Originally posted by Joel Badal:
Then from your comments above, you would not agree to the priority of scripture over all of life. I would hold to the sufficiency, priority, clarity, and Neccessity of Scripture in every facet of life. This is enough for understanding God. We have the precious truths handed down from the prophets and apostles. Church tradition muddings the waters in many ways, givin a fogged view of God's supremacy over all of life.
Within your own church ... I respect what you layout here for yourself. I, myself, have no problem with the place that you give scriptures - for yourself and your church.
But it does no good to take which for you and your church (assuming that - that is what Jesus wants for you and your church) and apply it to other people who are not - members of your church.
Within our church (Orthodox /Catholic / Byzantine / etc...) Jesus left us an appointed line of authority. That living authority has authority over scripture and its interpretation … if it chooses to exercise it. It has seldom done so. It has cemented only certain portions of scripture for us because scripture (for us) is not the total of Christian life and following Christ. For us … scriptures is produced by the church and it is not that scriptures produces - the church.
Within the letters of Paul (someone help me out as to which) Paul addresses a problem in one of the communities where members are arguing over the meaning of the names given in the geologies of Genesis. Now given that the NT had not yet been formed and letters written by the apostles were as yet - letters - and not scripture yet… the only scripture Paul could possible be taking about anytime that he mentions ‘scripture’ is Jewish scripture (OT). And so Paul never directly said - that the NT is profitable to read and study. What he said was that the OT was profitable (of some value) to read and study.
Be that as it may … Paul addresses the argument over the meaning of scriptures (the meaning of the names within the OT genealogies) by telling them he would rather they put the scriptures away and cease reading them - if they are going to argue about them. So in this case - scriptures was NOT profitable for them to study and read. No Christian should be arguing about the meaning of scriptures (so said Paul) And so there are a few things clear…
1) Paul (as the authority) exercises power and authority over - scripture. The authority of the church (Paul in this case) is not subject to scripture - scripture is subject to Paul. Further - when Paul gives his own interpretation of scripture he again proves his authority over scripture (an authority over scripture which you yourself have quoted as an authority).
2) With these words (“it is profitable to read scriptures”) Paul is judging the value of scriptures. One can not judge something greater than one’s self. A judge can only judge what is less - than himself and less than his own authority. That which is less (scriptures in this case) can not judge that which is greater than itself (Paul in this case).
3) Even if we suppose that scripture is top dog - the greatest authority (and that may be true and good within your own church) there is no guarantee that everyone who reads scripture will fully understand what he is reading. If such a thing were true - then what are we to say about cults such as Jones Town or Jehovah’s Witnesses? They have studied scripture and clearly no guarantee of understanding was at work. You yourself must admit that there are portions of scripture which you do not understand fully - and portions which, in the past, you have misunderstood. And so it is clelar that God has not taken away your free will in order to place upon you any guarantee that you will fully understand (or not error) in you understanding. Perhaps he will do that tomorrow - but as of today - you have to admit he has not done that yet. Please point out to me the man that equals Jesus Christ as to perfect and error free understanding of scripture. Is it you? It is not me! It was not the apostles (who needed to have the portions on Christ’s suffering explained on the road to Emmaus). Who is it that is greater than the apostles in scriptural understanding?
What are we to say about the need for scholars and our habit of quoting scholars who (ostensible) further develop our understanding - or correct something we mistook or misunderstood? Do all scholars agree? We quote them as authorities (they are men) as having authority that we acknowledge - over the meaning of scriptures! (and so over scripture itself). Do they error (think ‘Jehovah’ which name was an error).
No original manuscripts of any NT component - still exists. All we have are copies - translations of transliterations. And among them there are differences. Certainly nothing of the OT exists in the original (or at least not much) - and what we have of that proves also to be translations and transliterations - all this goes to display that man (the translator) has power over selecting which word to use in the translation. Certainly there are some translations which you yourself - object to. Which you would say were not guided by the Holy Spirit - yet that very fact proves that even the ordinary man (un-guided) has authority to shape the meaning (by his act of selecting words) of scripture. There is no magic which prevents any man from writing his own translation.
With that - there is proof that there is no magic bubble around the translation of scripture - to keep it infallible or error free.
Both Paul and James make error in the NT when quoting portions of the OT (scriptures). Shall these errors be attributed to God himself? Yet - there they are. Done. Again - proof that man has authority over scriptures.
And lastly - when one reads scriptures (and we are all trusting some translator who may or may not be in any degree of self holiness or sins) and we study different opinions and such - is it not our own conscience and mind which decided what is right and what is wrong as far as what some portion of scripture means? Yes. Of course. And in doing so - we - our conscience and reasoning - now become - the greater authority than scripture.
Now - am I saying that your way is bad? No I am not. God is free to decide how he might use scripture with and for - you. But in our churches - Jesus left us a way for us - to be sure about the meaning of certain portions of scripture - the meaning which He would like us to understand. He has left us an unbroken line of authority (by appointment) going back to the apostles and to Jesus himself. But even with that - only certain portions of scripture are defined in meaning - for us - by that authority left to us - as scripture is not the totality of Christianity.
I give you these things to consider privately. I am not really interested in debate as I do not post all that much. And I readily admit that for you and your church
it is good and valuable and profitable... to have scripture as the rule. But at the same time I remind you that your own conscience and reasoning - is - the authority that you by necessity - have above scripture and its content and meaning. You - yourself - decide what is right and what is wrong - what is the meaning and what is not the meaning. YOU - are the authority that you accept - over scripture.
May the Good Lord guide you well. May you have ears to hear. May you and your church be at peace.