Distinctions between sola and solo

Discussion in 'Philosophy and Theology' started by Toma, Nov 17, 2012.

  1. Toma

    Toma Well-Known Member Anglican

    Posts:
    1,529
    Likes Received:
    1,085
    Country:
    Canada
    Religion:
    Anglican
    Hello friends,

    I'm wondering what people think of the idea that "sola scriptura" is actually confused with "solo scriptura" by most Christians.

    One says that we only know basic foundational salvation truths through scripture, but the latter says we must take all knowledge from scripture by itself. The first is the Anglican way, I believe, and the second is the Reformed or "fundamentalist" way.

    I've started a new project/organisation, and its initial blog posts are setting down first principles. This is one of them. I'd appreciate any feedback or ideas:

    http://anglicanum.wordpress.com/2012/11/17/sola-or-solo/
     
  2. Aaytch Barton

    Aaytch Barton Active Member

    Posts:
    152
    Likes Received:
    53
    Country:
    usa
    Religion:
    Anglo-Reformed
    Where did you hear that there is somebody teaching "solo scriptura" ("we must take all knowledge from scripture by itself")? I have never heard of such a thing. I don't know much about "fundamentalism", but in Reformed circles, it is ALWAYS Sola Scriptura, and it is usually expressed like it is here by the well know Reformed Anglican J.I. Packer http://www.ccel.us/godsinerrantword.ch2.html. Your definition, that it means "we only know basic foundational salvation truths through scripture" is way off.
     
  3. kestrel

    kestrel Member

    Posts:
    90
    Likes Received:
    43
    Country:
    Spain
    Religion:
    Church of England
    A question: do you have to believe in a strict view of Creation (no Evolution) to hold an inerrant view of Scripture?
     
  4. Aaytch Barton

    Aaytch Barton Active Member

    Posts:
    152
    Likes Received:
    53
    Country:
    usa
    Religion:
    Anglo-Reformed
    Well, there are some that find accommodation for evolution. There are others, "young earth creationists", that take a strictly literal approach. In the middle, which I believe is the vast majority, are "old earth creationists". They reject the macro-evolution of species, especially of Adam, because it is inconsistent with the whole scope of Scripture, but they accept the premise that earth is much older than the 'literal' Biblical record would suggest. Many for example would subscribe to the "day-age" theory of Augustine, but that is only one of several approaches to the problem.
     
    kestrel likes this.
  5. Pirate

    Pirate Member

    Posts:
    48
    Likes Received:
    48
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Anglican
    Yeah, it is. Especially on the Internet. Solo pretty much says that anything worth knowing is in the Bible, and anything not found there is suspect. I encountered a Baptist recently who doubted the existence of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, because they're not mentioned in the Bible. I know of someone else who doubts that the Maccabean battles ever took place, merely because he rejects that canonicity of those books. This is solo scriptura, and it is ridiculous.

    Having said that, it seems like many supporters of sola scriptura will flaunt their rejection of Tradition, theologians, Councils, even Creeds...and move closer and closer to solo. It seems less common for solo scriptura individuals to become more open to these things.
     
    Lowly Layman and Stalwart like this.
  6. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

    Posts:
    745
    Likes Received:
    603
    Country:
    America
    Religion:
    Anglican
    ^Yes, well said.
     
    Lowly Layman likes this.
  7. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member Anglican

    Posts:
    1,837
    Likes Received:
    1,613
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    American Anglican
    Very insightful, C. I have issues in the Reformation's Solae as well (sola scriptura, sola fide, sola gratia, sola Christus). While it's a pithy and ideologically powerful way of distinguishing the marks of the Reformed from the Romanist, I think the "sola" part is a bit confining and self-contradictory....and eventually leads to solo-type fundamentalism. Here's what I mean.

    Sola Scriptura, means "by scripture alone", and when interpreted rightly, as you point out, is thoroughly in line with Anglican teaching, at least as they are described by the Articles. However, scripture, alone, is not enough to fully convey the truth of God's message. While I agree that Holy Scripture is the highest and final authority on matters of faith and contains all things necessary for salvation, a simple look at the thousands upon thousands of prostestant denominations out there, all generally following the model of sola scripture, shows us that more than just scripture is needed. Authoritative interpretation is needed. Where can such authority come from? Well, Christ promised to send the Comforter to lead us in all truth. And so he did. On Pentacost Sunday, he sent the Holy Spirit upon those in the upper room, and created the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. The bible did not fall from the sky, it was compiled and canonized by the Church over the course of almost 500 years. We have the faithful witness of that Church passed down to us through the writings of the Church Fathers, the councils, and the Creeds. If one accepts that Holy Scripture is inerrant. authoritative, and divinely inspired, then one must feel the same way about the Church that formed it, since, as Our Lord said, a corrupt tree cannot give forth good fruit. By prayerfully relying on these interpretived devices, we can know not only scripture alone, but the right and true interpretation of it. Also, as a quick, but by no means original, retort to the sola scriptura crowd, if all matters of faith are to be settled by scriptura alone, then the genesis of this idea must be found in scripture. But since no where in the bible does it say that all faith matters are solved by scripture alone, the statement cannot be logically tennable.

    And on the the next 3 solas, which I have heard many a Reformed and/or Baptist minister describe thusly: I am saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. While this may or may not be a fully accurate representation of the Solas, it is the one I come across most often and find most objectionable.

    Sola Fide, which means "by faith alone", teaches that justification comes by faith alone without any good works. Some interpret it to mean we are "saved" by faith alone. This has more a scriptural basis, ironically, than the sola above. St. Paul writes, to both the Romans and Galatians, that men are justified by faith in Jesus Christ and not of works of the law (the Old Covenant injunctions). Works of the law are not necessarilly good works, which Our Lord showed time and again in the gospel. Justification is different from salvation in that former is only part of the latter. In any case, scripture shows a different formula for "saving". Ephesians teaches that we are "saved" by grace through faith, showing that faith is not an action initiated by the believer but is instead a spiritual gift imparted to man by God. But this says nothing about faith versus good works. James, however puts the issue to rest when he says, in no uncertain terms, "Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only." The Articles try to restore these two apparently contradictory statements, by saying that man is justified by a "true and lively" faith, which is expounded upon in the Homilies. Faith that does not engender good works is dead, as St. James teaches. Thus the two are inextricably linked with one motivating the other, which means that while faith is the indespensible to man's justification; faith, alone, cannot save or justify unless it is lively, meaning fruit-bearing in the form of good works.

    Sola Gratia, or "by grace alone", means that salvation only comes from the unmerited favor of God. I find this Sola very agreeable. However, Ephesians has already said that it must come through the medium of faith. This, to me, means that faith, as said before, is indispensible to the work of salvation. God has chosen to require that one believe the Gospel, obey the commands of Christ, and endure to the end. St. Paul tells us in 1 Timothy, that the Living God is the savior of all men, but especially of those who believe. So, while I agree that our salvation comes from divine grace, it does not rest their. We have some part to play in receiving that gift, through faith in and enduring obedience to Christ. Grace, alone, would make Universalists of us all, and while I hold out hope that all may find salvation through Christ, it is the narrow gate not the wide one that leads to salvation.

    And lastly, Sola Christus, which is translated as "by or in Christ alone", meaning that the object of our salvific faith is Jesus Christ as our one mediator. I agree with that. But faith in Christ, alone, is not trinitarian. The Athanasian Creed declares: "Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith. Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled; without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; Neither confounding the Persons; nor dividing the Essence." Jesus himself said "Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise." He always worked in concert with the Father and with the Holy Spirit, not of or by himself alone.

    I recognize that my objections have more to do with the misuse and mistranslation of these principles, but it is the mistranslations that we must fight against. That is why I think this formula is most accurate and most helpful: Scriptura, Fide, Gratia, Christus. It is enough, for me at least, to say that I am save by grace through faith in Christ. The Sola is just a word too many imo.
     
    Toma likes this.
  8. Toma

    Toma Well-Known Member Anglican

    Posts:
    1,529
    Likes Received:
    1,085
    Country:
    Canada
    Religion:
    Anglican
    That's a good post L.L., but I just wanna say first off, that the complete Canon of the Old and New Testaments was pretty much set in stone by A.D. 180. Melito of Sardis says the Sacred Books consist of X, Y, & Z. Chrysostom urges everyone to get a Bible, about A.D. 400. There are a lot of myths and legends about the Canon. Athanasius lists the perfect New Testament canon before A.D. 370, as that which is accepted by the Church.

    A few colleagues of mine have done research on this, presented here:


    http://anglicanum.wordpress.com/the-canon/

    You make good points about the dangers of extremes. Solo X is an extreme, but Sola is a descriptor. I hold to the sola-prefixes in all cases. :)
     
    Lowly Layman likes this.
  9. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member Anglican

    Posts:
    1,837
    Likes Received:
    1,613
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    American Anglican
    Wonderful link, Consular. My basis for the whole 500 year statement was in reference to the full acceptance of the NT, as it is currently, by the whole church. I have read that while the Western church accepted the canon as it is today by the 4th century, it was not until the 5th century that the Eastern church recognized as canonical the book of Revelations. That could be a faulty calculation, I'm no scholar.
     
    Toma likes this.
  10. Toma

    Toma Well-Known Member Anglican

    Posts:
    1,529
    Likes Received:
    1,085
    Country:
    Canada
    Religion:
    Anglican
    That's an interesting question, especially re. the 4th century. That's a reference to the Council of Rome under Damascus, supposedly defining the Tridentine BIblical Canon in A.D. 382. Here's a refutation of that canon-list as a later forgery:

    http://www.tertullian.org/articles/burkitt_gelasianum.htm

    This topic isn't about canon of course, but the solas. Mine about the canon was just a quick preliminary reply.
     
  11. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

    Posts:
    745
    Likes Received:
    603
    Country:
    America
    Religion:
    Anglican
    Dear LL, please see the The Patristic Canon thread, especially the point about the Muratorian fragment.
     
    Lowly Layman and Toma like this.
  12. Robert

    Robert Active Member

    Posts:
    99
    Likes Received:
    67
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Anglican (Anglo-Catholic)
    Stalwart,

    I followed your link to the wiki article concerning Muratorian fragment. I found it interesting, however, it linked to another wiki article to the Antilegomena. That article states:
    "Antilegomena, a direct transliteration from the Greek αντιλεγόμενα, refers to written texts whose authenticity or value is disputed.[1]
    Eusebius in his Church History written c. 325 used the term for those Christian scriptures that were "disputed" or literally those works which were "spoken against" in Early Christianity, before the closure of the New Testament canon. This group is distinct from the notha ("spurious" or "rejected writings") and the Homologoumena ("accepted writings" such as the Canonical gospels). These Antilegomena or "disputed writings" were widely read in the Early Church and included the Epistle of James, the Epistle of Jude, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, the Apocalypse of John, the Epistle to the Hebrews, the Apocalypse of Peter (unique in being the only book never accepted as canonical which was commentated upon by a Church Father), the Acts of Paul, the Shepherd of Hermas, the Epistle of Barnabas and the Didache.[2][3]"

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antilegomena

    How does this affect your position or doesn't it?
     
    Stalwart likes this.
  13. Robert

    Robert Active Member

    Posts:
    99
    Likes Received:
    67
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Anglican (Anglo-Catholic)
    You can link over to the wiki article on the Development of the New Testament which says in short that while the NT canon was "nearly" universally accepted by the mid 4th century it was not authoritatively defined in the Eastern Churches until the 2nd council in Trullo in the late 7th Century. Also this article states that the OT canon did not become definitive in the RC Church until the Council of Trent in the 16th century.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Development_of_the_New_Testament_canon
     
    Stalwart likes this.
  14. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

    Posts:
    745
    Likes Received:
    603
    Country:
    America
    Religion:
    Anglican
    Excellent points, Robert. As regards the antilegomena, it's insufficient to say that "some" have read them in addition to the canonical gospels. We're talking about thousands if not millions of people. Some variety is not only understandable but even "expectable". :) What we need is to learn to what degree, or if at all, the antilegomena were widespread within orthodox Christianity.

    I should also point out that even after Nicea we see a certain lack of uniformity in Christendom. As we've shown, the 'protestant' Canon was dominant, but there were still dissentions. For a variety of reasons, one of them being that the Septuagint was in Greek, the Latin authors by small degrees ended up accepting all of it as Divinely inspired, especially in the Middle Ages.

    But there was still no clear and 'infallible' statement of the Roman canon. As late as the 16th century, Cardinal Cajetan rejected the apocrypha (before it became a 'Protestant' and a 'heinous' thing to do):

    Commentary on All the Authentic Historical Books of the Old Testament (dedicated to Pope Clement VII ), 1532 AD:

    “Here we close our commentaries on the historical books of the Old Testament. For the rest (that is, Judith, Tobit, and the books of Maccabees) are counted by St Jerome out of the canonical books, and are placed amongst the Apocrypha, along with Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus, as is plain from the Prologus Galeatus. Nor be thou disturbed, like a raw scholar, if thou shouldest find anywhere, either in the sacred councils or the sacred doctors, these books reckoned as canonical. For the words as well of councils as of doctors are to be reduced to the correction of Jerome. Now, according to his judgment, in the epistle to the bishops Chromatius and Heliodorus, these books (and any other like books in the canon of the Bible) are not canonical, that is, not in the nature of a rule for confirming matters of faith. Yet, they may be called canonical, that is, in the nature of a rule for the edification of the faithful, as being received and authorised in the canon of the Bible for that purpose. By the help of this distinction thou mayest see thy way clearly through that which Augustine says, and what is written in the provincial council of Carthage.”​

    The importance of Cajetan's statement is that it shows us that only with Trent did Rome fully and finally declare its Canon. And therefore, we are justified in saying that it's the Roman canon that is the real innovation in the Church's history. No council before them had done this. Furthermore, under no circumstances can Protestants be blamed for rejecting the Apocrypha, since they did it before Trent even took place, in company with many notable Roman theologians (as well as most of the Church Fathers).
     
    Old Christendom and Robert like this.
  15. Robert

    Robert Active Member

    Posts:
    99
    Likes Received:
    67
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Anglican (Anglo-Catholic)
    Stalwart, Thanks for the reply I think I understand your position better.
     
    Stalwart likes this.

Share This Page