Saturday, January 24, 2015

Authority - The Fundamental Issue



We can banter about, back and forth, all we want - but NONE of these arguments are going to come to a true and final outcome when we operate from wholly variant premises.  If we boil it down, we're left with AUTHORITY.

SOLA ECCLESIAM:

The Catholic position could be summed up to that Latin phrase - which can be translated to "The Church Alone."  Catholics believe that Jesus Christ not only promised to build His Church (Matthew 16:18), but actually DID it - starting at John 21:15-17 (just before He ascended into Heaven).  THAT Church has existed from THAT DAY forward to the present.  Sola ecclesiam does not supplant Scripture - it includes Scripture! 

SOLA SCRIPTURA:

Much of Protestantism clings to this 16th century innovation (never heard of before that time).  This is Latin for "Scripture Alone."  A fairly accepted definition of sola scriptura is:  "Scripture alone is the sole infallible source of instruction for the Church."  Some take this to the extreme and proclaim, "If it's not in the Bible, don't believe it."  Slightly lesser on the extremist side would be "If it's not in the Bible, you don't have to believe it."  A problem here is that Scripture itself NO WHERE teaches sola scriptura!  So, if it's not in Scripture, the sola scriptura adherent is either a) bound NOT to believe it or b) OK with rejecting it, but then it is reduce to relative insignificance and certainly not a foundational belief.

Another problem with sola scriptura is that it's never truly "alone."  Fundamentally speaking, every Protestant is left to decide for him/herself what Scripture is really saying.  This leaves us more with the third position...

SOLUS IPSE:  (or SOLIPSISM)

This would be Latin for "Self Alone" where the ego ultimately makes all the decisions.  In reality, though most Protestants would claim sola scriptura - they are really in a position of solus ipse.  They alone decide either a) what Scripture means or b) whose interpretation of Scripture they will adhere to.  Some will say that Catholics adhere to clause b) here - however what I am referring to here is that Protestants will pick and choose which "confession" they will embrace, or which preacher they will listen to - and if they disagree, they move on to the next confession or preacher.  Catholicism, on the other hand, their version of solus ipse is more fundamental as they yield to one core creed.  While Catholics may move from one parish to another, the fundamental credo does not change.  Solus ispe leaves us with dozens, if not hundreds or even thousands (depending on how one denominates) of variant and opposing truths - which is not logically possible.

THE BOTTOM LINE:

This matter of authority is where ALL our debates truly begin and end.  Once authority is established - the rest of who you are and profess to be falls in place.  Before you engage one of the above "sola" statements - do you agree with this "bottom line" statement?  Let your 'Yes' be 'Yes' and your 'No' be 'No."

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