Friday, January 08, 2010

Sola Scriptura Debate - My second cross-ex answer

(Question here.)
First of all, that wasn't the only response I made to the Sola Ecclesiaist misutilisation of those passages to suit their own ends, but anyone can read back to what's already been said.

Second, I may not have communicated this well or DavidW may have misread me, but I don't think it's necessary at all to say that every single thing that the apostles taught to these local churches ended up being inscripturated.
A few things to note on this point:

1) God apparently didn't want to preserve those teachings with certainty for the church, else He would have provided for their preservation, in Scripture. Another definition for "Scripture" is "the stuff God said and intended His church to have forever", and another definition for "non-Scripture" is "the stuff God didn't say". We have one source given in Scripture for God's communication, His revelation: The Scripture. Nothing else.

2) Lest DavidW jump around with glee at this "admission" on my part, I simply challenge him the same as with any other Sola Ecclesiaist out there - prove the doctrine you're advancing (whichever it might be) came from the apostles. Proving it came from an early church writer is not equivalent. Appealing to ignorance or silence, as in "Well, this guy was a direct protegé of a direct protegé of an apostle. Why would he have gotten it wrong? How could he have, since he was there?", is not equivalent. Plenty of people in the NT heard Paul preach many times and got it wrong. Plenty of people heard Jesus preach many times and got it wrong. One of them even betrayed Him. The rest abandoned Him. Their "coryphaeus", Peter, had to be rebuked by Paul b/c he was aiding and abetting a "gospel" that was anathema. Virtually all the churches addressed in the epistles of the NT were struggling with false teachers and false teaching, tempting them. The majority held to very serious errors and had to be corrected. Some never recovered, like Laodicaea. Other struggled for decades if not longer with heresies such as Gnosticism, and Judaising (which finds its rebirth in modern semi-Pelagian systems such as RCC, EOC, strict Church of Christ, as well as numerous cults).
But ALL of these were churches who themselves were direct protegés of (a) direct protegé(s) of an apostle. Some were themselves direct protegés of an apostle. I'm sure it was helpful to have received direct man-to-man teaching from an apostle, but was that alone enough to keep them out of serious error, even heresy? Clearly not.

3) Appealing to an undefined and unproven mass of "uninscripturated tradition", which is his reason for quoting 2 Thess 2:15, is not equivalent to proving your doctrine came from the apostles.

4) Jesus gave us very clear direction as to how we are to test alleged divine teachings. I refer the reader back to the discussion of Mark 7:1-13 from my opening statement. Looking back, DavidW badly mistook the meaning of Mark 7 and what I was drawing out of that passage in his first cross-ex answer and his first rebuttal. For example, from the cross-ex answer:
Using Mark 7 as our point of reference, Christ is not even condemning all "traditions of men." He's condemning specifically those "traditions of men" which "make the word of God of no effect." And certainly not all "traditions of men" "make the word of God of no effect." National holidays like Independence Day and Thanksgiving are "traditions of men" but I doubt that Rhology would submit that they somehow violate the commandments of God.
That is not at all the point of Mark 7, but it's the most common Sola Ecclesia response, and it's a bad one. Jesus in Mark 7 takes a tradition that the Pharisees claimed they could trace all the way back to Moses(!) and says of it: 7 ‘BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME,
8 “Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.” 9 He was also saying to them, “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition...13 thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.”

This is nothing less than the standard by which we can know that a tradition is acceptable. As DavidW has "gotten" me to "concede", I'm sure Christ celebrated Hanukkah. He certainly participated in synagogue worship, which finds its basis in Jewish tradition, not the Old Testament. So what? He made sure to communicate the standard by which we are to judge good tradition vs bad tradition. It's not that He's only condemning bad, human tradition in Mark 7; He tells us WHY, and the WHY is no less relevant and necessary today.
Notice how DavidW tries to adjudicate between competing traditions, all throughout our debate so far. He cites Vincent de Lérins with all confidence and then, when questioned about it, retreats with blinding speed: "It's not really ALL when it says 'all'". Or "a church council is ecumenical and infallible when the church comes over time to accept its conclusions". So, which is it? Descriptive or prescriptive? How can it be a command, a dividing line between godly and ungodly doctrine, when its acceptance by the people whose behavior and doctrine it's supposed to define is the determining factor of its alleged authority?

Third, DavidW forgets that the earliest churches had access also to the Old Testament, by which the Bereans of Acts 17 approved Paul's preaching (and were commended for that practice).

Fourth, is not DavidW simply questioning the prevailing paradigm from God's dealings with the Old Testament people of God? Did Moses write Deuteronomy first or speak it in a lecture? He spoke it - it was oral tradition, and later it was written down. Moses no doubt also said at some point in his life "I have to go to the bathroom". That was not authoritative tradition, and we know because it wasn't inscripturated. Do you think Moses ever made a lighthearted joke about how stubborn the Israelites were? Didn't make "the cut"; it wasn't from God.
Did God explicitly say in the OT: "Write this stuff down BECAUSE 'the dual expression of the Faith via both Scripture and Tradition will end'"? It's inferred, it's assumed, b/c God does say some things, and He doesn't say other things. So when we're talking about distinguishing between theopneustos and non-theopneustos, there's no other reasonable expectation than that it will be knowable one way or the other.

So, to answer the question directly, from the Scripture I know that the Scripture is the means by which we are commanded and exemplified to test that which is not Scripture. With so many competing candidates for "Sacred Tradition" that want to have my allegiance out there, by what standard can I distinguish between them, on DavidW's system, if not by assuming the EO position and then proving the EO position correct? Anyone can claim that Doctrine X is a tradition "passed down by the apostles", to try to enjoin my obedience and allegiance. That is extremely easy, and one of the evidences for its ease is how many groups operate precisely that way and then try to get you to ignore all the others by hand-waving, whining about how "disunified" "Protestants" are, and misdirection to secondary issues if you should be stubborn enough to ignore the first two strategies. God, having seen the dilemma beforehand (indeed, having planned it out, so as to make very clear the divide between the true faith and question-begging man-centered systems like EOC and RCC), made clear what is His speech and the implications of divine revelation, all conveniently accessible in your KJV.

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