Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sola Scriptura or My Own Peronal Interpretation?

I do not believe that anyone on this planet believes in Sola Scriptura. Sure, there are a lot of Non-Catholics who profess to believe that the Bible is the ultimate authority of the Christian faith, but I think that they are unintentionally being dishonest.  Let me explain:

The Bible is the Infallable Word of God.  It is completely without error and is part of the complete deposit of faith given to us by the Holy Spirit.  In the end, however, it is a collection of books.  Books are meant to be read.  It is only through the act of reading that you can take the information contained within a book, absorb it and apply it to your life.  So, my argument is that when someone believes in Sola Scriptura, they are not saying Scripture Alone.  They are really saying My Interpretation of the Scriptures Alone.

Sola Scriptura really says, "My own personal interpretation of what the Bible says is the complete authority of my Christian Faith".  I don't really care about what other denominations are preaching.  I don't really care about what other people believe.  I don't really care about the Early Church and what they believed.  As a matter, of fact, I don't even care about what John Calvin, Martin Luther, John Wesley or any of the other Fathers of the Protestant Reformation believe, because I am the ultimate authority.  I will attend the church of my choice, until they start preaching something that I don't agree with, and when that happens, I will either keep quiet or find another church that agrees with my theology.  Does anyone see the danger in this line of thinking?

I live in America.  America is the greatest country to live in.  Sure, we have our problems...many, many, many problems, but I would not choose to live anywhere else.  Our country has a document called the Constitution of the United States.  It is the "supreme law of the United States"[1].  This document is so important, in fact, that it has setup a framework so that it can be interpreted correctly.  There is a whole branch of government whose sole job is to interpret law.  Our forefathers knew, that they were not going to be able to think of all of the different situations that Americans would find themselves in, and they made provisions to allow for the laws to be interpreted correctly, as well as ammended when necessary.  Undoubtedly, these men were brilliant, however, they still realized that the Constitution was a document that still needed to be interpreted accurately.

Can you imagine what America would be like if we all had the ability to interpret the Constitution any way that we felt?  How crazy would our society be if we all walked around doing whatever we wanted because we believed in Sola Constitution?  It would be absolute chaos.  You would have one group interpreting the Constitution one way and another group interpreting the Constitution another way.  Then, when problems would arise between different groups, there could be no clear difinitive answer on how to be a good citizen because there would be no governing body to go to because authority has been reduced to personal interpretation.  You would become your own judge of conduct according to your own set of rules.  How could you ever know if you were truly being a good citizen, according to what the authors of the Constitution really meant?  It would be impossible.  Clearly a document that is subjectively interpreted, will lead to a subjective conclusion.

What do you think?

[1] United States Constitution - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitution_of_the_united_states

3 comments:

nachtegall said...

Carlus,

This really is the soft spot of the entire Reformation. Because it's so foundational to the protestant church, it marks a loose thread in a woven quilt of over 20,000 incongruent patterns of faith.

Related is the fact that every Bible-based faith has its own earthly magisterium or teaching authority, they're called translators and interpreters.

Ironically, most non-Catholic divinty schools or seminaries offer classes in Biblical exegesis (drawing meaning out of Scripture) while in the very process of engaging in personal eisegesis (reading one's interpretation into the text).

Michael B said...

Well said Carlus. I agree with you. This can be a difficult subject, but you explained things clearly.

Many denominations view things as very black and white. To determine what is right or wrong in "God's eyes" they simply hold it against the word of God. The problem is they are not simply holding things to the Word of God, rather holding things to their interpretation of the Word of God, without tolerance of other interpretations if they differ from their own.

It isn't difficult to see why there can be tension between denominations when people claim DIFFERENT things as ABSOLUTE TRUTH. Perhaps it's the willingness to entertain other interpretations that ultimately brings us closer to the actual "truth".

Carlus Henry said...

Michael B.

Very insightful...