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Featured Is Sola Scriptura Guilty of Logical Inconsistency?

Discussion in 'General Theology' started by JAL, Aug 19, 2019.

  1. JAL

    JAL Veteran Supporter

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    What is our final authority for both faith and practice? The two most popular theories on this have been:
    (1) Tradition (the church), for example the Magisterium of Catholic tradition.
    (2) Sola Scriptura - the claim that Scripture is the only final authority on all major religious doctrines.

    However, both views overlook the primacy of conscience, with conscience defined as a feeling of certainty as to what is morally right or wrong. If I feel certain that choice A is evil, and choice B is good, I should opt for choice B. As I can find no exceptions to this rule, I cannot controvert it, hence it needs no proof (although I will provide some), it is thus self-evidently/tautologically true at all times, and therefore conscience is my only final authority. This refutes Sola Scriptura.

    This is not to suggest that Scripture is untrue. I accept the inerrancy of Scripture. But exegesis provides me no direct access to Scripture, only to my fallible interpretations of it. Whereas conscience, as we shall see, affords God a method of speaking to us in an infallible manner definitive of the prophetic experience.
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2019
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  2. JAL

    JAL Veteran Supporter

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    The very nature of Christian conversion establishes the primacy of conscience. During conversion, which can transpire in a matter of seconds if the gospel is preached powerfully with great anointing/unction, agnostics and atheists alike draw four major religious conclusions:
    (1) Jesus is God.
    (2) Jesus died for my sins.
    (3) Jesus plans to take me to heaven forever.
    (4) The Bible is His written Word.
    How is this possible? Blind faith? But blind faith is not wise as such practice would lead you to accept any and every false religion presented to you. Calvin had a better answer named the Inward Witness. Probably 99% of evangelical theologians have (rightly) agreed with him since then.

    How does it work? Simple. As Calvin stated, it boils down to a feeling of certainty. The Holy Spirit operates in in the heart or mind persuasively, causing the unbeliever to begin feeling certain of the gospel. We say that the Holy Spirit convicts (convinces) the unbeliever. This is a direct revelation. This confirms:
    (A) That conscience (feelings of certainty) are authoritative. Recall that conversion is not a phenomenon of your past, you in fact DAILY assert those 4 conclusions. If your original authority (feelings of certainty) has been impugned, then you should recant those 4 beliefs. In other words, the Inward Witness is, on daily basis, the rock upholding our faith, and therefore feelings of certainty are STILL a final authority in our lives long after initial conversion.
    (B) Direct revelation - not biblical exegesis - is the foundation of the church. Stated succinctly, Christ Himself - not His written texts - is the foundation of the church.
    (C) Exegesis is NOT preeminent in conversion. Sola Scriptura demands exegetical proof for any conclusion drawn. The problem is that Greek, for example, is too complex for quick proofs. A single Greek verb has over one hundred forms in its conjugation, as opposed to a simple language like English (say 4 or 5 forms). Without spending several years at seminary mastering Hebrew and Greek,therefore, how can I really claim to have 'proof'? During conversion, the convert reaches the 4 conclusions above without the skills needed to mount an exegetical proof. As Calvin noted, the Inward Witness (feelings of certainly) afford the only plausible explanation.
     
  3. royal priest

    royal priest debtor to grace

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    Sola Scriptura is illogical if God's revelation in Scripture is an insufficient guide to know and practice the faith. Otherwise, what more do we need than what God has already said?
     
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  4. Gracia Singh

    Gracia Singh Newbie Supporter

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    Good questions. I do think that Sola Scriptura poses some massive and unavoidable questions. Whose inward witness is ultimately correct? Yours? Mine? John Calvin's? Martin Luther's? Benny Hinn's? You know? We all see and read and come away with vastly different theologies, yet we read the same Bible.

    We do, truly, need help.
     
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  5. JAL

    JAL Veteran Supporter

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    Conscience is tautologically authoritative. Why so? Authority is what obligates me to a particular belief or practice. As it turns out, I am currently obligated to believe whatever I currently feel certain about. Since that is a tautology, there is no escaping this conclusion.

    Is Sola Scriptura a tautological position? Suppose someone put a book in front of you. He says, 'That should be your only authority'. Is that a tautological claim? I don't think so. Wouldn't you want to first investigate its contents and then DECIDE based on some evidentiary rationale - some authoritative basis - that such is true? And what will be your basis? Reason? Blind faith? Scholarship? Conscience? (Pick whatever you like).

    But having selected an authoritative basis, examine where you now stand. You stand now on some authoritative basis deemed worthy of evaluating the book. In other words you've endorsed an authority other than the book. Which means that the book cannot claim to be 'your only final authority'. This is the basic logical inconsistency in Sola Scriptura.

    In fact your authoritative basis - whichever one you selected - is a higher authority than the book since it dictates whether or not you accept the book and obey the book.

    A simple analogy proves the authority of conscience (feelings of certainty). Suppose a man says to his son, 'Clean your room every day of the week'. The father meant all 7 days of the week but the boy felt certain his father meant 'every week day' and thus 5 days per week. So he cleans it five days a week - he's acting in good conscience. What shall the father do? Beat his son with many stripes? Only an unjust, evil father would do such a thing. God is just. Therefore He must honor conscience as our highest authority.
     
  6. Albion

    Albion Facilitator

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    And Scripture testifies to that point itself! John 20:30-31.
     
  7. Albion

    Albion Facilitator

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    But none of that impugns Scripture! That is what we are talking about here--the adequacy of Scripture. If Luther or Calvin or someone on online today doesn't get the message correctly, that is not the fault of the word of God--and yes, we all say that we believe it IS the word of God, not just some musings of some old Hebrews, right?

    And by the way, I am still waiting (not from you in particular GS) for the alternate source of authority that does not suffer from the same criticisms that were laid at the feet of the word of God on these pages.
     
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  8. JAL

    JAL Veteran Supporter

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    It's not that God's revelation in Scripture is insufficient. The problem is that I have no direct access to Scripture, only to my fallible interpretations of it.

    Population studies indicate 100 billion people born since the world began. With so many souls at stake, potentially going to hell, we cannot rest content with an epistemology doomed to fallibility. The prophets DID experience infallible revelations, and my claim is that God's instrument for this is feelings of certainty. Therefore our top priority - given 100 billion souls at stake - is to seek infallible revelation. Paul never commands an entire congregation to evangelize. Instead he simply reminded them of their top priorities: "Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy" (1Cor 14:1).

    Later I will show that Scripture defines evangelism as prophetic utterance.
     
  9. JAL

    JAL Veteran Supporter

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    I do agree that Scripture is a written historical record that adds further testimony to the direct testimony of the Inward Witness, as that verse implies. And?
     
  10. Albion

    Albion Facilitator

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    Apparently, it is understandable, since God gave it as revelation to mankind and declared it adequate. Obviously it would not be adequate if it were unintelligible.
     
  11. Albion

    Albion Facilitator

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    Pardon me, but that is not what Scripture indicates to us that it, Scripture, amounts to or represents. Nor is that what John 20:30-31 says.
     
  12. redleghunter

    redleghunter Thank You Jesus! Supporter

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    What happens when conscience as your primary source is in conflict with Scriptures ?
     
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  13. Bible Highlighter

    Bible Highlighter Law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul. Supporter

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    If a Christian believes the words plainly in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, then they don't need anything else to be perfect unto ALL good works.

    16 "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
    17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
    (2 Timothy 3:16-17).​

    Do you believe that the man of God can be perfect unto ALL good works according to Scripture's teachings on instruction in righteousness, etc.? If so, then what does one need with anything outside of Scripture? What can anything else add to making one perfect unto all good works?

    Also, Revelation 22 talks about not adding to God's words otherwise God will add the plagues within his book unto you. This has actually happened and the plagues were not from the book of Revelation but from another book within the Bible. See these two links here:

    Bible Correctors lose Voice
    Bible Corrector Loses Voice on Ankerberg Show.
     
  14. redleghunter

    redleghunter Thank You Jesus! Supporter

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    I would start here:

    In theology, we speak of the perspicuity of Scripture. The word perspicuity, simply put, means “clarity.” Oddly enough, the word perspicuity is one of the more unclear words we could use to speak of clarity. What’s more, when we say we believe in the perspicuity of Scripture, people sometimes get the wrong impression that we are implying that everything in Scripture is entirely clear and easy to understand. But that’s not the case. We know this both from experience and because the Word of God itself tells us that not everything in it is easy to understand. The Westminster Confession of Faith (1.7) explains what we believe when we speak of the perspicuity of Scripture: “All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all. Yet, those things that are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or another, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.” In other words, not everything in Scripture is easy to understand, but what we must understand in order to be saved is clear. The hard sayings of Jesus aren’t found only in the Gospels, but throughout Scripture, since Jesus is the ultimate author of Scripture as the eternal Word of God.

    The Perspicuity of Scripture by Burk Parsons
     
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  15. Ignatius the Kiwi

    Ignatius the Kiwi Newbie

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    To me the main logical problem of Sola Scriptura is that it doesn't allow for the individual to be convinced by anything other than scripture. We can suppose that a person comes to an idea through reading the bible but that person is wrong. This person has, in their mind, conformed to scripture and therefore doesn't listen to any other external authority despite the fact that this lesser voice of authority is correct. Sola Scriptura justifies in the minds of many their reading of the Bible even if they are wrong.

    The problem lies in scripture always being the final authority when it cannot such for anyone. Who has ever perfectly read the bible? Even if they got important aspects about it right?

    Still I would say the main problem with Sola Scriptura that as a means for guiding Christendom, it doesn't work and only causes division.
     
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  16. JAL

    JAL Veteran Supporter

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    So then Scripture is clear enough? No need to worry, then? I take it, then, that you read Scripture infallibly? Fallibility was my concern, right?

    Let's be clear. If exegesis left me 100% certain of my exegetical conclusions, then I would have to claim to be infallible on those conclusions. 100% certainty on a given question means that I basically can't even cogitate the possibility of being mistaken on that issue. Therefore I could only see myself as infallible, at that moment, on that issue.

    So let's be clear. Does exegesis leave you 100% certain on some issues? If so, why then don't you claim infallibility on those issues? Tell us which issues you are currently infallible on - and I hope it includes the issue of how to properly evangelize, since 100 billion souls are at stake. That is WHY we need infallibility.
     
  17. Bible Highlighter

    Bible Highlighter Law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul. Supporter

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    So you believe prophetic utterances still continue?
    Do you follow the rules of 1 Corinthians 14?

    "If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most bythree, and that by course; and let one interpret."
    (1 Corinthians 14:27).

    "They must speak one at a time,"
    (1 Corinthians 14:27) (NLT).

    "But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church;"
    (1 Corinthians 14:28).​

    #1. Does your church speak in tongues only by 2 or 3 at most?
    #2. Do those who speak in tongues each speak individually in turn and not all at the same time?
    #3. If there is no interpreter, do those who speak in tongues keep silent?

    Are the Pastors or teachers of other books you like following these rules?
     
  18. ~Zao~

    ~Zao~ Psalm 5:11 Supporter

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    I don’t think God has to honour any part of us. Not because He can’t speak to the conscience but because the conscience can be seared. That needs scripture because the simple faith that they had been brought to (as you aptly described) has been contaminated in some way (i.e.: deliberate sin) so the onus is on the the person who’s balance of evidences are out-weighed to prove the calculations for themselves.
    He does honour us I’m sure for diligence to His kingdom. Everyone is in the process of finding their own place within it I’m sure. As people I’m sure that there’s no consensus of conscience that could ever be reached. But as more knowledge is available I think the primal senses become more attuned to collective human knowledge. The danger is in not being tossed to and fro. And that, as you say, is in that first consciousness that kinda, more than likely, would be that moment of that one repentance at His feet which is the repentance referred to in Heb 6 (imo)
     
  19. JAL

    JAL Veteran Supporter

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    Is God just? Did you read the analogy of the little boy? Here it is again:

    A simple analogy proves the authority of conscience (feelings of certainty). Suppose a man says to his son, 'Clean your room every day of the week'. The father meant all 7 days of the week but the boy felt certain his father meant 'every week day' and thus 5 days per week. So he cleans it five days a week - he's acting in good conscience. What shall the father do? Beat his son with many stripes? Only an unjust, evil father would do such a thing. God is just. Therefore He must honor conscience as our highest authority.

    So even though the boy's understanding was at variance with his father's intentions, his behavior was perfectly righteous. Does that help?
     
  20. JAL

    JAL Veteran Supporter

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    See my latest post #19.
    Conscience is obligatory. I can think of no occasion where faced with choices A and B, and I feel certain that A is evil and B is good, it is right for me to go with A. Can you?
     
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