. Sola Scriptura does not rule out the role of tradition or church authority - it simply asserts that God’s Word stands in authority over the church at all times and in all places, and not the other way around.

Yes - perhaps - but then again, it seems to me that it is the very concept of Sola Scriptura as you express it here that led more or less directly to the “modern phenomenon of Biblicism” - which many protestants describe as Sola Scriptura. So the definition does seem to get a bit sketchy…
By-the-by…Would you describe for me what you mean by “Biblicism”?

The author of this piece notes correctly that trees are discerned by their fruit. The Eastern Orthodox churches practices things which are plainly unscriptural (the most obvious being the monasticism of bishops) and subscribes to a doctrine of salvation that is plainly contrary to the teaching of God’s Word in his Epistle to the Romans and elsewhere.

OOooooo This looks like a whole other thread…I am seriously intrigued by this…:popcorn:

To place liturgies and hymns, creeds, and councils in the same category as God’s word is to fundamentally misunderstand the nature of divine revelation.

Explain please.

In a sense, God could be said to speak through these things - in a general sense, insofar as what is written therein pertains to the truths of nature, and in a special sense, insofar as what is written therein conforms to God’s Word - but their authority is fundamentally derivative.

Derivative from what?

God actually inspired the very words of Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16-17). God’s revelation in the Bible is unique. As the writers were truly authors of the particular scriptural texts, so God was equally, infallibly, and inerrantly the Author of every word. Every other truth must ultimately be testable against God’s very own speech.

Yet this gets right to one of the points of the article - and in this the EO and RC are in complete agreement…What happens when one group is convinced that Scripture means one thing, and another group says that that it means another? And then too - what about those issues on which Scripture is silent?
If “every other truth must…be testable against God’s very own speech”, what does God say in Scripture about this problem?
I think that this is what the author is getting at when talking about reading Scripture within tradition.

Peace
James

I read the article and I think it was a good read. I also think that what it had to say was in keeping with what the CC teaches and believes about Sola Scriptura. While some of the main line Protestant churches might have a different understanding of Sola Scriptura, there are plenty of denominational churches that have a quite different understanding that say Lutheran’s might on it.

While there are some differences between what Orthodox and Catholic's I do not think this is one of them and think both orthodox and Catholic's are the same page with the articles authors thinking.

the gospel of God. 10 You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our behavior to you believers; 11 for you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you 12 to lead a life worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.

13 And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.

This seems to teach that the oral teaching of the Apostles is divinely inspired. Furthermore, in Paul’s followup epistle he writes something even stronger:

[quote=“2 Thessalonians 2: 13-15”]13 But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God chose you from the beginning** to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit[c] and belief in the truth. 14 To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter.**
[/quote]

Paul is telling the faithful that because they are sanctified, they must uphold the traditions which they have received from him, regardless of if it was transmitted to them by his epistles (which are of course divinely inspired) or by means of word of mouth, without any distinction between the two.
[/quote]

If you actually look at what Romans is saying in context it gives a rather different reading than what Protestants say it is. When it is talking about faith in contrast to works of the law in Chapter 3, what does Paul mean by works of the law? In Chapter 2 Paul defines what he means by the law, and it is clear that he is referring specifically to the ritual requirements of the Jewish law, as he uses circumcision as his main example of the law. Also, just after saying that man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law, Paul uses the distinction to say that God is the God of Jews and Gentiles alike saying:

28 For we hold that a man is justified by faith apart from works of law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one; and he will justify the circumcised on the ground of their faith and the uncircumcised through their faith.

Paul is specifically referring to works of the Jewish law, not the general moral law. Paul himself distinguishes between the Jewish law and the general moral law in Chapter 2 of Romans, and says that the gentiles who have not heard the law will be justified according to the law on their hearts saying:

12 All who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. 14 When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

[quote=JRKH]In fact, I am not aware that the Catholic Church views Scripture and Tradition as two separate things. After all, the Canon of Scripture IS part of Tradition.
[/quote]

That’s correct. The Church doesn’t really consider Scripture and Tradition as separate entities. From the Catechism:
80 “Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture, then, are bound closely together and communicate one with the other. For both of them, flowing out from the same divine well-spring, come together in some fashion to form one thing and move towards the same goal.” Each of them makes present and fruitful in the Church the mystery of Christ, who promised to remain with his own “always, to the close of the age.”

Hi Bakmoon: Your point is well made I think concerning Paul’s epistle to the Roman’s Paul is not saying that good works are separate from faith but that the rituals of the Jews did not bring salvation, or that faith is all one needed to be saved. faith and good works are both needed as it shows the fruits of the faith one has. The rituals of the Jews was something that the Jews thought had to be done in order for one to be saved, yet, Jesus Himself spoke out against ritual of the Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes because it was it was done so that others would think that they were righteous, which Paul is speaking against.

Hi James.
I sensed a similarity between the following quote from the article, and the quote from Martin Chemnitz in my signature.

In the Orthodox approach to Scripture, it is the job of the individual not to strive for originality in interpretation, but rather to understand what is already present in the traditions of the Church. We are obliged not to go beyond the boundary set by the Fathers and Creeds of the Church, but to faithfully pass on the Tradition just as we have received it. To do this requires a great deal of study and thought—but even more, if we are to truly understand the Scriptures, we must enter deeply into the mystical life of the Church.

Jon

The Catholic Church does not believe that Scripture and Tradition are two separate sources of divine revelation:

“Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture, then, are bound closely together and communicate one with the other. For both of them, flowing out from the same divine well-spring, come together in some fashion to form one thing and move towards the same goal.” Each of them makes present and fruitful in the Church the mystery of Christ, who promised to remain with his own “always, to the close of the age.” (CCC Par 80) (Emphasis mine).

Hi Sreve VH : Right On!!!

From the article:

*St. Augustine describes the type of person fit for the proper study and understanding of scripture in On Christian Doctrine. Fr. John Whiteford summarizes for us in his helpful tract on Sola scriptura. Such a person3:

[LIST=1]
*]Loves God with his whole heart, and is empty of pride;
*]Is motivated to seek the knowledge of God’s will by faith and reverence, rather than pride or greed;
*]Has a heart subdued by piety, a purified mind, dead to the world; neither fears, nor seeks to please men;
*]Seeks nothing but knowledge of and union with Christ;
*]Hungers and thirsts after righteousness; and
]Is diligently engaged in works of mercy and love.
[/LIST]

:highprayer:

Hi Isaiah45: I like what you posted it hit the nail on the head.

JRKH;12387896] I thought this short article to be quite wonderful and thought I would post it here for the simple reason that it is written by and from an “EO” perspective and to invite comment from our “Sola Scriptura” brothers and sisters.

blogs.ancientfaith.com/onbehalfofall/reading-scripture-in-tradition-why-sola-scriptura-doesnt-work/

May God bless all this day.
Peace
James

The following excerpt from the above link says to me (reading between the lines) that the interpretation of Scripture, unless from, or sanctioned by the Magisterium is not valid - is that a fair assessment.
To my knowledge no other Church or denomination puts as much reliance on, or gives as much authority to Tradition as the Roman Catholic Church does. In some posts I have seen it is stated that Tradition is greater than the Bible; that in turn infers that the Roman Catholic Church considers itself to be above the Bible, or to put it in different words, the RCC considers itself to be above the Law of God, since the Scriptures are the inspired Word of God which includes the Law of God.

“Taken from its context within Holy Tradition, the solid rock of Scripture becomes a mere ball of clay, to be moulded into whatever shape its handlers wish. It is no honor to the Scriptures to misuse and twist them, even if this is done in the name of exalting their authority." —Fr. John Whiteford, Sola Scriptura, p. 46

Protector.

The CC does not believe it to be higher than God or above the Law of God, it only teaches and preaches what the Apostles has passed on .

Insofar as one’s interpretation strays from that of the magisterium (the authoritative interpreter) it is not valid.

Most probably because no other faith tradition has Sacred Tradition (Orthodox excepted). You had to have been there from the beginning.

Not greater. Scripture is only that part of Sacred Tradition committed to writing. They both flow from the same divine well-spring, to quote the Catechism.

Reading between the lines is always dangerous. Far better to simply look at what is said.
What is actually said is “Within Holy Tradition”. That is, within the totality of the Church which Jesus promised to protect from error AND which Jesus told us to listen to for it has the power to bind and loose.
I make this distinction because many people look on the Magisterium as a block to reading Scripture. It is not. Instead it is the component of God’s holy Body tasked with sorting through the many views, ideas, thoughts and opinions on matters of faith and morals and discerning proper teaching. It is a grave responsibility.

To my knowledge no other Church or denomination puts as much reliance on, or gives as much authority to Tradition as the Roman Catholic Church does.

Actually I think you will find that many denominations put great emphasis on Tradition. Sola Scriptura itself - that great Bulwark of protestantism - is a Tradition.

But to answer your comment - I would say that the EO also gives great weight to Tradition seeing that we each have the same 2000 years of it. Tradition is a great guardian. Tradition provides a continuity with our past - all the way back to the Apostles with no breaks.

In some posts I have seen it is stated that Tradition is greater than the Bible; that in turn infers that the Roman Catholic Church considers itself to be above the Bible, or to put it in different words, the RCC considers itself to be above the Law of God, since the Scriptures are the inspired Word of God which includes the Law of God.

What is written in “some posts” should not be taken as reflecting Church teaching.
It sounds as though you have not actually read any of the Church’s teaching.
You would do yourself a great service if you took some time to do that.

The Church and the Bible are inseparable. One cannot be above the other for they are different parts of the same whole. The Church is the body of Christ. The Bible is the words of our Lord and King who - is Himself the Living Word". We do not dissect one thing from the other. Tradition, Scripture, the Magisterium - these are all part of the whole that is the Body of Christ on earth.

As for the bible containing God’s law - well yes it does. Something we recognize well.
But what IS God’s Law? If you would know - read the following
Mt 22:36-40
John 13:34-35
Romans 13:8-10
1 Corinthians 13:1-13
1 John 4:7-8

These are but a few passages that show us clearly that there is but one law for the Christian and that law is Agape - Love.

Peace
James

God’s word is Jesus. In Exodus and Deuteronomy the ten commandments are laid out; Jesus continued to say at all times love your neighbor. This fulfils all the commandments; obeying all the commandments fulfills love of God and neighbor. The new and everlasting covenant the body and blood of Jesus Christ, given to us in eternal love fulfills the eternal command and word of the Lord before any N.T. was written down; Christians practiced this sacrifice that was laid out in John 6 and Luke 22: 19-20 Matt. 26: 26-28 Mark 14: 22-24.

God Bless
:coffee:

Interesting article. Has some good, bad, and ugly. One point is the alleged fruit, bad fruit, of SS as in “confusion” and diversity, many churches, many views. The article really says scripture is not formally sufficient and needs the whole church tradition (preferably Orthodox) . Today I see that as just as problematic. I would say what the article proposes is also not formally sufficient either, for now how do you decide which church to choose from ( CC or O or any segment of P’s) ? Some bad fruits of that view are conformity, uniformity at the cost of a certain level of individual responsibility and even freedom and difficulty in correction or problems stemming from absolute or entitled “authority”. …Fact is Jesus said truth will always divide. Truth is also absolute from the big to the small to every jot and tittle. So wisdom is needed in determining how we are unified, and when we are not, is it a big deal. Are we wise enough and challenged enough in love to see how we are all “ecclesia”, the called out ones, the Church, the Body, the Bride ? Can we not rest to much on our parochialism, defining others out of certain Christian dignities?

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