Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Could you defend Sola Scriptura?

     Tough question, right?  And that's assuming you could first define Sola Scriptura;  so to put the cookies on the bottom shelf (which I need on a regular basis), we're talking about the Reformation belief that Scripture alone is the final authority that rules and defines our religion and our lives.  The Westminster Confession puts it this way:
"The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, and obeyed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man, or church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God.... The supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture."  (Ch. 1 Parts 4, 10)
     So I was listening to one of my favorite programs (James White's The Dividing Line) and he featured a Lutheran calling into Catholic Answers, a well-known forum for Roman apologetics.  I only had to listen for about 30 seconds to the caller before wanting to apply my palm directly to my
Would this work if applied directly to the forehead?  You never know...
forehead;  he didn't cite one verse or have one coherent response, and he went right along with the host's categorization of Roman Catholicism as a "Christian denomination".  He just regurgitated the mantras "Well, I believe..." and the worthless "People have been arguing about this for hundreds of years...".  One of the questions used to stymy this man was quite interesting though, and I thought it would be worthy of exposure and discussion:
"Did Jesus write anything down or ever command His apostles to write anything down?"
     I think my first response to hearing this was "Ummm... Well, I believe...!", which is useless.  This question has this effect because we know the answer in the most literal sense:  no, Jesus wasn't an author or didn't directly commission any N.T. books.  The Catholic host built upon this and established the basis for the Roman view of apostolic succession:  since Jesus did commission apostles (under Peter) and give them the keys to the kingdom, they (and their successors in Rome) must be the foundational authority we look to and understand Scripture under.
     After a couple minutes of reflection, a verse occurred to me in a way heretofore not applied, with its appropriate setup question:  why did all those apostles start writing stuff anyway?  Were they bored, or were they counting on those huge book royalties, or was it all to get on the New York Times bestseller list?  2 Peter 1:21 informs us that " spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit."  So the Holy Spirit influenced the N.T. apostles (and their close associates) to write Scripture... but where did they get the Holy Spirit from?  From Jesus (Jn 14:16ff)!  And what does the Spirit tell the apostles and inspire them to write?
"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." (Jn 16:13)
     With this one small step, we see that Jesus did speak through the Spirit to the apostles;  as Luke puts it in Acts 1:1 "...I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach".  His 3 year ministry with them and His forty-day seminary course after His resurrection were just the beginning of what Jesus personally, through the Spirit (vs. 2), would teach the 12.  And it would be ludicrous to think that the Holy Spirit, after relaying Jesus's words, independently thought to Himself:  "Yeah, that's pretty good stuff... this guy better write it down so he doesn't forget!"  The command to write and the authority to pen new Scripture came from Christ Himself through the Spirit, and we are blessed with a rock-solid standard to know the truth (instead of popes who contradict themselves).

Photo courtesy of Salfalko

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please keep your comments worthy of the calling with which Christ calls us!