Crossed The Tiber

An Evangelical Converts to Catholicism

My Photo
Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I was born into the Catholic faith. At 14, I was "born again" and found Jesus personally but lost His Church. After thirty years as an evangelical protestant, I have come full circle to find that He has been there all the time, in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I wish others to find the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith as I have found.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Berean Bible Thumpers and Sola Scriptura

A recent article by Jimmy Akin looks carefully at the New Testament verses regarding the Bereans who "went to the scriptures to see if it was so."   This is often held up as a proof of sola scriptura. He gives a nice explanation using the scriptures to prove that the Bereans do not prove that the concept of sola scriptura is in the scriptures.
  My own take on the Bereans is that they took to the scriptures "to see if it was so,"  not to extrapolate new doctrines that heretofore had never been held by the faith community. They were looking to see if the Old Testament scriptures supported what the apostles were preaching. Kind of like fact checking. That's a big difference from going to the bible to derive new and unusual doctrines by your own personal interpretation of scripture. For example, Ulrich Zwingli went through the New Testament to find verses supporting his new doctrine that the Eucharist was symbolic only, despite the fact that Luther was doing the same thing to support his belief in the Real Presence, which he later morphed into consubstantiation.  Another example was Martin Luther stating that we are "saved by faith alone", despite the fact that scripture says specifically that "we are not saved by faith alone."
   The Berean Christians did not come up with new doctrines based on their interpretation of the bible.
As Jimmy Akin said, they wanted to see if the scriptures really spoke of Christ the way the apostles were preaching it.  The apostles through the revelation of the Holy Spirit and Jesus' wonderful exposition of scripture on the Way to Emmaus helped the foundling Church to understand that Christ was the Messiah as the Old Testament spoke of throughout. The Bereans, went to the scripture to see if it was as was preached to them. Since there were no New Testament Scriptures at the time of the Bereans, if you assume they were employing a solo scriptura mentality, they would have been locked forever theologically in the OT. This was not the case because the early Church relied on passing on teachings (sacred tradition) taught from the apostles, not just the Old Testament alone. 

 "Stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter" (2 Thess. 2:15). 


Blogger kkollwitz said...

Being Bereans, I suppose they searched a Septuagint Old Testament.

September 12, 2012 11:55 AM  
Blogger Russ Rentler, M.D. said...

of course!

September 12, 2012 7:31 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

I summarize it as follows:

There's a huge difference between checking OT prophecy to see if the man "Jesus" fits and using the Bible as the sole rule of faith for all your doctrines.

Protestants miss the forest for the trees on that one.

September 14, 2012 6:14 PM  
Blogger Russ Rentler, M.D. said...

They have to use it as the sole rule of faith, it's the nature or PROTESTantsim. If you reject the Church as an authority, you have to look elsewhere. Dave Armstrong sums up the concept of Christian auhority like this:

"The Bible is central and primary in Catholicism as well, but not exclusively authoritative - it is not isolated, or by itself (Scripture Alone) nor can it even logically be so. We maintain that this was the apostolic and patristic viewpoint, and that of Augustine and Aquinas, which we preserve unchanged. The Bible itself points to Tradition and the Church as authoritative (see, e.g., the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15); it doesn't teach that it alone is the Christian's sole ultimate authority, and, of course, it was the Church which declared the parameters of what books were Scripture in the first place. I believe R.C. Sproul said that the canon was "a fallible collection of infallible books." This poses a huge epistemological problem for the Protestant, in my opinion.

Scripture is what it is, in its essence, and always has been, yet the Church was necessary to settle a matter (the canon) which had indeed achieved a general or broad consensus, yet not without many deviations from what we now regard as Scripture (some Fathers thought 1 and 2 Clement, or the Epistle of Barnabas were Scripture, etc. And books like Revelation and James were very late in being generally received as such).

So we believe in faith and from reason and Scripture, that God will protect the Church from error in its dogmatic pronouncements, because we believe there is one institutional Church (and "one faith," as Paul states), handed down (again, according to Paul) from the Apostles, with which other Christians can implicitly be connected, to more or less degrees (particularly by baptism and common beliefs, such as the tenets of the Nicene Creed).

Protestants believe that God protected Holy Scripture from error, by means of inspiration, even though sinful, fallible men wrote it. Catholics agree with that, and also believe that God (the Holy Spirit: John 14-16) can protect His Church from error (a merely "negative" and preventive guarantee), by means of infallibility (a lesser supernatural gift than inspiration), even though sinful, fallible men are involved in it.

If God can do one thing, He can do the other. Since we see these things indicated in Scripture and Apostolic Tradition, we believe them. It takes much faith, because now we are dealing with a human (yet divinely-guided) institution, yet this faith is not without much biblical and reasonable grounds. And we think it is demonstrable that the Apostles and Fathers agreed with these notions of authority."

September 14, 2012 7:45 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

Good point. In rejecting the Church they are forced to then desperately grasp at whatever straws they can to use as a figleaf for their nakedness. As a result, they must take texts like this and torture them.

September 14, 2012 7:55 PM  
Blogger Russ Rentler, M.D. said...

yes Nick, it is both amazing and sad to see the gyrations that relatively intelligent folks will go through with Scripture to avoid the obvious way in which that scripture has been interpreted for 2000 years. I don't think they mean to be evil, but they have to use these bizarre and non-sensical interpretations to steer very far clear of the barq of Peter.
My favorite example is "This is my body." The early church had no problem accepting this at face value, but "enlightened" Christians re-evaluated that verse 1600 years later to say "It really does not mean what you think it does!" (The same with "faith without works is dead")

The bottom line is that their exegesis is based on one unspoken principle: No matter what the verse really means, your final interpretation can be as strange as
you want but it must not come near to the Catholic interpretation. If you accept the Catholic view of the Eucharist, you then must accept the belief in apostolic succession and the ability to confect the Eucharist that comes with it. If you accept apostolic succession, you must reject the reformers given their clear schism with the Church Jesus started.

September 14, 2012 8:10 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

Yes, the saddest part of all is that many of these folks are otherwise intelligent Christians.

September 14, 2012 9:13 PM  

Post a Comment