Sola Scriptura – The Scriptures Only (a disputed translation)
Sola Scriptura is a doctrine that guided the church away form the harmful encroachment of superstition and abusive ecclesiastical rule. When the authority of the church obscurred the message of the Bible, bold theologians and lay people advocated a simple doctrine that cut away the falsehood and deception that had shrouded the church with a dense fog.
Indeed the scriptures burned away the haze and confusion that had accumulated over centuries. The authority wielded by the church was never the aim of Jesus, and therefore, sola scriptura did its work with deadly efficiency. The problem is that the church fought off one extra-biblical doctrine (well, all doctrine is kind of extra-biblical or second order in nature, but that’s another discussion. see Beyond Foundationalism for more on that),the authority of church government, with another doctrine not found in the Bible. What would Jesus do with that?
I only have a few moments to scratch the surface on this one, but it is a source of endless curiousity to me that Jesus never left any kind of written record. You’d think that even if he wrote something on the sand, people would have figured out a way to preserve it.
Unfortunately, if Jesus did write in the sand (that story may be a late addition to the Gospels), his disciples failed to preserve it. And so, having failed to keep files of whatever Jesus may have written, the disciples themselves were left to write down Jesus’ words. And so we are in the rather strange situation of being a religion centered on a book about Jesus, the founder of Christianity and reinterpreter of Judaism, that has no written records by him.
What Jesus actually left was a community of disciples who were called to carry on his work and continue to spread his message. One disciple even wrote that Jesus himself is “the Word.” To add to this, Jesus promised the Spirit who would come to lead us into all truth. How do we balance this promised Spirit and the claims of Jesus to be “the Word” with our current doctrine of sola scriptura?
Now that is what I call a proper mess.