Sola Scriptura Follows

By Tim Butler | Posted at 11:57 PM

My noble comrade JK cited this piece from Peter Leithart yesterday. Notably, I think this is the only time I have referenced Leithart on my blog, but I thought a quote from the cited piece was worth sharing:

If Jesus is Lord of His church; if the text of Scripture is uniquely from God, such that God speaks in human language; if Christ's Spirit can make His human words intelligible to human beings; if human beings can, under the guidance of the Spirit, speak God's words accurately and intelligibly to the church - then sola scriptura follows. Denying sola scriptura entails denial of one or more of those conditionals: God can't in fact speak without distortion in human language; or Scripture is not uniquely God's Word in human words; or Jesus is a titular but not a living Lord of His church.

This sums up well the Reformational sense of what sola scriptura meant. The force is not on throwing out all other sources of knowledge about God, but rather in recognizing the unique role of Scripture as the final authority that overrules all else. As the Westminster Confession says in 1.6, “The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man's salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture.”

One might ask if it is ironic that in discussing sola scriptura I turned to a tradition's confession (the Westminster Confession), but the very nature of the view of Scripture described above points to a clearly resounding “no.” The vows of the PCA make the distinction clear: the ordinand is to affirm believing that the Scriptures are “the only infallible rule of faith and practice,” but on the second count affirm only receiving and adopting the Confession “as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures.” The Confession does not stand alone, but rather is entirely dependent for its authority on the Word of God.

That's sola scriptura.

Also Filed Under: Home: Faith: Sola Scriptura Follows

Re: Sola Scriptura Follows

Why is “neither” not an option? Practically speaking, it seems like the only option that fits the observable facts. Can you prove otherwise? We have a fallible ecclesiastical structure and a fallible hermeneutic that deals with an infallible text. But, one cannot confuse “fallible” with “completely incorrect.”

Look at it this way: nothing else in life is infallible. I can't improve infallibly that Aristotle lived and was a great philosopher. But, I don't go around doubting whether he existed or wrote Poetics. As David Hume would aptly point out, we are always working on assumptions — you cannot even prove cause and effect infallibly. Practically speaking, though, we can work provisionally.

A fallible hermeneutic can still clearly necessitate many beliefs because there are plenty of things we can prove. It does not stand proven that I need infallibility to know things, because most of what I know, I know fallibly.

Posted by Tim Butler - Jun 17, 2012 | 5:16 PM

Re: Sola Scriptura Follows

Oh, and if you think my distinction is one without difference, how so? Can you be specific?

Posted by Tim Butler - Jun 17, 2012 | 5:17 PM

Please enter your comment entry below. Press 'Preview' to see how it will look.

Sign In to Your Account
:mrgreen: :neutral: :twisted: :arrow: :shock: :smile: :???: :cool: :evil: :grin: :idea: :oops: :razz: :roll: :wink: :cry: :eek: :lol: :mad: :sad: :!: :?: