When we write or teach on the solas of the Reformation, with which distinctive should we begin? In the end, this is probably a matter of preference, but after completing Reeves and Chester’s (excellent) book Why the Reformation Still Matters and pondering how I would begin our young adult’s study on the Reformation, I was forced to wrestle with the question of order. Continue reading “Scripture Alone or Faith Alone: What Sola Should Come First?”
In their defense of Scripture Alone, Luther and the Reformers did not reject tradition outright; rather, they rejected the place that tradition presently had in the life of the church. Nor did he Reformers believe their position was novel; it was always the position of the church, they argued, and the view of the early church fathers. Matthew Barrett explains,
Luther and the Reformers believed that for the early church fathers, Scripture alone (as opposed to Scripture and Tradition) was inspired by God, perfect and flawless as a source of divine revelation, and therefore the final and ultimate authority in all matters of faith and practice. Tradition was a tool meant to assist the believer in understanding Scripture’s meaning. While Scripture possesses magisterial authority tradition’s authority was always ministerial, a handmaiden to the biblical witness, rather than an authoritative voice governing Scripture (God’s Word Alone, 45) Continue reading “Sola Scriptura: Tradition vs. tradition”
Luther’s spiritual breakthrough from the darkness of legalism to the glory of the gospel came because he sought spiritual light in the Scriptures. The doctrine of Scripture Alone was implicit in his search for assurance. But as we trace the development of Luther’s thought, we see how his conviction of Scripture Alone enabled him to depart from the early church fathers when they didn’t agree with Scripture. In Luther’s life, then, we see a vivid illustration of what he meant by the expression “Scripture Alone.” Take Luther’s engagement with Augustine over the doctrine of justification, for example. Continue reading “Scripture Alone in the Life of Martin Luther: Augustine and the Doctrine of Justification”
I recently finished Matthew Barrett’s God’s Word Alone: The Authority of Scripture. Even at 374 pages, it is a unique confluence of concision, breadth, and depth. I am grateful that God equips men with such theological skill and calls them to ply their craft for the benefit of the church. My heart resonates with Robert Yarbrough who, in his endorsement, called this book “a feast.”
For the last five decades, evangelicals have wrestled with the past and with one another over what constitutes a true evangelical doctrine of Scripture. Over the last seven years, I’ve had the privilege of studying some of this history and even wading into the present discussion, if only just a little. It’s become painfully clear that the disagreement among evangelicals over how to understand Scripture’s authority, inerrancy, inspiration, and clarity has only intensified the last two decades, and there is no immediate indication that the clamor of controversy will soon quiet to a din of discussion (present attempts at dialogue notwithstanding). Continue reading “Barrett’s ‘God’s Word Alone’ is a Must Read on the Doctrine of Scripture”
We affirm that the Scriptures are the supreme written norm by which God binds the conscience, and that the authority of the Church is subordinate to that of Scripture.
We deny that church creeds, councils, or declarations have authority greater than or equal to the authority of the Bible.
The second article of the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy (CSBI) deals specifically with the issue of Scripture’s authority. Article II affirms that the Scriptures are the “supreme written norm” to which human conscience is bound, while other written documents, although important, do not possess authority equal or superior to that of the Scriptures. Continue reading “Scripture, Tradition, and the Question of Authority”
Encountering difficulties in the Bible can be troubling for the young believer and the seasoned saint alike. Yet, when we are confronted with hard passages or apparent discrepancies in the biblical text, we don’t want to ignore the difficulty or pretend it doesn’t exist. Out of an unwillingness to do a little hard work, lack of acquaintance with the available resources, or the mistaken assumption that faith shouldn’t require any mental effort, we may indulge the temptation to shuffle quickly past difficult passages in order to avoid intellectual and emotional discomfort. Continue reading “Let Us Have Peace with God? Reflections on Romans 5:1 and Dealing with Bible Difficulties”
One of the reasons why Mormons look to revelation other than the Bible is because they believe—and assert in official LDS teaching—that the original content of the Bible has been corrupted over the centuries as the Scriptures have been passed down from generation to generation. Because of this alleged corruption, God’s revelation in the Bible had become tainted and is in need of corrective revelation. Alongside the Bible, Mormons receive The Book of Mormon, The Pearl of Great Price, and Doctrines and Covenants as authoritative Scripture.
My goal in this essay is not to examine and critique the claims of these “latter-day revelations” (others have ably handled this issue). Rather, I want to consider the accusation that the content of the Bible has been corrupted over time. If it can be shown that the Bible is wholly reliable and without textual corruption, the basis on which Mormons posit a need for new revelation is significantly undermined. Positively, a fresh look at the reliability of our Bibles can provide Christians with a renewed confidence that what they have in the Bible is the pure and sufficient word of God. Continue reading “Manuscripts and the Wisdom of God: A Brief Essay on the Transmission of the Bible”