Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Conversation with an Evangelical Protestant (2)


For the purposes of this thread, it is good to limit ourselves to the historical validity of Sola Scriptura vs. Tradition and Scriptures. Either approach must be based on sound theology, applicable at all time periods in history. It is good that we agree that Christ never left the Church. We can further debate on what the Church means and the keys to the Kingdom later on.

Sherlock Holmes used to say that when you have eliminated the all the impossible, whatever remains -- however absurd it may appear in one's own opinion -- must be the truth. Sola Scriptura is based on assumptions that call for the impossible. You ask: "How many Catholics study the bible? How many even have a bible?"

That is precisely my point. If one had the means and capability to acquire and study the bible, then certainly one would be seriously remiss if one did not do so. But what if the follower cannot afford to buy one? (don't be suprised that here in the Philippines, most people can't even afford to buy food) What if the follower is illiterate by force of circumstance?

Sola Scriptura is based on assumptions that call for the impossible. It presupposes many things. For one, the bible must be easily accessible. This is the major point I was emphasizing in my previous messages, that Sola Scriptura was largely contingent on the invention of the printing press. Secondly, it is premised on a high level of literacy. Take note that in medieval times, the flock was largely composed of illiterate peasants. How could they read, much less understand the bible? The same would be true for the underprivileged brethren in our modern times, and here we must recognize the irony of it all! especially when we consider the Scripture's preferential option for t he poor. Third, one must have the time, energy and the exceptional mental faculties that qualify for a cohesive reading and correct understanding of Scriptures. The bible contains 31,000++ verses. You have to read much if not all of it to get the context right. Not to mention that you must be able to process and distill the information very well. Now who and how many among those in the middle ages possess these qualities? Who and how many among us in these modern times as well?

Granted that the above three conditions are met (an incredible proposition at that), personal, unregulated interpretations tend towards chaotic divisions. God does not desire disunity in the Church. The global presence today of 30,000+ Christian denominations who disagree on essential doctrines attest to this fact. Contrast that with the Roman Catholic Church with a single and consistent belief system that has endured 2000++ years to this day.

Yes, the road is narrow and only a few will find it, but at the same time, scriptures also say that Jesus desired many to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. If Jesus desires many to be saved, will He impose something that severely contradicts His own desire? Again, considering all of these, is Sola Scriptura justified, both theologically and historically?

You will be familiar with the disciple Philip who caught up with a certain court official who was reading a page from Isaiah with much confusion. (Acts 8).
Philip asked: "Do you understand what you are reading?" The answer was: ""How can I, unless someone instructs me?"

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