Oh, we’re debating about swearing again.
One of these days I’ll get involved in this one. I justnever feel like I catch it at the right time.
and we all sit there like
This was me every single Sunday for months after moving to Boston and regularly attending a hymn-based church for the first time.
Every once in a while, I’d get all excited because I recognized a song from Promise Keepers or something.
“When you read Scripture, you interpret it as well. Simply giving someone Scripture so that they can learn about God is insufficient. As Christian Smith points out, we can all believe these doctrines about the sufficiency of Scripture, but they are insufficient for any sustainable unity in interpretation. You can believe in Young Earth Creationism, Calvinism, and the Rapture, or you can believe in a Temple-View of the Creation account, Arminianism, and amillenialism, and both parties will claim the ‘inspiration and authority of Scripture.’ Why?
Because there is no authority in revelation. Even some of the Early Church Fathers, when they engaged in debates with their opponents, recognized that the other party was quoting Scripture just like they were. Without any working guidelines or tradition, we are left with boundless numbers of interpretation. God is not just revealed in the Bible, but in a community that embodies the Holy Spirit and its fruit. An Orthodox friend pointed out something to me today:
When the Protestants rebelled against the papacy, they didn’t remove the Pope from their lives, they became their own Pope. That is, everyone found authority in their autonomy and reason.
This view is also coming from a place of literacy privilege. Much of the early church was illiterate and relied on their pastors, teachers, and commuity to learn about Christ. When we spout things like ‘The Bible is enough’, we disregard those who cannot read, both throughout history and today.
Protestants have lived in the fantasy that someone reading the Bible will find all the (right) answers to their questions, but we wake up everyday to find churches divided over theology and interpretation.”
There are some aspects to this that I, and I suspect a number of other people here who are affiliated with results of the Reformation, would agree with. We need to lean on each other to help grow our understanding. There is great value in looking back on how scripture has been interpreted in the past. There are very few who don’t place any value on tradition of some sort, and those that take that stance rarely produce sound doctrine. I’ve said before and I shall again that if anyone has a truly new understanding or interpretation of scripture, it’s almost certainly wrong. We’re too far into the game for that now. So please understand that what I’m about to say isn’t an attack on the idea that tradition holds value and can be useful in interpreting scripture. What I’m about to say concerns only the primacy of tradition.
There is a vast difference between saying that tradition has an important role in our understanding of scripture and saying that scripture must be interpreted through tradition, and I submit to you that there is great danger in the latter statement. The same can be said, of course, of any substitute for tradition. What I’m concerned about exists all the same if one says that scripture must be interpreted through reason, or history, or science, or feelings, or psychology, or the teachings of that one guy that was really popular ten years ago. The problem is that it places scripture at the mercy of whatever is being posited as the necessary means of interpretation. If scripture must always be interpreted through [x], then scripture must always be read and understood in a manner that lines up with [x], even if [x] does not remain stable over time. I’m not here arguing that Eastern Orthodoxy has, in fact, changed over time. But the existence of such a possibility means that scripture is not the primary word of God in such a model. Scripture must bow to something else. The reason for this is that interpretation inherently involves judgment. Much of scripture can be taken in multiple different ways if used without any sort of limiting function, which means that the means of interpreting such a passage requires that each possible conclusion be compared to something else and then judged according to how well it lines up. But if that something else ever changes, or is human in source, or can be forgotten, then the scripture must always be ready to change accordingly. And, we must assume, God is apparently comfortable with giving us words that cannot be expected to remain stable. But this doesn’t sound at all like the God, or for that matter the words of God, that we both believe in.
What this means is that the only way to ensure that scripture is interpreted the same throughout all of time is to demand that the means of interpretation be something that has no capacity for change. I submit to you that tradition does not fit this bill. There are too many human hands in the pot, even if there’s only one at a time. This is why the Protestant concept is not that humans are their own judges of scripture, as the quote erroneously claims. The protestant view is that the only proper means of interpretation of scripture is the rest of scripture. We believe in a closed canon, and we do not permit the alteration of scripture. It is true that translation will cause some issues here and there, but that is why (aside from the KJV-only camp), we insist on comparing translations. So scripture stands unchanged, and can then be trusted to interpret the rest of scripture. Now, of course, scripture isn’t always as clear on some issues as we like, and this is why we have some things that we claim are absolutely necessary and some things that we allow varying degrees of dissent on. The idea behind making scripture available to everyone wasn’t that everyone had the power to interpret it in a vacuum, but that everyone had the ability to go to the text and verify the interpretation they were being told. This quote shows a very mistaken view of what is actually happening on the part of its original author. But my point is simply that, if you will demand that scripture be interpreted through a specific lens, than scripture will always be at the mercy of that lens, and cannot be trusted to remain unchanged over time unless that lens cannot ever change. Will not isn’t good enough. Has not isn’t good enough. Our God is unchanging, His word is unchanging, our traditions are not. Tradition, then, must always be submissive to scripture - unless we are willing to take scripture as mutable - and therefore cannot hold the regard this quote demands of it.
Yep (not native, mind you, but hey)! Currently in Springfield, but we’re hoping to move back up to Franklin County in the near future. My wife and I like it much better there.
In 2001, at Ozzfest, I convinced a stranger to help me incite a hundred or so other strangers to get themselves arrested because I was bored.
What is this ‘Elf on a Shelf’ I keep hearing about?