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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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11/09/2004

Sola Scriptura and Tradition 

I'm hoping right back on this horse -- I think that our idea of Scripture is vital to the future of the Church, and I think there are a LOT of misunderstandings concerning the doctrine of sola Scriptura.

Of course, a lot of great information was available in the League of Reformed Bloggers carnival, Post Tenebras Lux. There is a wealth of information on the Net, too -- both good and bad. But I have to clarify this little issue.

Where does sola Scriptura stand on tradition? And specifically, how do we deal with this verse: "So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter." 2 Thes. 2:15 (ESV)

First, sola Scriptura does not ignore tradition. It does not mean that we ONLY accept what the Bible says, and avoid anything it doesn't talk about. I've said this before, but I still get people asking about it. Someone posted a comment at Jollyblogger, commenting on the carnival, that essentially was this verse and a rant about the Reformation. People still don't get it.

Tradition is important. But tradition does not trump Scripture. When Scripture does speak, we cannot follow a tradition that contradicts it. The verse from 2 Thessalonians teaches us that we need to listen to what we're taught, whether we read it or are taught it orally. That's all it says. But Paul teaches, just as clearly, that we are to test any teaching that we hear with the Word of God. That's what the Bereans did, when they encountered Paul's teaching -- and they saw that what he was saying was true. It didn't contradict Scripture.

Sola Scripture doesn't say anything about rejecting tradition. Anyone who has any knowledge of the Reformers knows that both Luther and Calvin quoted from the patristic writings. They didn't reject history, or historic teachings. They DID reject those teachings that they felt contradicted Scriptural teaching -- and that is what we must do today.


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