How should Sola Scriptura be defined?

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The matter of the sufficiency of the Bible's teaching for salvation aside, should Sola Scriptura be defined:

The Bible is the sole infallible (and the final) authority on faith and morals...

OR

The Bible is the sole authority on faith and morals... ?

Do you think that there is a significant difference between the two?

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Wed, 5/6/09
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Either is bad.

N.F. Tyler wrote:
The matter of the sufficiency of the Bible's teaching for salvation aside, should Sola Scriptura be defined:

The Bible is the sole infallible (and the final) authority on faith and morals...

OR

The Bible is the sole authority on faith and morals... ?

Do you think that there is a significant difference between the two?


Yes, there is a difference between the two, but I don't like either definition.

As long as you limit inerrancy to "faith and morals", it is a flawed definition. Either the Bible is without flaw in all areas or it's not. What this is saying is that the Bible's inerrancy is only limited to matters of 'faith and morals'. It is not inerrant in matters of history, science, or even practice. This is the same loopholes that liberal and neo-orthodox 'ministers' have used for decades in order to strip the Bible of it's authority and power. After all, creation isn't really a matter of 'faith and morals', but of science, and everyone knows that we all evolved from amoebas, or so their arguments go.

I would junk both definitions and present a better one. Our DS is good, and you could also refer to Central Baptist Theological Seminary, DBTS, BJU, NIU, Calvary, the ACCC, FBFI, IFCA-International, or GTY [for starters ]

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Authority

I would be perfectly comfortable with saying that the Bible is inerrant, infallible, the final authority, etc., on everything which it touches upon, everything that it says. I used 'on faith and morals' not to limit the Bible's authority, but just because the things of faith and morals are generally considered to be, in general, the things about which God is telling us through the Holy Writ. They are broad categories under which any Bible subject/topic you want to bring to the table fall.

I'm much more concerned about the existence of fallible, error-prone, non-final authorities on those matters which the Bible speaks of, which the former definition provided seems to be open to and the latter definition seems to reject, instead taking a 'Just me and my Bible' approach. I'm thinking mainly of the writings of the Church Fathers, creeds, councils, confessions of faith, expert Bible teachers, etc., as having some authority in the Church (although in no way on the same level as Scripture, the only infallible, inerrant, final authority -- this must always be crystal clear). It is the difference, some say, between Sola Scriptura as historically understood (by the Reformers) and 'Solo' Scriptura (a much later, 'revisionist' phenomenon).

See here:

http://www.the-highway.com/Sola_Scriptura_Mathison.html

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Luther

In A Sure Ground on Which to Stand, Mark Thompson relates how Luther challenged others to debate him with the following stipulation: the Scripture would be accorded first rank and final authority, next the Fathers, then the doctors, then the canon lawyers. That is from my memory, so it may not be 100% accurate, but the substance of it is correct. So, Luther's commitment to sola scriptura did not mean that all other sources of information were to be cast aside. Although, Luther did say that he wished people would read the Bible more and other writings less, and even that all of his own theological works could be burned save The Bondage of the Will and his Small Catechism.

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