VI. Of the sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for Salvation.

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40 Responses

  1. Xenia says:

    Well of course I don’t agree with this one at all but I’m going to be gone most of the day and don’t have time to make explanations. This article I’m linking to has proved helpful for many. I haven’t read in in a few years so if it contains insults that I don’t remember, forgive me.

    http://orthodoxinfo.com/inquirers/tca_solascriptura.aspx

    A few things:

    1. This not something you have to believe to be saved, either the sola or non-sola view. However, I know plenty of evangelicals who believe it is.

    2. When I tell people I do not believe in sola scriptura they jump to the false conclusion that I don’t believe the scriptures are true. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s more that I believe the scriptures need to be read and interpreted in the context of the Church that wrote them.

    3. “Tradition” is really nothing more than a group’s method of understanding the Bible. Everyone has one. Calvary Chapel can look to the stack of Chuck tapes and say “That’s our Tradition!”

    4. The Church produced the Bible. The Bible did not produce the Church.

    In other words, the members of the Church (OT and NT) wrote the scriptures as they were inspired by the Holy Spirit, the same Holy Spirit that guides the Church today. The Bible is not a book that fell from the sky which people read in an attempt to put together a church. Modern attempts to re-create, re-discover or re-invent the NT Church by reading the Bible is misguided.

    5. It turns out to be easier to believe and follow the Bible when you are not twisted up in knots worrying about inerrancy and text-proofing.

    6. The purpose of the Christian life is not to stuff our brains with Bible facts. The purpose is to become conformed to the Image of Christ. Bible-reading is only one “tool” (not the best word) to use in this pursuit. And there’s no point in reading the Bible at all if you aren’t going to do what it says.

    7. The Bible is not the center piece of Christianity, Jesus Christ is.

    I think that’s all for now. 🙂 See you later today.

    -xenia

  2. Michael says:

    I believe the inspired Scriptures are the Old and New Testaments. The other texts may have some value to the church, but they are not inspired.

    I’m getting out of the in or out business…people are not saved by their view of Scripture.

  3. Essential to Salvation? Maybe not, but essential to my fellowship with that person or group. Don’t know that I could be a part of a group that affirms the Apocrypha.

  4. Em says:

    “4. The Church produced the Bible. The Bible did not produce the Church.” i suppose that assertion is at the mercy of innuendos – but as i read it, i must disagree … without roots, we don’t live, and those roots are feeding on the Word- thus producing a healthy Church … if God wasn’t in control of what was compiled into our Bible, then we are the beneficiaries of some incredible dumb luck on their part … IMHO

  5. Reuben says:

    Xenia.

    Wow. You have just flipped a switch that is making wheels turn. Back to HVAC, but wow, would I love to explode that list for a few days.

  6. Em says:

    did he mean ‘explode?’ … or ‘explore’ ? 😆

  7. Reuben says:

    Explode, as in, make that list allot bigger in discussion. Like an exploded drawing, detailing the every detail and part.

  8. Yeah, I’m not getting the “church wrote the bible” thing. The vast majority of scripture was complete before the church was born.

  9. Lutheran says:

    I believe the Anglicans got it right. While it’s true that the early church as a community had a lot to say about the Bible, they were also quick to recognize its authority over them. That authority comes from Jesus Himself. We submit to Holy Scripture because of Jesus Christ. He endorsed the Old Testament and made provision for the NT by giving His authority to the apostles.The teaching of the apostolic authors is the foundation on which the Church is built.

    Lest you think I’m some kinda smart feller and not the opposite, I commend to you a book by the late Anglican John Stott, “You Can Trust the Bible.” He lays out the argument for the Bibie and the church very well.

    http://www.amazon.com/You-Can-Trust-Bible-Foundation/dp/0929239377/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1346962459&sr=8-1&keywords=john+stott+you+can+trust+the+bible

  10. Xenia says:

    if God wasn’t in control of what was compiled into our Bible, <<<

    But He was in control. When I say "The Church wrote the Bible" I mean that the authors were part of the Church ( the family of God) and wrote as they were inspired by the Holy Spirit.

    This is a confusion I often see when I say things like this to non-Orthodox, which means I am not explaining myself clearly. Take St. Paul, for example:

    1. St. Paul was surely a member of the Church.
    2. The Holy Spirit inspired St. Paul to write his epistles.
    3. The Church, also guided by the Holy Spirit, recognized these letters as Scripture.
    4. Ergo, the Church produced the Epistles as led by the Holy Spirit. It is a product of the Church. What else could it be? It surely wasn't written by non-believers.

    I wouldn't worry too much about the so-called Apocrypha. I have read it and there's nothing new or alarming therein. The Book of Tobit is delightful, there's some books that shed some light on Jewish history, and there's some wisdom books similar to Proverbs. Not wanting to fellowship with someone who accepts these books seems excessive to me but we are all allowed to hang out with like-minded folks although I can tell you that I've been hanging out with Apocrypha-accepters for over ten years and the subject has never once come up so you might be safer in their company than you think!

  11. Xenia says:

    Josh, I believe that Israel was, in the OT, the Church. (I realize that the Church was born in a special way on the Day of Pentecost.) So when I say “The Church wrote the Bible” I am including Moses, David, etc. (If they weren’t technically in The Church then, they surely are now.)

  12. Xenia says:

    It is an interesting stroll through history to learn why some Christian groups keep the Apocrypha and some don’t. You might be surprised!

  13. Xenia says:

    To forestall anymore confusion, I affirm the following:

    1. The Bible-writers were inspired by the Holy Spirit.

    2. The Church, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, chose the NT books.

    3. The Apocrypha is a some-what confusing subject but I’ve read these books and they are, at the very least, harmless. They don’t figure very much in the life of the Church. Their presence in my Bible has about zero affect on my walk with the Lord. It is not worth arguing about unless you are one who worships the Bible (and no one here does).

    4. “Why” the Apocrypha was removed from the scriptures is an interesting story.

    5. In EO theology, the scriptures are the primary source of faith and practice. They are the main component of the Tradition, the component upon which all the other pieces must rest. But there are other pieces to the Tradition, such as the Seven Ecumenical Councils and the writings of the Early Church Fathers. These other pieces must conform to the scriptures. The Holy Spirit did not stop talking to the Church after the last book of the New Testament was written, He still guides His Church.

    6. The main purpose of the Tradition is to keep the faith that was once and for all delivered to the saints free from error, heresy and novelties.

  14. For those who are unfamiliar with the Apocrypha (or just have a bad taste because evangelicalism says stay away) here is a brand new publication.

    The Apocrypha: The Lutheran Edition with Notes

    https://www.cph.org/p-19305-the-apocrypha-the-lutheran-edition-with-notes.aspx

    There is a 62 page sample – click under the book on look inside

  15. Xenia says:

    I think I can say that the EO’s view of the Apocrypha is not wildly different from that of the Lutherans. It’s in EO Bible’s but these books are never read in Church services nor are they included in the lectionary of daily Bible readings with the exception of some readings from some of the wisdom literature. We do not put the book of Judith on the same level as the Gospel of Matthew, for example! But we are comfortable with a little ambiguity.

  16. Xenia says:

    I would like to apologize a little…. Reuben posts these articles and for the most part, you all agree with them but I am the contrarian and post many posts explaining the Orthodox point of view. I feel like my explanations of Eastern Orthodoxy takes up more space, percentage-wise, than it should. Seriously, I don’t think you are all THAT interested in what the Orthodox have to say on each and every subject, even if you read my posts politely! My only excuse is that I love this series of Reuben’s and I want to talk about these things. I fear my over-participation might be squelching others. Please, I wish the rest of you would talk more. I don’t HAVE to give the EO view of every little thing and I will try to restrain myself! 🙂

  17. n o m a n s says:

    Xenia. I can only speak for myself, but you have only enriched my life and understanding of God.

  18. Reuben says:

    Xenia, my invitation is that anyone say whatever regarding the article, no matter what the tradition, and I value your input here probably more than anyone else’s. You speak from your tradition till your head falls off as far as I am concerned, because you are immensely helping me through this.

    You had my head spinning on your list up there, and I want to get into it, but hamburgers are about to be served…

  19. Michael says:

    Xenia,

    I don’t mean to break it to you, but a lot of people look for your responses first… 🙂

  20. Xenia says:

    Thanks, Norman 🙂

    I see from MLD’s link that the Lutherans do not believe the Apocrypha is divinely inspired whereas the Orthodox do believe it is but we believe a lot of things are divinely inspired besides the Bible so that explains it. Again, we are comfortable with a certain level of ambiguity over in my neighborhood.

  21. Xenia says:

    Thanks, Reuben and Michael.

  22. Reuben says:

    Ok, one thing…

    The Bible is not a book that fell from the sky which people read in an attempt to put together a church. Modern attempts to re-create, re-discover or re-invent the NT Church by reading the Bible is misguided.

    It turns out to be easier to believe and follow the Bible when you are not twisted up in knots worrying about inerrancy and text-proofing.

    PLEASE!!! Talk yourself out of a voice on that!

  23. Reuben says:

    Because that, specifically, is what ripped my head off.

    PRETTY PLEASE!!!

  24. Reuben says:

    The Bible is not the center piece of Christianity, Jesus Christ is.

    The more I think about it, the more I think that is right. Do you think evangelicals are guilty of a “biblio-idolatry”?

  25. Reuben says:

    Ok, hamburger time.

  26. Michael says:

    Reuben ,I was going to do a separate article on this, but I might as well start here.
    One of the apocryphal texts mentioned in the article is “the rest of the Book of Esther”.

    This amused me no end when I heard it discussed on Issues Etc while I was in the hospital.

    Esther doesn’t mention the name of God, nor are the heroes of the book caught praying or worshipping Him.
    The author of this volume felt that we couldn’t have that sort of mess in the Bible, so he added some piety to the book where there was none before.

    To me, that is more and more how evangelicals read the Bible… it should say this or that, therefore we will say it says thus and such…whether it does or not.

  27. Em says:

    in agreement with noman’s #17 – of course Xenia’s posts must be a little longer as she brings new information to be considered and explained – i would see the statement Reuben references in #24 as wrong only in that the Word became flesh and, therefore, Jesus Christ is the Bible … maybe not the distorted and manipulated interpretations that we can innocently or intentionally promote, but we cannot renew our minds – the mind that is in Christ Jesus Himself – independent of the Book – IMHO

    i appreciate being put up with here and i am never shaken or offended by others’ instruction in the Faith as they see it – in these “conversations” we can’t help but all grow closer to Him (He is not two dimensional, after all)

  28. Reuben says:

    Michael, you said that and my mind flashed back all the studies of Esther, and how it was framed as a sort of “preservation of the race” text, in that it had to be there to prove God’s hand on things. I don’t necessarily question this, but I do question the tendency I have seen over the years (from my former tribe) to place “spiritual” attributes to this book, and extrapolate Jesus, hell or high water…

    Folks have to understand how valuable this is to me. When I read statements like, “It turns out to be easier to believe and follow the Bible when you are not twisted up in knots worrying about inerrancy and text-proofing.” I realize that not so long ago, I would have pulled the “heresy” card as a matter of instinctive response. Now, not so much. When you are taught to study the Bible from a specific point of view, aka “inerrancy and text-proffing”, you tend to miss the forest for the trees. It is a hermeneutics debate that I don’t think I am qualified to debate, however, when big names contend that Jesus has to be found in every verse of the text, and somehow connect to a tear jerking conclusion that drives people to the alter to re-committ, or whatever, it almost seems we are attempting to impose on the scriptures meaning and intent that simply may not be there.

    Maybe?

  29. Reuben says:

    Em, not starting a debate here, but is it possible that “word became flesh” is a loaded statement that means millions of things to us, but meant one thing to the man who wrote such a statement? We do not lay down our life for the Bible, or do we? We do not worship the Bible, or do we? Is it not Christ alone who deserves that position? Do we believe that when we read the Holy Scriptures, that we are holding Christ in our hands?

  30. Xenia says:

    I’ll give it a try, Reuben.

    The New Testament and the early Church grew up together and were part of an organic whole. People who had known the Lord when He was on earth wrote their memoirs, some from their own memories of their time with the Lord, some wrote what they saw first-hand but also used some writings from other witnesses. (The Holy Spirit helped them remember, just as the Lord said He would.) And there was oral tradition as well, things that were passed down but were not written down. Some wrote spurious stuff and the Church recognized the false writings and word got around that these books should not be read in Church services because they were unreliable. If a psuedo-gospel had Jesus saying something whacky the consensus of the rest of the Church was “No, Jesus would never have said that because it doesn’t match the things we know for a fact He said” and that book would be disallowed.

    Same with the Epistles. Lots of Epistles didn’t make the grade because to the rest of the Church they sounded a little “off,” or at least, not of the same quality as those of St. Paul, etc. The genuine books were in-house productions, written by church people who were known well and trusted. The reliable books were passed on to the succeeding generations in a general way (“This is a reliable book, this one- not so much”) until the end of the 4th century when it was St. Athanasius, I think, who, in his yearly Easter letter to the churches, included the list of NT books that he thought was valid, the same list of NT books we have today. And so the NT canon was canonized. However, for hundreds of years many of the books we hold dear were considered questionable.

    How was a book determined to be reliable? If was believed everywhere by everyone from the beginning. So you can see a lot of people (the Church) were involved in the writing and selecting of the NT books, all under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It wasn’t some offshore production that appeared fully formed one day in the 2nd century, bound in leatherette and complete with concordance!

    So you can see that the production of the NT involved a lot of people: First and foremost, the Holy Spirit, then the writers, then the bishops who had to decide if a writing was worthy to be read in the churches, also the laity who would reject a book that sounded “off.” I think we can clearly say that the Church produced the Bible, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. (Or at least the NT, if you are uncomfortable with the idea of OT Israel being the Church.)

    The NT was written in the atmosphere of the Church. St. Paul himself mentions all the people that were around him, both good and bad. He talks about traveling around, ordaining bishops. He wasn’t some loner who heard from God and sent off missives to local churches in a vacuum. No, he was part of the entire Church scene. You know, not all of St. Paul’s letters appear to have survived. It’s very possible that the ones we don’t have were not accepted by the Church and disappeared.

    Early Church worship was based on synagogue worship which was liturgical. This was the environment that produced the NT writings. If such a local church was to receive a copy of a letter from St. Paul, for example, they would understand it in the environment of the early Church. St. Paul’s letters really only make perfect sense* when read in the Church environment in which they were written. This is why I say that attempts to invent a new kind of church organization based only on the writings of the New Testament is misguided.

    (* I say “perfect sense” because obviously, all Christians can make some sense out of St. Paul’s letters.)

    The next generation of Christian writers (Ireneaus, Polycarp, Justin Martyr, etc) were very close, time-wise, to the NT writers and learned at their feet. Their writings are not inspired in the same sense as the NT is, but still inspired, as far as they agree with the NT. That is, they wrote with the Mind of Christ, most of the time. These writings give a lot of insight into what the early church believed and what the services looked like.

    Look how much I wrote and I am not even sure I exploded what Reuben wanted exploded!

  31. Xenia says:

    Do you think evangelicals are guilty of a “biblio-idolatry”?<<<

    I knew some who were, definitely. Not all, but some.

  32. hmmm, when we read the Holy Scriptures are we holding Christ in our hands? … i think i’d say that when we read His Book – with humility and the attitude of a discerning learner – He is holding us in His hands … not trying to be cute … i came along just before the generation whose mantra was “question authority,” i could agree with them if they’d had enough discernment to cry: “question *who is in* authority”

    there are some wonderful things going on on Michael’s blog site – i am indebted to all you guys who keep it going … and i’m hopeful that you are in the forefront of a maturing Church … God knows we’re sheep and is merciful to us, but it is great to see this hunger to mature in the Faith and not just *act* like Christians … ? … er something like that 🙄

    (thanks for the explode clarification – i’m getting too myopic in my old age)

  33. Xenia says:

    Jesus Christ is the Bible<<<

    Well…

    Jesus is the Logos, which is translated "word." So you can surely say "Jesus is the Word."

    However, "logos" is not the word for "word" used when you are talking about written scriptures. "graphe" is the Greek word for that. Throw in "rhema" and you add to the confusion.

    I do not believe it is proper to say that Jesus = the written word of God (the Bible). For one thing, Jesus has always existed and the Bible, as inspired as it is, is a created thing. Created for us to understand God but a created thing nonetheless.

  34. Xenia says:

    An example of biblio-idlotry, in my opinion, would be the case of someone I knew who liked to evangelize. However, he spent so much time trying to prove that the Bible was true to that he never quite got around to talking about Jesus Christ. To this person, believing in the Bible seemed to take precedence over believing in Jesus Christ. The Bible was the Main Event and oh yeah, it’s about Jesus. Hours and hours spent talking about proofs of the veracity of the Bible, Bible codes, etc. and very little time spent talking about the things of Jesus. I told this person many times that it was like getting a blender for Christmas and marveling over the instruction book but never actually making any smoothies.

  35. Em says:

    agreeing with you Xenia in that it is important to define what “word” you are referencing – that said, i am guessing that over 90% of the time, in the NT the word refers to the Word – it should be important to us all to have our bound volume(s) explained to us by someone who knew what the word “word” and other English ambiguities were intended to say, i guess 🙂

  36. Reuben says:

    Bible Idolatry, in my mind, is about burying yourself in the study of the scriptures to develop the perfect theology, but failing to live. Working so hard to teach people right, but failing to love your family. Etc…

    Loving your #30. Yay!

    And this, “… the Bible, as inspired as it is, is a created thing.”

    Ever watched “The Life Of Brian”?

  37. Reuben says:

    Or, “The Gods Must Be Crazy”?

  38. Xenia says:

    I saw “The Gods Must Be Crazy.” I loved that move,.

  39. Reuben says:

    I am watching it again for fun. 🙂

  40. I agree with the Xenia love. Clearly, a student of her own tradition, and a follower of Jesus.

    I do think I disagree with the way some of this is headed. Here is the SBC view of Scripture, which I agree with 100%:

    “The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God’s revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried. All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation.”

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