Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sola Scriptura and the Church

The Reformers were right to cry, "Sola Scriptura!"

In their focus upon salvation, the Reformers (Luther, Calvin, etc.) looked in the bible and found that sinners are declared just by God's grace based upon their faith. This is what the bible teaches, and therefore they believed it.

The Reformers, sadly, "missed the boat" when it comes to what the bible tells us about the church. While the Protestant church that came out of the Reformation was far more biblical than the Roman Catholic Church, it still had far to go to even come close to following the scriptures.

So, what would the church look like today if we really applied the concept of sola scriptura to the church? Would we even dare to do so?

If exceptionally skilled men like Martin Luther and John Calvin could miss (or purposely ignore) at least some of what the bible says about the church, could we get it right?

I believe we can. Applying sola scriptura to the church is actually quite simple. The real issue is whether or not we'll actually do it.

The bible is not only inspired, true, and authoritative. It is also sufficient. It is sufficient for both faith and practice. This includes the practice of not just the individual, but also the church.

So how do we know how the church should function? We look to the pages of scripture. This is where we must be careful. If we simply follow the commands of scripture regarding the church, we will still have many questions. However, if we will follow both what is commanded and what is modeled, then we won't have many questions at all (if any).

If we will look to the pages, for example, of Acts and I Corinthians, we will see church life modeled for us. We see much that is good and some that is ugly. When we apply sola scriptura to these books and try to function as they did, we will know what to do.

It is when we get away from what is modeled that we begin to have problems. Many modern churches that say they hold to sola scriptura have to deal with problems the bible never addresses because they do not follow its model. For example, a modern, traditional church may wonder whether or not they should add an addition to their church building. How can they know? Well, the bible won't tell them because no churches in the bible ever built buildings.

If we are going to say we believe in sola scriptura, then let's live this out. We do best by following both what is commanded and what is modeled in scripture.


Arthur Sido said...

When it comes to the church we have "Selective Sola Sciptura" A lot of what we do in the church is pure eisegesis, taking our church traditions and finding prooftexts to support what we have already decided to do.

Jeffrey said...

The profession that God has chosen to provide me occasionally required a move. Shortly after arriving in a new town, and finding a fellowship, I decided that I wanted to go "street witnessing". I decided to invite some of the people at the fellowship to join me. In response to my question, they scheduled a meeting to discuss evangelism. At the meeting, they discussed strategies to win souls. They planned to hold a mini-carnival and invite a bunch of unsaved people to enjoy the carnival and then evangelize them while they were there. They then discussed scheduling follow-on meetings to discuss the matter some more.

I asked a second time, but this time I asked more specifically if anyone wanted to go street witnessing that night. I was met with blank stares and some apparent shock. One guy decide to give it a try, so I picked him up later.

I drove to a nearby McDonald's parking lot, grabbed my Bible, and started to get out of the car. He grabbed my arm and literally pulled me back in the car. He suggested we pray about it first. Good idea; we did so. I went to get out of the car again, and he grabbed my arm and pulled me back in a second time. He wanted to talk about what we'd do. I told him we would ask people whether they knew Jesus. He wanted to talk some more.

I told him I was getting out of the car, that I was not a gifted evangelist, and that I had no idea what God would or would not do, but I was going to talk to the small group of teens across the way. I told him he could stay or come, but it was time.

After talking to them, we walked across to a nearby college and talked to a few people about the Lord and what he had done for us all. It was pretty low-key. Nobody wanted to accept the Lord. some listened politely, one seemed a little interested in what we said.

When we went back to the car after 90 minutes or so, the guy was practically breathless with excitement. It was the coolest thing he had ever done.

This really happened and it sounds silly doesn't it?

How long will you talk about doing what God is showing you? Obey Him. It might be pretty low key, or it might be the coolest thing you've ever done. It doesn't really matter. Obey Him.

By the way, I have my own areas of willful disobedience, lest you think I'm preaching down to you. Perhaps you can help me with those issues.



Eric said...


You hit the nail on the head. Right now I'm reading Frank Viola's "Pagan Christianity." It's beating me up.

Eric said...


It certainly is a lot easier to talk about service/ministry than it is to do it. Interestingly, when we look at the life of Christ, we see a lot of action and not much planning to act. We could learn a lot from that. As for me personally, I know there are areas of my life that need to come in line with the scriptural model. I hope I am moving in that direction.

Arthur Sido said...

It is painful but it is a good kind of pain!