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Lewis's later view on Christianity

The man. The myth.

Postby agingjb » 31 Oct 2008, 20:13

Some questions about Sola Scriptura (of which I know little):

How does the Sola Scriptura thesis say how the canon of scripture came to be established?

Does acceptance of Sola Scriptura commit its believers to biblical inerrancy?

Does acceptance of Sola Scriptura commit its believers to Young Earth Creationism?

Do those who do believe in the Sola Scriptura thesis hasten to acquire mastery of the Greek and Hebrew languages? I'll admit that, as someone who has great difficultly with languages, that I do find this a problem (for me).

And, just my curiosity, did St Paul know as he wrote his, presumably inspired, letters that they were to be regarded with the same degree of reverence as the Torah?
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Postby archenland_knight » 03 Nov 2008, 23:08

2 Thessalonians 2:15 wrote:15 So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.


So, Paul speaks of what he and his fellow workers taught the Thessalonians "by word of mouth". So, what exactly was taught by Word of Mouth? Was it something not found in the scriptures? Or was it just as likely the kind of teaching in which we engage every Sunday, teaching by word of mouth the things already recorded in the scriptures from Moses, David, Solomon, Isaiah, The Gospels, Acts, etc. Why would I believe this was anything other than teaching to the Thessalonians things the scriptures which were already written?

agingjb with enumeration added by Arch for his own convenience wrote:Some questions about Sola Scriptura (of which I know little):

1. How does the Sola Scriptura thesis say how the canon of scripture came to be established?

2. Does acceptance of Sola Scriptura commit its believers to biblical inerrancy?

3. Does acceptance of Sola Scriptura commit its believers to Young Earth Creationism?

4. Do those who do believe in the Sola Scriptura thesis hasten to acquire mastery of the Greek and Hebrew languages? I'll admit that, as someone who has great difficultly with languages, that I do find this a problem (for me).

5. And, just my curiosity, did St Paul know as he wrote his, presumably inspired, letters that they were to be regarded with the same degree of reverence as the Torah?


1. You realize this takes up at least a whole chapter, if not section, in any descent Systematic Theology textbook, right? While we all acknowledge that the New Testament Cannon was established by the Council of Carthage, those adhering to S.S. will emphasize that the scriptures themselves had already proven themselves to the church, and that the council merely acknowledge thed cannon which had already essentially established itself among the early churches. I'm not sure how other churches would view this. (The Old Testament Cannon was established before Christ's time, and the implicit endorsement of it by Christ and His Apostles is good enough for all modern Christians.)

2. That depends. If by "inerrancy" you mean even as far as the number of people who showed up at a certain event, or the exact length of a certain measurement, perhaps not for all adhernts of the S.S. standard. If by "inerrancy" you mean "inerrant in anything relating to doctrine or belief", then absolutely.

3. Not at all, though Y.E.C. adherents would say yes. "Y.E.C." is based on calculations that we don't all agree are supported by the scriptures. This whole subject is really far to complex to get into here.

One notable adherent to S.S., the famous Doctor Scolfield, believed that the first "day" of Genesis actually didn't start until an entire other "creation" or "era" had come and gone after God Created The Heavens and The Earth. He offered some interesting (though not convincing for me) S.S. arguments for his position. I merely offer him as prime example of a S.S. adherent who was NOT a Y.E.C. adherent.

4. Not as much as they obviously should. But that just proves how lazy we are. It does not offer any argment for or against the concept of S.S.

5. It's hard to say what place Paul gave to his own writing, but in both Colossians 4:16 and 1 Thessalonians 5:27 he instructs that his letter be read to all the believers, and in the case of Collossians instructs them to pass the letter around.

Of course, Col 4:16 also mentions a letter Paul wrote to the church of Laodiciea, which we do not have. There is still in existence a PURPORTED letter from Paul to the Church of Laodiciea, but anyone who knows Paul's writings and reads it can tell that not only is it a forgery, but a bad one. (It was clearly not rejected for any supposed "disagreement" with church teachings because it is basically phrases from his known letters cut and pasted together.)

This tells us, however, that God did not see fit to preserve everything Paul wrote, so perhaps it was not all scripture. And perhaps Paul knew this. (There is also a "Corinthians 1.5, in between what we call Corinthinas 1 and Corinthians 2 which we do not have.)

Here, however, is what Peter had to say about Paul's wrtings:

2 Peter 3:15-16 wrote:15 Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. 16 He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.


So, Peter refered to Paul's writings and to "other scriptures", implying of course that Paul's writings were themselves scripture. So wheter Paul saw them as scripture, Peter did.

John, of course, states that the Revelation was given to him by Jesus Christ Himself. If one assumes that John belived this to be true, then obviously John would have thought of this book as scripture.

Those writings of the Apostles which the Church preserved and which had proven themsleves to be scripture at the time of the Council of Carthage, these we consider scripture. Other writings may be of some interest, but we would not hold them on the same level of authority.
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Postby rusmeister » 04 Nov 2008, 03:50

archenland_knight wrote:
2 Thessalonians 2:15 wrote:15 So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.


So, Paul speaks of what he and his fellow workers taught the Thessalonians "by word of mouth". So, what exactly was taught by Word of Mouth? Was it something not found in the scriptures? Or was it just as likely the kind of teaching in which we engage every Sunday, teaching by word of mouth the things already recorded in the scriptures from Moses, David, Solomon, Isaiah, The Gospels, Acts, etc. Why would I believe this was anything other than teaching to the Thessalonians things the scriptures which were already written?

The very fact that you say 'likely' indicates that you do not know with certainty. But this is something you must be quite certain on if you would defend Sola Scriptura.
But even if this were so, then surely it is odd that he go to the trouble to add that phrase? He could have stopped with "...passed on to you." Also, he specifically says 'epistle' (letter) and not 'Scripture' or the words used to refer to the Jewish Holy Scripture. Any reasonable exegesis says that he is speaking about the things he communicated, whether written or orally, and the only reason to add that phrase is to establish that not everything will be passed on in written form.

A person who sees the Bible as the Word of God (rather than Christ/Logos as the Word of God) would have to conclude that Scripture itself is warning not to depend on Scripture alone - or make desperate contortions to deny that. Now you may argue this, but who then is the authority that we turn to to confirm or deny our rightness or wrongness? Must one be better educated in order to know the right answer and wind up in the right church/have the correct understandings? if so, it is gnosticism.

But I'll assume you do not believe that. If we are all our own interpreters, then my interpretation is just as valid as yours (and rather more takes the given text at face value than yours, which is dependent on a big assumption). At this point, the SS defender speaks of who has the better "exegesis", which again, skirts gnosticism. It is dependent entirely on the individual to "rightly divide the Word of Truth".

In the end, it is like two lawyers arguing in court without a judge, with only a legal book which they both argue supports their position. This is why I see an absolute need for a concrete (as well as invisible) Church, rather than holding the Church as something purely ephemeral and peripheral. How else could you prevent anyone from seeing whatever they want in Scripture? With a visible Church and authority (springing not from the clergy - who are merely executive, if you will, but from the entire Tradition of the Church, including in the most honored place, Scripture) such divisions can not arise.

It is often, and correctly, said that the reformation did not abolish the Pope - it made everyone their own Pope unto themselves. The Orthodox position holds that both positions are wrong - one man as authority for the whole Church and each man as authority for the whole Church.
The net effect of Sola Scriptura is to establish Christianity as a democracy. And that is precisely what we see in the non-Orthodox/Catholic parts of the world. (Although if JRosemary is to be believed, a Catholic is free to privately disagree with Church dogma - I am skeptical of that, though.) Thus, (for example) Christians vote on whether sodomy is OK or not and whether having Bishops who practice it is acceptable. They vote on how to worship, and invent all kinds of different ways to try to do so, rather than faithfully passing down what was handed down (not up) from the beginning. But there I go rambling...

PS - a cannon is a military weapon. You're probably thing of Church Canons (one 'n') - although the Church Militant might have some of the other kind lying about... There's nothing more dangerous than a loose Canon! :wink:

I hope what I'm saying isn't taken to be offensive or spiteful. Please forgive me if I have offended!
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Postby rusmeister » 04 Nov 2008, 04:13

archenland_knight wrote:4. Not as much as they obviously should. But that just proves how lazy we are. It does not offer any argument for or against the concept of S.S.


As a person who has studied a dozen languages or so, I respectfully disagree. It has a tremendous impact on the argument. The lack of knowledge, not only of the original language, but of the culture results in a person holding, say, a Bible in English and thinking that they have all the tools they need. I grew up, traveled the world, and learned the falsehood of that - that a person can read an ancient text and understand it correctly and entirely without reference to the language or culture which gave birth to the text.

This is the problems of a monolingual believer, and it is a major weak link in the chain known as Sola Scriptura. Any claim of necessity to know a tremendous amount of stuff for correct understanding amounts to gnosticism, as I noted above. Yet it is on the basis of monolingual understanding that Mary's ever-Virginity is largely denied today, something that Luther, Calvin, Zwingli and Wesley all accepted. It is on such understandings - what does "until" mean in English? What exactly does the Greek term mean? What does the word "brother" mean in the context of the culture? We take these things for granted, and only chance experience may show us differently.

With external authority, these problems are solved. I don't need to be a genius or wise man to know the truth - I can sit (or stand) and listen. Idiots can be saved. I don't need to necessarily know ancient Greek and Hebrew, and neither do I depend merely on my own limited understandings. Sure, I need to use my brain - but I don't have to depend on it for my salvation (and my correct understanding of what "salvation" means.
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Postby agingjb » 04 Nov 2008, 08:17

Thanks for the replies to my questions on Sola Scriptura.
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Postby Dan65802 » 10 Nov 2008, 17:22

Post removed by the author due to excessive sarcasm.

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Re: Lewis's later view on Christianity

Postby geraljo1 » 28 Dec 2008, 22:01

I distinctly remember people in Christendom claiming that Lewis had definitely strayed away from the mainstream when The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe became a rage. I became a Lewis fan as a child. I am a 1950s baby. I have handed down the Love for all things Lewis to my children...and now they are handing it down to their.

The fact that witches, fauns, fairies, and mythical creatures are in this books was and in some circles still a cause for concern. Having said that I wonder if the Harry Potter Books will receive the same resolution 30 years from now? The continued battle between good and evil rages on, and will rage un until that day when the "Enemy" is chained in the place that is reserved for him!

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Re: Lewis's later view on Christianity

Postby Tumnus's Books » 29 Dec 2008, 02:35

Looking at the dates, I see that this is an old post, and wonder if anyone is still checking it out. With regard to Sola Scripture, and Fundamentalism in general, this talk by a monk at All Saints Monastery gives some interesting insight:

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Re: Lewis's later view on Christianity

Postby Dan65802 » 29 Dec 2008, 15:31

I'm not sure his understanding of the term "fundamentalism" applies to all who claim the title "fundamentalist", but calling the Bible "only a book" is certainly an insight into differences between Evangelicals and the Orthodox church (at least his section of the Orthodox church).

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Re: Lewis's later view on Christianity

Postby rusmeister » 02 Jan 2009, 01:50

Dan65802 wrote:I'm not sure his understanding of the term "fundamentalism" applies to all who claim the title "fundamentalist", but calling the Bible "only a book" is certainly an insight into differences between Evangelicals and the Orthodox church (at least his section of the Orthodox church).

- Dan -


Hi Dan!(And Happy New Year!)

I would respond that referring to "his section of the Orthodox Church" reveals an insight into the differences between your view of Orthodoxy and how (canonical) Orthodox Christians see it.

Also, what he actually says is that
their separation from the body and the history of the Church, and from sacred Tradition* left them with only a book. Only a book. Consequently, they had to deify that book.

*(as opposed to "traditions of men" should be added to head off the typical knee-jerk response, imo)
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Re: Lewis's later view on Christianity

Postby Dan65802 » 02 Jan 2009, 14:17

rusmeister wrote:I would respond that referring to "his section of the Orthodox church" reveals an insight into the differences between your view of Orthodoxy and how (canonical) Orthodox Christians see it.


Actually, I don't have enough knowledge of the Orthodox church to have a view of Orthodoxy (capital "O"). I was just referring to the priest's assertion that Orthodox fundamentalists were also wrong in their view of the Bible. I assumed these Orthodox fundamentalists were another section of the Orthodox church that he did not belong to. I suppose I could be misunderstanding his words.

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Re: Lewis's later view on Christianity

Postby rusmeister » 02 Jan 2009, 16:13

That clears it up.
I'd explain that among canonical Orthodox churches, there are no sections; if a church breaks away, it is schismatic and no longer part of the canonical Church, whatever it may call itself. Thus, it is critical to be in communion with the Church worldwide via your regional Church (The Russian Orthodox, or Greek Orthodox, or Antiochian Orthodox Churches, for example) which your local church should be a part of (In America you actually have this weird situation where you can choose which one to be in, but it really doesn't matter - it's primarily a matter of differing languages and local practices. So for example, this organization is schismatic (despite its claim):
http://www.apostle1.com/
and this one is canonical:
http://www.oca.org/

Within the Church it is possible to have differing views on non-dogmatic issues (and not possible if there is established dogma - so you can't have a dissenting opinion on abortion or homosexual behavior and be Orthodox, but you CAN differ on whether women should cover their heads (that would fall under local practices and pious traditions based on Scripture or other Tradition, but not dogma).

I'm not sure which "fundamentalists" the monk is referring to - possibly schismatics or potential schismatics, like what happened this last year with Bishop Diomede in the Russian Church (He went bonkers in a fundamentalist way, took a few priests with him and broke off - wound up being stripped of his position). http://www.spc.rs/eng/holy_synod_russia ... ommon_monk
Basically, they place their own interpretations above established Tradition and Church leadership and concepts like recognizing one's own limitations and/or obedience and humility go out the window. They would be "sects" - literally, divisions, as that what "sect" means.
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Re: Lewis's later view on Christianity

Postby Dan65802 » 02 Jan 2009, 16:21

Got it. They're a sect, not a section.

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Re: Lewis's later view on Christianity

Postby Tumnus's Books » 03 Jan 2009, 03:43

rusmeister wrote:
Dan65802 wrote:I'm not sure his understanding of the term "fundamentalism" applies to all who claim the title "fundamentalist", but calling the Bible "only a book" is certainly an insight into differences between Evangelicals and the Orthodox church (at least his section of the Orthodox church).

- Dan -


Hi Dan!(And Happy New Year!)

I would respond that referring to "his section of the Orthodox Church" reveals an insight into the differences between your view of Orthodoxy and how (canonical) Orthodox Christians see it.

Also, what he actually says is that
their separation from the body and the history of the Church, and from sacred Tradition* left them with only a book. Only a book. Consequently, they had to deify that book.

*(as opposed to "traditions of men" should be added to head off the typical knee-jerk response, imo)


rusmeister, thanks for clearing up any confusion. I myself am not a member of the Orthodox Church, yet in stumbling across the monk's post on youtube, I believed it to be lucid, well-informed, and relevant to the discussion at hand. The question remains, and perhaps you can assist in this: does the monk have a point? Does what he state reveal the core dispute of scriptural inerrancy?
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Re: Lewis's later view on Christianity

Postby rusmeister » 05 Jan 2009, 05:25

I think so, yes.

For me, life experience (joining the Navy, seeing the world, learning different languages and cultures) taught me the unreasonableness of concepts like "the King James Bible is the only Bible" and eventually Sola Scriptura. I saw the impossibility of one man's being able to know and interpret anything on his own, even if he committed all of his life to it. It's not nearly enough to know ancient Greek, Latin and Aramaic (although how many of you know even one of those languages, let alone all?). You need to know and understand the culture as well - how were marriage and divorce understood; what is the concept of family and household, what was the normal average wage of a workman, and every other question of life. It is true that one man could eventually answer many of these questions correctly. But 1) doesn't that make him a (n imperfect) authority figure and 2) where does that leave the average Joe who doesn't know all of that stuff? It turns into a kind of gnosticism, where the person who knows the most is most correct, has the best chance to really "be saved", etc... (I speak in terms of understanding Scripture - I know that Protestants believe that simple people can be saved)

But again, I learned by living in foreign places that the very bases of reality are different, and assumptions that we make in our culture and take for granted simply are not true elsewhere. Thus we blithely depict nativity scenes taking place in a western stable, little realizing that what passes for stables in those Middle Eastern parts are actually caves in the hills. Or again, we depict a young Joseph (about the same age as Mary) because we assume that if a couple gets married, they are probably both young, the same age, and plan to have children together. And that's very true - in OUR culture. Anyway, the examples are legion - I'm just pointing out what has been pointed out many times before - to tell a person to read it for himself, and interpret for himself what ancient texts from faraway lands mean, and perhaps refer to some clarifications from a wise and learned man, and then make all-important theological decisions based on those interpretations, is insane and a sure path to disagreement over interpretations, and ultimately, schism. Hardly a unified body of Christ. It results in, well, what we have today. A complete mess.

The great wisdom that everyone has a good grip on today is that people are not to be trusted - that they are by nature corrupt, and so we reject the error of blind faith in any authority that happens to come along; and so in our age we commit an opposite error- to reject all authority whatsoever except ourselves.
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