Sola Scriptura?

We’ve all seen this phrase tossed around, and with varying degrees of understanding what it means or how it is to be applied.  Just this morning I could see the shock and amazement on a couple faces when I pointed out, as a side point, that the Church came before Scripture, that the Church is the interpreter of Scripture, and that the individual has no right to private judgment.  I went on to mention that if the Church thinks a passage means one thing, and you think it means a different thing, well, guess who’s right?  Every clergyman – heck, for that matter, I bet every Christian – has heard someone say “I know the Church teaches … but I believe that ….” 

How can the Church get her children to comprehend the right order of Christian doctrine when each individual thinks he has to reinvent the wheel all by himself?

Four springs ago, Fr Al Kimel was wrestling with these concepts, and his blog records his working through them.  Have a look there, if you would, and read slowly and carefully through his internal argument, displayed for us, then come back and share your reactions, if you will.  We’ll be waiting.

4 thoughts on “Sola Scriptura?

  1. Fr Richard Sutter SSM Post author

    I’m a little disappointed and a bit incredulous that there are no takers to discuss this. Of course, perhaps this is a simple matter that those who understand it don’t need to discuss it and those who don’t understand it probably don’t read this blog.

  2. colinchattan

    In his book Fundamentals of the Faith (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1988), pp. 273 -276, Peter Kreeft presents five refutations of the extreme sola scriptura argument which I find very clear and cogent (general characteristics, actually, of his whole book). On a personal level I can testify that the sola scriptura and sola fide positions – at least in their extreme forms – drove me almost to despair: I found that they effectively reduced Christianity to nothing much more than an abstract mental calculus with no connection to anything other than the mind. Indeed I came to the conclusion that Protestantism, at least to the extent that it presents itself as a positive system of thought distinct from Catholicism, carries an implicit, effective denial of the Incarnation and is, in fact, nothing more than pagan Greek rationalism – the rationalism of the European late medieval period and Renaissance which found, perhaps, its ultimate expression in the Cartesian “cogito ergo sum” – dressed up in Christian clothing. What saved me? Catholic writers, particularly the great French Catholic writers such as Paul Claudel, Georges Bernanos, J-K Huysmans, and Francois Mauriac – and even Charles Baudelaire – and also T.S. Eliot, Evelyn Waugh, and Graham Greene, but above all an Anglican priest (I remember him only as the “Reverend Rideout”) who told me when I was a boy that Christianity was different from all the other world religions and philosophies in that, unlike their founders and leaders who each, in essence, said, “Don’t worry about remembering me; I am not important. Rather remember my teaching, my philosophy, my moral code,” Jesus put the emphasis exactly the other way round: “Above all else, remember ME.” Those words, which always recalled me to the centrality of he Incarnation in Christianity, the fact that, in Christianity, God’s Word of salvation is not primarily a sound, or written signs, or lofty abstract ideas, but a Whole Person for whole persons, saved me many times from going off the rails – and led to my own rejection of Protestantism and acceptance of Catholicism, and actually made Anglicanism comprehensible to me and a channel of divine grace.

  3. Pingback: » Blog Archive » The Difference Between Anglican and Reformed

  4. Scott

    To properly order your thinking about Holy Scripture you need to study what the Fathers of the Church has said at least indirectly. That will aid in your own thinking about Holy Scripture.

    To study what the Church teaching about Holy Scripture and to live you life accordingly may work for some people. But for many others a simple understanding of facts is not enough. The idea that we are to work out our salvation (Philippians 2:11-13) seems to support this idea.

    The approach above, which is only shallow in its presentation, does not allow for calling what the Church has always called sin as something which is Holy. It does not change the focus of a passage from an abomination to being rude.

    What every Anglican Clergyman says about Holy Scripture being all necessary for salvation is consistence with the above view. All that is necessary for salvation is in Holy Scripture, but such knowledge is not only in the word themselves but in the greater knowledge which come with understanding the Church’s teaching.


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