Sola Scriptura -- what is the actual authority?

Yet another SS topic :slight_smile:

In my own faith journey, I struggled with this as Sola Scriptura was my personal safety net that I subsequently gave up.

Ultimately, I came to the conclusion that the bible wasn’t my authority – It was my own personal and fallible interpretation of the bible that was my authority, since books don’t interpret themselves. I wanted to believe that this was a legit practice as I interpreted John 16:13 as the key scripture passage permitting this:

However when He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth; for He shall not speak from Himself, but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak; and He will show you things to come

But if that promise was for all believers then we wouldn’t have 30-40k denominations all reading the same book yet interpreting it differently…sometimes subtle differences, sometimes major. I’m not saying the Spirit is not with all believers, because he is. But he is not contradicting Himself with different doctrines. So I believe that promise of being lead to all truth is for Church leadership, not each individual Christian.

I’m interested in all opinions on this – Catholic converts, tell me about your struggles, if any, getting over the hump. Non-Catholic Christians, I’d like to hear your positions. Do you feel totally at ease practicing Sola Scriptura? Jews/Muslims what is your position on scripture alone from your particular faith tradition? Is it feasible or do you see problems there?

Hopefully this doesn’t turn into a slugfest as it’s not my intent. Just to better understand why people hold to the positions they do.

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Sola Scriptura has different meanings for different non-Catholics.

Lutherans don’t discount tradition, Scripture is the “final norm.” @JonNC can answer this better than I can.

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It was said to the Apostles, so it is to them that the Spirit of truth was promised. This is part of the logical beginnings of Apostolic authority, Tradition, and succession. John’s Gospel does a lot to bolster this foundation, passages like these among them.

I got over the hump from fundamentalist Protestant rearing because Catholicism is the oldest, biggest Christian tradition (where I then saw them all as equal possibilities) that simply takes the Lord at His word when He says (and it’s repeated four times in the N.T.), “This is My body.”

iow, Catholicism takes the Scripture literally, which is supposedly fundamentalist Protestantism’s ‘claim to fame.’ Catholicism said, “Hold my beer.” :smiley:

And since I got over the hump, the most salient error in Protestantism to me, is the total absence of any recognition for the “office of a bishop” (1Ti3:1), even though bishops are portrayed prominently in the N.T. as her authentic pastors and teachers.

The episcopacy began during the Apostolic era, by the Apostles, and for centuries that pastorate was accepted as authentic without notable dispute by the whole of ‘Christianity’ (in quotes because “the Church” was ‘the whole of Christianity’ for centuries). Protestants must demonstrate when in history this otherwise authentic pastorate became null or invalid, and I don’t find any of their positions compelling or even reasonable.

My position is that ‘sola scriptura,’ through proper interpretation, proves Catholicism. So it’s not either or, it’s both, for Catholics.

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Technically, Jesus was saying that to His apostles for their purpose and inspiration, in remembering all that Jesus taught them for purpose of teaching all of us what Jesus taught them,

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You’re speaking of ELCA Lutherans, who have basically thrown out all doctrine and don’t hold to the Lutheran Confessions.

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As a former Sola Scriptura Baptist, my research helped me get over the hump. The prof for one of my religion classes at a Baptist Theology University made a remark - that St. Augustine has influenced our religious beliefs second only to Christ. I had never heard of the Church Fathers. It only made sense to find out what was happening in world history after the time of Christ. For me, the Magisterium and its authority ended up being a relief - interpretation of scripture and teaching had an authority and wasn’t left up to each believer, each pastor, individuals.

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I’m not Catholic (yet), but for me, the Sola Scriptura was the first of the three Solae that stopped making sense years ago, when I was still at the university and realised that the tradition was in fact what had given birth to, shaped and preserved the Scripture as we know it today. I couldn’t understand why we were discarding as valueless something without which there would not be a Bible in the first place.

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steve-b

1h

Lenten_ashes:

Yet another SS topic :slight_smile:

Ultimately, I came to the conclusion that the bible wasn’t my authority – It was my own personal and fallible interpretation of the bible that was my authority, since books don’t interpret themselves. I wanted to believe that this was a legit practice as I interpreted John 16:13 as the key scripture passage permitting this:

However when He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth; for He shall not speak from Himself, but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak; and He will show you things to come

But if that promise was for all believers then we wouldn’t have 30-40k denominations all reading the same book yet interpreting it differently

Technically, Jesus was saying that to His apostles for their purpose and inspiration, in remembering all that Jesus taught them for purpose of teaching all of us what Jesus taught them

And with the election of Mathias as the Apostle who’d succeeded Judas Iscariot, we had the start of Apostolic succession & the faith was handed on…& on…& on…

As a Protestant I argued round and round with people over Scripture. I finally realized that even JWs had plausible interpretations for many of their most basic tenets. There’s simply no way that a person can pick up a book on supernatural truths and hope to just know what it means to say without benefit of the Church that God established for that purpose, and that can trace it’s historical lineage, its lived experience, to the beginning. Many beliefs that Protestants and other Sola Scriptura adherents debate between themselves were already long settled at the beginning of our faith. I don’t know how many people I’ve discussed Scripture with who were sure that the Spirit led them to the truth, while other Spirit-led people disagreed with them significantly. And if bible scholarship is the answer then it still comes down to a sort of best-guess theology-may the better exegete win. But experts disagree all over the place themselves on biblical meaning. And the bible was never intended to be some sort of catechism to begin with!

Anyway, the Church received and proclaimed the gospel before a word of the New Testament was written, with people like Philip needing to explain the meaning of OT Scripture to the Ethiopian Eunuch, for example, and other disciples to the Bereans so they could then research and compare it for themselves. The Church members wrote the NT and later assembled the canon. Without the Church we simply cannot know the Christian faith in its fullness, and that faith would probably have ended up as a minor footnote in history, BTW, if the ancient Churches had not lived it and passed it down.

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The Lutheran tradition is found generally in the early Church and distinctively in the Lutheran Confessions, particularly the Augsburg Confession, The Apology, and the Small Catechism.
As for the lesbian leader, she is well outside that tradition, but you may get more information from these folks. :wink:

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And some European Lutherans, too.

I had a friend who was a passionate bible literalist, and that was the first time I really knew someone who took faith seriously. The thing was, he was often confrontational and combative, like he was just looking or something wrong with what you were saying on any topic that he could pick apart. I respected his passion and knowledge, but realized when I came to the Catholic Church that what was missing from our conversations was the spirit of charity. As I listened to Fulton Sheen, Bishop Barron, our own priest, read St Francis de Sales and others, I’ve come to better understand the spirit in which we should approach scripture, and life for that matter, and how the Holy Spirit is more fully present in the Catholic Church than elsewhere (or at least that’s how it seems to me)

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To answer your question, Sola Scriptura is the answer to a question. The question originally posed is who speaks authoritatively and infallibly in matters of faith and doctrine? Sola Scriptura says that God himself is the infallible authority in matters in faith and doctrine, that God has spoken, and that God’s word has been preserved through the power of the Holy Spirit in his scriptures which are the faithful and permanent record of God’s revelation to man. That being said, Sola Scriptura does not cast aside tradition or other authorities, but says that when two or more authorities are in conflict, scripture, because of its nature of being God’s word given to us, holds primacy. Sola Scriptura does not mean that we set aside the Church, or that we set aside tradition, it means that these two things (which are not infallible) are submissive to God and his revealed word.

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Well said. It also isn’t personal interpretation. In fact, it is opposed to personal interpretation.

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Very good post, thank you.

@Hodos’s excellent post upthread got me thinking a bit more in depth about my own problems with the Sola Scriptura, and why I can’t say the same thing than he does any longer.

I (following many illustrious others) don’t think it is a coincidence that the Reformation formulated the Sola Scriptura at the same time that printing was being invented. It marked the end of a long cultural paradigm shift from a predominantly oral culture to a predominantly written culture putting a lot of trust in the written word. As a result from that paradigm shift, we (the Protestant Reformation at least) came to identify God’s infallible word with the written word, the Bible.

It was of course not so in the Antiquity. Plato, although a prolific writer himself, wrote a famous passage in the Phaedrus (274b-278a) about books as defenseless orphans who cannot fend for themselves, as their fathers are absent when they’re read. Oral tradition was seen as much better and much more reliable, because it was a living, plastic corpus which had the ability to explain and justify itself when needed.

God’s word was first a spoken word (calling the world into existence from chaos, speaking to prophets, and so forth).

And the revelation culminated, not in the writing of the Bible, but in Christ, God’s incarnate Word – who, incidentally, never wrote a line that we know of.

The Gospels, when they were written, were one of the fruits of the oral tradition which had carefully preserved the trace of Jesus’ words and actions. The whole New Testament (the whole Bible, actually) is a crystallization of oral tradition at one stage or the other of its development. The very canon of the Bible was established by tradition (Tradition thus granting its authoritative status to Scripture). To me, that says that God’s infallible word also speaks through tradition. Believing that does require much more of a leap of faith in our writing-centered 21st century civilization than it did in the first centuries of Christianity, but I don’t think it makes it any less true.

So, if I have to answer the question : where can we find an authoritative word in the matters of faith and doctrine ? I’d say Scripture and Tradition, and I’d also remind myself that God’s ultimate Word is Christ, Christ who is present in the world through the Church.

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Those aren’t Roman Catholic priests because they are women. I doubt there is anything to learn from a liar. It’s astounding how much lying goes around the internet. Some folks, Pagan, do thank the Enemy for all this technology. Seeing how technology dilutes and deepens any crack in the Church I am slowly beginning to think that the Pagans were correct on that one, the internet is not from God. Where there is not God, the Enemy is for sure.

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They say they are. Read the name of their website.
But thank you for making my point. A confessional Lutheran will look at a lesbian so-called priest and say exactly the same thing you just did about those women in that link.

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Greetings Hodos
I do understand how this could possibly work and how someone can buy into this and be completely satisfied and never look back. However, it does not begin to address the canon itself specifically the 27 NT books. Sense there was no agreement, insert further fallacies here, as to this “Scripture” of this “Sola Scriptura” in the year before the end of 4th century, tradition would have been the only authority at the time.

Peace!!!

@OddBird, I certainly respect your answer. I think you had a well thought out response. And I think that those who hold to the actual historic understanding of Sola Scriptura would agree with much of what you said. We recognize the gospel was originally taught orally, and it is the oral proclamation of the gospel that the Holy Spirit uses primarily to bring people to Christ. That being said, we also recognize that oral tradition is subject to corruption, expansion into legend, etc. This is one of the reasons why the early fathers generally did not accept later gospel documents as authoritative. Some of the time it was for the content which introduced false teachings. Other times, they didn’t trust the source as accurately transmitting the gospel because it was not ancient or was pseudepigraphal. What we see is that the early Church used the scriptures just as we do today, to norm what we proclaim orally about Christ because it is the permanent artifact of the apostolic gospel of Jesus Christ. This is why we hold the scriptures as being authoritative over other sources of doctrine and faith, when they conflict with one another. Thank you for your comments.

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