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Always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience (1 Peter 3:15b-16a ESV)

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10/13/2004

What IS Sola Scriptura, Anyway?? 

If there is one thing that I am tired of hearing from people it's this:
Sola Scriptura is inconsistant. You SAY that the Bible is your only authority, but that teaching isn't even in the Bible! You Protestants are idiots/morons/heretics/insult-of-the-day.
The sad thing is, people who should know better even perpetuate the misunderstanding of what sola scriptura is.

Sola Scriptura is the teaching that the Bible is the final authority. It is the only thing that is ultimately authoritative -- that is, it is the final authority in matters of faith and practice. This actually ties into the idea of inspiration and inerrancy. IF we believe that the Bible is inspired (breathed out) by God, then it carries with it the authority of God -- it's teachings are God's teachings, because what it says is what God said. IF that is true, then Scripture is the final authority, just as if God Himself were speaking -- because He is.

Protestants do not deny tradition. Luther and Calvin quoted from Augustine extensively. Calvin quoted from Bernard of Clairveux. Both used patristic texts. The difference is that Luther and Calvin both tested these early fathers against Scripture. If they contradict Scripture, they are wrong. If you want to find out about the early Fathers being wrong, do a study on Peter Abelard. (If anyone knows of an available edition of Sic et Non, let me know. I REALLY want to get one.)

Protestants also do not deny that Scripture must be interpreted correctly. Baptists teach that the believer is responsible for their spiritual health (priesthood of the believer), but we stress (or we SHOULD stress) the need for a correct foundation for interpreting Scripture. That entails study -- including the study of historical theology. We want to know what has been believed before -- but we judge all belief in the light of Scripture.


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