Thursday, May 25, 2017

A Succinct Case for Sola Scriptura

With minor editing, the following blue paragraphs are my comments in Steve Hays' blogpost: "The priority of tradition"  Any additional comments will be in black. BTW, I've argued for the following many times with greater force in various blog comments, but I've never collected their links or redacted them into a single blogpost. So, I decided to just post these comments here as a new blogpost.

There are different types of order and priority. For example, logical, chronological, causal, explanatory, importance, sequential et cetera. There's a sense in which one can say Church tradition has chronological, sequential, causal, explanatory priority to the NT Scriptures (I say NT because the OT existed prior to the formation of the NT church). Nevertheless, the NT Scriptures (and the Scriptures as a whole including the OT) has priority of importance over church tradition.

Even then, ultimately speaking God's Word/Revelation (either verbal or written) is chronologically, sequentially, causally and explanatorily prior to Church tradition since it's the Word/Revelation of God that put Adam under covenant with God, that initiated covenant with Abraham, Moses, David and the NT Church through the words of Christ (who is Himself God). Since the beginning of the enscripturation of Revelation into written form from the time of Moses it's [it has] always been the case that the already recognized and canonized written Revelation of God (i.e. the Scriptures) took priority over any further alleged revelations (whether written, verbal or oral). What could be termed the principle of Summa Scriptura. That was in operation EVEN DURING the time when inspired verbal revelation on par with Scripture was STILL being given. How much more when virtually no claiming [or is it "claimingly"?] Christian body believes NEW verbal revelation is being given on par with Scripture (not even Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox and most charismatics; though exceptions would include cultists like Mormons etc.).

Since, church tradition does not solely contain revelation from God it's not pure, and therefore not reliable like Scripture is. Tradition may contain a mixed bag of human tradition and orally passed down inspired revelation. Say, hypothetically, it turns out that God really did inspire an Apostle to reveal that God's favorite color was green and that that [sic] revelation was recorded and preserved down to the present time through church tradition. That tradition must nevertheless be tested by the priorally greater authority of the written Scriptures because of the principle of Summa Scriptura. Even if the chain of transmission is impeccable. Interestingly, there is no such impeccably transmitted tradition which isn't already something recorded in Scripture.

We know from Scripture, Jewish tradition and Christian tradition that Scripture (whatever that might be, and irrespective of the correct canon) is reliable and possesses God's full authority (though for many Jews the Torah has more authority than the rest of the Tanakh). That can't be said about tradition. Jews claim that it's [it has] always been the case since the time of Moses that oral tradition was considered the Word of God, but Karaite Jews would demur and give good arguments against that claim. Similarly, Christians can also show from the Scriptures and Christian tradition itself that Scripture took priority over tradition. It was a later Catholic development that started to claim that Church "Tradition" (with a capital "T") was on par with Scripture, along with Ecumenical Councils (and a teaching magisterium for Catholicism). But that's not historical. It cannot be demonstrated from history that that's the case. On the contrary, the exact opposite can be demonstrated from the earliest church traditions. It's true that at times the Scriptures were spoken of as a subset of the greater traditions of the Church. But, many of those same church fathers would state that the Scriptures alone held the highest authority. So much so that some of them would say that a dogmatic doctrine of faith must be demonstrable from Scripture.

For concerning the divine and holy mysteries of the Faith, not even a casual statement must be delivered without the Holy Scriptures; nor must we be drawn aside by mere plausibility and artifices of speech. Even to me, who tell you these things, give not absolute credence, unless you receive the proof of the things which I announce from the Divine Scriptures. For this salvation which we believe depends not on ingenious reasoning, but on demonstration of the Holy Scriptures.” - Cyril of Jerusalem [from his Catechetical Lecture 4, 17]

That quotation is from Cyril's Catechetical Lectures where he was teaching about the basics of the Christian faith. Apparently it seems he was teaching something like the principle of Sola Scriptura or Summa Scriptura contrary to modern Catholic claims and teaching.


No comments:

Post a Comment