If you haven’t read part one, please do so. Otherwise you’ll read this out of context.
So my first reason and for me I think its the strongest one, is that Sola Scriptura ultimately replaces the role of Christ and is therefore Idolatrous. The doctrine of Sola Scriptura says the Bible Is the Inerrant or Infalliable Word of God, that it is the Center and foundation of our faith. The very measuring stick by which we measure all other doctrines, life, and practices. This is inherently idolatrous because it assumes the title and position that for a Christian should only be given to Jesus. Think about it. What should really fill in that blank? Jesus or the Bible?
Blank Is the Inerrant Word of God, the Center and foundation of our faith. The very measuring stick by which we measure all doctrines, life, and practices.
I think the answer to the fill-in-the-blank is Jesus.
Jesus Is the Inerrant Word of God, the Center and foundation of our faith. The very measuring stick by which we measure all doctrines, life, and practices.
If the bible is the “only” infallible rule to faith and practice then isn’t Jesus by necessity not included in that statement? “Only” by definition excludes anything else, and in this statement it excludes anything outside the bible. This would place Jesus outside of the “only infallible rule to faith and practice.” In other words doesn’t that statement make Jesus a fallible rule to faith and practice? This in fact excludes Jesus from being the only infallible rule of faith because he isn’t the Bible. And unintentionally makes Jesus fallible for the sake of “biblical authority.” This bluntly stated, is idolatry.
I have rather more extensively argued for this in two other blogs posts that I will point you too for further discussion. Inspiration and Modern Authorship Christological vs. Biblical
Another problem with this doctrine is that many if not all arguments for it are arguments from the Bible. That the Bible teaches Sola Scriptura is circular argumentation. (Many who argue for any sort of “biblical authority” do so with circular reasoning) If Sola Scriptura is a doctrine external from the Bible then an argument internal to the scriptures would fall outside the realm of circular reasoning. However this doctrine, or rather its adherents claim that it is based in the bible, and their arguments are based in the bible. “The Bible is our supreme authority because it says so.” This it seems to me is essentially how the standard arguments go, and its circular reasoning at its height. However, despite this weakness of circular reasoning I believe it also has the weakness that the authors of scripture didn’t believe or rather didn’t live their lives according to Sola Scriptura. This next reason will be an argument developed from the witness of the biblical authors. Even if an argument for scripture is circular reasoning I think its important to know what the biblical authors actually believed especially when they didn’t believe the same as us.
The second reason, is our experiences prevent a doctrine of Sola Scriptura. I’ll give you some examples. Our experiences are inescapable. We experience all things through our experience and to say that scripture is supreme above experience does not line up with reality. For how could something (in this case Scripture) be supreme when even it is subjected to our experiences? At best it can work within our categories of experience but never outside of them. Even our reading of scripture falls within our categories of experience. As an American named Gabriel Gordon I read the scriptures (as well as everything else I come across) through my past, and present experiences. Through my personality, the fact that I have lived overseas, the fact that I was abused by my mother. Through my culture as a white, male, 21st century American. All of these things comprise my interpretative lens though which my experience of the world is comprised. Our Interpretative lens through which we see the world is comprised of our past experiences and the active experiencing in that particular moment. Even our experiences are experienced! Talk about a paradox!
A quick example of an experience that I have had that influences my interpretation of Scripture. When I was 18 I had a prophetic dream in which God appeared before me on a Throne and pointed to me and said, “You are a Prophet.” There are some who believe that the role of Prophet has ceased, and their various experiences produce that interpretation. Whether its their lack of experience of never having ran into a Prophet (The idea of I haven’t seen it, therefore it doesn’t exist) or their watching of false prophets such as Benny Hinn. The difference between their interpretation and my is our experiences. My experience of an encounter with God in which I am declared a Prophet effects how I read the same scriptures they do. To this the same scripture says this role of Prophet has ceased, to me it says no such thing. (Now because I don’t affirm Sola Scriptura even if I was convinced by their interpretation beyond a shadow of a doubt I still could affirm the on-going role of Prophets, because I don’t affirm Sola Scriptura. But the example still stands)
In the book of Acts is recorded two stories that I think provide examples of experience rather than scripture forming the beliefs and practices of the biblical authors: both are stories about experiences that Peter and Paul had that changed their mind on something and changed the course of their life. For the sake of brevity I’ll reference the Acts passages rather than quoting them fully. I’ll also look at Luke’s introduction and 1 Johns introduction. But please pull out you’re Bible and read along. Acts 9:19, and Acts 10:1-48. We’ll also take a look at the first epistle of John 1:1.
In the first story Paul is on his way to Damascus to persecute Christians and he has a vision of the risen Christ (which by the way, I believe still happens today, listen to the first episode of our podcast). As a result of this vision of the risen Christ Paul becomes a follower of Jesus. One may be able to make a fairly good argument that the Pharisees of which Paul belonged affirmed some sort of Sola Scriptura as their clear emphasis on scripture is rebuked by Jesus in John 5:38. Paul may of very well had a Torah centered faith before this incident, but it wasn’t the Torah or any of the Hebrew Scriptures that changed his mind about Jesus. It was an Experience that changed his mind not the scriptures.
Subsequently this experienced not only changed his mind on Jesus but caused him to reinterpret the Hebrew Scriptures around Jesus. In other words Paul’s Torah Centered faith prior to Christ was dethroned By Christ and his Faith instead became Christ Centered. Now Paul didn’t throw out the scriptures after this, but there place of center stage moved to a place of being off stage and functioned not as the center of this new faith in Jesus (that place belonged to Christ alone). But functioned as a recreated witness to Christ. It wasn’t just the people who were transformed and made new by Christ and what he did. The scriptures also in a way were transformed and made new by Christ and what he did. God in Christ was redeeming all things, and Scripture was no exception to this redemption. (For further evidence for this see my essay and the sources I’ve listed there Inspiration and Modern Authorship
In Acts 10 we find the story of Peter and the conversion of the Roman God-Fearer and his household. So again check out the full story yourself. One day at about 3:00 this Roman named Cornelius gets a vision of an angel that tells him to send a man to Joppa to fetch Peter. He immediately tells three of his homeboys (okay two of them were slaves) to go get simon peter. The next day Peter is chilling on the roof of the house he’s staying at praying at noon. Cause Jews had certain times of the day they prayed, and noon happened to be one of them. During his time of praying he had a vision of unclean (unkosher) animals, and heard the voice of the lord call out saying, “Get up Peter; kill and eat.” Peter was like, “bro, I don’t eat un-kosher food, I’m Jewish, and Jews are faithful to you by eating kosher.” (paraphrase) (Jews had been commanded from the Hebrew Scriptures to eat certain animals and to refrain from others as a way to please God and remain distinct from the surrounding nations.) The voice responded back, “What God has made clean, you must not call profane.” This happened three times and then the vision ended. Peter was pretty confused to the least. Presumably he might have thought this was about God telling him it was okay to eat unkosher foods. That’s a huge shock for a faithful Jew, but as I think is made clear later in the story, the vision was symbolic for God’s acceptance of the Gentiles. This was way BIGGER than eating unclean foods! Peter ends up going with the guys back to the Roman, he shares the good news and the household of the Roman (all gentiles) is filled with the Holy Spirit. At this Peter realizes God has taught him the Gentiles are loved too! But what I really want you to take away from the story is that Peter’s mind isn’t changed by Scripture, but by an experience.
“Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, (referring not too scripture) 3 I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first,[a] to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed.”
Notice this is all experiential language.
1 John 1:1
“We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word (again not referring to the bible, but in this context most likely Jesus) of life”
Here the experiential language is even more explicit.
So there you have it my first two reasons, and part two of my “Why I Don’t Believe in Sola Scriptura” Series. I have a third part of this series that I’ll be posting soon so look out for that! In it I’ll give you three more reasons why I don’t believe in the doctrine of Sola Scriptura.