My heart became hot within me. As I mused, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue: "O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!"

26 February 2008

More on the primacy of preaching

I do want to continue the discussion from the last post. Not having much time to write, let me point your attention to this article from Keith Mathison, critiquing the doctrine of solo Scriptura (vs. the reformed doctrine of sola Scriptura). Those on the other side of the debate are holding to a form of this, not the full-blown solo Scriptura, but a form of it, and thus ought to wrestle with Mathison's conclusion. (thanks to Jeff for the link)

Not only has solo scriptura contributed heavily to this division and sectarianism, it can offer no possible solution. Solo scriptura is the ecclesiastical equivalent of a nation with a constitution but no court of law to interpret that constitution. Both can lead to chaos. At best solo scriptura can offer an abstract doctrinal statement to the effect that “Scripture” is the sole authority. But using Scripture alone, it cannot tell us what “Scripture” is or what it means. It simply cannot resolve differences of interpretation, and the result is more and more division and schism. The resolution of theological differences requires the possibility of authoritatively defining the propositional doctrinal content of Christianity, and it requires the possibility of an authoritative ecclesiastical “Supreme Court." Since neither of these possibilities are allowed within the framework of solo scriptura, there can be no possibility of solution.

Solo scriptura also undermines the legitimate ecclesiastical authority established by Christ. It negates the duty to submit to those who rule over you, because it removes the possibility of an authoritative teaching office in the Church. To place any kind of real hermeneutical authority in an elder or teacher undermines the doctrine of solo scriptura. Those adherents of solo scriptura who do have pastors and teachers to whom they look for leadership do so under the stipulation that the individual is to evaluate the leader’s teaching by Scripture first. What this means in practice is that the individual is to measure his teacher’s interpretation of Scripture against his own interpretation of Scripture. The playing field is leveled when neither the ecumenical creeds nor the Church has any more authority than the individual believer, but Christ did not establish a level playing field. He did not establish a democracy. He established a Church in which men and women are given different gifts, some of which involve a special gift of teaching and leading. These elders have responsibility for the flock and a certain authority over it. Scripture would not call us to submit to those who had no real authority over us (Heb. 13:17; Acts 20:28). [emphasis mine]


Elsewhere in the article, Mathison points out that those who appeal to the Bereans of Acts 17 as Scriptural evidence of the primacy of the individual over the preached Word ought to realize that Acts 17 comes after Acts 15, where the council of the church decided what the Scriptures taught regarding circumcision and handed their decision down as authoritative. Again, the Scriptures lead us to seek balance. Real authority, the primacy of preaching yet maintaining the practice of submissive discernment.

20 comments:

Gabe said...

That is a fantastic clarification that appears to deal directly with the divisive point of view in the other comment thread.

If one is always distrustful of authoritative teaching, how are they going to learn, and from whom? The desire to examine and inspect teaching does (well, should) not include a direct challenge to pastoral authority. If it does, it's probably more of a personal matter. Relying on one's self is going to result in spectacular failure.

Obviously, one must be cautious when absorbing teaching from anyone; which is why the teacher should teach from scripture, which the cautious one should also examine.

There's no need to go any further. Your post covers everything nicely.

Anonymous said...

While there are fine arguments on both sides of this issue, what truly clarifies and comforts me are the following words:

First, Solomon cautioned us, “Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.”

Then, Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

He also said, “"The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves.”

Finally, Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”

I know who I follow.

Kurt

Micah said...

The scripture also saith, "As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God" (1 Peter 4:11ish) Hmmm. But we really don't need to recieve it as that, do we? That seems quite Romish.

Anonymous said...

Although I fall short many times, Micah, I do try to speak "as one who speaks oracles of God," don't you? :>)

Kurt

Jared said...

John Calvin on 1 Peter 4:11: He who speaks, then, that is, who is rightly appointed by public authority, let him speak as the oracles of God; that is, let him reverently in God’s fear and in sincerity perform the charge committed to him, regarding himself as engaged in God’s work, and as ministering God’s word and not his own. ...But Peter did not intend to teach pastors such hypocrisy as this, to pretend that they had from God whatever doctrine it pleased them to announce, but, he took an argument from the subject itself, that he might exhort them to sobriety and meekness, to a reverence for God, and to an earnest attention to their work.

So, yes, there's a way in which we all should speak as one speaking the oracles of God. But that's not what/whom Peter was talking about.

Anonymous said...

1Pe 1:1 "Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,..."

1Pe 1:14-16 "As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy."

1Pe 2:5 "you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ."

1Pe 2:9 "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light."

1Pe 4:10-11 "As every man hath received the charisma (gift), even so diaconeo/diaconic/deacons (minister) the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man talk or utter words (speak), let him talk or utter words (speak) like the Old Testament (the oracles of God); if any man diaconeo/diaconic/deacons (serve/minister), let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen."

Perhaps the need to speak as the "oracles of God" has particular application to (big P) Preachers of the gospel, as well as “ministering” to the Deacons; but it is not as clear as you say it is. We can not ignore the fact that “speaking as the oracles of God” could also be synonymous with prophesying like a prophet; and I think we can agree that there are no more prophets since the closing of the canon (Scripture). :>)

Most importantly, what I think we should hope to get from this passage is that, as we exercise the charisma (gift) of the Holy Spirit (that we as a “royal priesthood” have), we are ALL maturing to be able to “speak” and “minister” to the lost, as well as edify each other in the Body.

Kurt

Micah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Micah said...

Jared, why are you such a troublemaker?

Anonymous said...

OK,
Now I think I'm getting it. Sorry I'm slow sometimes.
In my personal Bible study this morning I studied 1Peter 4:1-11. i had read Micha's comment so I was looking carefully for the point about "speak...the oricles of God". I have to admit that Christ might have tripped me up on the whole passage; because all of the Bibles I read (NKJV, MKJV and NASB) use words like v10 " as each one" v11 "If anyone speaks" "If anyone preaches". This scripture written in my own language caused me to fall into the temptation of thinking that I could understand what was written, thinking Peter was speaking to "each one" "anyone" and "anyone".
BUT;
Now I find out that my pastor believes that John Calvin believes ( even though my quick reading leads me to believe that Calvin was addressing the clergy class not to the exclusion of the lay class)that Peter was only addressing the professional preachers. Possibly refering to the word "preached" 5 verses earlier v5 although a lay interpertation would not generally indicate this distinction between the priestess (all belivers); given the theme of the text is 'The body serving, for Gods Glory'.
Anyway, now, because I have been educated, I now know that am in error, not because I have read it for myself or can even see it in the text but rather because my pastor believes Pstor Calvin has written (or better yet possibly preached from a pulpit) that this v11 refers strickly to clerics;
" Jared said: But that's not what/whom Peter was talking about."
even though I can't see that i'm at odds with Pastor Calvin.
To me Calvin can address the clergy without the exclusion of me.
Anyway because of his office held I now need to submit to the Preachers understanding of the passage. "each one""anyone" and "anyone" shall now be understood as Preachers not preachers.
I need to cut this short Pastor, Preacher Brother Max has a 'show' on the Purdue Mall this afternoon and I would hate to miss his revvelation or is it Revelation?
I said brother and I should have said "oh brother!!" >:)
JonHeld

Anonymous said...

OK,
Now I think I'm getting it. Sorry I'm slow sometimes.
In my personal Bible study this morning I studied 1Peter 4:1-11. i had read Micha's comment so I was looking carefully for the point about "speak...the oricles of God". I have to admit that Christ might have tripped me up on the whole passage; because all of the Bibles I read (NKJV, MKJV and NASB) use words like v10 " as each one" v11 "If anyone speaks" "If anyone preaches". This scripture written in my own language caused me to fall into the temptation of thinking that I could understand what was written, thinking Peter was speaking to "each one" "anyone" and "anyone".
BUT;
Now I find out that my pastor believes that John Calvin believes ( even though my quick reading leads me to believe that Calvin was addressing the clergy class not to the exclusion of the lay class)that Peter was only addressing the professional preachers. Possibly refering to the word "preached" 5 verses earlier v5 although a lay interpertation would not generally indicate this distinction between the priestess (all belivers); given the theme of the text is 'The body serving, for Gods Glory'.
Anyway, now, because I have been educated, I now know that am in error, not because I have read it for myself or can even see it in the text but rather because my pastor believes Pstor Calvin has written (or better yet possibly preached from a pulpit) that this v11 refers strickly to clerics;
" Jared said: But that's not what/whom Peter was talking about."
even though I can't see that i'm at odds with Pastor Calvin.
To me Calvin can address the clergy without the exclusion of me.
Anyway because of his office held I now need to submit to the Preachers understanding of the passage. "each one""anyone" and "anyone" shall now be understood as Preachers not preachers.
I need to cut this short Pastor, Preacher Brother Max has a 'show' on the Purdue Mall this afternoon and I would hate to miss his revvelation or is it Revelation?
I said brother and I should have said "oh brother!!" >:)
JonHeld

Anonymous said...

sorry didnt mean to repeat

Micah said...

Wow.

Jared said...

Jon, some quick questions.

1. What did you think of the quote from Mathison?

2. Why did you switch to sarcasm instead of asking Micah or I to clarify our thinking on 1 Peter 4?

3. Are you purposefully or accidentally misreading the point of these posts? (I've said several times that the authority of preaching does not mean infallibility or total authority.)

These are honest questions, not bullets. If you have time, I'd love to hear your answer.

Jared said...

Let me restate that last question: When you represent my position, are you showing what you really think I think or what you believe is "behind the scenes"?

Anonymous said...

Jared, I’ll take a crack at Mathison’s quote:

“Not only has solo scriptura contributed heavily to this division and sectarianism, it can offer no possible solution.”

Ironically enough, it is those claiming authority (religious leaders) who are so taken with solo scriptura (not lowly “lay” people) to the point where these same religious leaders break off and form new donominations or force others out to do the same. Even lowly church leaders like Luther desired to stay within the church but was forced out (read excommunicated) by solo scriptura higher religious leaders. In short, it is those solo scriptura religious leaders who are guilty of causing division among the people. Funny, but the Pharisees of Jesus’ day come to mind. And we know what he thought about them! :>)

Let’s read more from Mathison’s article that you did not quote:

“Scripture itself indicates that the Scriptures are the possession of the Church and that the interpretation of the Scripture belongs to the Church as a whole, as a community. In particular it has been entrusted to specially gifted men.”

Wow, what a jump. First he says that interpretation of Scripture belongs to the whole Christian community, and then in the next breath, says it is entrusted to some. Which is it?

Mathison goes on to say, “The fundamental point is that Christ established His Church with a structure of authority that is to be obeyed (Heb 13:7)."

Here is what Hebrews 13: 7 says, “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.”

Wow, again. How he gets Jesus “establishing a structure of authority to be obeyed” from “imitating the way of life and faith of those who spoke the words of God to you” is a mystery to me.

We could go on point by point but if most people are like me, my eyes start to glaze over after awhile. :>)

Anonymous said...

BTW, that last comment was mine. If you can edit to put "Kurt" at the end, I would appreciate it!

Kurt

Anonymous said...

Jared wrote:1. What did you think of the quote from Mathison?
Fine article. I might keep it filed in case I ever find someone who believes in "Solo Scriptura". although I don't run in those circles. Fact is I don't know anyone who does hold to solo as he defined. Yet, I must say we as RPers cut way closer than most to that understanding. No one in a church would hold to his definition.

Jared asks: 2. Why did you switch to sarcasm instead of asking Micah or I to clarify our thinking on 1 Peter 4?
Sarcasm can be a helpful literary tool if used correctly. My use can be debated. Rush says he uses absurdity to illistrate the absurd.
The clarity of your thinking on 1Peter 4 is not so much the debate as to how I come to the understanding of His Word. Your position is clear on this. If my understanding on this passage differs from yours then I am to dutiflly to submit to Your Preaching. Kind of a sola pastoa.

Jared asked: 3. Are you purposefully or accidentally misreading the point of these posts? (I've said several times that the authority of preaching does not mean infallibility or total authority.)
Its hard to say at this point.
You have said that several times. But then go on to argue for that total authority (less direct sesson intervention.)
You and others continue to hold fast to a position that if we don't completely agree with your definition of authortiave preaching then we are somehow 'stray sheep wandering about proclaming personal Bible study over-rides anything a preacher says.'Which is not true. Even the "you must have an authority problem" card has been laid.
But,no doubt authority is a problem here.
I said yesterday and I did mean it that "all study of Gods Word is profitable; personal, group, and hearing the word preached or Preached". Your position is that the Preached word is MORE profitable.
I don't buy the MORE part. It sounds like a unnecessary power trip to me. Nuf said. Still friends?
I think I better get around to doing some of the KING's business; like feeding the poor.
Jon Held

Jared said...

Kurt,

Thanks for your thoughts.

I agree that solo scriptura has had the most devastating effects in the hands of leaders rather than individuals. The ironic thing is that, unless we take Mathison's "Tradition 1" over "tradition 0" standpoint, the most radical "solo scriptura" folks end up in the same place as the Roman church.

To say that the interpretation belongs to the whole and especially to some is not contradictory. It is, rather, part of the root question. I think the whole article bears that out.

Again, I hope the next post from Calvin shows that Mathison was in line with the reformers.

Jared said...

Jon,

I agree that no one in our church holds to his definition of solo scriptura. But (if I understand you correctly), the position you're staking out - the equality of individual and ecclesiastical interpretation - is addressed within the article.

You continue to misread or misconstrue or mis-whatever my points: if you disagree with the preacher, the preacher doesn't automatically win. The point is there is real (not total) authority in the preaching of the church. We've spent precious little time here discussing how that authority practically works itself out.

I never questioned anyone's personal ethics regarding authority. I merely stated that it is part of the root issue. As you agree.

I'm glad in the last paragraph you find the real disagreement: I do believe the preached word is more important. I believe it based on Scripture and the testimony of the church.

qishaya said...

abercrombie.us.com beautyWhere are some good spaces to find an Abercrombie Jeans Cologne magazine? One places is magazines. Many wellbeing and beauty magazines propose cologne and odor artifact reviews.Abercrombie Outerwear Some of them even have sample strips that you can open and actually get to smell the fragrance that they are reviewing for the invention line. Abercrombie Hoodies Another great place to find artifact reviews are Abercrombie Pant . EZines are online magazines and often sent to people in the transmit.Abercrombie Polo You can subscribe to artifact study eZines and You will find more information about the Wholesale actual belief jeans, Abercrombie Shirt many people are weird for export the jeans in fresh living.even cologne or scent eZines. Abercrombie fitch Men Many times you can demand from the editor of the eZine to do an exclusive type Shoes are very important to everyone, Our Abercrombie Tees will guard your feet. Abercrombie fitch Women of check for you.Abercrombie bag If you want to grip this effect line, you can ask them specifically to do an Abercrombie and Fitch Cologne review for you and the other readers. Abercrombie Slippers Most editors are forever looking for theme ideas and more than agreeble to help you out. Abercrombie Cap In their food. dealer, abercrombie and fitch (A&F), named the belt in a grievance. Abercrombie Scarves Employment law attorneys representing, Riam Dean, Abercrombie Shorts , cite disability discrimination in the ensemble and are claiming Dean is probable to persist for the next three living.Abercrombie and fitch, a New Albany, Ohio A&F trader, with over 300 food nationwide,Abercrombie And Fitch Jackets, is not unfamiliar with facing discrimination lawsuits. The clothing stored restrict has faced allegations in the gone for the Abercrombie Sweater giant