Sola scriptura: Is this doctrine changing or evolving?


#1

I am just wondering…By my observations and study of sola scriptura, it seems this doctrine is changing or evolving as time goes on. Luther, Calvin and now people like Sproul and White all seem to have a different idea or development of this doctrine. It seems to be changing more and more towards the catholic position in some regards. Specifically in regards to tradition playing a role in the early church. But then some how tradition becoming irrelevant because of the “sufficiency of the scriptures”. Am I correct in my observation of these changes? Does anyone else see how this doctrine seems to be evolving as time goes on, can they explain it?


#2

[quote=RMP]It seems to be changing more and more towards the catholic position in some regards.
[/quote]

Amazing what the internet can do!


#3

Yes, I believe you are very much correct. I remember coming across a book on amazon.com not too long ago. It was written by a Baptist preacher and was about the role of Apostolic Tradition in the Council of Nicaea. Essentially the Baptist pastor acknowledges that Scripture without Tradition is incomplete.


#4

this is totally true. just try to find an official definition of sola scriptura. you won’t be able to because everyone defines it differently. protestants can’t precisely define what they mean by “scripture alone”.


#5

[quote=RMP]I am just wondering…By my observations and study of sola scriptura, it seems this doctrine is changing or evolving as time goes on. Luther, Calvin and now people like Sproul and White all seem to have a different idea or development of this doctrine. It seems to be changing more and more towards the catholic position in some regards. Specifically in regards to tradition playing a role in the early church. But then some how tradition becoming irrelevant because of the “sufficiency of the scriptures”. Am I correct in my observation of these changes? Does anyone else see how this doctrine seems to be evolving as time goes on, can they explain it?
[/quote]

They’re starting to come around and we’re getting there.

Peace, so be it.


#6

[quote=RMP] It seems to be changing more and more towards the catholic position in some regards.
[/quote]

The proper understanding of the doctrine has always been close to the Catholic position. What works in particular have you read on the topic of Sola Scriptura?

Am I correct in my observation of these changes? Does anyone else see how this doctrine seems to be evolving as time goes on, can they explain it?

No, what you’re seeing is a return to the way the Reformers understood the doctrine in a few circles of Protestantism and, more importantly, a general move toward Catholics properly representing the doctrine in dialogue with Protestants.

[quote=oat soda]protestants can’t precisely define what they mean by “scripture alone”.
[/quote]

Most lay Protestants can’t, which is why you probably get that impression. But it’s not always best to get your understanding of the Protestant position from lay persons. I’m not saying that you’re doing this, but the majority of Catholics I’ve spoken to on this issue have gleaned their understanding of the doctrine from lay persons who have never thought about the issue in any detail. If I took the same approach and judged whether Catholicism was united on its understanding of a doctrine based on the way lay persons describe it, you might think those people were describing different religions.

~Matt


#7

But it’s not always best to get your understanding of the Protestant position from lay persons.

aren’t all protestants lay?? they don’t have any distinction between the magesterial and common priesthood. protestants might have different functions among believers, but not the same substantial differences catholics have between the priesthood and the laity. should i look to the confessions of faith by luther or other protestant churches? if you know the “offical” definition of sola scriptura, please tell me because i can’t find it.

protestantism is so inconsistant that they can’t even agree on what makes them protestant.


#8

[quote=oat soda]aren’t all protestants lay??
[/quote]

No. It is best not to let the priesthood of all believers as understood within most Protestant circles to overshadow the fact that there are to be pastors, teachers, theologians, apologists, etc. that are more learned and articulate (generally) in expressing the Protestant perspective than the laity.

should i look to the confessions of faith by luther or other protestant churches? if you know the “offical” definition of sola scriptura, please tell me because i can’t find it.

What do you mean by “official”? I am aware of two agreed upon definitions that circulate within Protestantism. If you are seriously looking for suggestions of material to consult on this topic I can point you toward some.

protestantism is so inconsistant that they can’t even agree on what makes them protestant.

Protestantism is going to be divided if the definition includes groups that are divided between each other. What is the purpose of your objection?

~Matt


#9

If you are seriously looking for suggestions of material to consult on this topic I can point you toward some.

yes, if possible, something i can check out on the internet.

Protestantism is going to be divided if the definition includes groups that are divided between each other. What is the purpose of your objection?

the one tenant that all protestants hold in common (besides rejecting the teaching authority of the pope) is sola scriptura. i think this is the fundamental belief of all protestants. but they can’t agree on its precise meaning. [font=Arial]this is my definition of sola scriptura: the absolute right of every individual to create their own religion based upon some mixture of catholic tradition and [font=Arial]fantasy. [/font][/font]


#10

The only “official” definition I’ve ever encountered is in the Westminster Confession of 1646, Chapter 1.

Like all Protestant doctrines, there is no standard. A Protestant believes in Sola Scriptura (as he defines it) and private interpretation. That means unlimited license to believe only what he himself is convinced is true. Truth is relative.

JMJ Jay
Ex-Southern Baptist, ex-agnostic, ex-atheist, ecstatic to be Catholic!


#11

The proper understanding of the doctrine has always been close to the Catholic position… No, what you’re seeing is a return to the way the Reformers understood the doctrine in a few circles of Protestantism.

Few circles… You sound like a gnostic now. The proper understanding of the doctrine is STILL condemmed by the catholic church.

point 1: Maybe a council is in order to actually define the doctrine itself. Would this be considered extra biblical? Would add to material or formal sufficiency? Like I said, It is becoming more catholic every day.

knowing the proper definition of sola scriptura: Most lay Protestants can’t

It is safe to say the catholics who leave the church probably fit right in then.

point 2: Matt, give me a history of the reformers who properly defined sola acriptura in chronological order. Just so I can verify it myself. and yes , I told you I have read many interpretations from reformers, that is why I started this thread.


#12

[quote=p90]The proper understanding of the doctrine has always been close to the Catholic position.
[/quote]

What do you think the “Catholic position” is on Sola Scriptura? I know of none, except to condemn it as heresy.

No, what you’re seeing is a return to the way the Reformers understood the doctrine in a few circles of Protestantism and, more importantly, a general move toward Catholics properly representing the doctrine in dialogue with Protestants.

Precisely what is the doctrine, “properly represented”?

Most lay Protestants can’t, which is why you probably get that impression. But it’s not always best to get your understanding of the Protestant position from lay persons. I’m not saying that you’re doing this, but the majority of Catholics I’ve spoken to on this issue have gleaned their understanding of the doctrine from lay persons who have never thought about the issue in any detail.

How can Protestants not think about it when it’s the very basis for their faith? Luther declared that there are three pillars of Protestantism – Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide, and Sola Gratia – and that without any one of the pillars, Protestantism falls. I was taught it as a Protestant.

Are you saying we would need to ask an ordained minister? Some of them have no more education than a layman.

If I took the same approach and judged whether Catholicism was united on its understanding of a doctrine based on the way lay persons describe it, you might think those people were describing different religions. ~Matt

The question is not how it is understood, but how is it defined?

Problem: There is no such thing as one Protestant doctrine on any religious issue.

Peace be to you and to all who post at Catholic Answers.

JMJ Jay


#13

[quote=RMP]…It seems to be changing more and more towards the catholic position in some regards…
[/quote]

Some Evangelical Protestants I ran into say that Catholicism is confining because once we define something we have to stick to that teaching because of the infallibility factor…

My response: Catholicism defines things to make the faith clearer, not confining.

What’s interesting is that as time goes on, Evangelicals make their own definitions as to what has suddenly become clearer. The whole mess in the Episcopal Church and the election of a Gay Bishop illustrates this point.


#14

[quote=oat soda]yes, if possible, something i can check out on the internet.
[/quote]

I find this debate (transcribed) between Madrid and White useful. White defines and discusses the doctrine in detail during his opening remarks:

aomin.org/SANTRAN.html

~Matt


#15

[quote=p90]I find this debate (transcribed) between Madrid and White useful. White defines and discusses the doctrine in detail during his opening remarks:

aomin.org/SANTRAN.html

~Matt
[/quote]

You may be interested in knowing that James White’s only sibling is now a Catholic, much to his consternation. You may read her conversion story at www.chnetwork.org. At the home page, click on conversion stories, then scroll down to Patty Bonds.

JMJ Jay


#16

[quote=RMP]Few circles… You sound like a gnostic now. The proper understanding of the doctrine is STILL condemmed by the catholic church.
[/quote]

I apologize if I was unclear. I was saying that it seems some circles of Protestantism are now returning to the classical definition of the doctrine.

point 1: Maybe a council is in order to actually define the doctrine itself. Would this be considered extra biblical? Would add to material or formal sufficiency?

If the council was treated like other fallible written or spoken works, I do not see it negating material and formal sufficiency.

It is safe to say the catholics who leave the church probably fit right in then.

Some, although probably less than those who stay in a tradition for their entire lives; people converting usually investigate the differing claims of the two groups they are considering.

point 2: Matt, give me a history of the reformers who properly defined sola acriptura in chronological order.

A good overview can be found in Keith Mathison’s The Shape of Sola Scriptura (Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2001). If you want, I can scan some of the pages appropriate to the Reformers and how the doctrine grew and send them to you via email for reading. Mathison quotes directly from the Reformers (obviously interpreting them), but if you want to read the Reformer’s writings themselves, I can try and get that for you instead.

~Matt


#17

[quote=Katholikos]You may be interested in knowing that James White’s only sibling is now a Catholic, much to his consternation.
[/quote]

Thanks. I am aware. Having read Dr. White write about the issue, I wouldn’t describe his reaction as “consternation”:

aomin.org/Luke1251.html

However, if you have documentation otherwise, please send me a PM or start a new thread and I’ll look at what you have to say.

~Matt


#18

[quote=Katholikos]What do you think the “Catholic position” is on Sola Scriptura? I know of none, except to condemn it as heresy.
[/quote]

I wasn’t talking about the Catholic position on Sola Scriptura. I was saying that a comparison between Sola Scriptura and the Catholic rule of faith make them look quite similar.

Precisely what is the doctrine, “properly represented”?

I recommended a portion of a link to “oat soda” in one of my previous responses. I recommend it to you as well. I think James White does a good job of properly representing the doctrine.

How can Protestants not think about it when it’s the very basis for their faith?

It’s the same reason most Catholics I’ve met couldn’t give you any substantial defense of the Papacy from either Scripture or history. They simply have not had to think about it much or defend the doctrine in dialogue with others.

Are you saying we would need to ask an ordained minister? Some of them have no more education than a layman.

No, not always. I’m just saying that sometimes lay persons don’t know very much, and I’m encouraging people to be critical of what other lay people say.

The question is not how it is understood, but how is it defined?

Would you explain your question in more detail?

~Matt


#19

MATT, post some of the authors and writers on this forum, at your convenience…I will try to find the book too.


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