Sola Scriptura--now I get


#1

OK, I’ve always thought that the idea of Sola Scripture didn’t make much sense. I couldn’t articulate it, but it just seemed off to me. Last night, I’m sitting in my bible study class on Revelation and I realized just how much we need a Church to help us interpret the Bible. I’m a reasonably intelligent person (or like to fool myself into believing I am :slight_smile: ), but I can’t be an expert at everything. Some of the passages I read something jumps out at me and I can easily see how I can apply that to my life, other things I read and just think “Huh?? What’s he talking about?” I can sit and wait for the Holy Spirit to guide me (not that I don’t think He will, but how do I know if it’s Him or just my imagination), or I can trust the guy sitting next to me, or I can turn to official Church teaching. How lucky we as Catholics are to have someone (or a group of someones :slight_smile: ) who can help guide us to better understand God’s word and teaching. I’d be out there floundering for sure!

This may have been totally obvious to everyone, but it was an “a-ha” moment for me and I just had to share!


#2

Another way to think about it is—
What if all 50 people in your class interpret a particular passage differently? Who is to say which interpretations are correct/incorrect?

What if 35 out of 50 people (or churches :wink: ) say a passage means one thing while the other 15 say another? Majority rules?

In other words—demographics rule and the “truth” becomes nothing more than opinion.


#3

There are so many questions one could ask in this area.

Where in the Bible does it list all of the books of the BIble?

Only the Bible, Who said that?

Who told the people what the books are?

The questions are endless. :bigyikes:


#4

[quote=NPS]Another way to think about it is—
What if all 50 people in your class interpret a particular passage differently? Who is to say which interpretations are correct/incorrect?
[/quote]

Indeed. Who is to say?

This is, of course, why I’m Protestant. Protestants don’t acknowledge a “who” which says which interpretations are correct.


#5

[quote=Angainor]Indeed. Who is to say?

This is, of course, why I’m Protestant. Protestants don’t acknowledge a “who” which says which interpretations are correct.
[/quote]

Acts 15:22-29.

22 Then the apostles and presbyters, in agreement with the whole church, decided to choose representatives and to send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. The ones chosen were Judas, who was called Barsabbas, and Silas, leaders among the brothers.
23 This is the letter delivered by them: “The apostles and the presbyters, your brothers, to the brothers in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia of Gentile origin: greetings.
24 Since we have heard that some of our number (who went out) without any mandate from us have upset you with their teachings and disturbed your peace of mind,
25 we have with one accord decided to choose representatives and to send them to you along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,
26 who have dedicated their lives to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
27 So we are sending Judas and Silas who will also convey this same message by word of mouth:
28 ‘It is the decision of the holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities,
29 namely, to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meats of strangled animals, and from unlawful marriage. If you keep free of these, you will be doing what is right. Farewell.’”

What this verse tells me is that the apostles and presbyters had a certain authority. Of course, to know this much I could have simply looked at 1 Cor 12:28. What interests me so much about this verse is that Christians (“some of our number”) were replaced as teachers because the Church authority disagreed with them. I also like how they claim the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

This is, of course, why I’m Catholic. Catholics acknowledge an authority which says which interpretations are correct.


#6

Also, Angainor, Jesus himself made sure we would know who has the authority to speak for him when he told the Apostles: John.16:13 “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” And what was to come? Sacred Tradition–the preaching of the Gospel, the teaching of the Gospel and the relaying the truths of the Gospels in the writings of the NT. What could be simpler or more plain than that?


#7

I think the issue has a lot to do with humility and ones willingness to submit to a higher - earthly - authority. A lot of non-Catholics don’t trust the Church and, in some cases, who can blame them. But to pick and choose ones “truth” as if running through a cafeteria line leads to really bad (Protestant) doctrine like same-sex marriages and openly gay bishops.


#8

[quote=Angainor]Indeed. Who is to say?

This is, of course, why I’m Protestant. Protestants don’t acknowledge a “who” which says which interpretations are correct.
[/quote]

Try John 17: 20-22 - Christ’s prayer for his disciples - where He prays “And not for them only do I pray, but for them also who through their word shall believe in me. That they all may be one, as thou, Father, in me, and I in thee; that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou hast given me, I have given to them: that, they may be one, as we also are one.

Also, go back to John 8:31-32 “**Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed him: If you continue in my word, you shall be my disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth: and the truth shall make you free. **”

How can someone know the truth when everyone is saying it is something different?

I am a Catholic through faith and reason. I accept the interpretation of Scripture that the Church has given throughout the 2000 years of it’s history. I read the teachings of modern Popes as well as the teachings of the Early Church Fathers. There is no contradiction.


#9

[quote=Angainor]Indeed. Who is to say?

This is, of course, why I’m Protestant. Protestants don’t acknowledge a “who” which says which interpretations are correct.
[/quote]

So, what’s the correct interpretation then? If no one has authority to interpret scripture, what do we go by?


#10

[quote=Angainor]Indeed. Who is to say?

This is, of course, why I’m Protestant. Protestants don’t acknowledge a “who” which says which interpretations are correct.
[/quote]

Pointing out something obvious here…Or INCORRECT. Doesn’t that make you the least bit worried that you may be incorrect.


#11

[quote=Angainor]Indeed. Who is to say?

This is, of course, why I’m Protestant. Protestants don’t acknowledge a “who” which says which interpretations are correct.
[/quote]

How do you know your interpretation is always right, What Makes You Infalliable?


#12

This thread is a good spot for a plug for Karl Keating’s book on Catholicism and Fundamentalism (1988). There are a lot of topics of disagreement between Catholics and protestants and a good number of them are treated in this book.

Fr. John Corapi has a great six-part series of talks (available in EWTN catalogue) in which he expounds on Dei Verbum , the Vatican II document on sacred scripture. He points out well, too, the assistance that the Catechism gives on this matter.

Paragraph 95 of the catechism says the Catholic position so well without quibbling: “It is clear therefore that, in the supremely wise arrangement of God, Tradition, Scripture, and the Magisterium of the Church are so connected and associated that one of them cannot stand without the others.” which is a quote from Dei Verbum.

The section in CCC that should be consulted about scripture is from paragraph 51 to 141.

Interpreting this, Corapi held up the CCC in one hand and the Bible in the other, and he made the dramatic and graphic statement that without the CCC (that is, the teaching of the Church), the Bible makes no sense at all.

Protestants don’t accept many Catholic concepts, such as the idea of a centralized magisterium. As Keating points out, they so often have a preconception about the meaning of scripture. So, they have diverging views about the role of Peter in the gospels, in particular, and so many other things in general.

As Fr. John Trigilio pointed out in a homily on EWTN this week, the first problem for protestants is that the word “bible” is not in the Bible. So, if they were to say that they believe in the Bible alone, which is what is meant by sola scriptura, then they fall apart immediately because they 1) can’t defend the bible without appealing to an human authority, divinely guided, which defined the bible, and 2) there is no such principle as bible-alone in the Bible.

  1. A third point to think about is that of the history of the church. The writings of the early church fathers are not considered inspired at the same level of scripture, but they are useful to document the beliefs in the church. As much as the Bible was not assembled for a couple hundred years, it took an authority guided by the Spirit to collect the inspired books. In the mean time, the understandings of ideas is well-documented early in the Church. There were errors all along, but the Church with the Spirit was there to keep things straightened out.

There are other threads on this, but the practice of infant baptism is a classic. Protestants dissented from this after the Reformation, because it was not literally in the Bible. But, the bases for it are well founded. See Keating for an explanation in detail.


#13

to say?

This is, of course, why I’m Protestant. Protestants don’t acknowledge a “who” which says which interpretations are correct.So, what’s the correct interpretation then?
[/quote]

If you are expecting me to tell you authoritatively what the correct interpretation is, I can’t do that. I could suggest an interpretation and defend that interpretation to you. I would not expect you to take my word for it. I would expect you to test the interpretation.


#14

Angainor, does that mean that neither you, nor anyone else, has authority? That every question that ever comes up about Christianity is only going to lead to endless opinions, which every individual is to “test”, and then choose for him/herself what seems good to THEM?

It sounds like chaos to me. Hundreds if not thousands of opinions on Christian teachings, many of which contradict each other. How can you know for sure what is truth?

By feeling? Feelings (burning bosoms etc.) are not reliable guides to a truth.

By reason? If there is no absolute truth which can be asserted, then truth becomes relative and meaningless. If I attempt to reason that:

X may–or may not–be equal to C.
C is sometimes B, sometimes A, and sometimes X, Q, or P.

What do I get? A REASONABLE answer to a logical proposition? No. I get such murkiness as “X may be C, B, A, X, Q, or P. . .or it may not, or it may be equal to the above, or it may not”.

Plug in truth as X, and how many “truths” might–or might not–there be, IF THERE IS NO AUTHORITY.


#15

[quote=Angainor]Indeed. Who is to say?

This is, of course, why I’m Protestant. Protestants don’t acknowledge a “who” which says which interpretations are correct.
[/quote]

Isn’t it nice to be protestant where everyone is their own pope?http://forums.catholic.com/images/icons/icon7.gif


#16

[quote=Tantum ergo]Angainor, does that mean that neither you, nor anyone else, has authority? That every question that ever comes up about Christianity is only going to lead to endless opinions, which every individual is to “test”, and then choose for him/herself what seems good to THEM?
[/quote]

Yes, that is it exactly.

Are you going to choose for yourself what seems good to someone else? Beware. But if anyone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, both for the sake of the man who told you and for conscience’ sake—the other man’s conscience, I mean, not yours. For why should my freedom be judged by another’s conscience? If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for? 1 Corinthians 10:28-3

[quote=Tantum ergo]It sounds like chaos to me. Hundreds if not thousands of opinions on Christian teachings, many of which contradict each other.
[/quote]

I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God. 1 Corinthians 4:3-5

[quote=Tantum ergo]How can you know for sure what is truth?

By feeling? Feelings (burning bosoms etc.) are not reliable guides to a truth.

By reason? If there is no absolute truth which can be asserted, then truth becomes relative and meaningless.
[/quote]

By feeling? Feelings are not reliable, but that does not mean they provide no direction whatsoever. The law is written in our hearts. The signers of the Declaration of Independance recognized that some truths are self-evident.

By reason? Asserting absolute truths? How can we recognize absolute truth? What do we test against?

These are good questions. Jesus is the way the truth and the life. We could ask him but he is no longer incarnate on the Earth. The Apostles are the next best thing. Jesus tought them the truth and the Holy Spirit decended on them at Pentecost. We can find absolute truth in their surviving writings.

If we both test an asserted truth against reliable testimonies and find that our consciences are in agreement, we can move forward.


#17

Angainor,

I take it you are all for Sola Scriptura. If that is the case could you show me where, in the Bible, is Sola Scriptura advocated or supported.


#18

[quote=Truthwarrior]Angainor,

I take it you are all for Sola Scriptura. If that is the case could you show me where, in the Bible, is Sola Scriptura advocated or supported.
[/quote]

Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil. 1 Thess 19-22

Truth can be found in a variety of places, but it is not to be accepted without question. Test everything.

It is true I rely most heavily on the Bible. Jesus was the truth. He tought the Apostles. The surviving written testamonies of the Apostles are as close as I can possibly get to Jesus’ teachings of truth. The old testament also contains revealed truth of its own kind.

I’m not sure Sola Scriptura means what you think it means. It doesn’t mean that the Bible is the only source of truth out there. Sola Scriptura means the Bible is the only source of truth that Protestants are willing to accept without testing. It is absolutely reliable because it comes from the Apostles and the OT Prophets.


#19

Angainor,

You haven’t really answered my question. I wasn’t looking for a definition of Sola Scriptura, the meaning of which I am well aware of.
I asked where does the Bible teach Sola Scriptura

Quote
Truth can be found in a variety of places, but it is not to be accepted without question. Test everything.
Quote

Surely for a Christian there can only be one source of Truth, the teachings of the Church, Tradition and the Bible.

Quote
I’m not sure Sola Scriptura means what you think it means. It doesn’t mean that the Bible is the only source of truth out there. Sola Scriptura means the Bible is the only source of truth that Protestants are willing to accept without testing.
Quote

You appeare to be going even further than the Protestant reformers of the 16th century were prepared to go. For them Sola Scriptura, (By Scripture Alone) was one of the most important principles of the Protestant Reformation, maintaining that Scripture was the only infallible rule for deciding issues of faith and practices that involved doctrines. The intention of the Reformation was to “correct” the Catholic Church by appealling to the uniqueness of the Bible’s authority, and to reject Christian tradition as a source of original authority alongside the Bible or in addition to the Bible.

If by saying, “It doesn’t mean that the Bible is the only source of truth out there” you are acknowledging that Tradition is a source of Truth then we can agree on that. But as a Protestant you reject Tradition, do you not?

I feel you are putting far to much reliance on personal interpretation for which there is no justification from the Bible and as other posters have suggested you are your “own pope”.
You seem to be rejecting what is said in 1 Timothy 3:15
"…that is, in the Church of the living God, which upholds the truth and keeps it safe"


#20

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