Pontificator's Second Law

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JBaldwin

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I came across this paragraph on a website of an old friend of mine who left fundamentalism to become a catholic priest. (My friend posted this comment on his website. I do not know the name of the person who originally posted it.)

...Protestants, especially fundamentalists, object that they consider "Scripture alone" to be the "infallible" authority within the Church. And Catholics are obliged to agree that Scripture contains, at least materially, all the truth God willed to reveal to us. But both history and logic confirm Pontificator's Second Law: "When the Bible alone is our authority, the Bible ceases to be our authority." That is why Protestant modernism arose; Protestant fundamentalism was merely the reaction of those with residual faith against that consequence. But such fundamentalism remains intellectually powerless against it.

I am particularly interested in how you would defend or argue the Pontificator's Second Law: "When the Bible alone is our authority, the Bible ceases to be our authority." I, of course, hold to sola scriptura. Any thoughts?

Thanks,
JBaldwin
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
J,

I'm with you. A man who followed me as pastor in one church began as an Edwardsian Calvinist with affinities for Bahnsen. Somehow he got turned on to Scott Hahn and the rest was history. One morning after the sermon he announced that he was leaving that congregation, the Baptist church, and Protestantism in favor of Roman Catholicism. The issue? Sola scriptura. He came to believe that schism in Protestant ranks was due in large part to the consequence of apodosis of your Second Law. He also argued similarly to your friend on the implications for modernism. He also took several families out of the church with him.
 
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JBaldwin

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
DMcFadden-

That seems to be happening a lot in my part of the South. I am live in the vacinity of Bob Jones University, the bastion of fundamentalism, and many have left their protestant roots to join up with the RCC. These questions about sola scriptura come up often. I do not understand the logic behind the Pontificator's Second Law, so I feel helpless to defend my position.
 

Mathetes

Puritan Board Freshman
The assertion given in said law is question-begging. Why should anyone believe it?

As to the multiplicity of denominations, so what? The Roman Church is just another denomination. Furthermore, they generally tend to compare apples and oranges when they make such claims. They will hold up the Roman Catholic Church as the rule, and talk about all the divisions in Protestantism. But for it to be a fair comparison, they would have to either compare a rule of faith (scripture + infallible interpreter) with another rule of faith (sola scriptura), or compare their denomination (Roman Catholic) with another denomination (say, Presbyterian or Lutheran).

If comparing one rule of faith to another, the Roman Catholic position is demolished. The scripture + infalllible interpreter rule of faith is held by Jehovah's Witnesses, Eastern Orthodox, Mormons, and several loony cults. There's way more division and novelty amongst these sects than there is amongst churches that follow sola scriptura (Presbyterians, Baptists, Lutherans, etc.)

Comparing one denomination to another is even worse. If you compare the unity within the Roman Catholic Church to, say, the Southern Baptist church, again they lack far more unity. Vatican II alone is enough to show that the Roman Catholics can't keep their teachings straight, not to mention many other doctrines that have created differing opinions within their own denomination. So they only succeed by setting up a false comparison.
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
DMcFadden-

That seems to be happening a lot in my part of the South. I am live in the vacinity of Bob Jones University, the bastion of fundamentalism, and many have left their protestant roots to join up with the RCC. These questions about sola scriptura come up often. I do not understand the logic behind the Pontificator's Second Law, so I feel helpless to defend my position.

Quite simpy, the logic runs like this: One of the practical values of the Magisterium is that having a source of authority outside of the Bible, we presumably have a check on our own idiosyncratic tendencies. If the Pope, Cardinals, et. al. tell you how to interpret things, you cannot, by definition, get very far afield. For Protestants, on the other hand, particularly Baptists with their constant carping (I am a Baptist) about "soul liberty," any individual can take off on any tangent that they want to based on an individual reading of the Bible and a subjective sense of "leading" by the Holy Spirit. So, if my authority is found in the Word of God AND the traditions of the Church, then it provides a check on aberrant interpretations. It is part of the RC claim that when you remove all authority but the Bible and the believer (as "led by the Holy Spirit"), you open the doors to rampant subjectivism.
 
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JBaldwin

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
DMcFadden said:

Quite simpy, the logic runs like this: One of the practical values of the Magisterium is that having a source of authority outside of the Bible, we presumably have a check on our own idiosyncratic tendencies. If the Pope, Cardinals, et. al. tell you how to interpret things, you cannot, by definition, get very far afield. For Protestants, on the other hand, particularly Baptists with their constant carping (I am a Baptist) about "soul liberty," any individual can take off on any tangent that they want to based on an individual reading of the Bible and a subjective sense of "leading" by the Holy Spirit. So, if my authority is found in the Word of God AND the traditions of the Church, then it provides a check on aberrant interpretations. It is part of the RC claim that when you remove all authority but the Bible and the believer (as "led by the Holy Spirit"), you open the doors to rampant subjectivism.

Thanks,

That makes more sense to me, and this is easily refuted. Popes and cardinals, no matter what the RCC says, are mere men prone to the same fallibility as the individual who is interpreting the Scripture and trusting the Spirit of God to lead him. I would much rather put my trust in the Holy Spirit and in His Word than in some men who are holding to a bunch of traditions which change with the wind.

J
 

Poimen

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
The Bible is not the only authority. Parents, superiors, the church and many other people and things are authorities all of which classical Protestantism recognizes. Rather Sola Scriptura means that the Bible stands above all these other authorities as the chief authority in doctrine and life.

That so many 'Protestants' abandon the faith and go back to Rome only demonstrates that they did not know what Protestantism was in the first place.
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
As one who has come to see the value of confessionalism later in life, this is where the confessions act as a corrective on individualized interpretations. BECAUSE we believe in sola scriptura we trust that the Spirit working through the Word is truly "sola." Because we acknowledge the continuing proneness of sin to interfere with our interpretation of the Bible, we utilize documents drawn from scripture to establish confessional boundaries.
 

JBaldwin

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
BECAUSE we believe in sola scriptura we trust that the Spirit working through the Word is truly "sola." Because we acknowledge the continuing proneness of sin to interfere with our interpretation of the Bible, we utilize documents drawn from scripture to establish confessional boundaries

I agree, and yet again, I think we need to be careful lest we become just like the RCC in placing our confessions on the same ground as Scripture.
 

Amazing Grace

Puritan Board Junior
I came across this paragraph on a website of an old friend of mine who left fundamentalism to become a catholic priest. (My friend posted this comment on his website. I do not know the name of the person who originally posted it.)

...Protestants, especially fundamentalists, object that they consider "Scripture alone" to be the "infallible" authority within the Church. And Catholics are obliged to agree that Scripture contains, at least materially, all the truth God willed to reveal to us. But both history and logic confirm Pontificator's Second Law: "When the Bible alone is our authority, the Bible ceases to be our authority." That is why Protestant modernism arose; Protestant fundamentalism was merely the reaction of those with residual faith against that consequence. But such fundamentalism remains intellectually powerless against it.

I am particularly interested in how you would defend or argue the Pontificator's Second Law: "When the Bible alone is our authority, the Bible ceases to be our authority." I, of course, hold to sola scriptura. Any thoughts?

Thanks,
JBaldwin


Proponents of solo scriptura have deceived themselves into thinking that they honor the unique authority of Scripture. But unfortunately, by divorcing the Spirit-inspired Word of God from the Spirit-indwelt people of God, they have made it into a plaything and the source of endless speculation. If a proponent of solo scriptura is honest, he recognizes that it is not the infallible Scripture to which he ultimately appeals. His appeal is always to his on fallible interpretation of that Scripture. With solo scriptura it cannot be any other way, and this necessary relativistic autonomy is the fatal flaw of solo scriptura that proves it to be an unChristian tradition of men..... Keith Mathison


I like this from Keith Mathison:

A Critique of the Evangelical Doctrine of Solo Scriptura
 
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