Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Topical Bible Study: Solo Scripturo

Sola Scriptura: Scripture is our highest authority on theological truths.

Application: we can learn valuable truths from sources other than the Bible, and even learn more about what Scripture says by utilizing sources such as commentaries, concordances, dictionaries, maps, study tools, etc.

The Bible gives us what we absolutely need for our soul. It does not give us everything we could need in any way across all contexts and circumstances. It is completely true, but it is not a complete compendium of all truth of all kinds in existence.

Solo Scripturo: Scripture is our only authority on any truth.

Application: no other source of information is of any value whatsoever, because it's all totally unreliable. No theological truth can be learned from books, radio broadcasts, tracts, commentaries, footnotes (etc), only from the Bible itself.

If it's not in the Bible, it's not true. There is no redeeming value in seeking to learn anything from anything outside of Scripture.

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Solo Scripturo does seem a bit silly, doesn't it? You'll see views like this touted by KJV-only-ists, who have latched on to a translation of the Hebrew and Greek original documents, and refuse to accept different ideas of what a Bible passage might mean, by study of newly discovered (Dead Sea Scrolls, not incorporated into the original KJV, but used by the ESV and others) source documents.

This is sheer ignorance. Verbal Plenary Inspiration is only for the original message, it doesn't extend to every copy of that message and it certainly doesn't extend to the translations of those copies. This is why we find differences between the manuscripts that exist, and why some translations are less accurate in their rendition of particular verses. Hence why it is helpful to have multiple Bible translations to refer to, to get the best idea of what a difficult verse means. Sola Scriptura, not Solo Scripturo.

Solo Scripturo is also demonstrated by Bible critics who insist that you "prove it from the Bible" why some charge they've made is false. They claim that if you show using Strong's Concordance or a Bible dictionary or a series of commentaries or simply a different version, that you fail to disprove their allegation that the Bible has an error. Fanciful, ignorant folly, borne out of defiant misuse of Scripture.

Solo Scripturo is also seen in Islam. Caliph Omar ordered the destruction of the Library of Alexandria on the grounds that "if what is in the library agrees with the contents of the Qur’an, then it is redundant. And, if the contents of the library do not agree with the Qur’an, then such contents are heretic[al]."

Solo Scripturo. Scripture alone has any value. All else is garbage, fuel for the fire.

So, does the Bible actually take one side or the other, within its pages, or do we have to impose our own opinions on the text to make it say what we want it to say?

I was excited as I read my study Bible (happens to be KJV, but a 1980ish publication, not an unreadable 1611 one), to find a footnote containing verse references to all the places where the Bible acknowledges source materials. You read that right: the Bible used source documents. The information contained in it didn't just fall down out of the sky, like the Quran and Book of Mormon allegedly did. It was compiled by men who researched historical documents and were led by the Spirit to include that which was true and leave out that which was unimportant or errant.

Click the link below to read these examples after the jump break.
Joshua 10:13 -- the Book of Jasher
2 Samuel 1:18 -- also Jasher
1 Kings 11:41 -- the Book of the Acts of Solomon
1 Kings 14:29 -- The Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah
1 Chronicles 29:29 -- The Book of Samuel the Seer, The Book of Nathan the Prophet, The Book of Gad the Seer
2 Chronicles 9:29 -- The Book of Nathan the Prophet, The Prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite, The Visions of Iddo the Seer against Jeroboam son of Nebat
2 Chronicles 12:15 -- The Book of Shemaiah the prophet, and Iddo the Seer concerning genealogies
2 Chronicles 13:22 -- the story (midrash) of the Prophet Iddo
2 Chronicles 24:27 -- story/annals/commentary of the Book of the Kings
2 Chronicles 26:22 -- the Acts of Uzziah by Isaiah the Prophet, son of Amoz
2 Chronicles 33:19 -- "the Sayings of the Seers"

There are also mentions of extrabiblical writings of Apostles

1 Corinthians 5:9 -- the Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians (in addition to 1 and 2 Cor)
Colossians 4:16 -- the Epistle of Paul to the Laodiceans
Jude 1:14 -- the book of Enoch
3 John 1:9 -- an Epistle of John

Then there are a further suggestion that large portions of Genesis were compiled by Moses from written accounts, and that these are identified by "toledoth" passages, where the text says "these are the generations of" so and so. Identifying these gives us,

Genesis 5:1 "the book of the genealogy of Adam"
Genesis 6:9 "these are the generations of Noah"
Genesis 10:1 "these are the generations of the sons of Noah"
Genesis 11:10 "these are the generations of Shem"
Genesis 11:27 "these are the generations of Terah"
These were what I found from a cursory reading, but the link above gives a more expansive summary in a chart on the article page. 

So Adam, Noah, Shem and Terah each may have compiled and transmitted historical information in document form to the next person in line. And the creation account, not being performed before human eye witnesses, is likely the written description of a vision given to either Adam or Moses, like the one given to the Apostle John, but far less symbolic. In this case, there was no humanly compiled source material, since it came directly from God to the person writing Genesis 1. Hence, there is no named reference, since the Source's identity is obvious.

Thus ends my layman's explanation of why the Bible would reject Solo Scripturo if it had a mouth to speak with.

The simple fact that the Bible makes reference to non-Biblical documents and implies that they contain truth or even that the human writer of the Bible made use of them as source material does not undermine the authority of Scripture. External information can always be used to confirm what the Bible says, but it should never be placed above Scripture in importance, so as to doubt its authority.

~ Rak Chazak

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