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Friday, April 18, 2014

Ecclesial Fallibility

This is what Sola Scriptura should be called, because that's what it is. It's the right of interpretive veto power over any supposed "church" and its juridical and doctrinal decisions. What it means is that there is no real principled difference between "Solo Scriptura" and "Sola Scriptura". Granted, to create a concept of "derivative authority" to some creed or other thing does create more skin in the game, as it were, to foster the inertia of consensus that's required to maintain some semblance of contact with orthodoxy. But eventually, you're going to break the axiom--Oh, let's call it "JK's Axiom #1"--"One cannot be both the arbiter of divine revelation, and a humble receiver of it at the same time." A naturalist is a person who has used his interpretive veto power to not only question every church, but to question the existence of God. Here's the kicker, though: he's definitely a Protestant.

I wrote that a Christian needs to know what God says in the places closest to our lives ("local church", in the Reformed parlance) in order to be Christian. This led to my other closely related axiom, "If God didn't say it, it doesn't matter." Or, in other words, doctrinally speaking, a human opinion is just that. So, cheer up, my friends: the Presbyterian Church in America could declare you a heretic tomorrow, and it means two things: Jack, and Squat. They aren't willing or able to say they speak for Christ Himself, so who cares?

Leithart certainly didn't. And he tested the individualism right at the core of the whole thing. He said, "Prove to me from the Scriptures I'm wrong!" But you can't. That's why it's an insidious lie, Sola Scriptura. The best thing two Protestants can do is decide that doctrine x is "secondary" to the gospel,  of which the very existence of their communities with distinct doctrines is a counter-sign. Go ahead: Tell Pastor Mark Dever you want to baptize your infant son. Or his. Then enjoy the fireworks. Slow-motion relativism, and then the formation of politico-cultural groups and alliances to compensate for the dissonance of not being able to know what God definitely said. All Protestantism is degenerating into ceasaro-papism now; Jim Wallis' Caesar may be different than yours, but it's all the same.

Food for thought.

1 comment:

aquinasetc said...

Here is my fun fun fun PCA discipline anecdote.

A couple guys were excommunicated in one congregation of the presbytery. Undeterred, they moved to a different congregation in the same presbytery where they were received with open arms. Nothing was ever done to correct this.