August 24, 2007

Legacy of Sola Scriptura

Laura and I went to church with my family on Sunday at First Baptist in Kermit, TX. As a disclaimer: it was a good church full of friendly people who actually knew and loved one another, which made for some wonderful moments and a set of proud parents. Any of the following critical thoughts result from a broader look at the evangelical movement, and are not to be directed specifically at this pastor or his church.

The pastor preached on a passage from Mark (7:24-30) with a sermon directed at encouraging parents. It was a good message (give or take a couple of side tracks) but it had very little to do with the passage in Mark. Sure there was a mom who was petitioning to Jesus on behalf of her daughter, but the main point of the story revolved around her not being Jewish. If there was a side point it might have had to do with Jesus needing rest. His good sermon was supported with the wrong scripture.

We were wondering if this is eventual result of Sola Scriptura in a fallen world. Sola Scriptura when used properly says that the ultimate authority is Scripture. However, eventually it takes away any truth besides scripture so that when saying anything authoritative, you are required to find some measure of Bible (however out of context) that might back you up. With this comes the rejection of any truth but what is found in the Bible, and the formation of the Christian “bubble”.

The only way anything is kept alive in this world is through rebirth. It takes constant and repetitive diligence in finding out why things don’t work and fixing them. My call is not against Sola Scripture but the strengthening of it. Authority should come from the Bible but we should realize that it might come from other places as well. Said another way, scripture is our standard but truth is embedded within all the Lord has created.

Oh, and if anyone has an excellent interpretation for the Mark passage I would love to hear that as well.


Mom said...

disclaimer: These are only my thoughts and in most probability are filled with some errors and misinterpertation about scripture. I am definitely NOT a bible scholar.

Prior to Jesus withdrawing to Tyre, He had fed the five thousand. The number of baskets that were left over were 12 (Matthew 14:20). These 12 baskets may suggest a sufficient abundance to feed all 12 tribes of Israel.

He then dismissed the crowds (and His disciples as well), and went to pray on a mountainside by Himself alone. (Matthew 14) The next day, Jesus and His disciples went to Gennesaret where people from all the surrounding countries came to be healed, etc.

By the time Jesus came to the area of Tyre, He was looking for solitude (Mat 15:21, Mark 7:24), possibility to teach His disciples privately.

Now we all can agree that Jesus taught in object lessons. His comments were to His disciples as well as the woman. (see Matthew 15:23-24). The woman was a Canaanite, but still recognized Jesus as the son of David. She put her faith in the one true God, and not some random healer that she had heard rumors about.

Now the object lesson is about the crumbs. We see in the following verses (Mark 7:31, 8:1-13, Matthew15:29-39) that Jesus and His disciples left for the region of Decapolis where in probability the crowd was made up of both Jews and Gentiles. Jesus again feeds the multitudes of 4000 with 7 baskets of bread left over. There is a significance to the “seven loaves” but I can’t remember exactly (I think it has something to do with seven Gentile regions.)

So, Jesus was showing His disciples that first He came to feed the Jews. But God’s grace is so abundant that even the crumbs are enough for the entire nations of the world. What I get from this series of scriptures on a personal level is that we should first teach our families and loved one about God’s grace before becoming missionaries to the lost. But, just as Jesus was without honor in His hometown (Mark 6:4-6)we also might not be as successful in sharing our faith with our family as we are with strangers. The Jews rejected Jesus (as He knew they would) but yet He still came for them first. He still fed them first. Therefore, if we follow Jesus's example, we can not just dismiss loved ones as hopeless and say "Why bother?"

As far as the pastor’s sermon on Sunday, I don’t necessarily disagree that this scripture was not the right one for his point. The mother cared deeply about her daughter, and that the best thing she could have done for her daughter was to bring her troubles to the one true God instead of trying everything in HER own power to fix it. Just because the main point of Mark 7:24-30 is about the Jews and the Gentiles doesn’t dismiss the fact that our God is personal and cares about the small stuff too. This scripture (even if it is overshadowed by a greater truth) does address a mother's great faith in our God. Even Jesus recognized her for her "great faith". (Matthew 15:28)

ninepoundhammer said...

I think the passage speaks to 1) God's purpose for His elect and 2) God's common grace (especially in light of verse 27). Jesus was saying that He was sent to feed (save) His People (the elect) and not the reprobate. However, the crumbs which fall to the dogs (the reprobate) is meant to represent God's common grace in which He providentially sustains all--even the reprobate. The rain falling on the just and unjust, etc.

Joshua said...

Hey Jacob!

I don't that the current state of Evangelicalism and modern Scriptural interpretation is the logical (or otherwise) conclusion of Sola Scriptura. If any principle deserves credit/blame for modern interpretive faults (eisegesis) it is the hermeneutics of the German Theologians (particularly Schleiermacher) and the influence of Existentialism in seminaries and in lay churches the over-compensation of Fundamentalism to liberal interpretive problems.

I think Scripture makes it own case for its validity as the sole authority for all things pertaining to life and obedience, which is broader than first glance might assume. It would interesting to know how "truth" should be defined and then, by that definition, what things other than Scripture provide us with truth.

Raghu said...

Sola Scriptura in the Evangelical world? More like "solo." Thanks for coming over friday night. It was nice to relax and have some good conversation with you and Laura. Were y'all able to get seats at the Village this time?

Raghu said...

Forgot to add - I read some interesting thoughts by Mike over his blog on this same subject. You might want to peruse over there...

Raghu said...

haha..just found this. In light of our discussion fri night and this post...enjoy!

Jacob Haynes said...

To Mom: good interpretation of the passage. As for the sermon I saw it taking a secondary point and relating it to issues that weren’t there (there is no evidence that the possessed girl actively rebelled).

To Matt: we might eventually draw the parallel to Christians/non-Christians, but Jesus is directly referencing Jews vs. non Jewish people and IMHO we must deal with that first. (By elect I assume you are talking about believers not the Jewish people)

To Josh: I assume that the current state of affairs within the Evangelical Church has more determining factors than Sola Scriptura. All I was trying to say is that it might be one of them. Nice recognition of some of the others though.
As for truth, I would define it as God and all things radiating from Him, these things giving the most accurate state of reality and in turn giving authority. I would look for them in Scripture, literature, science, philosophy, art, friends, etc.

To Raghu: The links were very good (how do you find this stuff?), we had a good time on Friday as well, and we did get good seats at the village and are thinking about going there (the sermon was very refreshing).

Joshua said...

"To Josh: I assume that the current state of affairs within the Evangelical Church has more determining factors than Sola Scriptura. All I was trying to say is that it might be one of them. Nice recognition of some of the others though.
As for truth, I would define it as God and all things radiating from Him, these things giving the most accurate state of reality and in turn giving authority. I would look for them in Scripture, literature, science, philosophy, art, friends, etc."

I can get on board with the contribution of "sola scriptura" if it is taken to mean what raghu poignantly called it, "solo scriptura," which is, I think, a label for the misunderstanding of the original doctrine that the modern Church in the US mistakes.

As for your definition of Truth, I would hold to a more narrow definition (I think) than yours: Truth is propositional, all Truth finds its justification (by direct inference or by reasonable implication) in God's Word (Scripture), and I would limit some of your examples to "expressions," "embodiments," or "applications" of Truth (e.g. art, friends).

To address a possible reservation:
Interpretations of Scripture are not often flawless, and they are never comprehensive, but to seek to interpret Truth apart from Scripture's primary authority (e.g. looking to the Church alone, or primarily or to Nature alone, or primarily) would be unwise in my opinion. I take this to be more or less the original Reformation position.

Jacob Haynes said...

Thanks for your comments Josh, it is always a joy to find a friend to disagree with. Iron sharpens iron and whatnot.

I think we are on the same page and if not we differ by small degrees. Scripture is my primary source in constructing the framework (worldview) for interpreting truth but I don't look directly for a verse out of the Bible in order to understand a Picasso. I dunno, maybe I should.

To take science as an example, look at my comments over on Matt Lee's blog:

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