Proposed Ban on Sola Scriptura’s Top Offenders (a satire)
*Sola Scriptura: Latin for “Scripture alone;” the doctrine that the Bible alone is the Christian’s absolute and primary authority, containing all knowledge necessary for salvation and holiness.
So, what would it look like if there was such a thing as a fully consistent doctrine of Sola Scriptura? I would think that for starters there would need to be a quasi “watch dog” list of the doctrines top offenders, and in order for this list to be “absolutely authoritative,” it follows that it should come straight from Scripture “alone”. The following is a short list.
1. First on the watch list is none other than Paul the Apostle.
This sneaky first century Christian saint is an offender on three fronts: (1) He tells the Church of Colosse that they are to read the epistle from Laodicea, just as the Laodiceans were reading the epistle of Colossians (Col 4:16). Since the book of Laodicea is not in the New Testament it is obviously not authoritative and necessary for Christians to have. (2) Paul had the poor judgment to preach to the Athenians using full quotes from their own pagan texts (Acts 17). And finally, (3) Paul admonished the Corinthians to “keep the traditions” which he delivered to them (1 Cor 11:2), and to keep not only the written traditions, but those delivered by word (2 Thess 2:15). To make matters worse, he even refers to the Church as the “pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15). Knowing that the Scripture, and not the Church and her traditions, is the pillar and ground of truth, this “Apostle’s” teachings need to be banned (unfortunately that amounts to nearly two thirds of the New Testament).
2. Second on the watch list, the Apostle James.
There is a highly suspicious, extra Biblical quotation, which James refers to as “Scripture” which is not found among the Old Testament canon (James 4:5). Obviously James is ill informed of what is considered Scripture, thus his appeal should render his teaching as a whole suspect. To be safe, it would be best to just avoid him altogether.
3. Third on the watch list, the Apostle Peter.
One may balk at the mention of Peter on such a list, but the evidence against him warrants concern. Whether caught off guard, or perhaps writing while sleepy, St. Peter made the gross error of referring to all of Paul’s epistles as Scripture, yet not all of his epistles made it into our New Testament canon (2 Pet 3:15-16); for example: 1 Cor 5:9-10 and Col 4:16. If an epistle is not within today’s accepted canon it cannot be Scripture. In addition, Peter folds on his authority as a living epistle, so-to-speak, and takes part in a Church council in order to decide Christian doctrine (Acts 15), perhaps being deceived by the first two Apostles on the watch list. Whatever the case may be, Peter is hereby suspect.
4. Fourth on the watch list is a general grouping of all adherents and participants in Church Councils.
The reasoning here is simple: those who took part in the great Councils of the Church for the first nine centuries considered their rulings “Orthodox Christian doctrine” and believed these rulings to share the same level of divine authority as Scripture. Not only them, but all who followed them, and all those who continue to follow them, are in conflict with the Holy doctrine of Sola Scriptura and should, at the very least, be considered heterodox (of course, one needs an orthodoxy to have a heterodoxy, but the devil’s in the details). I am aware that this pertains to nearly all Christians for the first 1500+ years of the Church, but is it my fault that they were all hopelessly deceived?
5. I’m leery to add this one, but Jesus might need to be banned as well.
Let’s be honest, Jesus didn’t leave any writings, didn’t command His followers to write anything, but rather commanded them to simply go and preach the Gospel. In light of Sola Scriptura this is not just a little concerning, its scandalous. It calls into question our newly adopted doctrine of “Scripture only,” the very doctrine which allows us unlimited ammunition against the Church’s Tradition. Secondly, when Jesus did tell His hearers to “search the Scripture,” or even when He quoted from Scripture, He was not very careful to specify which collection of works He was referring to. As a result He and His Apostles routinely jumped from quoting the Greek Septuagint (which contains those pesky extra-Biblical Apocryphal works) and back again to the Hebrew texts, leaving the rest of us to scratch our heads in wonder over which books truly deserve Old Testament canonization: The Eastern Orthodox say this, the Roman Catholics that, and Protestants something else. If Jesus was fully committed to Sola Scriptura wouldn’t it follow that He would be serious enough to acknowledge which books were and were not Scripture?