Sola scriptura (holy scripture only)?

   In this topic, we're going to discuss, I would first like to briefly look at one of the main attitudes of “protestantism” (simply said) that the “etalon” of the truth, is what we can find in God's word – the Bible. By this system, should be checked ideas, our actions, teachings and traditions.


   Attitude of the catholic church is somehow straying away from this system, and insists, that the source of the knowledge besides the Bible, is also church's tradition. And to this tradition they're assigning fairly big importance.


   I don't want to start a war between catholics and protestants. I would just like to point out the problem, concerning not only the attitude towards adopting a certain teachings, but any teachings for that matter.


   Bible itself gives us answers to the questions, how to perceive each teaching or revelation. We're warned about the fact that the whole Bible has a “God's seal” (2Tim 3,16-17). That people wrote and prophesied under the influence of the Holy Ghost (2Pet 1,20-21), and that we're not to leave anything out, and to teach other about this too (Matt 5,17-21). In the book of revelation, Lord Jesus warns about serious consequences in the case, we decide to add something, or in the opposite case, to leave something out (Rev 22,18-19). We're strongly warned to consider everything, and to make sure, whether certain word, revelation or teaching, is in harmony with what the Bible says (Ga 1,8-91John 4,1-3). From the verses mentioned above, I think, that clearly, we should reject everything, that is in obvious contradiction with the God's word.


   Problem obviously appears in the moment, when the interpretation of a particular part of the Bible is arguable. In that case, it usually doesn't include the most important subjects, concerning the salvation of a person.


   Every Christian community (meant as a religious denomination) has it's own teaching. It is a collection (whether official or unofficial) of views and interpretation of certain topics of the Bible. This teaching can be “biblical” (in a harmony with the Bible) or in some cases “non-biblical”. Whatever the teaching will be, when we start to attend a Christian community, we will be “fed” by this particular interpretation of the Bible. This teaching will affect us in a great way, because it will happen to work as a “filter”, setting for us the boundaries in which to think, basically “what to expect from the Bible”. If this teaching happens to be correct, it will be for our benefit. In the case this teaching is wrong, it will be a big obstacle for us, that will be literally tying us down, and will prevent us from the possibility of understanding the Bible.


   Without being too theoretical, I will give you an example of myself. I found God during the compulsory military service, roughly half a year before its end. When I returned home I started to read up on many Christian books, mostly from the authors of the “faith movement”. I also ordered more than 100 cassettes full of recordings of preachings from various ministers, while majority of them also belonged to the “faith movement” Before I became a Christian, I was very successful at various forms of occultism (healer, dowser, fortune teller, telepathist, hypnotist, homeopath etc.) I do not want to “brag” about this, I only want to explain the environment and expectations I came from. I was used to seeing the immediate healings and I didn't have any problem to expect the same results from God. Teaching of the “faith movement” made these expectations even stronger. When I became a Christian, I found out, that behind those special abilities, were in fact demons ( they happened to hurt me for quite some time after ). I thought that, “if this is what some fallen angels can do, then what God must be capable of?” So if for example somebody prayed for a partially amputated leg pain to stop, or for an infection to be gone, I prayed for that leg to grow back, and I did actually expected it to happen immediately :-). I just want to show you just how much the teaching (bible interpretation) that got into my hands influenced me.


   I don't have any illusions about myself. I understand, that if I happened to be a part of a different Christian community, my view of these things, would be influenced by that particular teaching. If I went to the methodists, my mind would've been full of how important the knowledge of the Bible is. If I went to catholics, I'd be praying to Mary, to the Trinity, and to the whole crowd of the saints and listened to everything that some minister tells me. If I went to Jehovah's witnesses, I would know how important the God's name is, that Jesus besides being God's Son is also associated with archangel Michael, and that I am not supposed to accept blood including the blood transfusion. If I went to the adventists, I would've known just how important is keeping the Saturdayis (Sabath). In traditional religious communities, I would've known that the gifts of the Holy Spirit ended with the first apostles. In the protestant communities on the other hand, I would expect the gifts of the Holy Spirit and expected, that God will be answering prayers, and act similarly, as in those times of the first Christians.


   This is not meant to be a criticism of these denominations, it is only an attempt to explain the important principles. No matter what kind of teaching will be presented to us, this teaching will in a great way influence, what we'll see in the Bible. If a certain teaching gets to us before the Bible itself, we won't be able to read the Bible without prejudices, defined by this teaching. And that is a problem.


   For example, in the old catechism of the Catholic church I read, that the new believers should first read up on the catechism, and then after a long time, can these people read also the Bible. The problem is, that if any part of the teaching is not based on the Bible, this person, will later on, read the God's word with a “filter” corresponding with this teaching, he went through, and practically, he won't be able to see the possible contradictions. This obviously applies to the teaching of any religious denominations, not only for the catholic church.


   And then when approximately after 15 years since becoming a Christian, I fully realised the importance of this principle, I returned back to the basics - the Bible. I prayed to God, for help to free me from any “filter” any teaching I ever happened to come across, read or heard, so that I could read the Bible without any prejudices and expectations. I prayed to God for help to understand all those difficult parts and places, because I have longed to know the truth. And it lasts to this day…


   We need to know God's word very well, so that we - like the apostle Paul says - that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting... (Ef 4,14).


   When you won't understand some part of the Scriptures, you can have a look into a different translations, or directly into the original texts of the Bible.


   For an easy access, I programmed on-line bible software SOB  – www.obohu.cz/bible. Here you can chose from ca. 220 translations of the Bible and original texts, possibility of advanced searches (7 types), comparisons of any translations (any number), listening the Bible in audio, all the main greek sources NT and Septuagint, including the dictionary and morphology, concordances etc.


   I'd wish for this article, to be an impulse for a people, to think through and to return to the God's word (the Bible), and not as a signal for anger caused by me, mentioning a religious denomination, that perhaps happens to be your spiritual home.

 

 

Libor Diviš - author of this article and this website

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