Sunday, November 17, 2013

Liturgy, Community, And Ecumenism: Why An Invisible Church Destroys The Gospel

I'm just gonna say it: There is no principled distinction between Sola Scriptura and "Solo Scriptura". Protestants, like Dr. Anthony Bradley of King's College, NYC or Keith Mathison, or Peter Leithart, or whomever can attempt to make one, but it doesn't exist. If Scripture is the final authority, then man must be the final arbiter of what it says. The principle arose in the context of a Church whose received dogmas, practices, and jurisdiction were believed to be fraudulent. If you reject ecclesiastical authority, you reject it. Even if you try to be cool about it, and start a rival community, you can't get that back. You've made the individual the arbiter of divine revelation, and set up a scenario of unremitting, irreconcilable hostility between the man and the ecclesial community to which he belongs. This is the real reason why there are so many denominations. Sola Scriptura should really be called, "The Principle of Ecclesial Fallibility," because that's what it is. A fundamentally invisible Church goes right along with it; after all, you're saying that no visible manifestation of Christian community has the final right to bind my conscience if I firmly believe that Scripture teaches otherwise.
The good-faith version of this is what we call "The Noltie Conundrum." You're sitting there with your best shot at what the Scriptures say (or a part of them), talking it over with some brethren from another community, and you say, "What makes him wrong, and me correct?" And, if I disagree with my community, how would I know if I was wrong? Frankly, aren't I the judge and jury?
Say it with me now: "One cannot be both the arbiter of divine revelation, and a humble receiver of it at the same time."

Dr. Bradley said in response to this article: "Ryan, the problem with your entire article is that you have wrongly defined what "sola Scriptura" meant from the Reformation. It in no way at all means what you was. "Sola Scriptura" was the idea that Bible is the final authority for matters of discerning faith. It does not mean that there are no other sources of formation in the Christian life." 

I say, I dare you to make this distinction real. I dare you to try. Mathison couldn't. Leithart seems to think his dizzying intellect will make one out of thin air. But sooner or later, if the man does not lay down his trump card, he has no way to prove he's not submitting to himself. And in fact, he is.


    Timothy R. Butler said...

    Why does interpreter have to mean authoritative arbiter? As you read this comment and interpret it, have you somehow made yourself the final arbiter of what I said or are you just doing the very human act of interpretation?

    Jason said...

    Your statement does not purport to be Christian doctrine. Who cares?