Three ways to live

Which is your way?

Sola Scriptura

Filed under: Uncategorized — Vitali at 9:22 pm on Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Here is a short summary of what I have been recently learning about Sola Scriptura.

1) What is “Sola Scriptura”?

In English it means “Scripture alone”, a term coined by the Reformers to signify the Bible as the only source of infallible truth

2) Do you mean there are no other sources of truth?

No, of course there are! But Sola Scriptura asserts the Bible to be the only infallible source of truth. Other sources may contain truth, but it can fallible. Practically, this means that if some other source contradicts the Bible, it is the latter that should be trusted, not the former.

3) Who are those who disagree with Sola Scriptura?

There are three groups that can be identified.

The first group consists of those who either don’t believe that God exists (atheists) or belong to a religion that is not based on the Bible. For them, the Bible is just one of many historical books that people have written, nothing more.

The second group are liberal or critical theologians who try to keep an open mind about the Bible and compare its claims with the claims of other historical accounts. If there is a contradiction, they often side with these historical accounts, thus suggesting that Bible is not an infallible source of truth.

Note that the first two groups reject the infallible part of the definition of Sola Scriptura. The third group are Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christians who reject the only part of Sola Scriptura on the basis that it might sometimes be unclear what the Bible teaches without the help of the writings of say Early Church fathers (church leaders in the first four centuries AD). These writings are often put on the same level of authority (if not higher) as the Bible.

4) What is the main problem with Sola Scriptura?

This problem is clearly articulated by Catholic and Eastern Orthodox church. It is difficult to claim that Bible is the only infallible source of truth if there can be so many interpretations of the same passage. Basically, Sola Scriptura starts to mean Sola Interpretation, which defeats the one of the purposes of the Sola Scriptura which is to set one objective source of truth, rather than many contradicting truths.

5) What is my own personal take on Sola Scriptura?

I would say I am much closer to Reformers than to Catholics and Eastern Orthodox. I wholeheartedly assert that Bible is infallible source of truth, a belief that is shared by all Christians. I also agree with the Reformers that Bible’s authority is much higher that authority of all other writings, Early Church fathers included. However, I do see 4) as a very big issue and do think that others writings should be used to help us correctly interpret the Bible. However, this can be done without ever denouncing the concept and putting other writings on the same footing as the Bible.



Comment by Awake In Rochester

January 30, 2008 @ 1:47 am

Sola Scriptura is that the same as literal interpretation?


Comment by Vitali

January 30, 2008 @ 2:16 am

No, these are different things. There is a connection though. Those who don’t like authority of the Bible but still want to say it is the source of truth often tend to say that it is true but not literaly true.


Comment by Leon

February 4, 2008 @ 9:30 pm

I always thought the 5 solas should be pretty straigtforward concepts for a christian.
To me, the basic idea of sola scriptura is that the bible is the final authority and no supplements of tradition and teachings of the church is necessary. This is a fact. But the bible may not be so ‘self-interpreting’ to most of us. Thus when Man attempts to teach or interpret the bible, thats when ‘danger’ arises and thats when we need the Holy Spirit to guide us to discern.

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