Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Nic Paton on Sola Scriptura
Nic Paton, an emerging guy from South Africa, has an excellent article up at the Emergent Village blog about questioning the value of "sola scriptura". Here's just a tidbit:

While I love scripture, and see myself to hold a high view of it, I question the doctrine’s modern application. In essence, I see it as excluding and reducing truth, as reactionary, and ironically, as unscriptural. But before we detail these objections, we need to look at a few background assumptions: what we understand as the “word of God”, the canon, the scriptures as “law” not narrative, and the taints in this view of enlightenment rationalism.

  • While today we see the “Word of God” as synonymous with the “book” called the Bible (it’s more of a library of books between 2 covers), in the vast majority of cases in scripture itself, it refers to a breathed, and spoken word. If scripture is made to mean the written or printed word of God, then it represents only a subset of God’s greater expression.
  • Regarding that library, we have received by tradition what is known as the canon. For Protestants this means 66 books in total. This was “finalized” between 393 and 419 CE at the synod of Hippo, under the aegis of St. Augustine.
  • Despite the canon being considered “closed”, Martin Luther in his reforms rejected the apocryphal books, still part of the canon for much of the church. While Luther emphasized scriptural authority, he rejected scriptures then current. And while he rejected Church authority, he accepted the rest of the canon which had been ratified by the church and passed on by that authority.
  • In the wake of rationalism and scientism, we tend to view scripture as a book of law, a textbook, or a set of logical propositions, rather than a book of story. Our post enlightenment view has caused us to require scripture to be “perspicuous to reason”, and non-contradictory.

A closed canon, a rejection (or fear) of contradiction, a literate culture where the oral and non-written is set against and over what is printed, and the static and deterministic worldview of modernism has caused us to close down and defend the bible. When Jesus said “You have heard it written … but I say to you …” (Mt 5:39) he might have been addressing us. We still fail to see revelation as evolving, despite the fact that Jesus and his ministry was founded upon a progressive revelation of God.

I don't have much to say about it except that I totally agree with Paton and he expresses my thoughts on the matter better than I could. I'd definitely recommend reading the whole article.


posted by Mike Clawson at 10:08 AM | Permalink |


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