Holy Writ - only authority or one among several?

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Holy Writ - only authority or one among several?

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Sun Jan 27, 2013 4:27 am

Split from the British Monarchy thread. Here's a rundown of the argument so far:

SunXia wrote:Calvinism (and later Arminianism) and Lutheranism are both very different so it is quite odd that they worry over the title of Anglicanism if its not even that defined in its communion since Lutheranism i closer to Catholicism than Calvinism especially now that Catholic priests also can read and understand the scriptures along with the adherents!! Obviously hardline Catholics believe only the Pope can interpret the Bible but adherents aren't dumb they can read the words for themselves these days!!

WeiWenDi wrote:Only if by 'hardline Catholics' you mean total nutjobs, who aren't even in full communion with Rome. I know a few Catholics who can be considered 'hardline', and their belief is generally that the Church as an institutional body has a tradition of teaching authority which cannot be countermanded by the individual reading of any one person or interest group, whether lay or clerical. (And that includes the Pope when he is not speaking ex cathedra.) Scripture has authority, but only when taken in light of tradition and the magisterium.

Anglicans replaced the magisterium with 'reason' (and the Methodists added to that 'individual experience'), but thankfully their insistence on tradition under Hooker's formula has kept them from going full-bore Protestant and down the insanity-riddled, blood-soaked path of sola scriptura.

Sun Fin wrote:Unless there is a biblical reason for the tradition then why keep it? Why keep the Monarchy and Church interlinked?


Lets not even go there, I pretty much adhere to the sola scriptura view myself :lol:

WeiWenDi wrote:The Bible itself is a tradition. It is the work of millennia, and the canon was only settled by the Synod of Hippo Regius in 393 AD - though for Lutherans and Calvinists it was actually settled far later (1563 and 1647, respectively). Tradition is how we honour the fact that God speaks continuously down the generations, not just all at once, and not just to an individual person. The Bible, the fruit of over 3000 years of human endeavour (literally trial-and-error in many cases, for the tribes of Israel), is simply not an adequate yardstick for tradition in and of itself because it only makes sense in light of the God-inspired communities which created it and continue to interpret it.


True, perhaps that belongs in a theology thread. But I will note that sola scriptura is not a doctrine you will find in the Bible, in any of its canons. :P

Sun Fin wrote:I guess my interpretation of 2 Timothy 3:16 disagrees with you.

... And that's basically where we are now.

So, II Timothy 3:16, eh? 'All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in.' That certainly points to Holy Writ as an authority in matters of belief (which I never doubted it was), but it does not say that Holy Writ is the only authority.

There are at least three major flaws with the sola scriptura reading of II Timothy 3:16. First and most obviously, the 'plain reading' of the text, which most advocates of sola scriptura themselves favour, does not support it. This passage says Scripture is useful for teaching, training, correcting &c. Useful does not mean exhaustive or logically sufficient, and does not preclude a Christian from drawing upon other sources of authority.

Secondly, the definition of Scripture in this passage is problematic. St Paul, unless he was being astronomically hubristic and prideful, was not considering his own epistles as 'God-breathed Scripture'. What he was referring to in II Timothy was likely the Septuagint, the Greek translation of what is now the Old Testament. This is doubly problematic for Protestants, in that included in the Septuagint are several writings (the Deuterocanonical books) which do not appear in the Protestant canon, but which were called 'anagignoskomena' ('useful readings') by the Early Church - this in precisely the sense meant by II Timothy 3:16!

Thirdly and most problematically is that the context of the quote from II Timothy does not support such a reading. The quote in its full context is as follows, after St Paul described his trials and persecutions for preaching the Way:

II Timothy 3:12-17 wrote:In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

'Continue in what you have learned and what you have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it'! St Paul is not telling St Timothy that only Holy Scripture is needed to maintain his godly life in Our Lord, he is saying that the things you learn from people you know and trust are useful also in doing so, as well as the knowledge of Holy Scripture!

Still, though, I think the best argument against sola scriptura is that it simply doesn't work as a guide. The text has no meaning independent of the person reading it; without the guidance of traditions and the community of faith through which the Holy Spirit speaks, each person will apply his own hermeneutic and arrive at different conclusions from each other person who reads the same writings. The people who have the most charisma, or who own the most swords and guns, will win out over the people who have nothing on their side but their faculties of reason - either that, or different communities will splinter off and make their way into the wilderness to continue in the world-denying heresies of the Essenes and the Gnostics.
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