Monday, August 9, 2010

Angry About Sola Scriptura

I don't post all of the comments that people leave on this blog. The reason for this is that some are very angry in tone. Interestingly, some of the angriest people are those who oppose the doctrine of sola scriptura (When I use the term "sola scriptura," I'm referring to the belief that scripture alone is authoritative for belief and practice).

I find the whole thing fascinating. I've written several posts dealing with sola scriptura, and almost every time a few folks leave comments that are clearly driven by anger. I suppose the reason for this is that sola scriptura opposes unbiblical traditions. We all know that people, regardless of denomination, do not like it at all when you call their favored traditions into question.

As far as I can remember, the angry commenters have almost all been Roman Catholics. This is no surprise in light of Rome's multitude of traditions that have no biblical basis. The interesting part is that these Catholics have all tried to use scripture to make the case that sola scriptura is not, in fact, biblical. This seems inconsistent to me. If they don't hold to sola scriptura, then why are they basing their arguments on scripture in the first place? It seems like they would refer instead to a statement from the Vatican about scripture and tradition both being authoritative.

The reality is that the bible can be an inconvenient book. It calls us to lives of self-sacrifice and suffering. In general, we don't like this. Instead, we create traditions around ourselves that make us feel comfortable. Roman Catholics are clearly guilty of this; this is why they despise the doctrine of sola scriptura. If Catholics suddenly adopted sola scriptura as true, they would have to immediately jettison many of their dearly held beliefs and practices.

Before we Protestants get too happy with ourselves, we had better be honest. Although we may say we believe in sola scriptura, we also have plenty of traditions that are based more on personal preference than on scripture. One example that I talk about quite a bit on this blog is church gatherings. What we see happen in most churches on Sundays bears little resemblance to what we see in scripture of the gathering of the church. Why the big difference? Traditions have developed over the years that we like. We don't challenge these.

I'll say this for Catholics: they are consistent. They say they don't believe in sola scriptura and act like they don't believe it.

We Protestants say we hold to sola scriptura, but we don't really act like we believe it. If we did, many of our traditions would quickly have to become extinct.

Instead of getting angry, let's be willing to really live according to sola scriptura. Let's compare all our beliefs and practices with what we see in the bible. Let's honestly keep what is biblical and get rid of the rest.

Let's be careful not to be like the Pharisees of Mark 7. In Mark 7:8, Jesus says, "You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men."

Let's reject traditions and instead truly hold to scripture alone.


Bad Catholic said...

Have I ever raised my voice to you? If so, I sincerely apologize.

We probably have bigger fish to fry than this anyway.

We can debate sola scriptura and papal infallability when we're sharing a cell together at the concentration camp for opposing gay marriage.

PAX ET BONUM (Peace and All Good)

Eric said...

Bad Catholic,

You have not been angry, and I appreciate that. There are some Catholics, like yourself, who have been cordial. Thanks.

Sola scriptura is certainly significant. I must admit that many of us Protestants who say we believe it do a poor job of applying it (more to our practices than our beliefs).

As for concentration camps, I certainly hope your prediction doesn't come true, but the way things are going is this country - who knows?

Joe G. said...

HUNDREDS of churches say they believe in "sola scriptura" -- but they do NOT believe in Christian fellowship. They think -- as you apparently do -- that their interpretation of the Bible is the correct one. Everyone else is wrong. What a ridiculous doctrine!

Eric said...

Joe G.,

I've published your comment simply to make my point about angry commenters despising sola scriptura.

Aussie John said...


I say an emphatic AMEN to your comment!

I'm convinced that hidden in the recesses of the mind, of many who reject Sola Scriptura,is the ever changing mindset of situational ethics.

Objective truth makes that impossible.

Eric said...


I agree about the situational ethics - no doubt.

My hope is that we would all dare to apply these truths to the church. We Protestants are still SO far from following scripture when it comes to church life. May we dare to challenge the status quo.

Jeffrey said...

Here's a radical thought: what if we all drop the labels we've put on ourselves based on the churches we've been to, and the people we've admired or followed, and simply become truth seekers? If those who we've followed genuinely wanted what's best for us, wouldn't they approve? Does God need to fear the truth?

If we're really truth seekers, it shouldn't be painful to discover that a personal belief had been in error. That's part of being fallen; we're not perfect and should expect to find error in our belief system. The answer is just to change the errors to line up with the truth.

I have personally reached the point where the scriptures have demonstrated themselves to be reliable. I trust that they are what they claim to be: the truth, the Word of God. As an ex-Catholic, I'm curious to know what it is about the Catholic Church's traditions that some trust more than they trust the Bible. That's an honest question, not a challenge.

Eric said...


I agree about truth seeking. The issue that I guess a lot of people disagree on is where we find the truth. I'm with you in believing that the answer must be scripture. If we look to tradition, things become very murky very quickly. I'm sure I'm still wrong on some things, but I know where I'll look for the answers: to the God-inspired book that never changes.

Art Mealer said...

I also take Sola Scriptura to mean that scripture is not only our SOLE authority for faith and practice, but that it is also our SUFFICIENT authority. If the bible tells me to do X, I do not need anyones permission to do it, and I am free to disobey anyone who tells me not to do X--or I would not be bowing to God and the authority of His word, but to men.

Eric said...


Thanks for the reminder that scripture is also sufficient. Many Christians fail to recognize this.