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The Fatal Seduction of Sola Scriptura

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The fatal seduction of Sola Scriptura is that all one needs to know about what to believe and how to practice it is explicitly contained in Scripture.

The emphasis on explicit is key. That’s because it is possible to interpret Sola Scripturaas merely dictating that the principles of orthodoxy and orthopraxy are embedded in the Bible. But, in practice, Sola Scriptura rapidly becomes something else: a nefarious form of fundamentalism which teaches that it’s not just sufficient to draw out principles in the Bible — one most also cite its explicit statements in order to justify a belief or practice. (For more on this, see Jimmy Akin’s explanation.)

What’s not in the Bible

Many people claim to uphold Sola Scriptura but their actions say otherwise. Here’s why: some of the most basic things Christians say and do are not explicitly sanctioned by the Bible.

Our first clue is the very vocabulary of the faith. Consubstantial, or homoousios in the Greek, cannot be found in the New Testament. Neither can these words: TrinitypersonIncarnation, or redemption. Although you might find the latter in some translations, the Greek word really means ransom. Not even our English word God is biblical. In the Greek it is theos.

But, of course, we can translate the original words into our own. Or not? Because sometimes we retain the original terms: amenhosannaalleluiaSatan, and Eden are directly transliterated. Perhaps I am being overly facetious, one might say, to harp on such trivial non-issues. But that’s exactly what legalistic fundamentalism can do, and often does.

But there’s more. The practice of attending church on Sundays, the date of Christmas, and the way we celebrate Christmas are not in the New Testament. For some Protestants this is a real issue. Seventh Day Adventists meet on Saturdays and the Puritans banned Christmas.

Protestants can try to argue that the early Christians never envisioned the magnificently opulent cathedrals of the baroque era or the exquisitely regimented ritualism of the Tridentine Mass, but even the most low-church Protestant worship service would — according to this erroneous line of thinking — have been just as alien to the believers of St. Paul’s day. That’s because, strictly speaking, we only read about Christians meeting in other people’s houses, when the meeting place is mentioned at all.

Read more at Catholic Exchange. 

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