Over the last week, I have been engaged in a Facebook discussion regarding Bill Maher’s comment that Liberty University “isn’t a real school”; primarily because LU teaches creation, and any “intelligent” human being knows evolution is fact (because its science and eh hum..the assurance of Science never changes). When some LU graduates semi-agreed with Maher, I entered the discussion as an unapologetic “young earth creationist” subsequently pitting me (a caveman) against the great scholars like Tim Keller, N.T. Wright, and like minded scholars that make up the “new” (I think less than two years old) website biologos.com. Not to mention some young LU graduates who are excellent writers.
After an exhausting amount of comments, an LU graduate named Matthew ends the thread with some of the following comments. It should also be noted he may or may not adhere to Roman Catholic teachings (which I would argue are anti-Christ). It should also be noted, I do believe there are "Roman Catholics" who are saved despite the church's false teachings. I told him I would respond here.
Mark, you're obviously a sola scriptura guy, and I'm sure others in this thread would say the same of themselves. I affirm that the Bible is inspired word of God, but I question how historically honest this uniquely Protestant position really is. It's a tradition that took full form ~500 years ago and one which I find troubling, as it rejects Apostolic Tradition and the first 1500 years Church history. Add to that the fact that the Canon did not exist for the first 400+ years of the Church, and I wonder just how worthwhile any of your scriptural readings really are. Did the early Church behave like headless chickens because they had no Bible to interpret literally and guide them?
To be fair to Matthew, if I understand him, yes there is indeed a long history of attempts to establish authority whether Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, or Protestant, on wrong sources. What Matthew is completing disregarding is the historical fact that God has indeed given us the supreme authority for all matters of faith and practice - His Holy Word, the Bible. There was never a time in history that the True church (individual body of believers) did not resist the false teachings of “denominations” that derived their authority from outside scripture. Yes, it was Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, John Calvin, and John Knox who established what would be known as the “Five Solas”, but that does not make the doctrine less authoritative, since they rely and are judged solely upon scriptures.
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).
How one can claim this (the five solas) “rejects the first 1500 years of Church history” is beyond my understanding. The only thing it rejects – is the unbiblical teachings of the Roman Catholic Church and all likeminded. In addition, to claim the dating of the “canon” is relevant to its truthfulness is to miss a historical fact - it simply confirmed “officially” what the church had already accepted and believed.
Did the early Church behave like headless chickens because they had no Bible to interpret literally and guide them?
No Matthew, the early church did not “behave like headless chickens” because they had no scriptures to “interpret literally and guide them” (nor did they need a Pope). God hadn’t fallen off His sovereign throne to become impotent in getting His word to His people. In addition, God made sure He spread enough copies around the known world so that NO one group could change them without obvious detection.
I also gather that you embrace the form of Christian fundamentalism that became popular in the U.S. 200 years ago as a rejection of 19th century liberal theology (a la Schleiermacher, etc). My point in raising all of this is that Christian fundamentalism (which as you have demonstrated here, is caustic) only exists because of the Reformation a few hundred years earlier. I'll agree that Reformation needed to happen because of the problems in Rome, but the spiraling-out-of-control effect is not something Luther intended and neither was the creation of a new church body. When it comes to the Church, is it ecclesiastically, theologically and historically acceptable to simply re-create that with which we are unhappy?
The old “fundamentalist” accusation again raises its ugly head. I must not be putting the “fun” in “fundamentalist” again. Apparently “my views are caustic” since I will not negotiate with, or give equal weight to teachings (doctrines) that are unbiblical? You know, like evolution, grace plus works, modern ideologies usurping divine revelation, mythical virgin births, papal infallibility, and dead men have never walked out of their own graves predicted thousands of years beforehand. Perhaps your biggest misunderstanding is you think the Reformation was some sort of historical anomaly? I would argue the Reformation simply re-claimed (with divine backing – scripture) the Truth from the decaying cancer of false teachers and teachings. I think a similar thing happened when Peter preached at Pentecost.
I tend to think that belief stems from tradition. The tradition I'm willing to embrace is that of the apostles and the things which took shape out of their efforts, including the Bible. I guess that my real problem with the beliefs you espouse and which you claim stem from your understanding of the Bible, Mark, is that you condemn others to adhering to Falsehood by erecting the tradition you believe in. The tradition you believe in is a doctrinal-system that a few reactionaries pulled out of a hat 200 years ago.
This comment is utter trash. All Christians are theologians (whether they realize it or not), and the Christian faith is a faith of “doctrines” – and all “doctrines” have a history, just like man. You seamlessly weave between the words “tradition” and “doctrine” as if no one will notice or you are indeed Roman Catholic. The problem I have is not only with your line of logic (reasoning – “belief stems from tradition”), but with you insinuating that “doctrine” shouldn’t divide people. First, belief stems from God alone. Second, if those involved in the “five solas” are characterized by you as “a few reactionaries”, you’re either Roman Catholic and or utterly misinformed. If you and I both “embrace” scripture, then I can only understand your comment to mean either - 1. Scriptures teachings should not divide people or 2. We disagree on hermeneutics or worse and most offensive - Scripture and Tradition together are the Word of God.
When it comes down to it, I'm more interested in being closer to the source, which comes from both Apostolic and Biblical tradition. If you can find a problem with that, then go right ahead and correct me, but from within Christianity, I think it would be difficult. This isn't a school-yard argument where I'm trying to claim that my tradition is better than yours. This isn't about me as an individual and it's not about 'mine' and 'yours'; this is about the Body of Christ and treating it properly.
If you are truly interested in being close to the source, you would never stand in judgment of God’s word; nor make God’s word (its teachings) subject to modern ideologies. If I didn’t care about the body of Christ, I would leave false teachings and teachers alone; that just doesn’t come “naturally” to me.