Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Scripture's Clarity Confirmed Against Smudges - 5/25

Dave Armstrong has posted a series of "25 Short Arguments on the Difficulties of Perspicuity (Clearness of Scripture for Salvation)" (link) from his book "501 Biblical Arguments Against Sola Scriptura: Is the Bible the Only Infallible Authority?" I can see that his list of arguments has received nearly a thousand views, so perhaps it makes sense to provide a response to each of these. The arguments themselves are not long - individually they are no more than smudges that aim to obscure Scripture's clarity. This is number 5/25 of my wiping away of the smudges.

Armstrong's Argument

5. Since Protestants can't agree in their interpretation of Scripture, of what practical use is an infallible Bible? If the interpretation is fallible and contradictory, then -- practically speaking -- the Bible in effect is no more infallible than its differing interpretations.

Short Rebuttal

The practical use of the Bible is explained below:

2 Timothy 3:16-17
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

Longer Rebuttal

The argument, if we can call this question an argument, seems to be trying to suggest that the appropriate test of the sufficiency of a rule of faith is if everyone agrees about it. But there is no rule of faith about which everyone agrees. To take the alternative for which Armstrong is trying to argue by tearing down Scripture, Roman Catholicism provides a rule of faith in the form her allegedly infallible teachings. Nevertheless, there are differences of opinion among Roman Catholics regarding how to interpret their rule of faith. Thus, if we accept the extremely skeptical premise of this argument, the result is agnosticism: we wouldn't be able to have any rule of faith at all, because people have differences of opinion over any given rule of faith.

- TurretinFan

4 comments:

Pete Hoge said...

I wonder when folks will stop
bickering and worship as Jesus
asked us to.

I like your blog anyway because
I am wannabe intellectual and
I need help sorting out all the
streams of theological thought
that are present in my line of
sight.

Personally I accept the Bible
as it is, and ask the Holy Spirit
or another Christian about parts
of it I get hung up on.

We keep it simple and remember
that the meek(humble)shall
inherit the earth.

Pete.

natamllc said...

I would proffer a verse although acceptance of it can be keenly understood by the verse you proffered; which wasn't accepted either, by the opposing side? The part that seems to be overlooked is this part, [2 Tim. 3:16 "All scripture is given by inspiration of God...."]. No one "knows" the Christ except those to whom the Father reveals Him. You might say then, understanding and knowing Christ and understanding and knowing that "All" Scripture is by inspiration of God go hand in hand; and you would not know the one and not the other. Having made that distinction, here's the verse I am contemplating proffering as an additional understanding to be accepted:

Pro 16:20 Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the LORD.

john martin said...

The argument, if we can call this question an argument, seems to be trying to suggest that the appropriate test of the sufficiency of a rule of faith is if everyone agrees about it.”

No, the argument is that Protestants have not and cannot agree on the doctrines taught by the apostles contained in many scripture verses. This is not the same as saying scripture alone is deficient because everybody does not agree on what doctrines the text teaches.

Dave is saying this – there have been historically, many serious divisions within Protestantism on many issues found in the scriptures. Therefore scripture alone is not sufficiently clear on many doctrines within its text. As such sola scriptura is a failure both historically and practically. As it is a failure, then the churches that follow sola scriptora are false, because God does not use a failed system.

“But there is no rule of faith about which everyone agrees.”

Irrelevant for the reasons given above and below.

“To take the alternative for which Armstrong is trying to argue by tearing down Scripture, Roman Catholicism provides a rule of faith in the form her allegedly infallible teachings. Nevertheless, there are differences of opinion among Roman Catholics regarding how to interpret their rule of faith.”

But the Catholic rule of faith is one, unlike the many rules of faith in Protestantism. There is only one Catholic Church with one magesterium and one Papal succession, one body of belief as found in her documents and yet there are many Protestant magesteriums and bodies of belief as founding their documents. The comparison by TF is flawed.

“ Thus, if we accept the extremely skeptical premise of this argument,”

Its not a skeptical premise. Dave’s premise is that Protestants don’t agree on doctrine found in scripture (which is a historical fact), therefore the scriptures are useless as an infallible authority.

“ the result is agnosticism:”

Protestants are Christianised agnostics. Catholics are apostolic Christians who are not agnostic.

“ we wouldn't be able to have any rule of faith at all, because people have differences of opinion over any given rule of faith.”

And this doesn’t follow because you missed the differences between Catholicism and Protestantism. Protestantism does have a rule of faith – a text + private interpretation. Catholics have a rule of faith – the Magesterium + scripture + tradition + church fathers.

You have failed to refute Dave’s argument.

JM

The Puritan said...

John Martin, the example of the Bereans, how does this example fit into your paradigm?