Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Listen

Listen by paynehollow
Listen, a photo by paynehollow on Flickr.

I'd like to raise a question I've asked before in various ways and have never received an answer. I bring it up because, most recently, I've seen it argued at Stan's blog (the aptly named?), Winging It. The point of the post is his rather dubious and hole-y notions of Christian "essentials," but as part of getting to his essentials, Stan says, and I quote...

The Bible we have today is a translation of original texts that are, of a necessity, God-breathed (2 Tim 3:16-17). They were not merely "inspired" as we might use the term today, but actually breathed by the Holy Spirit to His authorized messengers who, in their own words and under the supervision of the Spirit, wrote down what God wanted His people to know. As such, these texts were infallible -- could not be wrong -- and inerrant -- had no mistakes.

The Bible is the only source of authority in matters of faith and practice for Christianity.


As I have asked repeatedly: Would SOMEONE please answer the question:

WHERE does the Bible claim that "the Bible" is the sole authority?

IF the Bible is the sole authority for matters of faith and practice in Christianity, then SURELY the Bible makes this claim about itself, right?

Otherwise, you have an utterly self-defeating argument:

"The 66 books of the Bible - which is the SOLE source for knowing what is "right and wrong" for Christians and their practice, never makes that claim about itself, so IF it is the SOLE source, then it CAN'T be the sole source because it does not tell us it is the sole source. Indeed, someone REASONED that idea extrabiblically and, thus, they used an EXTERNAL source (their own reasoning) and thus, that opinion can't be trusted or at least, validated. IF the Bible is the sole source."

Do you see the problem with this argument? Can SOMEONE please address this huge gaping hole in the reasoning here?

Perhaps the problem is in what advocates mean by "the sole source of authority in matters of faith and practice for Christianity." I'd entertain definitions of that notion, if anyone wants to tackle it.

But allow me to spell out the problems that I see with this notion, as I understand folk like Stan are making it...

1. If "The Bible is the sole source of authority in matters of faith and practice of Christianity" [SS], WHERE in the Bible does it specifically say this?

2. If it's not in the Bible specifically and literally (and clearly, factually, it simply isn't), then where does the Bible objectively and demonstrably even HINT at it?

3. Knowing that advocates will say that, while the Bible doesn't speak of the 66 books of the Bible (ever, not one time, never), it does speak of "Scripture," and that the Bible is "as Scripture" to us, the reasoning person would say, "Okay, if 'the Bible' is SS, then where does 'the Bible' say that the 66 books are 'as Scripture' to us?" The answer? The Bible does not say the 66 books are "as Scripture" to us. That is, in itself, an extrabiblical conclusion made by fallible humans (the Catholic Church, if I'm not mistaken) to call these 66 books "as scripture."

4. Since that was an extrabiblical decision, how can we authoritatively know the 66 are "as Scripture," since it comes NOT from SS but from an extrabiblical, human decision? [Mind you, I accept the Bible "as Scripture," I'm just noting that this is not compliant with SS, as far as I can see.] Clearly, saying "We can know with authority that SS is true, why? Because of this EXTRABIBLICAL authority..." is not consistently logical. Indeed, it's a self-defeating argument.

5. Beyond that, the Bible (which is our SS, comes the claim), itself makes the claim of MULTIPLE ways of knowing about God. The Bible claims we can know about God...

a. Through the world itself (all of Creation tells of the glory of God)
b. Through God's Word/God's Law "written on our heart" (which could be interpreted as our conscience, our inate sense of God, and/or our reasoning)
c. Through the Holy Spirit of God revealing God to us ("these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.")
d. Through our God given reasoning (come, let us reason together")

...For instance.

6. So, if the SS TELLS us that there are other sources of knowledge, then how could "the Bible" or "Scripture" be SS, since Scripture itself contradicts that claim?

7. As an aside, IF the Bible is the SS, then claims that "the Bible" is inerrant and infallible can not be justified because the Bible does not make that claim, either about "the Bible" or about Scriptural text. As always, this falls apart - even if you thought the text was somehow inerrant or infallible (which, again, is not a biblical claim) - as SOON as you have human eyes reading and human brains INTERPRETING the text. If "Love your enemies" is a teaching ENTIRELY without error, but someone reads it and finds justification for killing their enemies, then you have human interpretations of texts and human interpretations are, of necessity, fallible.

I'm open to polite, respectful discussion about this topic. I'm not open to comments about people. IF you think people who advocate such things are hypocrites or goofballs or inconsistent or irrational, I don't want to hear that. That may well be the case and that can be obvious if no rational answers are forthcoming, but I don't want to hear that. (Indeed, the one individual I recently tried talking to about this made extremely weird strawman arguments one after another rather than dealing with the questions I was asking - but maybe he was just on the immature side, that happens.) But I am open to direct answers to my direct questions.

WHERE does the Bible make the claim of SS?

WHAT of the passages within the Bible that claim other sources of knowledge/authority?

How about it?

90 comments:

Alan said...

The Bible doesn't say it. "The Bible is the only source of authority in matters of faith and practice for Christianity" is a proposition of faith. Period.

The Bible never mentions the Trinity either, but when we say the Creed, we include trinitarian doctrine as a statement of faith.

The creeds and confessions were written precisely to deal with these issues of authority and interpretation, so as to make sure we can tell who is "in" the group and who is "out."

As another example, for those who believe in transubstantiation, when does the physical form of the host actually become the body of Christ? Is it during the mass? Is it when a person receives the host? On the tongue or in the belly? These too are matters that are never discussed in the Bible, yet people do indeed get very fired up about them.

When forming groups, the first two questions that are asked are, "Who's in charge?" and "Who says it's you?" Questions of authority are primary to understanding people's need to be in affinity groups like denominations. If the answer to that question is "well, I just decided ..." then in a Christian group, that answer isn't good enough for many. Thus, you need a way to say, "Oh, it was God who decided...." And thus, you start making lists of all the things that determine authority about things, and these things must be external (and "eternal"), otherwise they'd be questioned.

This is a fundamental problem for Protestants. Who has authority? We have no Pope, so we need something external against which to make rules. The Bible is the obvious choice, but that means we all have to agree that the Bible is the obvious choice. So we codify that agreement in creeds and confessions.

Remember this "sole authority" stuff is particular to one brand of Protestantism. The Wesleyans have their quadrilateral, the Anglicans have their triad. Both have Scripture as the foundation. But Calvinists distrust reason and experience (though they seem to love tradition, even if they don't admit it.)

The problem, of course, is that we then just move the goal posts and argue about the creeds and confessions. You Baptists, not being a confessional denomination, have it easier than we Presbyterians in such matters. We have a whole book of confessions, which aren't even internally consistent. And there have been times when some Presbyterians want other Presbyterians to subscribe to the notion that the *confessions* are the authority (subordinate to Scripture, supposedly.)

It's just a rule book. If you don't like the rules, either change them or don't join the club. But it doesn't mean such rule books are necessarily bad.

So what difference does it make? I'm not sure I understand the point of your question.

Alan said...

BTW, I know it isn't the point of your post, but in every case I have ever seen, "essentials" is just a synonym for "fundamentals" and my views on fundamentalists are pretty well known around here. :)

Bubba said...

Dan:

"WHERE does the Bible claim that 'the Bible' is the sole authority?"

Even conceding that it doesn't explicitly teach this, I must ask, isn't this sort of question needlessly restrictive?

These are better questions:

- What does the Bible teach about its own authority?

- Does the Bible teach anything that points to its own unique authority?

- Does the Bible teach anything that points to any other potential source of authority that would supercede scripture?

If, for the last two questions, the answers are YES and NO, respectively, then the Bible points to its own authority and to no other alternative. That should be sufficient.

--

Dan, I do think you're not asking the right question, and I think you grossly misunderstand the Protestant position.

Sola scriptura DOES NOT deny other sources of divine revelation, but rather it teaches that all these other sources -- nature, human reason, and (potential) leadings of the Holy Spirit -- are all subordinate to Scripture.

--

It's easy to see why Protestants drew this conclusion.

In Acts 17:11, the "noble" Jews in Berea studied the scriptures to confirm whether Paul's teaching was true, and it's not too presumptuous to conclude that we should follow their example.

Theirs isn't the only or the most important Example we should follow.

Throughout the Gospels, Christ Himself appealed to (OT Jewish) scripture as the final authority in matters of theology and ethics.

In Matthew 5:17-18, Jesus affirmed the lasting authority of every penstroke of scripture.

In Mark 7:8-10, Jesus distinguishes between God's word and mere human tradition, and He equates God's word with Moses' word.

In Luke 24:27, following the Resurrection, Jesus walked His followers through "all" the scriptures to show where they pointed to His life, death, and resurrection.

And in John 5:39, Jesus teaches that the scriptures testify about Himself.

Indeed, God communicates through many means.

But if two or more potential sources of divine revelation conflict, which source casts the deciding vote?

Our position is that it's the Bible. Do you have a credible alternative that actually has Christ's own endorsement?

If you don't, I think you should defer to the Lord Jesus Christ and THEREFORE defer to the scripture whose authority He consistently affirmed.

Marshall Art said...

I simply don't understand why it is necessary that the Bible should declare itself the sole authority, or even highest authority, or whatever, in order to be so.

Dan Trabue said...

Good questions, good points. Unfortunately, I'm away from computer for a couple of days.

More later...

It sounds that, at the least, though, we can all agree that the Bible doesn't say it.

Bubba said...

A reasonably intelligent ten-year-old goes to the fridge and pulls out a pound cake to cut himself a slice.

His mom sees him and says, "Don't eat that right now, we're eating in an hour and I don't want you to spoil your appetite."

After she leaves the kitchen, the kid eats a candy bar from the pantry.

His mother grounds him for the evening -- no dessert, no time for TV or video games. "Just eat your dinner, finish your homework, and get to bed."

Her son points out that she didn't tell him not to eat a candy bar.

She doesn't dispute that, but she points out that he still ought to have known better: "I told you I didn't want you to spoil your appetite."

(Note that her "no" wasn't without its rationale, and her reasoning wasn't specific to that cake, e.g., its eventual use at a school bake sale.)

They both agree that she didn't explicitly forbid him from eating a candy bar, but that's not the only relevant fact.

Never mind that the boy didn't ask if he could have something to eat in any case, it was trivially easy to draw, from what she DID say, quite reasonable inferences that addressed the issue at hand.

Evidently the boy wasn't interested in seeking to please his mother -- to ask her will and conform to it, to use what he DID know to fill in the gaps of what she didn't explicitly teach. He was more interested in finding loopholes and excuses to justify his own desires.

--

I don't think it takes much for a person to communicate his will to someone who's actually eager to know it.

But if the recipient isn't interested in knowing the sender's will, I wonder if any correspondence could ever be sufficiently exhaustive and unambiguous.

In brief, a disobedient spirit can always find loopholes in scripture.

--

Dan, I'm particularly curious about two things:

First is your notion that sola scriptura denies all other sources of revelation.

Martin Luther wrote, "The true rule is this: God's Word shall establish articles of faith, and no one else, not even an angel can do so."

And yet in his commentary on Romans, Luther writes about how, in 1:19, "the Apostle speaks of the natural knowledge of God."

"This statement tells us that from the beginning fo the world the invisible things of God have always been recognized through the rational perception of the (divine) operations (in the world)."

Has ANY prominent Protestant theologian ever implied that the Bible's sole authority entails its being the ONLY revelation from God? I think you have the burden of proof to show that, otherwise you're building a strawman.

Second, if the Bible isn't the sole authority, what is? What casts the "tie-breaking" vote when potential sources of revelation are in conflict?

I look forward to your substantive response.

Alan said...

I should point out that my first comment is simply my understanding of the issues involved here....it shouldn't be taken as what I actually believe. Because for me, the sole authority is the true revelation: Jesus Christ. And maybe this is what you're getting at with your questions, Dan.

What role does Jesus play in this whole "authority of the Bible" talk? Unfortunately, not much of one. In general, people talk as if Jesus cedes authority to Scripture, rather than Scripture being a witness to the authority of Jesus.

I think that completely misses the point of the whole thing.

Scripture only points to to that thing, it isn't the thing itself.

Or as Magritte might say, "Ceci n'est pas une pipe."

It's like what my cat does when I point at something on the floor. When I point at something, my cat (who, like many animals, is not capable of the cognitive function of shared attention) stares at the tip of my finger.

Unfortunately, that has become the meaning of "sola scriptura" for many Christians. It's a "paper pope". That wasn't how the Reformation started out, but it is what the fundamentalists have turned it into. In fact, I have even met people who claim that Jesus and Scripture are actually the same thing, since both are called the "Word of God". This is, obviously, a damnable heresy. Scripture is not a member of the trinity.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba, my answer to your question is probably very similar to Alan's, as I'm understanding him. But let me give it a shot (I ended up having temporary access to a computer...).

Bubba stated...

First is your notion that sola scriptura denies all other sources of revelation.

I did not say this, this is not position. SS undoubtedly believes (SHOULD believe) that God reveals God's Self in several ways. Indeed, I'd hope that we could agree that we should not limit how God chooses to reveal God's Self, as God is not a tame God and can choose to reveal God's Self any way God chooses. Scriptures attest to this.

My point here (let's call it Point 1) was not that SS denies other revelations, but that it subordinates these to SS (and, indeed, usually to some individual and/or group's particular INTERPRETATIONS of SS). My point in noting that is that the Bible (the SS, some would say) does not make this claim.

With me on my Point 1? Thoughts about that?

Point 2, then (and your second question)...

Second, if the Bible isn't the sole authority, what is? What casts the "tie-breaking" vote when potential sources of revelation are in conflict?

I believe that GOD is the Sole Authority. Neither Scripture, nor our interpretations of Scripture, nor human reasoning, nor anything else supplants God as the Sole Authority.

Now, this is a point I believe you'll gladly acknowledge, but then ask, "But, how do we KNOW what God wants?" Right?

The answer to that question is that we DON'T always or perfectly know what God wants. If we did, things would be much easier, but we don't. We simply factually don't.

Paul tells us - ASSURES us - that NOW, we see as through a glass, darkly... NOW, we only know in part.

That is a reasonable and demonstrable observation and I agree with that. Follow me here:

[cont'd...]

Dan Trabue said...

A. God's Word (ie, what we call God's Word, the written Word, the Bible, our Scripture - the 66 Books) are a reflection - a model, if you will, or a series of models - of God's Will, written down by inspired humanity.

B. Once written down, we run into the question of interpreting and understanding the Written Word. And here is where I think our split in understanding occurs.

C. Regardless of whether the written Word is inerrant or infallible (neither of which are claimed by the Bible. AT ALL. EVER.), once it is written, then it falls on us - fallible humanity - to read it and make sense of it.

D. This is why I prefer to say: God's Word (ie, the actual Perfect Will of God, as opposed to merely the 66 Beloved Books) is entirely without error, for it is God's Will and Word. We must need understand the difference between God's Perfect Will/Word and the mere 66 Books. Noting that the 66 are MERELY the Bible is not in any way a putting down of those wonderful books, but a needed reminder that these books merely contain a hint of God's will, not God's perfection. They are, after all, merely words in our fallible human language, requiring our fallible human minds to understand them and interpret them, and this, without perfect knowledge of context, language and, especially, God going in our favor. We must not conflate the Bible with God, as Alan alluded to.

E. So, regardless of whether the written Word is inerrant, as soon as it was written, it requires human eyes and minds to read and understand it. So, if Bob points to Scripture A and says, "I believe it entirely. It means x, y and z!" and Jane points to Scripture A and says, "I believe it entirely, also, BUT it most certainly does not mean x, y OR z! It absolutely means 1, 2 and Orange!"

With each passage, someone (all of us) have to interpret it. So, even if the words are inerrant, we are not.

F. So, as Alan noted earlier, WHO interprets it? Who gets to say, "THIS interpretation is correct, THAT interpretation is not correct." The answer is: We all do. We all have the duty - if we care about what the Bible says - to strive to understand it. The Bible never says, "Bob must submit his understanding to Jane" or, "Jane must submit her understanding to the Pope," or "The Pope must submit his understanding to the UMC..." we all have the privilege and responsibility to understand it the best we can, with our own fallible little minds.

G. Does all this mean that I think the Bible is especially hard to understand? No, not necessarily. I think much of the Bible is understandable on various levels and, in many ways, most texts are abundantly clear in their meaning. BUT (and here's the kicker), Bob thinks that, too - and he disagrees with me! And Jane thinks that, too, and she disagrees with both of us.

So (pardon my overly long answer), my answer to your question is that God is the Sole Authority and, beyond God, each of us is responsible for understanding God's will as best we can by God's grace and the Spirit's guidance.

This is a reasonable understanding of the sum of what the Bible has to say on these topics, it seems to this poor mind. But clearly, the Bible never says that it is the SS, nor does it say that any one group of people have the "right" interpretation of the Bible and that their understanding, then, is the SS.

Where would I be mistaken in any of this?

Dan Trabue said...

So, let's look at an example.

The Bible has Jesus telling the story of the rich man who had more than he could hold. So, in order to responsibly save for his later years, he tore down his barns to build bigger barns.

"You fool!" God tells the rich man. "This very night you will die, and what good will your bigger barns do you??!" (Going from memory, there).

So, Jesus tells us here and in other places and in other ways, "DO NOT store up for yourselves treasures here on earth, but keep your treasure in heaven. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be.


So, we have this teaching and similar ones. To many anabaptists, the message could not be more clear.

"DO NOT STORE UP FOR YOURSELF treasures on earth."

This is a clear admonishment of we who might be wealthy, many anabaptist-types believe. Clearly, we can not invest and create large savings. To do so would be a violation of this clear text.

Further, there are no teachings anywhere in the Bible to contradict that understanding. No where are we told "Invest in stuff and store up a lot of money."

Many would think that an abundantly clear interpretation of a policy created by that teaching. Similar to your little story about the child not heeding the mom's intent.

Of course, many more would and do disagree with that interpretation.

Now, here is Scripture (if we assume - beyond wat the Bible says - that the 66 Books are as Scripture, as I think we all do here) and that teaching does seem pretty clear and direct.

And yet most Christians would reject that interpretation.

Who decides? Are the Anabaptists the sole "right" ones because they/we are taking the most literal interpretation? And thus, the anabaptists hold the SS interpretation on that topic? If so, how do we know?

Who gets to say?

I am of the opinion that this was the mistake that the Pharisees tended to make: Forgetting that the over arching teaching of the Bible is one of salvation by Grace, they gravitated towards rule following AND not only rule following for themselves, but insisting that others agree with their interpretations.

That is a rather bold and arrogant position for a fallible human to make, and the Pharisees were oft-rebuked for their arrogance and presumption.

Rather than insist on rule following, Jesus had compassion and grace and said, "Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more..."

Yes, Jesus wanted the woman (and all of us) to go and sin no more, but following the rules was not the point. Seeking God and living a life of grace (accepting grace AND doling out grace) is the point.

Not sure if I'm saying all that well. I'm out of time...

What do you think?

Alan said...

"Who decides? Are the Anabaptists the sole "right" ones because they/we are taking the most literal interpretation? And thus, the anabaptists hold the SS interpretation on that topic? "

Well, I'd imagine that the Anabaptists would believe they're the right ones.

But what would I care? I'm not an Anabaptist, I'm a Presbyterian. If I thought that the Lutherans or the Methodists got it "righter" than the Presbyterians, I'd become a Lutheran or a Methodist. But that wouldn't change the fact that the Presbyterians thought the Methodists were wrong on some fine point of theology (or vice versa.)

So who cares? People are going to disagree and they're going to believe that the people with whom they disagree are wrong, which will lead them to believe all sorts of other things.

I'm not sure why this matters, or what the point is.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Bubba calls the Bible "a source of revelation."

No.

God is the sole source of revelation because God is the one doing the revealing. Of God. Scripture is testimony to Divine revelation. It is not revelatory.

Whoever wrote the whole "Scripture isn't inspired but God breathed in to the writers" thing is kind of dumb because the word "inspire" means breathe in to. So, yeah, Scripture is inspired precisely the way we understand the word.

Finally, the Bible is called the Word of God derivatively; when we confess in worship that we have heard "the Word of God", we are confessing that we have heard testimony to the Word (Logos) of God. Since the high middle ages, in a hermeneutic taken over by Luther and Calvin, this Word (Logos) of God, the eternal and incarnate Son of God, is "in" all Scripture; thus can Luther begin his commentary on Romans by saying, "As Jesus says through the mouth of the prophet Jeremiah . . ." without feeling a bit odd.

The rise of historical critical methods have marginalized this kind of hermeneutic. I find it useful after doing all that heavy lifting of criticism as a way of returning us to the question at hand: What is this Scripture saying to me? It can only do so if it is a particular form of address.

And there is absolutely nothing in Scripture about any of this. These are practices that developed over centuries; their authority comes from what Wesley called their fruitfulness, which in his early bourgeois practicality was eminently sensible. They are authoritative if they work for a deepening of faith.

Authority comes from the Father, in the Son, through the Spirit. All this other stuff is just folks wanting sticks to beat one another.

Marshall Art said...

Hardly. Without Scripture, what do we have? Maybe word of mouth handed down through generations. If the written word is dismissed as error filled in the attempt at accurate re-telling over and over, how much worse would it be without it?

I don't think too many fail to understand the distinction between actual revelation and that revelation recorded in Scripture. But unless and until anyone can prove that they are receiving direct revelation themselves, Scripture is our sole source.

Anonymous said...

Geoffrey wrote:

"Without Scripture what do we have?"

We have God, Art - who self-reveals as the Father, in the Son, through the Spirit.

God is made known through God's own actions. You have just elevated Scripture to the Fourth Person of the Trinity. And ignored pretty much standard Christian teaching on revelation (barring slight differences here and there) since roughly the time of St. Paul.

Bubba said...

Geoffrey points out that "God is the sole source of revelation," not the Bible: I agree, and I wasn't as precise as I always strive to be, but I wasn't the first person to use the term in this discussion.

The more accurate word is "medium." God is the source of all revelation, and the Bible is one of several media through which God reveals the truth about Himself, His creation, His commands, and His promises.

It is my position that -- at least now, between the Apostolic period and Christ's return -- the Bible is the authoritative medium against which ALL other media must be evaluated.

The Bible itself points to that position even if it doesn't teach it in terms that are sufficiently explicit for everyone here, and I don't think any other medium comes close to measuring up as an authoritative medium in the physical absence of Christ, His prophets, and His apostles.

(Geoffrey also mentions the doctrine that Jesus is the Author of all Scripture, attributing it to a hermeneutic of the high middle ages. In response I'd point to I Corinthians 2, where Paul gives a fairly comprehensive picture of the role of the Holy Spirit in the process of revelation: v 10, the Spirit searches the depths of God; v 13, He teaches the Apostles the very words in which they impart their teaching; v 15, He enlightens the person who hears that teaching. Between 2:11 and 2:16, Paul seems to equate "the Spirit of God" and "the mind of Christ," and there are at least a few instances where the Apostles refer to "the Spirit of Christ," as in Php 1:19 and 1 Pet 1:11. It's reasonable to conclude that it is Christ's Spirit who inspired the prophets and apostles: in John 14:25, Christ teaches us that the Spirit was to come in HIS name.)

--

Unlike Alan, I've never met anyone who evidently believed that Jesus and Scripture are the same thing -- just as, for the many times Dan has invoked the spectre of bibliolatry, I've never met anyone who worships the Bible as God, only people who revere the Bible as FROM God.

To be sure, Christ is fully God and fully man, and I believe the Bible is God's word through man's words, and there is a useful analogy to be made: if Christ is human yet without sin (Heb 4:15), it may not be necessary to rule out the possiblity that the Bible is a human work yet without error.

But OBVIOUSLY Christ and the Bible are not the same. To anyone who would suggest that, I would point out John 5, which I've already referenced: the Bible doesn't itself have life, it simply points us to Christ, who has life (5:39-40).

Those are Christ's own teaching about Scripture and Himself, but it's worth remembering where this teaching is to be found.

[continued]

Bubba said...

[continued]

Alan writes, "for me, the sole authority is the true revelation: Jesus Christ."

That's a wonderful statement in its brevity and nobility, but since Christ is currently sitting at the Father's right hand, I have no idea how the statement settles the controversy that Dan has (once again) raised.

How can we know anything about Christ? About Who He is, what He taught, and what He did? About the prophecies and pattern that He fulfills as God's promised chosen one? About what He accomplished on the cross and in the Resurrection, and about what He promises to do when He returns?

There is only one answer: the collective teachings of God's prophets and Christ's apostles, preserved for us in the Bible. There is no rival that even comes close: not church tradition, not one's personal speculation, and not mere human reason.

I don't know how it diminishes Christ's authority to look to the Bible to learn about Him, to see the Bible as the means that God provided to preserve His message about Christ, and to use the Bible, NOT to contradict or supercede Christ, but only to evaluate all other possible revelations from God.

I certainly don't know how one can say that Christ plays no role in this discussion if a person follows Christ's explicit teachings and example regarding the lasting authority of Scripture.

Bubba said...

Dan,

About what you call Point 1, you write that your point "was not that SS denies other revelations, but that it subordinates these to SS."

In your original post, you write:

"6. So, if the SS TELLS us that there are other sources of knowledge, then how could 'the Bible' or 'Scripture' be SS, since Scripture itself contradicts that claim?"

This question makes no sense if you believe that adherents of sola scriptura agree that there are (#5, in the original post) "MULTIPLE ways of knowing about God," and that the only issue is the heirarchy of these media and not merely the fact that they exist.

--

About Point 2, you write that "God is the Sole Authority" -- a true statement but one that doesn't clarify the issue here -- and I see, happily, that you ask yourself an obvious follow-up question, "But, how do we KNOW what God wants?"

You remind us that Paul teaches that we see as through a glass darkly (never mind how you know Paul teaches that, and how you trust that its meaning is clear), and so "we DON'T always or perfectly know what God wants."

Agreed, and we should NEVER confuse the doctrine of the inerrancy of the prophet's and apostle's original "autograph" manuscripts with the fallacious belief that our ability to interpret is likewise inerrant.

Though their differences often pale in comparison to the situation where people have different basic assumptions about the Bible, two people CAN still disagree about how to intpret a passage, even if they are are equally knowledgeable about the Bible and its context, they share the same beliefs about the Bible's inerrant authority, and they approach the text in genuine good faith.

But my question isn't about our abilities to interpret, but about WHAT we interpret. I agree we fumble and stumble and grope in the half-dark of twilight, and we always ought to grope toward our Creator, but along what path should we grope?

You mention several means of divine revelation -- creation, human reason, and so forth.

Which means of revelation is normative? If two potential messages from God don't line up, which gets precedence?

Or does it come down to our own whims rather than a systematic approach where we affirm that THIS is the revelation against which we'll judge everything else?

Can you make a positive case that some other means of revelation ought to be authoritative?

If you can't, you don't have much of an argument against Stan's statement that the Bible is authoritative in matters of Christian doctrine and behavior.

Argue for an alternative, and let's see how much stronger your position is than Stan's.

--

Again, the question I would ask is NOT, "How can we perfectly know God's revealed message," but rather, what do you believe is the pre-eminent means God uses to reveal that message?

It's not "how can we know perfectly?"

It's "where do we go as the first and final resort?"

Stan says we should go to the Bible. If you object, what do you propose instead?

If you don't object, I don't really know what it is you're arguing about.

Anonymous said...

Geoffrey wrote:

Bubba: It is my position that -- at least now, between the Apostolic period and Christ's return -- the Bible is the authoritative medium against which ALL other media must be evaluated

Which is exactly what the United Methodist Church teaches, even as it emphasizes tradition, reason, and experience as other sources for our theological reflection. Which is another meaning of the word "canon" when referring to the Bible; a canon is a rule or measure against which other things are sized.

I know no serious Christian person who would dispute either the centrality or necessity of Scripture.

OTOH, Bubba also wrote: (Geoffrey also mentions the doctrine that Jesus is the Author of all Scripture, attributing it to a hermeneutic of the high middle ages. Um, no. The traditional explanation of this hermeneutic, which dates to late antiquity and is a form of analogical and typological reading, hears and sees in and through faith always recognized as a gift of the Holy Spirit in the stories and teaching of the Bible the presence of the Triune God in all Three Persons, always active together, yet each distinct as the Three Persons they are. Calling Jesus "the Author of Scripture" is nonsense because Jesus didn't write anything; capitalizing it doesn't make it more correct.

Those folks back then weren't dummies. In fact, in many ways they were far more insightful and thoughtful in their approach to reading the Bible than someone who writes that inspiration is wrong because God breathed the Spirit in to the authors of the Biblical texts.

In the mid-20th century, there was a revival of Lutheran and Protestant Scholastic studies, and much of this rediscovery and reappropriation of pre-Reformation hermeneutics flows from the discovery that from the Patristic Age through the period immediately preceding, during, and following the Protestant Reformation, there were many accepted ways of reading and understanding the Bible, none of which involved magical thinking, and all of which involved faith rather than the facile literalism of too much 20th century reactions to historical criticism.

And proof-texting a response to a comment about how Christians in different eras of the Church's life and history read the Bible proves nothing more than you have a good concordance.

Reading the Bible as a Christian is a faithful act, done in the hope that our God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is with us as we read and search together - because this is a community act about which we speak, not our private study, which is a whole different thing - for what the Bible teaches us about what it is to be more faithful, more hopeful, and more loving.

Bubba said...

Geoffrey:

"In fact, in many ways they were far more insightful and thoughtful in their approach to reading the Bible than someone who writes that inspiration is wrong because God breathed the Spirit in to the authors of the Biblical texts."

And who has written that?

You write, "I know no serious Christian person who would dispute either the centrality or necessity of Scripture."

Neither do I, but if Dan, Alan, and Stan are all on the same page regarding the Bible's centrality and necessity, I'm not sure what Dan's actually objecting to with his initial post, and I don't know why Alan would mention the boogie man of fundamentalism.

Alan said...

"How can we know anything about Christ? About Who He is, what He taught, and what He did? "

Westminster Confession, Chapter VIII, Article VIII: "To all those for whom Christ has purchased redemption, He does certainly and effectually apply and communicate the same;[39] making intercession for them,[40] and revealing unto them, in and by the word, the mysteries of salvation;[41] effectually persuading them by His Spirit to believe and obey, and governing their hearts by His word and Spirit;[42] overcoming all their enemies by His almighty power and wisdom, in such manner, and ways, as are most consonant to His wonderful and unsearchable dispensation"

We can know about Christ because of the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. Those ancestors of the faith who, like Abraham, were saved by faith alone, even though they lived before Christ. Or babies who have died, I think few people would claim that God wouldn't save them as well, in spite of their not having read the Gospel.

But I suppose I'm using "to know" more in the sense of "to believe", which is different than knowing simple facts like that Jesus was born at such and such time, in such and such place, etc.

But if God can save someone who has never heard the Gospel (and most folks would say he can, even if we don't quite know how that works), then I would say people can know about Christ without the Gospel through the work of the Holy Spirit, who Christ himself sent.

That said, for those of us who *do* have the written Word, it is authoritative, and even more than that, reading and preaching it are both a means to grace.

Bubba said...

Alan, you write, "for those of us who *do* have the written Word, it is authoritative," and on that I whole-heartedly agree.

Alan said...

Dan wrote, "nor does it say that any one group of people have the "right" interpretation of the Bible and that their understanding, then, is the SS."

But that's a very different discussion than one about the authority of Scripture and where that authority comes from.

Remember, BTW, that sola scriptura is only one of the five solas, and it doesn't actually make a lot of sense without the others: We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, as revealed in Scripture alone, to God alone be the glory.

That is, scripture alone does not mean scripture *above*, it means we who have scripture at our disposal can use it to learn about Christ, but God gets the glory for that, not Scripture. It is, as I said, a means of grace.

Thus, sola scriptura is about scripture being the only revelation of Christ, not that we only need scripture (and not God's grace to understand it.) This special revelation contained in scripture is distinct from general revelation (see Romans 1:20, for example) which is available to all people, whether they have read the Gospel or not.

The answer then, to MA's question, "Without Scripture, what do we have?" is "Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse;"

Without scripture, we have Christ. So did Abraham. So did Moses.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

Which means of revelation is normative? If two potential messages from God don't line up, which gets precedence?

The Bible never sets up any such prioritizing system. On what/whose authority would I suggest we need to do this?

We simply strive the best we can to understand and do right. What else is there?

If someone is observing God using reason and nature and it seems to conflict with some interpretation another person has of a Bible passage, on whose authority would we set the Bible passage as preeminent?

I think that really gets to the basics of what I'm getting at. Says who?

Bubba...

Or does it come down to our own whims rather than a systematic approach where we affirm that THIS is the revelation against which we'll judge everything else?

Does Bible interpretation not ALSO come down to our own whims - our own best understanding?

I think you're setting up a hierarchy where the Bible calls for none and reason does not support it.

Bubba...

Can you make a positive case that some other means of revelation ought to be authoritative?

I'm not making that case. I'm making the case that THE BIBLE doesn't make that case. I'm making the case that I have no reason to set up that hierarchical system, at least no biblical system.

I think it is part of human nature to want to have ONE DEFINITIVE WORD on all our various questions, but the Bible and reason do not authorize such a certainty. Not that I know of. I think this is a large part of what got the Pharisees and their followers in trouble - we want to see things in black and white and we don't always have black and white answers. Factually speaking. But instead of recognizing that reality, they tried to enforce a black/white interpretation and that got them off on the wrong track.

What does it mean, o leader, to "do not labor on the Sabbath?"

Ah, our followers, HERE is what it means...


And then they proceed to offer their INTERPRETATIONS of that teaching - and insist upon it as if they were the Sole Authority to speak for God - and they goofed up.

So, on what basis would I insist we need to have a hierarchical approach to deciding God's Will and on what basis is the answer, "The 66 Books..."?

Marshall Art said...

Dan,

I googled your question and came up with a few possibilities for you to consider. The question was:

"WHERE does the Bible make the claim of SS?"

--2 Tim 3:17 says that the scripture will "equip us for every good work"

--"Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, so that in us you may learn not to exceed what is written, so that no one of you will become arrogant in behalf of one against the other." 1 Corinthians 4:6

--"Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught." Luke 1:1-4

--Acts 17:11-12

The above examples all point toward Scripture as having ultimate authority for understanding God's truth, being a final word, so to speak, as to how we determine God's will. They encourage one to refer to Scripture when in doubt and to defer to Scripture in deciding how to proceed.

Dan Trabue said...

Thanks for the thoughts/suggestions, Marshall, but shall we look at them one at a time?

2 Timothy 3...

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Are you saying that this passage, to you, positively suggests that of the ways God might teach us, that Scriptures must be given priority? Or are you just saying that, "well, somebody could make a case, sort of..."?

Scripture is "useful" does not suggest to me a hierarchy and certainly doesn't literally say it. Agreed? I mean, if you find a hierarchy implied and that's meaningful to you, that is fine, but I don't think you can make the case that such a belief must be normative, based on this passage?

Dan Trabue said...

1 Corinthians 4, in context...

Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.

Now, brothers and sisters, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not be puffed up in being a follower of one of us over against the other.


First of all, I am not at all sure that we can even say that Paul is speaking of Scripture when he references "what is written." Do you think that this is how the passage MUST be considered or just one way, possibly?

Secondly, in context, Paul seems to be saying what I and others here have said: That GOD is the ultimately Sole Authority and that we ought to reserve ultimately judgement for God and "the Lord's coming," when all things will be made clear (echoing Paul's 1 Cor 13 reminder that NOW, we only know in part).

Do you think that this passage (which again, does not literally call for a hierarchy of understanding) MUST imply it nonetheless, or just that this is one way it might be considered, possibly?

Dan Trabue said...

Luke 1...

since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.

This here sounds like to me that Luke is saying, "Here is a record of the facts of the story of Jesus, so you may know these facts..." but I don't see it as implying and certainly not demanding a hierarchy of understanding.

Do you?

Dan Trabue said...

Acts 17...

Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

Now, of all these four passages you offer, this one I think comes closest to actually hinting at the hierarchy of understanding being suggested. The Bereans checked out what Paul was preaching against Scripture. That implies strongly that they thought it was important to make sure what Paul was preaching did not conflict with Scripture. Fair enough and nothing I disagree with, in as far as it goes.

But does it demand that this Scripture test was to have a preeminence in validating Truth? Does it demand a hierarchy of understanding with Scripture at the top? No, I don't see that such an understanding is necessarily demanded by this passage.

Consider, 1 John 4 1 has that line that tells us to test the spirits...

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God

Thus, this passage does not make Scripture as the top rung on the understanding hierarchy, just offers a simple logical test.

But more importantly, none of these passages demands the concept of a hierarchy of understanding. That is a human idea and, if it means something to you and helps you in your faith, then by all means, hold to that for yourself.

But based on anything I've seen so far, to try to demand that belief as necessary and normative to Christianity is going way beyond any biblical teaching. (You see what I'm doing there? Like the Bereans, I'm using Scripture to evaluate your claim... but that doesn't mean that I've instituted a necessary hierarchy).

Dan Trabue said...

...but not only am I judging your suggestion based on the Bible, I'm also using my reasoning, as we all do. It's not as if we can (or should) divorce our reason from our reading, right?

Consider this, from Jesus...

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

So, clearly, the text says the Holy Spirit will teach us "all things" so that places the HS at the top of the Understanding Hierarchy, right?

Except of course, this passage, nor any others, demand an Understanding Hierarchy. That is my point. IF we begin with this extrabiblical notion of a Hierarchy of Understanding, then we can probably cherry pick verses to back up our favorite Understanding Source and it might make sense to us. But if we are not looking for an Understanding Hierarchy - if we don't presume that it exists - then on what basis would we create one?

And if we DO create one where the Bible doesn't cite it and reason doesn't demand it, then on what basis do we place Scripture at the top of the hierarchy?

Good questions that I have seen no answers to.

Marshall Art said...

Dan,

Perhaps you forgot your own question. I'll reprint it here:

"WHERE does the Bible make the claim of SS?"

For the first offering, you purposely(?) ignore verse 17, wherein the "proof" exists. It says that Scripture will equip us for every good work. What is not included in "every"?

Plus, other versions use the term "profitable" rather than "useful", which some might view as a bit more compelling.

But just the same, many who support the idea of SS refer to verse 16 alone for their evidence. I think 17 is essential and as the two are of one sentence, they together render the notion of SS better supported.

Your second response actually counters the "God is sole authority" rejection of SS. In it, your offering shows why Scripture must be regarded as a primary source, if not the primary source. In other words, what do we do until the Lord comes? We have only Scripture to guide us. What else do we have available to us which is not either based upon Scripture or must align first with Scripture?

For Luke 1, you are totally contradicting the purpose stated for having written down the events: that one may know with certainty. Does that not put those accounts in some higher position of authority? It seems quite clear it was meant to do so.

It is good that you acknowledge Acts 17, but you can't help but attempt to reject it at the same time. What you offer in response does not work for the purpose. To test the spirits requires that spirits are present to test. How many of us have such encounters even once in life? What do we do in the meantime? We have Scripture.

What you offer from John 14 is out of context. Jesus had just informed his apostles of what was to come. The betrayer was identified and sent to do quickly what he was about to do. Jesus was comforting His disciples with the words you highlighted. They were not said to a multitude. So, clearly, the text says the Holy Spirit will teach THEM "all things", not "us".

So, while Scripture does not use the exact words you require to seal the deal, it does give more than a hint that it regards itself as having great authority in revealing what we need to know about God. In the meantime, you've provided nothing that rejects the proposition.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

For the first offering, you purposely(?) ignore verse 17, wherein the "proof" exists. It says that Scripture will equip us for every good work. What is not included in "every"?

Does it say Scripture alone? Does it say Scripture will equip us for every good work, and Scripture has priority when it comes to that, over the Holy Spirit? Over Reason? Over other knowledge?

Can we agree that it literally does NOT say that?

Now, assuming we can agree that it literally does not say that, are you saying that your suggestion is the one and only possible interpretation/extrapolation? That, even though it doesn't literally say that, that this SS is the ONLY conclusion one should be able to reach from that passage?

Or are you saying that this is only one possible extrapolation, but that concluding this is not rationally required?

If the former, on what basis should anyone agree with you? That is, if it does not literally say that (and it doesn't), who says your extrapolation is the only God-approved interpretation?

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

Perhaps you forgot your own question. I'll reprint it here:

"WHERE does the Bible make the claim of SS?"


Perhaps you're not understanding that I'm asking for the place where the Bible makes the claim of SS. Your reasoning thus far has been to offer up passages that (rather dubiously, to me) could possibly be interpreted as possibly supportive of maybe SS, but they are certainly not the Bible making the claim of SS.

Do you understand the difference in the point I'm making?

Marshall Art said...

Of course I understand. I also understand that it fails.

I already conceded that the Bible does not refer to itself in terms you demand. And I earlier asked why you feel it needs to do so. The examples I provided, and those are not necessarily the only examples I could have found, all point to Scripture's authority. We do not have direct revelation from God as when He spoke through prophets or walked among us in the flesh. And even if we want to say that the Holy Ghost provides at all, we must still refer to Scripture to know with any certainty that the Spirit is truly guiding us. There can be no contradiction between the two.

Look at it from the other side. Remove Scripture entirely. How can we know anything? What provides certainty? Should I believe that what you regard as revelation is true? Should you believe mine? What if they differ? What then? Without direct revelation from God Himself, there is no way to know anything about God or what He wants from us. Indeed, everything you think you know regarding God, the Holy Spirit or the teachings of Christ we learn from Scripture primarily.

Bubba said...

I'm going to be really sporadic here for the foreseeable future, and I'll have to brief, so I'll try to focus on only one or two things at a time.

Dan, you write that you believe the Pharisees' problem was wanting definitive, black-and-white answers. They wonder about the meaning of observing the Sabbath...

"And then they proceed to offer their INTERPRETATIONS of that teaching - and insist upon it as if they were the Sole Authority to speak for God - and they goofed up."

Yes, they goofed up. In Jesus' own words, they left God's commandment to hold to human tradition (Mark 7:8).

In contrast, He reiterated the law of Moses, and His own teachings and example consistently point to Scripture's lasting authority and its having supremacy over mere traditions.

In addressing their numerous controversies, He *NEVER* suggested that they were missing the point trying to find clear answers. Instead, He repeatedly taught them "It is written," and He pointed to Scripture as the final word.

--

You quote John 14:26, you then make the following claim.

"So, clearly, the text says the Holy Spirit will teach us 'all things' so that places the HS at the top of the Understanding Hierarchy, right?"

Teach WHO all things, Dan?

Look again at the verse, and you'll see that Jesus promises TWO activities of the Holy Spirit.

1) To teach you all things (whoever "you" is)

2) To bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you

To whom did the incarnate Christ speak during His earthly ministry, every Christian throughout history or His hand-picked Apostles? Obviously, He spoke to His Apostles.

Certainly, the Holy Spirit does many things for each and every Christian, but the promise of 14:26 seems to apply exclusively to the Apostles -- that the Holy Spirit would teach THEM all things **AND** (notice the "and," it's not either/or) remind THEM of His earthly teachings.

Unfortunately, that's no help to us, because all the Apostles are long since dead, and we don't have some persistent record of the Apostolic teaching. But if we did, that permanent record WOULD -- by your own argument -- seem to place that record "at the top of the Understanding Hierarchy."

Dan Trabue said...

To be clear, my argument (one of them, anyway) is that the Bible makes no mention, no demand of an Understanding Hierarchy.

If the Bible doesn't mention it, if it doesn't suggest it, if it doesn't demand it... if reason doesn't demand it, on what authority would I agree with you all that we ought to create one?

Bubba said...

I think we're going in circles, and we're back to my original comment, suggesting that the questions you ask are needlessly restrictive.

What DOES the Bible teach about its own authority? It doesn't matter if it doesn't explicitly teach an "Understanding Hierarchy (TM)(R)," if it nevertheless does point to its own unique authority.

Jesus Himself routinely appealed to Scripture as the final word. His explicit teachings and example ought to be enough.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba, you asked me...

Can you make a positive case that some other means of revelation ought to be authoritative?

I'm just turning it around and asking if you can make some positive case that the Bible ought to be "authoritative" (WHICH you seem to be defining, "given priority")?

I'm saying that God is authoritative in all God's ways of speaking to us. If we rightly understand God's Spirit speaking to us/leading us, then that is authoritative. If we rightly understand a biblical text, then that is authoritative. I have no problem with "authoritative." I have a rational and biblical problem with "Here is the hierarchy of determining who's right... 1st, the bible gets priority..."

I don't get why, I don't get on what basis? Who says, since the Bible, by all accounts, does not say that? On whose authority do we heed that hierarchy?

Bubba said...

"I have a rational and biblical problem with 'Here is the hierarchy of determining who's right... 1st, the bible gets priority...'"

Who has gone further than that?

Affirming sola scriptura doesn't entail some detailed and comprhensive priority list of all other means through which God can and does communicate, just like one doesn't have to come up with an exhaustive list of his duties and responsibilities to know that our first duty is to God (Mt 22:37-38).

"I'm saying that God is authoritative in all God's ways of speaking to us."

True, indeed, but not helpful. If two potential "ways of speaking to us" conflict, which one casts the tie-breaking vote?

Are you saying that you believe that God has communicated to us a message so important that He has used various means of communication, but our correctly understanding that message isn't important enough for Him to communicate which transmission medium is normative?

What is your "rational and biblical" objection to the position that the Bible is given priority over other possible transmission media? Why balk if you're not going to present an alternative?

Is there a reason we MUST NOT give the Bible priority over other media, in the absence of the incarnate Christ and any living Apostles? If not, why worry about what other Christians are doing in regards to this subject?

If we're all groping in the dark, how do you know we're the ones who are wrong?

The idea that the Bible has priority is -- AT A MINIMUM -- consistent with what the Bible DOES say about itself, and it's consistent both with Jesus' teachings about Scripture and His own example.

That's evidently not reason enough for you to affirm sola scriptura, but that ought to be reason enough for you not to carp at those who do.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

What is your "rational and biblical" objection to the position that the Bible is given priority over other possible transmission media? Why balk if you're not going to present an alternative?k

I'm saying there IS NO reason to establish this Understanding Hierarchy. You're making the claim, it's on you to support it.

Bubba...

True, indeed, but not helpful. If two potential "ways of speaking to us" conflict, which one casts the tie-breaking vote?

The Bible does not tell us we'll need to do this, nor does reason. WHY would I establish this prioritization?

Bubba...

Is there a reason we MUST NOT give the Bible priority over other media, in the absence of the incarnate Christ and any living Apostles?

Because the Bible does not tell us to do this, God has not told us to do this and reason does not demand it. What part of all that am I not making clear?

Flipping it over: Is there a reason we MUST give the Bible priority?

Bubba...

If not, why worry about what other Christians are doing in regards to this subject?

I'm not worried about it. IF you want to believe this extrabiblical conclusion for yourself, good for you, I have zero problem with it.

But trying to make this Understanding Hierarchy a Christian essential, well, then you've gone from saying what you believe on an extrabiblical topic to telling others what THEY must believe in order to be an orthodox Christian. On whose authority would anyone make that claim?

(and you may or may not be making that claim, but Stan was and others do and that was the point of my post: Why would anyone force this on others as a Christian essential, when neither the Bible nor logic demand it?

Bubba...

The idea that the Bible has priority is -- AT A MINIMUM -- consistent with what the Bible DOES say about itself, and it's consistent both with Jesus' teachings about Scripture and His own example.

? One could reason their way to that, I suppose, but it's not a biblical or "Jesus-ian" teaching, not directly in any sense. At all.

Again, if you find this hierarchy meaningful for yourself, that's fine, just don't force it as a Christian essential. If so, be prepared to answer, "On whose authority do you make this claim, because the Bible does not make it?"

Dan Trabue said...

Let me try to simplify this, Bubba, with just one question. Where you say:

Is there a reason we MUST NOT give the Bible priority over other media, in the absence of the incarnate Christ and any living Apostles?

I'm just asking: Is there a reason we MUST give the Bible priority over other media?

What I'm hearing you say is...

"If there is a conflict in understanding between listening to the Spirit, reading the Bible and using our God-given reasoning, we MUST defer to what the Bible says because we HAVE to have at least one source that we can reply upon to settle matters, if there's a dispute, for instance. And that source HAS to be the Bible because we can't know if someone's understanding of 'the Spirit' is secure or if someone's reasoning is secure. Thus, it HAS to be the Bible, not because the Bible says so, but because that's what makes most sense to me (and those like me for many centuries, now)..."

Is that fair?

If so, I would just ask the follow up: How do we know someone is reasoning their way through understanding Scripture correctly?

Do you see the circular hole that leaves us?

We rely upon Scripture! How do we know we're rightly understanding Scripture? The Spirit reveals it to us. How do we know we're rightly understanding the Spirit? Rationally, it just makes sense looking at what the Bible says. How do we know what the Bible means? We look at it and read it for what it says...

and on the circle would go.

I'm simply pointing out that we have no biblical foundation for saying the Bible is our sole source for authority (and by "sole source," we don't mean "SOLE" source, we just mean the source that is given priority, which the Bible doesn't claim either...)

Bubba said...

No, it's not a fair summary of my position:

"Thus, it HAS to be the Bible, not because the Bible says so, but because that's what makes most sense to me (and those like me for many centuries, now)..."

I've repeatedly appealled to Scripture, including the example of the Berean Jews, the unique authority that was promised the Apostles through the Holy Spirit, and MOST ESPECIALLY the teachings and example of Jesus Christ Himself.

If you want to argue that I'm misreading or overreading those passages, be my guest, but ignoring those appeals to Scripture is as maddening as your habit of denigrating my arguments as mere "hunches."

Bubba said...

"I'm just asking: Is there a reason we MUST give the Bible priority over other media?"

Let's say that there's not.

At the very least, there are plenty of passages that are consistent with that approach.

You can start here.

- Matthew 5:17-18
- Mark 7:8-10
- Luke 24:27
- John 5:39

There's a deference to Scripture that Christ exhibits, that He DOES NOT exhibit toward any other means of transmission.

Why, it's almost as if (see Mark 7) He treats the words of Moses and the prophets as the written word of God.

You disagree, fine. Why gripe? Why object when others reach the position I do?

Dan Trabue said...

Again, if you read my words, I DON'T object to you believing that for yourself. Go ahead, believe it all you want.

But don't insist that the Bible says your interpretation is normative when your interpretation is not normative to what the Bible says. It's an extrabiblical conclusion that is tenuous enough (to be gracious) to NOT insist on it as being a "Christian essential..."

I know you have cited Scriptures, but they are Scriptures that don't say what you are saying, but YOU think they hint at it. And that's fine. But let's be clear, the Bible does not tell you so, that is a human conclusion outside of direct biblical teaching. Right?

Or to repeat an earlier question:

Is it your belief that we MUST believe the Bible is the top of this Understanding Hierarchy you're citing?

Or simply, that it's your preferred belief, for yourself?

I have no problem with people reaching conclusions that are not in the Bible using their reason and biblical teachings. For instance, I think it is fairly clear given biblical teachings (do not store up for yourself treasures here on earth) that we are not to invest. Now, the Bible does not SAY not to invest in our context, but it has enough passages that hint at it that, to me, I draw the conclusion that I don't want to invest.

BUT, the difference is, I don't insist on making that normative. I don't insist on calling our anabaptist interpretation a "Christian essential." I recognize that it is an extrabiblical conclusion that many of us have (reasonably, it seems to us) reached, but that it is OUR opinion and we're not speaking for God.

And that is the essential reason why I brought this up, because so many have their own interpretations and conflate those HUNCHES and OPINIONS (and they ARE hunches and opinions, by definition) with God's Word, and that's a big concern. Biblically and rationally speaking.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

"I'm just asking: Is there a reason we MUST give the Bible priority over other media?"

Let's say that there's not.


Okay. There's not.

FROM THAT POINT, you are free to have opinions on topics that aren't in the Bible, as long as you don't claim to speak for God that, "EVEN THOUGH it isn't in the Bible, WE have decided authoritatively and extrabiblically that this teaching is a Christian Essential."

How do we Authoritatively know?

Because we used our human reason to deduce that the Bible is the Sole Authority and that, IF there is a question, THE BIBLE IS THE DECIDER.

And so, since the Bible does NOT say that the Bible is the "SS" for understanding and, in debatable questions, then isn't that the Bible deciding against you?

That's what I mean by self-defeating. IF you reach that conclusion extrabiblically (and by all accounts, you have reasoned your way there, not finding that "the Bible decides when there's a disagreement" in the Bible), then you can't really claim that the Bible is deciding on this questionable matter, since the Bible does not make that claim.

That's all I'm saying. If you like that belief, embrace it for yourself, it won't bother me. Just don't insist that I have to agree with you in order to be a Christian.

The Bible does not tell us so.

Marshall Art said...

The problem I'm having with your position, Dan, is that while you rest your case on the fact that the Bible doesn't use the absolute wording you require, you offer nothing as an alternative to SS. You want to suggest reason and "listening to the Spirit", but you can't confirm why either of those would be a more solid source of guidance on anything. Indeed, unlike Scripture, one's ability to reason or "hear" the Spirit are easily compromised, and, unfortunately, Scripture teaches us that the heart is easily deceived.

Scripture, however, is constant. The wording is always the same no matter how many times one looks at it. One can look up the words, compare to various other versions (KJV, NAS, NIV, etc), investigate original language and come up with the truth. One can even join with others to commiserate their way to the truth, so that even if there continues to be disagreement over the meaning of a passage, a meaning exists waiting to be discovered. One's ability to reason or "listen to the Spirit" does not provide in this manner, or even come close.

And once again, the examples I offered above, as well as Bubba's, are among those that indeed show the Bible referring to its own authority. It's not likely we'll find one that says, "Hi. This is the Bible speaking. I'm top dog as far as revelation for contemporary Christians." I don't see how anyone who speaks of reasoning would deny the implications of those examples. And I again encourage you to imagine life with no Bible whatsoever and try to pretend that you'd even have heard of Jesus, or that what you had heard would match what billions of others might have heard.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

The problem I'm having with your position, Dan, is that while you rest your case on the fact that the Bible doesn't use the absolute wording you require, you offer nothing as an alternative to SS. You want to suggest reason and "listening to the Spirit", but you can't confirm why either of those would be a more solid source of guidance on anything.

And you can't confirm why Scripture is more solid than anything else. So?

Look Marshall, my doctor told me that I need to exercise more, eat more green vegetables and more blueberries so as to live a longer life. I ask him, "Yeah, yeah, I get it, BUT, which one is MOST important? Which one do I need to concentrate on and give the priority to?"

The doctor looks at me and says, "Well, all of these, they're all important."

"Yeah, I get that" said I. "But which has the priority??!"

The doctor repeats himself, "They're all important, you need to do each of these things. I have no empirical evidence to suggest that one is more important than the other, so I'm telling you that they're all important."

Like that. You're asking me to offer an alternative. I AM offering an alternative: They're all important. Reason, prayer, Bible study, seeking God's will, seeking the Spirit's leadership, observing God in Creation... these are ALL important and God can reveal God's Self in each of them. God has never told me that one has the priority.

And so, you look at your verses and read into them the suggestion that Scripture gets priority. That's fine, give it priority over reason and seeking God's Spirit, etc. I'm not saying you're mistaken to do so. Scripture is good.

But, unless you have some definitive reason why I need to impose this same hierarchy of belief, I'll stick to my presumption that they're all important and that Scripture offers no pecking order. That is, after all, what I see in Scripture and you cite Scripture as SS so then, isn't it the case that I need to go with what I understand Scripture to say?

Or are you saying that I should forget what I read in Scripture and how I understand it and I should focus instead on what Calvin and Bubba and Marshall think?

Can you understand how I find that less than compelling?

I repeat the earlier question: Are you merely saying, "This is what I find most compelling, but I'm not saying it's a Christian essential to agree with my understanding on this point?" Or are you saying that those who disagree with your understanding disagree with God?

Bubba said...

Dan, if your problem isn't with the personal decision to give the Bible priority but is, rather, with the belief that such priority is essential to Christianity, you should have made that much more clear.

As it is, I'm not really interested in refighting the Protestant Reformation with you.

I can certainly understand the instinct not to be too restrictive about orthodoxy, but Protestants have a good reason for insisting upon sola scriptura -- that it is the formal principle upon which the material principle of sola fide rests.

History has shown that those who add to Scripture other authorities tend to get lost in the weeds, e.g., by overemphasizing Mary and replacing grace with a religion based on works and indulgences. And those who assert that no revelation is normative get lost as well, unwilling to affirm the necessity of the bodily Resurrection or even to affirm that a self-described atheist cannot possibly be a Christian.

You state:

"You're asking me to offer an alternative. I AM offering an alternative: They're all important. Reason, prayer, Bible study, seeking God's will, seeking the Spirit's leadership, observing God in Creation... these are ALL important and God can reveal God's Self in each of them. God has never told me that one has the priority."

Has God told you that we're saved by grace through faith rather than through works of the law? Where?

Has God told you that Jesus is fully man and fully God? Where?

What ARE the essentials of the faith? And how do you know these essentials are true?

If you reply is that we cannot really know, then it seems to me that your problem isn't EVEN with insisting that sola scriptura is an essential.

Ultimately, your issue must be with insisting that any doctrine is essential.

I'm not interested in arguing against existentialism and the belief that God mumbles.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

I'm not interested in arguing against existentialism and the belief that God mumbles.

But you've already argued that God mumbles. You don't believe God is capable of speaking clearly to us through God's Spirit and through our God-given reasoning. Thus, you believe that God mumbles, judging you by your own measure.

On the other hand, I'm not saying that we can't learn from God in many good and positive and even clear ways. I'm saying that the Bible offers ZERO support for the notion that we MUST have an Understanding Hierarchy and that, with the Bible at the top. If the Bible doesn't argue for that, if Jesus hasn't taught it and God hasn't told us to have this hierarchy, why would anyone insist upon it as an essential?

Bubba...

Has God told you that we're saved by grace through faith rather than through works of the law? Where?

Yes, through our God-given reason and the people and world around me, we can indeed find support for the notion of salvation by grace through faith rather than a deadly legalism. Do you not find this to be a reasonable conclusion based on real world observation?

As to history, history is also rife with those who've turned this sola scriptura approach into a religion based upon works and "perfect knowledge" and forced agreement lacking in grace, which is the problem that I'm pointing to with this post.

IF the Bible doesn't insist upon it (at all) and IF the Bible is your "Sole Source" for authority, THEN why would we want to embrace it?

ON WHOSE AUTHORITY? That is the mile deep hole in your reasoning here, Bubba. If you can't answer THAT question, then why should we embrace that teaching?

It comes across more of a case of being able to point to our interpretation of Scriptures and say, "Here it is in God's Word. You're not arguing with me when you disagree with my interpretation, you're disagreeing with God!!" Deadly stuff we should be wary of, seems to me.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba, Marshall, anyone, care to take on this puzzle:

Jesus taught clearly and more than once and in more than one way: Do NOT store up for yourselves treasures on earth.

Quite clear. From that, I and the anabaptists reasonably imply that we should NOT invest our money, that is, we should not store up for ourselves treasures here on earth. What could be easier to reason out? Of course, not everyone agrees, but it seems exceedingly straightforward and almost literally true for us.

You point to a verse that says, "Scripture can equip us for every good work."

Again, quite clear.

From that, you all reason out that, of all the ways we can learn about God, Scripture (and by extension, the 66 Books) MUST have a top priority in an Understanding Hierarchy. It seems clear to you, whether or not it seems clear to anyone else (and despite the fact that it does not say that, nor perforce, imply it).

On what basis and whose authority would we make the latter an essential Christian tenet and the latter NOT an essential tenet?

On whose authority?

That is what I'm wanting to know.

Marshall Art said...

Dan,

You continue to miss a very important point: Of all the ways we can learn about God, aside from Scripture, which does not have Scripture as its source? How do you know God is speaking to you? How do you know He might? How do you know anything about Him except because of Scripture. Without Scripture, we might believe there is some god responsible for all, but how would we know it is "God"? Indeed, your own stated beliefs regarding a variety of issues suggests to me that it isn't God speaking to you at all. Your interpretations and explanations for what you think a given passage means suggests something else entirely.

Look at your constant reference to "laying up treasures". You think it means to avoid wealth, to not invest money. There is nothing that I can see that suggests that at all. Who's telling you this?

But to look at the parable of the rich fool from Luke 12, verse 21 states

“This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” NIV

So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. KJV

So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. NAS

The emboldened section indicates that laying up wealth for one's self is quite alright if one has been/is rich toward God. I would say MORE than indicates this. But you ignore that part in your "reasoning".

So, your reasoning is poor here when comparing what you believe with the entire context of your source. How did this happen? Is this really God speaking to you and without mumbling, or is it someone else?

Whatever, your interpretation may sound nice to some. But to compare what you think Scripture says with what it actually says reveals (and I'm not speaking divine revelation here, but something more easily seen by anyone who reads the whole thing) a far different and complete message. In this way, I always have Scripture as a fall back position. If I just had your word for it, I'd be lacking the full lesson. ON that basis alone SS is a sound position.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall, Jesus said...

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

In that passage, Jesus only says, "Do not store up treasures on earth... for where your treasure is, there is your heart..."

So, where you say...

There is nothing that I can see that suggests that at all. Who's telling you this?

It's literally what the text is saying. That you can't see that doesn't mean it isn't saying it.

But that's an aside. The point is (and the difference tween you and I) is that I don't insist that everyone must agree with me and consider this an essential Christian tenet. And yet, you appear to be insisting that your interpretation on the less compelling verses/argument must be considered an essential.

I'm asking a straightforward question: On whose authority MUST we consider your interpretation an essential and my interpretation NOT an essential?

Marshall Art said...

First of all, you expose your bias by referring to what is or isn't compelling, based on what you believe is or isn't. You have spoken many times about considering the Bible's entirety in deciding what to believe about a given tract or verse, but you constantly, as in this parable, ignore that which conflicts with your conclusions. What you offer above does not conflict at all with what I offered earlier regarding the parable of the rich fool. It says the same thing, but you conflate it to mean "avoid wealth". It doesn't say that at all. It doesn't even suggest it. It talks about prioritizing one's focus: on God first and anything else second. Thus, great wealth can certainly be achieved so long as it doesn't become the primary focus of one's heart. But you would interpret it to mean that it isn't even possible so don't try.

This shows why "reason" cannot be equal to Scripture and why whatever you regard as God speaking to you must also be laid against Scripture.

Dan Trabue said...

On. Whose. Authority?

Are you saying, "Marshall has spoken and everyone must bend knee to his wisdom?"

On whose authority do you make these claims? Why should anyone take your word over mine?

By all appearances, you appear to be conflating your word with God's. Why should we take that seriously?

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

It says the same thing, but you conflate it to mean "avoid wealth".

For the record, I do not conflate it to mean "avoid wealth." I believe "do not store up treasures" means "do not store up treasures." That's not avoiding wealth, it's opting to NOT "store up" (save, put aside, accumulate) wealth.

If you can't read my words and repeat back my meaning (the meaning which I know because they're MY words), then on whose authority should we take your interpretations as being equal to God's Word?

Bubba said...

"Yes, through our God-given reason and the people and world around me, we can indeed find support for the notion of salvation by grace through faith rather than a deadly legalism. Do you not find this to be a reasonable conclusion based on real world observation?"

What real-world observation points to salvation by faith?

"ON WHOSE AUTHORITY? That is the mile deep hole in your reasoning here, Bubba. If you can't answer THAT question, then why should we embrace that teaching?"

I've already answered that question, pointing to Christ's clear teachings and example in affirming Scripture's divine authorship and lasting authority.

I point to the authority of Jesus Christ and His Apostles, and in doing so I affirm the written scripture that preserves their teaching.

That's evidently not enough for you, because they didn't teach the unique authority of Scripture in terms that are explicit enough for your liking -- though I truly doubt you can produce evidence that your "real-world observation" teaches sola fide explicitly enough that it could approach the exacting standards you require from me.

Evidently it doesn't even occur to you to try.

Airy platitudes about "our God-given reason and the people and world around me" are enough for your positions; no argument from Scripture is extensive enough for mine.

I will say that I believe that some people who question the unique authority of Scripture are doing so in good faith, and because the issue is important and indeed vital to Christian epistomology and to the integrity of the Gospel message, their questions should be answered.

You'll have to excuse me for not holding you in such regard.

Dan Trabue said...

You are free, Brother Bubba, to hold me in whatever regard you wish to hold me. That does not change the fact that your argument has a Bubba-sized hole in it.

Where you say...

I've already answered that question, pointing to Christ's clear teachings and example in affirming Scripture's divine authorship and lasting authority.

What you should more correctly be saying is...

I, Bubba, have pointed to MY INTERPRETATION of what I consider Christ's clear teaching and reached conclusion X on this point.

You, Dan, have pointed to YOUR INTERPRETATION of what you consider Christ's clear teaching adn reached conclusion Z on this point.

The question that must be answered, for reasonable people, is: On WHOSE authority should we take Bubba's interpretation over Dan's as the correct one?

If you say, "I'm just telling you what 'Scripture' literally says..." well, of course, you're not. Scripture never once literally says what your interpretation is, as you freely admit.

If you say, "I'm telling you what the 'obvious' interpretation SHOULD be..." you are only appealing to your own wisdom ("obvious" to whome? Bubba? Those who agree with Bubba? Is that any sort of authority to trust? If so, why??)

If you say, "It's what seems obvious to me and Calvin and 1 million other believers..." you are appealing to numbers, not God's Authority. Is that an authority that we should deem above question? Why?

If you say, "No one else can reasonably reach any other opinion than my opinion..." again, you are just appealing to your own opinion as the Authority.

If you say, "I and those who agree with me speak for God..." that just raises the question, Says who? On whose authority do we know you speak for God? If you cite the Bible passages in question, you are just still appealing to your own wisdom.

That is the hole in your reasoning, Bubba. On WHOSE authority must we listen to you?

On WHOSE authority MUST we consider "Sole Source of Authority" as ESSENTIAL Christian doctrine, but "Don't store up treasures for yourself" as NON-essential Christian doctrine?

My point is the very serious notion of humility and recognizing when we speak for ourselves and when we speak for God. I always err on the side of making it clear that I'm speaking for myself. I may think my position is exceedingly biblical, reasonable and moral, but my opinion ALWAYS remains my opinion and I don't conflate my opinion with God.

Can you say the same?

On whose authority?

Bubba said...

"My point is the very serious notion of humility and recognizing when we speak for ourselves and when we speak for God. I always err on the side of making it clear that I'm speaking for myself. I may think my position is exceedingly biblical, reasonable and moral, but my opinion ALWAYS remains my opinion and I don't conflate my opinion with God."

And do you insist that the doctrine of salvation through faith is essential to Christianity? On whose authority, or do you dare presume to speak for God?

Or is even that doctrine negotiable? Are all Christian doctrines up-for-grabs?

You mention "recognizing when we speak for ourselves and when we speak for God," so when do you speak for God, and how do you know you're not blaspheming when you do so?

Here's your dilemma, Dan:

Your arguments can apply JUST AS MUCH to doctrines that you affirm as essential (if any) as they do to doctrines you don't.

The arguments you invoke do not merely undermine the position that sola scriptura is essential, it undermines the idea that ANY doctrine is essential.

So here's my challenge to you:

Pick ANY doctrine you consider essential -- salvation by grace through faith, the incarnation, even basic theism -- and explain why the doctrine MUST be true and MUST be essential.

When you do so, answer these questions:

1) On whose authority do you make the claim that X is essential?

2) In appealling to any other authority -- be it the Bible or reason or people or the world around you -- how do you know your interpretation of that authority's message is correct?

If you cannot provide answers to the questions you demand for others, in defending doctrine that YOU YOURSELF believe to be essential, just why should I be concerned that sola scriptura doesn't meet the same exacting and ridiculous standards?

Dan Trabue said...

You first.

On whose authority must I heed Bubba's opinion over mine?

You're the one that seems to be demanding that we fall at your feet, the burden is on you to first prove your authority.

IF you can't do this, then I hope you can understand that we may choose not to bow at your feet.

Bubba said...

I'm not demanding that anyone fall at my feet. I'm not insisting on my own authority, but only pointing to the authority of Christ and His Apostles.

You say that, in doing so, I'm invoking my own fallible interpretation of their teachings, but that argument can be made against quite literally every doctrine -- that is, unless you can prove me wrong.

What are your standards for determining whether a doctrine is an authentic teaching of Christ and His Apostles or a mere human interpretation?

If I don't know what those standards are, how can I know that my position really doesn't meet those standards and you're not just arbitrarily gainsaying my position?

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

I'm not demanding that anyone fall at my feet. I'm not insisting on my own authority, but only pointing to the authority of Christ and His Apostles.

Ah, but Christ and his apostles NEVER ONCE made the claim that you are making. Therefore, you are NOT pointing to them, but to your own extrapolation of what they might have meant.

Do you understand the difference?

Do you understand that it is a huge difference?

And again, that leaves the gaping Bubba-sized hole in your argument:

On whose authority do we accept Bubba's interpretation?

IF you can agree with me that this is, indeed, your interpretation - along with many humans who have gone before you, but NOT specifically of God - then I can proceed to answer your questions.

But first I have to assess if you're starting from a base of reality, or if you actually think that your interpretation = God's Word.

Bubba said...

"Ah, but Christ and his apostles NEVER ONCE made the claim that you are making."

What makes you say that?

It can't be through your own reason, or through other people, or through the world around you.

You must be drawing this conclusion from reading the Bible.

I can and do point to Christ's words that affirm the lasting authority of Scripture and point to Scripture as the final word (verses cited earlier), but I can do more than that.

I can point out the obvious fact that we're arguing over what Christ and the Apostles taught, but there's only one reliable record of their teaching.

I submit to the authority of Jesus Christ and His hand-picked Apostles, the last of whom left this earth more than twenty centuries ago.

Where has their teaching been preserved?

There is only one answer: it is the Bible, and it has no rivals.

Dan Trabue said...

And I am READING the Bible and drawing conclusions from it, INCLUDING the fact that the Bible does not state that the Bible is our "sole source" for authority.

Given that, ON WHAT BASIS and ON WHOSE AUTHORITY ought we ajudge Bubba's interpretation as the One True Interpretation?

Are you not understanding the question I'm asking or do you simply have no answer?

Bubba said...

1) I *do* understand the question, but I don't think you can possibly be consistent in asking that question unless you believe that there are NO essential doctrines in Christianity.

2) I think you're being so focused on what the Bible says, that you miss the fact that you're focusing on what the Bible says.

Again, I submit to the authority of Jesus and His hand-picked Apostles -- to their teaching, their "Way" as you have so frequently put it.

Am I wrong to do so?

In submitting to men who left this earth 20 centuries ago, I defer to the Bible as the only reliable record of their teaching.

Is there an alternative?

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba, here is a reminder of the conversation, because despite your statement, I don't think you're getting the point of my question.

1. I pointed to someone who claimed that the Bible should be our "sole source for Christian authority."

2. I noted that there is rationally and biblically NOT a "sole source" for knowing about God, but multiple sources, including Scripture, Creation, God's Spirit and Logic.

3. You agreed that there is not a SOLE source for knowing about God, BUT you insist that there is ONE source - The Bible - which MUST be given priority when it comes to learning about God.

4. I look to the Bible and note that the Bible (your "sole source" for authority) makes no such claim. Ever. It does not, to me anway, even imply it.

5. You agree that the Bible does not LITERALLY say that it is the SS, but that you USE YOUR REASONING to deduce that it is implied, at least that is what YOU THINK. I, as noted, don't think this Understanding Hierarchy is implied at all, not in the Bible.

6. I then ask, ON WHOSE AUTHORITY should we take Bubba's interpretation of some passages over my interpretation? The Bible (your "sole source") does not tell us to take Bubba's interpretation, so on what basis and whose authority should we demand that this is a Christian Essential?

THAT is what remains unanswered. You point back to your understanding of the Bible and say, "I think it is clearly implied," but that still leaves us with the demand to agree with you based on your authority.

BESIDES "Bubba said so," is there any reason we must take this interpretation and extrapolation as God's Word?

And please, do not cite, "But I'm looking at Scripture and what Jesus said..." again, because I, too, am looking at what Jesus did (and did not) say, so saying that you're looking at Scripture to reach your interpretation is STILL your interpretation.

Do you understand that? Or is it the case that you don't think your interpretation is actually your interpretation, but rather God's Word?

Bubba said...

I have a few problems with that summary, Dan.

1) I'm not arguing for some complex "Understanding Hierarchy" -- that's your silly phrase, not mind -- where all Christians must have the exact same priority list from 1 to N in evaluating possible revelations from God.

ALL I'm arguing is that the Bible comes first, that it trumps or casts the "deciding vote" in evaluating other transmission media. The order of the other N-1 media, I'm not arguing about.

Your use of the term is as misleading as if someone invoked a "Duty Hierarchy" to denigrate the obvious Christian position that our first duty is to God.

There's already a clear and common term for my position:

SOLA SCRIPTURA

It's a term you've almost completely avoided in this discussion, but it's accurate and it's apt, even if using the term DOES highlight the fact that you're not arguing against some crackpot innovation that Stan and I pulled out of our backsides.

You're arguing against the Protestant Reformation. I can understand why you wouldn't want to emphasize that fact, but it's not completely unimportant that your chief opponents aren't me and Marshall: they're Luther and Calvin.

2) Your summary also misses the point that I've long since been pointing to the Bible as the singularly trustworthy record of the Apostolic teaching (see my third and fourth comments, the two parter on August 16, at 7:56 and 8:10 AM), and it's not an unimportant part of my argument.

--

Othwerise, your summary is okay(-ish), and Step 6 is where I think you go off the rails.

"5. You agree that the Bible does not LITERALLY say that it is the SS, but that you USE YOUR REASONING to deduce that it is implied, at least that is what YOU THINK. I, as noted, don't think this Understanding Hierarchy is implied at all, not in the Bible.

"6. I then ask, ON WHOSE AUTHORITY should we take Bubba's interpretation of some passages over my interpretation? The Bible (your 'sole source') does not tell us to take Bubba's interpretation, so on what basis and whose authority should we demand that this is a Christian Essential?
"

You could use this approach to deny any essential Christian doctrine, and consistency would require you to do so -- and, as I said, that path leads directly to existentialism and the belief that God mumbles.

I can understand the appeal of this approach, to try to paint your opponent as megalomaniacal, but an emotionally satisfying tactic can still be invalid...

Bubba said...

...and, I understand the greatest utility of this approach. It completely sidesteps the need to argue the text in order to determine whose interpretation is more plausible.

Why look at the text at all when you can begin harumphing about how your opponent doesn't speak for God?

Just three days ago, you claimed that John 14:26 "clearly" says that the Holy Spirit will teach us all things.

I didn't rend my clothing and demand you tell me on whose authority you presume to speak for God.

No, I actually ARGUED against your interpretation by closely examining the text, to argue that the more obvious interpretation is that the promise was made to the Apostles in particular (those who heard Christ's spoken teachings) and not to Christians universally.

I've mentioned numerous passages in arguing for my position, claiming that they point to no other alternative, including Matthew 5:17-18, Mark 7:8-10, Luke 24:27, John 5:39.

If you actually have an argument against my interpretation, something you can demonstrate from the text, you should present it.

If you don't, you should consider the possibility that I'm providing the only reasonable interpretation of those numerous verses where Christ affirms Scripture's lasting authority and treats Scripture as the final word.

At which point, I'm not presuming to speak for God: I'm merely defending the clear meaning of His written revelation to man.

The issue wouldn't be my pride, but yours -- your unwillingness to submit to the clear teachings of Christ and His Apostles.

Dan Trabue said...

...and so, on WHOSE authority do we take your interpretation as more valid than mine?

Dan Trabue said...

As to the Understanding Hierarchy, I just invented the term for what you were describing, to have a briefer way of referring to your position other than, "the Understanding that there are several ways that we can understand/know more about God, including the Bible, reason, the Holy Spirit, Creation, etc... AND, of these ways, ONE of those ways of knowing has priority, has FIRST place in trying to understand God, and that is the Bible..."

A hierarchy can be a hierarchy of two, you know? The first one and all the rest? THAT is all I meant by it, and THAT is what you are referring to so what is wrong with shortening that to the much simpler, "Understanding Hierarchy..."?

And back to the question, you say that you have read the Bible and WHILE IT DOES NOT EVER SAY SO DIRECTLY, you have reached the opinion that many in the church have reached, that we need to consider the Bible as the "trump" or "deciding vote" on understanding things.

My question is, since the Bible does not ever say this at all, on whose authority should we take this extrapolation and make it a Christian Essential?

I'll be glad to answer your questions AS SOON AS you answer my question, which I've been asking for a while.

As to the Sola Scriptura, the person I cited didn't use the term and I did not know for sure that when he refers to the Bible as "the Sole Source for Authority in Christian life..." if he was speaking specifically of Sola Scriptura or not, so, as not to presume that was what he was speaking of, I kept referring to his terms, using HIS specific words.

Fair enough?

Dan Trabue said...

Aha, here it is...

If you don't, you should consider the possibility that I'm providing the only reasonable interpretation of those numerous verses where Christ affirms Scripture's lasting authority and treats Scripture as the final word.

As I noted earlier, if you are only going to cite "I'm reading the only 'obvious' interpretation of the text," then that begs the question, "OBVIOUS" to WHOM?

(Or, since you didn't use "obvious," but "reasonable" - "REASONABLE" to WHOM?)

Yes, I fully understand that your interpretation is "obvious" to you, but you don't speak for everyone.

So, on WHOSE AUTHORITY do we need to insist that those who agree with you are are taking the only "reasonable" or "obvious" interpretation?

What if someone disagrees with you and does not find your interpretations "reasonable" at all, but instead, who thinks that they are quite a stretch and a huge case of eisegesis?

WHO SAYS your interpretation is the right one?

Let me save you some trouble: No one says. Or rather, YOU ALL say it is the only reasonable interpretation. Your "authority" then, is yourselves.

That is factually the case, is it not?

Bubba said...

Dan, I've made clear my objection to your question.

The questions I've raised in response go directly to why I find your question objectionable.

What you're saying is, Answer my question, and I'll explain why it's not objectionable.

No dice.

Bubba said...

"What if someone disagrees with you and does not find your interpretations 'reasonable' at all, but instead, who thinks that they are quite a stretch and a huge case of eisegesis?"

What an outrageous possiblity, that someone would dare disagree with the Great and Powerful Me!

"WHO SAYS your interpretation is the right one?

"Let me save you some trouble: No one says. Or rather, YOU ALL say it is the only reasonable interpretation. Your "authority" then, is yourselves.

"That is factually the case, is it not?
"

That's it exactly. I just declare things ex cathedra and expect the rabble to take my word for it. I never make arguments for my positions, I just declare them to be the truth.

--

Seriously, Dan: anyone who disagrees with me on interpretation is more than welcome to present an argument for an alternative interpretation, and we can see how the two interpretations measure up.

You seem to take exception at the idea that a text's meaning could be obvious, that sometimes there is really is only one reasonable way to read the text and that (therefore) it is the height of arrogance to defend that interpretation as uniquely valid.

It's almost as if you belive that God couldn't communicate in such a way that it precludes vastly different interpretations from good-faith readers.

It's as if you do believe God mumbles after all, and evidently I'm supremely arrogant for trusting HIS skill at revelation.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba, if someone argued that, when Genesis 1 argues in favor of the existence of unicorns and, as evidence, he cites Genesis 1, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth..." which, this person reasons, means that, unicorns certainly existed and God created them because God created everything... my response to that would be simply, "The text does not say that. Nor is there an implication of that anywhere in the text."

Now, you cite Matthew 5 as support for the notion that the Bible hints at (implies? suggests??) that we MUST consider the Bible as the Top Source of information about God, the "decider in instances of disagreements..." and I look at the passage...

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

and can only say, "The text factually does not make that claim, nor do I see ANYWHERE where it even hints at a Bible as first "decider" in cases of disagreement, or as the preeminent source of knowledge about God. That is a calm and rational response to the claim that the passage hints at (demands? Implies??) a SS. This passage has Jesus affirming that the Scriptures are a resource for knowledge about God and an important one, at that. Jesus was being accused of trying to destroy or disrespect the Scriptures (who does that today, I wonder?), and he responds by affirming his admiration for Scripture and the importance of Scripture in his mind. BUT, it does not in any way at all say or even IMPLY that it is the "SS."

I've already done this with this passage and the other proof texts you offered.

Now, you say...

anyone who disagrees with me on interpretation is more than welcome to present an argument for an alternative interpretation, and we can see how the two interpretations measure up.

Well, I disagree with the suggestion and point out that what you see as "there" simply isn't there.

Now what? I repeat:

On what basis do we take your interpretation as the most reasonable one and - not only reasonable in the sense that maybe it's plausible, but SO reasonable that we have the authority (based on whose word??) that it is an ESSENTIAL Christian belief.

"On Whose Authority?" is an entirely reasonable question to ask, isn't it? If not, why not?

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

It's as if you do believe God mumbles after all, and evidently I'm supremely arrogant for trusting HIS skill at revelation.

You are the one who doesn't believe the Spirit is capable of teaching, that God's creation does not speak sufficiently of God, that God's Word written upon our hearts and heads is insufficient, that when God gave us reason, God did so in such a way as to not be clearly discernible to humanity... in point after point, you demand that God mumbles and then, when I say simply that, "Factually speaking, that text is not there and the implication is not there that I see," you see that as me suggesting God "mumbles..."?

Why is it that I am the one that thinks "God mumbles" when I refuse to infer something the Bible doesn't say and refuse to bow down to your bullying and refuse to accept your word as being evidence enough to call an extrabiblical idea "essential" to Christianity? Why is that not you, as you seem to be the one that doubts God the most.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba...

I never make arguments for my positions, I just declare them to be the truth.

I didn't say you didn't make arguments. I said THE OPPOSITE. I said quite clearly that you argue that these passages suggest TO YOU that God treats the Bible as SS. You indeed have verses you cite as proof texts. That IS the argument you make.

I merely pointed out the reality that I, too, make an argument: That the suggestion is NOT in those texts.

And then I ask the next reasonable question: On whose authority do we say one interpretation or the other is "essential" to Christianity?

I don't think you're understanding the point I'm making at all...

Marshall Art said...

Wow. You guys have been busy.

"For the record, I do not conflate it to mean "avoid wealth." I believe "do not store up treasures" means "do not store up treasures." That's not avoiding wealth, it's opting to NOT "store up" (save, put aside, accumulate) wealth."

Ah. But you see, you are doing exactly that when you consider the entirety of the lesson. You can ignore that the phrase comes up again in the parable of the rich fool, but the point is made there more directly that the intention is that everything comes after God. It can be wealth, it can be power and recognition. Whatever anyone focuses on at the expense of doing one's duty to God is foolhardy. You want it to be about economics. It isn't. It's about putting God first. Thus, your reasoning fails greatly and Scripture clears it up for those who might also be as confused on the issue as you are.

Getting back to all those methods of learning about God, such as God's creation speaking sufficiently about God, how do you know of these things? Which of these works without Scripture being there to tell you of them? What about God's creation tells you about Him specifically and how does it do that?

How do you know the Spirit is capable of teaching? When did It tell you, and how did It do that?

The point here is that all of such things are what Scripture teaches us. It is our source for knowing that those things might be true. You refer to these things as if you could have possibly known them without first learning of it in Scripture, and then you suppose that Scripture cannot be a primary source for learning about God.

And again, there have been several verses offered that answer the question of the Bible teaching of its own authority, but you haven't offered anything to counter them except that old stand-by of "Art's speaking for God" or "Art's hunch" or "I don't buy it". Not much of an argument.

Bubba said...

Between work and an oncoming sinus infection, it'll be Monday at the earliest before I can reply at length, but what I have to say *IS* both heavy on the substance and light on the snark.

So, Dan, I appreciate your patience.

--

Until then, I want to bring up one thing as a rather obvious analogy to my approach to Scripture.

Early on, Alan wrote, "for me, the sole authority is the true revelation: Jesus Christ."

I don't think the statement is helpful in resolving whether sola scriptura is true and essential, but I do agree with the statement.

I'll make a similar claim now:

I sincerely believe that Jesus Christ is the supreme, authoritative revelation of God.

(Sola scriptura arises as a principle only because Jesus is now at the Father's right hand and His Apostles are no longer with us either.)

I also belief this position is essential to Christian faith in this sense: a denial of this principle is contrary to orthodoxy's essential doctrines and their necessary corollaries.

In other words, the claim "Jesus is the supreme revelation" might not be found in fairly comprehensive list of Christian essentials, but those essentials DO lead to that conclusion and preclude all other possiblities.

In particular, I'm thinking of the Christian essentials of Jesus' lordship and His deity.

Jesus is Lord, and Jesus is God, and therefore what He says MUST NECESSARILY trump what anybody else says.

It is pure gibberish to say any of the following:

- Jesus is Lord, but He has no priority in terms of God revealing Himself through Jesus or reason or other people or the world around us.

- Jesus is God, but He has no priority, etc.

- Jesus is Lord, but SOMETHING ELSE has priority (whatever that something else is).

- Jesus is God, but something else has priority.

This are absurd on their face.

But note, Dan, that (so far as I know) we have no preserved record of Jesus claiming to be the supreme, authoritative revelation of God.

He claims to be the truth (Jn 14:6) -- not just to HAVE the truth, but to BE the truth. And He claims to be God (Jn 8:58).

From there, it's trivial to conclude that He is the supreme revelation of God, even if He didn't explicitly say so Himself.

So I must ask, and I do hope you will answer.

1) Do you agree that Jesus Christ is the supreme, authoritative revelation of God?

2) If so, can you point to where Jesus Himself made this claim?

3) Do you agree that this belief is essential, in so far as the denial is contradictory to orthodoxy's essential doctrines and their necessary corollaries?

4) If so, on whose authority do you insist that this belief is essential?

Perhaps your thinking about these questions will make a lengthy essay next week unnessary. Your answering these questions will certainly help highlight where it is we're on completely different pages.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

You want it to be about economics. It isn't. It's about putting God first. Thus, your reasoning fails greatly and Scripture clears it up for those who might also be as confused on the issue as you are.

Okay, we could debate the solidity of your opinions (along with how well you are understanding what I'm saying), but that is not the point. Here is the point (and follow closely):

You look at Scriptures, AND use your reason and YOU conclude that, in your opinion, my interpretation isn't based on good reason and Bible study.

I feel the same about your reasoning and Bible study.

The question is not who is right or not on that topic, the question is: ON WHOSE AUTHORITY is your reasoning "better" than mine and the One True Conclusion that Christians can come to?

You all keep dodging this or keep pointing back to your interpretation (and doing so in a way so as to suggest it isn't YOUR opinion, but "just what it says" even when, clearly, it is your opinion), but the answer is quite clear:

There is no one person, there is no one entity, no one religion, no one denomination who can validate your hunch or my hunch as The One True Interpretation. They remain our hunches. Now, of course, you think your hunch is more solid than mine and I think mine is more solid than yours, but they remain OUR hunches.

The ONLY difference here is that folk in your camp (and occasionally, in my camp, too) try to whitewash the fact that your opinions are YOUR opinions. You try to imply or outright say that your interpretation on these topics not directly in the Bible ARE God's Word and THAT is the danger of your approach to this. Conflating your opinions with God's Word is what got the Pharisees in trouble.

more...

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

but you haven't offered anything to counter them except that old stand-by of "Art's speaking for God" or "Art's hunch" or "I don't buy it". Not much of an argument.

You're asking me to prove a negative. "SHOW ME where it doesn't imply that!" you suggest.

I can no more show you where it doesn't imply it than I can show the person who believes Genesis 1:1 implies Unicorns. I can point out the obvious ("It's simply not there in the text and there is no sign that I see to demonstrate that there is even a HINT of an implication"), but beyond that, what do you want me to do? I've pointed out it factually does not literally say that. I've pointed out that there is nothing in the text that demands a Bible-first SS.

Could someone REASON their way to guessing it is implied? Well, sure, I guess. But it's not in the text and if it's not in the text, it's not in the text and it's not in the text.

Again, LOOK at your Matt 5 proof text, line by line:

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

Jesus is saying he is not destroying, abolishing, disrespecting Scripture. He says he is fulfilling it. Does that imply SS? No, it doesn't.

For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

Is there an implication of SS there? No, Jesus is affirming the lasting nature of Scripture (specifically, the Law, which was a hot topic for Jesus and the Pharisees - still is, in fact), but he is not implying SS.

WHERE is even a HINT of SS in that passage?

It isn't there.

Now, can you EXTRAPOLATE OUT of that passage something like, "Well, Jesus demonstrates strongly that he valued Scripture, and WHY did he do this? Because SS!" and that COULD be the case, but the text in no way hints at that or demands it, and certainly doesn't demand it as a Christian essential.

I mean, one could just as easily extrapolate out, "Well, Jesus demonstrates strongly that he values Scripture and WHY did he do this? Because he was dealing with Pharisees and Jewish people and those people took those texts seriously, so it was what he needed to do to reason with them..." and that COULD just as easily be the case. Both are fine plausible GUESSES, but neither is even remotely hinted at in the text.

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba, you ask me to answer some questions but refuse to answer mine. I'm not sure you understand how polite conversation works.

If you want to FRAME your answer so it doesn't sound as bad as it likely will sound, that's fine, but why not answer the very relevant and important question:

ON WHOSE AUTHORITY is your interpretation (on any text, but on this topic in particular) the Right One and others' interpretations are wrong and NOT ONLY are they wrong, but they are contrary to Essential Christian beliefs?

Your refusal to honestly answer the question I'm asking (the one I'm actually asking, not some variation of it) notwithstanding, I'll answer your questions. If nothing else, it can serve as an example of how to answer direct questions, directly.

You ask...

1) Do you agree that Jesus Christ is the supreme, authoritative revelation of God?

That is my belief and understanding, yes.

2) If so, can you point to where Jesus Himself made this claim?

No. It is MY understanding, based on Scripture and real world evidence, and based on faith.

3) Do you agree that this belief is essential, in so far as the denial is contradictory to orthodoxy's essential doctrines and their necessary corollaries?

Here's where we part ways. I am unwilling to say that "GOD THINKS these ten beliefs are essential to Christian Faith." IF God has not said that.

God has not said that about Jesus being the Supreme revelation of God, but it seems obvious to me. It is MY belief, not something God has told me.

4) If so, on whose authority do you insist that this belief is essential?

I'm not saying that it is essential, at least not in the sense that God has said that.

Now, traditionally, HUMAN churches have believed several tenets that God has not told us. Traditionally, some HUMANS have said that a belief in the Trinity, a belief in the virgin birth, a belief in "sola scriptura" etc, are all part of traditional HUMAN understanding of what is the essence of the Christian faith, as WE understand it (or at least, SOME of "we", but not all...)

A virgin birth, sola scriptura, the Trinity... these are all orthodox Christian beliefs as folk like Calvin understood it. The authority, then, for those beliefs lies in human tradition. Most of which I affirm (AS human tradition), but not all and not all of it do I believe God has told us is essential, nor did Jesus teach all of it - at all or certainly not as "essential" to following him.

Clearly, the authority for this is human tradition and that is fine, as far as it goes.

My point in all of this is that we must not conflate human opinion (whether OUR opinions and interpretations of things God hasn't told us or the traditions of those who've gone before us) with God's Word.

Jesus is God's Word (I believe) and the ultimate authority (I believe), not human tradition - even those traditions I agree with - and not our opinions.

We MUST understand and acknowledge the difference, if we don't want to go down the dangerous path of those Pharisees, those liars, snakes, vipers, blind leaders of the blind.

Now that I've answered multiple questions of yours, will you answer mine?

Dan Trabue said...

Bubba, you ask me to answer some questions but refuse to answer mine. I'm not sure you understand how polite conversation works.

If you want to FRAME your answer so it doesn't sound as bad as it likely will sound, that's fine, but why not answer the very relevant and important question:

ON WHOSE AUTHORITY is your interpretation (on any text, but on this topic in particular) the Right One and others' interpretations are wrong and NOT ONLY are they wrong, but they are contrary to Essential Christian beliefs?

Your refusal to honestly answer the question I'm asking (the one I'm actually asking, not some variation of it) notwithstanding, I'll answer your questions. If nothing else, it can serve as an example of how to answer direct questions, directly.

You ask...

1) Do you agree that Jesus Christ is the supreme, authoritative revelation of God?

That is my belief and understanding, yes.

2) If so, can you point to where Jesus Himself made this claim?

No. It is MY understanding, based on Scripture and real world evidence, and based on faith.

3) Do you agree that this belief is essential, in so far as the denial is contradictory to orthodoxy's essential doctrines and their necessary corollaries?

Here's where we part ways. I am unwilling to say that "GOD THINKS these ten beliefs are essential to Christian Faith." IF God has not said that.

God has not said that about Jesus being the Supreme revelation of God, but it seems obvious to me. It is MY belief, not something God has told me.

4) If so, on whose authority do you insist that this belief is essential?

I'm not saying that it is essential, at least not in the sense that God has said that.

Now, traditionally, HUMAN churches have believed several tenets that God has not told us. Traditionally, some HUMANS have said that a belief in the Trinity, a belief in the virgin birth, a belief in "sola scriptura" etc, are all part of traditional HUMAN understanding of what is the essence of the Christian faith, as WE understand it (or at least, SOME of "we", but not all...)

A virgin birth, sola scriptura, the Trinity... these are all orthodox Christian beliefs as folk like Calvin understood it. The authority, then, for those beliefs lies in human tradition. Most of which I affirm (AS human tradition), but not all and not all of it do I believe God has told us is essential, nor did Jesus teach all of it - at all or certainly not as "essential" to following him.

Clearly, the authority for this is human tradition and that is fine, as far as it goes.

My point in all of this is that we must not conflate human opinion (whether OUR opinions and interpretations of things God hasn't told us or the traditions of those who've gone before us) with God's Word.

Jesus is God's Word (I believe) and the ultimate authority (I believe), not human tradition - even those traditions I agree with - and not our opinions.

We MUST understand and acknowledge the difference, if we don't want to go down the dangerous path of those Pharisees, those liars, snakes, vipers, blind leaders of the blind.

Now that I've answered multiple questions of yours, will you answer mine?

Marshall Art said...

Dan,

Regarding your last two responses to me.

To begin, I don't merely conclude that your reasoning and interpretation of that particular point is wrong. I back it up with Scripture, referring specifically to those missing verses that, when added to "do not lay up treasures", provide a message that you ignore or strangely miss. You stop at "do not lay up treasures" and miss the punchline, which in one case has been provided in my earlier comments, and in another speaks of the inability of serving two masters. Both of which teach that God comes first, but neither of which teaches simply "do not lay up treasures". It is not a hunch. It is what Scripture says. What's more, there is little in the way of "interpretation" necessary as the message is so plain based on the words used and the order in which they are displayed on the page. In other words, simple reading exposes the teaching, basic understanding of the written words reveals the lesson. But when you cut off the passage where you do, then you alter the message, change the meaning and basically distort the teachings of Christ. (I can see your trouble with this as you now have one or two fewer passages to which you can refer to support your "simple living" philosophy.)

My point in belaboring this particular sidebar is that it illustrates the downside of attempting to place "God given reason(ing)", or the "Spirit teaching us" over the black and white words on the pages of Scripture that have remained unchanged for so long.

On whose authority should you defer to my position on these passages? Such a question is illegitimate and changes the subject. I've used Scripture to show why your position is less than accurate. You've used your question to avoid supporting your position or proving mine poor.

Now getting back to the question of the post, my response of 8/17 @ 6:59PM are examples of where the Bible is referring to itself, through the words of the authors of each of the books/letters whence comes the examples, of Scripture's authority. It doesn't use the term sola scriptura, but indicates the very same sentiment. Thus, the question has been answered by my examples, as well as those given by Bubba. At the very least, it cannot be said honestly that the Bible does not give at least a hint that it, by virtue of the teachings of the various authors, regards itself as authoritative and the basis against which all other teachings must be compared.

Marshall Art said...

One more thing as an aside: Regarding Unicorns in the Bible when you have a moment. It isn't talking about horses.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

On whose authority should you defer to my position on these passages? Such a question is illegitimate and changes the subject. I've used Scripture to show why your position is less than accurate. You've used your question to avoid supporting your position or proving mine poor.

1. On whose authority is that question not a legitimate question? Since WHEN are questions "illegitimate..."?

2. I looked quite specifically at YOUR citation, Matt 5. I pointed out that the SS suggestion is not literally there and then went on to show how there is nothing really there that in any way suggests a hint of SS.

I LOOKED at the Scripture and what you said isn't there. You can't say I'm not supporting my position. I looked at the text. What you say IS NOT there.

WHERE in Matt 5 do you find even the slightest HINT of SS?

Marshall Art said...

Dan,

1) Questions are illegitimate when they are off point, designed to steer focus from the point being made. As I indicated, I offered an answer to your question about what Scripture says about itself with several examples. You then pose the question regarding whose authority dictates my position is correct. This moves the goal posts as you didn't originally request such a thing. Thus, the question is illegitimate give your own topic regarding what the Bible says about itself.

2) I didn't cite Matt 5. Bubba did. But it does contain references to "what is written" and thereby provides another case of Scripture speaking about itself.

Perhaps you seek the Book itself making claims of any kind. I don't know how this is possible. But within the Book, we find many instances of speakers (Paul, Jesus, others) referring to the importance of what is written in Scripture and how what is written should be the basis for the listener's (reader's) understanding of God's Will. Thus, we have shown that it is indeed there, just not worded in the strict manner you demand. You use this strict requirement to deny Scripture's authority and that allows for subjective interpretations that suit the interpreter.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

Questions are illegitimate when they are off point, designed to steer focus from the point being made...

You use this strict requirement to deny Scripture's authority and that allows for subjective interpretations that suit the interpreter.


First off, you twice here presume to know my motives and twice, you are mistaken on my motives. WHY would I want to "deny Scripture" when I love Scripture? And I have never suggested people can just find interpretations that suit themselves (ie, the interpreter) because obviously, demonstrably, that is not what I believe. If I thought it was okay to interpret things however you want, in whatever willy nilly manner you want, then I would not raise objections to interpretations I disagree with. You are factually mistaken on those points.

Secondly, it is not off point to the conversation. Follow:

Person A: The RIGHT interpretation of this passage is SS. I've read it and, while it doesn't directly say it, Scripture obviously implies it.

Person B: I've read Scripture too and don't find it implied at all. So here we have two people who disagree, ONE of whom wants not only to simply offer it as his opinion, but who wants to insist upon HIS interpretation as "essential" and those who disagree with his interpretation are disagreeing with God.

Given that, an entirely reasonable and objective question to ask is: On WHOSE AUTHORITY or WHAT BASIS is Person A the Right One to listen to? On WHOSE AUTHORITY is his position "essential..."?

That is, given person A's insistence that others must heed that position, says who? What makes his position the authoritative one?

These are reasonable questions.

If you are simply answering: Person A SEEMS TO ME to be the one making the best argument given the text, then that's fine. That is saying, "I believe A is correct on my own authority insofar as that argument seems the best to me..." There is nothing wrong with noting that you believe one position SEEMS TO YOU to be the most reasonable. I do it all the time. No problem, AS LONG AS you are not conflating "This seems right to me" with "This is what God says..."

Do you get the point I'm making here?

Marshall, along those lines, I asked you earlier and repeat:

Are you saying "This is merely my opinion on the best interpretation" or are you saying, "This is God's Opinion and to disagree with it is to disagree with God..."?

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall, re: "I didn't quote Matt 5, Bubba did..." Okay, let's revisit one of the passages you DID quote, along with my direct response to the text...

2 Timothy 3...

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Are you saying that this passage, to you, positively suggests that of the ways God might teach us, that Scriptures must be given priority? Or are you just saying that, "well, somebody could make a case, sort of..."?

Scripture is "useful" does not suggest to me a hierarchy and certainly doesn't literally say it. Agreed? I mean, if you find a hierarchy implied and that's meaningful to you, that is fine, but I don't think you can make the case that such a belief must be normative, based on this passage?

And you seem to find evidence in "equip you for every good work..." for not just a hint of SS, but a demand for it, but where?

Scripture IS useful for teaching, etc and things that are useful for teaching DO prepare us for good work, but there is no implication of a demand that, therefore, Scripture is SS. Is it because it uses the phrase "EVERY good work" that hints at, to you, a hierarchy? I'm just not seeing what you're seeing.

WHERE SPECIFICALLY in that text is there not just a hint, but a demand for SS and not just a demand for SS, but a demand that SS is essential to Christian faith?

Again, I can't disprove a negative, all I can do is point to the literal text and its apparent meaning and say, "I see no mention of SS there, any more than I see a mention of a belief in unicorns."

Your earlier response to this was...

It says that Scripture will equip us for every good work. What is not included in "every"?

What is not included in "every" is any hint of SS. Yes, being well trained DOES prepare us for good works, but what does that have to do with SS?

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall...

within the Book, we find many instances of speakers (Paul, Jesus, others) referring to the importance of what is written in Scripture and how what is written should be the basis for the listener's (reader's) understanding of God's Will. Thus, we have shown that it is indeed there, just not worded in the strict manner you demand.

1. I'm not demanding any particular wording. I'm asking for any text that even HINTS at a demand for SS.

2. Yes, we DO find texts demonstrating the importance of Scripture and how it can inform us in understanding God's Will. What we DON'T find is any hint that it is the SOLE source of authority, or even the SOLE decider on questionable matters. Do you have even one text that fairly directly implies it (again, with the caveat that there are NO passages that directly says that in any manner).

Bubba said...

Feeling better, but not 100 percent. Appreciate everyone's concern.

--

Dan, I appreciate your answers.

Since 1) you admit that you believe Jesus is the supreme authoritative revelation of God but 2) you concede that you cannot point to where Jesus Himself made that claim, you must surely see how it's inconsistent to demand of us similarly exacting evidence regarding Scripture's authority.

If you're going to be consistent, you MUST accept that it's okay that sola scriptura isn't based on an explicit scriptural claim of the doctrine.

The only remaining issue is our belief that the doctrine is not only true but essential, and that gets back to your question of "on whose authority?"

"Bubba, you ask me to answer some questions but refuse to answer mine. I'm not sure you understand how polite conversation works."

1) It's not as if I'm refusing to answering every question you ask. Our conversations over the past -- what, seven years? -- make it abundantly clear that I'm willing to answer most of your questions.

2) On this particular question, it's not as if I'm ignoring it, nor am I objecting to it without explanation.

I've repeatedly addressed your question by explaining why I object to it.

I'll do so again, addressing what you write now.

You mention the virgin birth and the Trinity, and your position is that mere human tradition is the source for people asserting that such doctrines are essential.

"I'm not saying that it is essential, at least not in the sense that God has said that."

"Most of [these beliefs] I affirm (AS human tradition), but not all and not all of it do I believe God has told us is essential, nor did Jesus teach all of it - at all or certainly not as 'essential' to following him."

Which beliefs HAS God explicitly said is essential to Christian belief? And where has He done so?

If it's not the virgin birth, is it at least the Resurrection? If it's not the Trinity, is it at least basic theism?

My concern is that a consistent application of your approach wouldn't just cause us to see that SOME beliefs aren't really essential: it would cause us to conclude that ALL beliefs are inessential.

With the approach you're using, the issue isn't where we draw the line between essential and optional, but whether we have a line at all.

Don't just try to cajole me into to answering your question; explain why my objection to it is unfounded.

Marshall Art said...

Dan,

If you are going to try to counter my position, you should at least be gracious enough to deal with the entire passage I offered as evidence of mine. This is especially required of one who insists context and the entirety of Scripture must be considered before denying things like sexual behaviors.

What's more, the "demand" for SS wasn't requested by you in the first place. You asked, once again,

"WHERE does the Bible make the claim of SS?"

sola scritura The belief that the truths of Christian faith and practice can and must be established from scripture alone, without additions from, e.g., tradition or development. (from the Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions)

I also offer this link, one of many I could have chosen, and one I chose for no particular reason over other possible links, which includes more passages not yet included.

All the passages offered thus far serve to point toward the principle of SS. Time and again we see Scripture referred to as all that's necessary for teaching us and confirming for us what we need to know. In this sense, Scripture does indeed make the claim of SS.

The problem between us is your strange and illegitimate question. You defend it as a reasonable one, yet even that you only assert and not truly defend with proofs. A reasonable response would be to either provide passages that conflict with all those now presented, or show how each of them fail to say what they clearly say. Your question

"On WHOSE AUTHORITY or WHAT BASIS is Person A the Right One to listen to?"

is a dodge, especially given the fact that no claim to authority was ever taken by me. I've provided evidence from Scripture for your original question. That was my task as put to me by you. But if you just ask "on what basis?", that's easy: on the fact that words mean things and the words in the passages I presented mean that Scripture is given that great importance by the various people speaking about it in the passages presented. You now must return volley with a counter argument. "On whose authority" ain't a counter argument at all. It is John Cleese's "No, it's not" response dressed up.

Marshall Art said...

"Are you saying "This is merely my opinion on the best interpretation" or are you saying, "This is God's Opinion and to disagree with it is to disagree with God..."?"

This, too, moves the goal posts. None of what I provided is my opinion, though some of them (Mostly Bubba's) are God's opinions. Mine are the opinions of those authors who speak of Scripture. The collection of these passages is a response to your question

"WHERE does the Bible make the claim of SS?"

MY opinion is that these people (Paul, Jesus, etc) knew/know what they're talking about. Who am I to disagree with Jesus and/or His apostles?