One of the Main Reasons Sola Scriptura Fails

The thoughts which I’m to communicate here are hardly new or original. They’re everywhere. But I thought I’d add my “amen” to these sorts of claims.

Advocates of sola scriptura normally steer clear of the ramifications of their belief. Let us grant, for argument’s sake, that the sole locus of authority in terms of Christian belief and practice are the words of the pages of Scripture. Of course, we must bypass questions regarding the contents of the Scriptural canon, autographs and textual transmission, the authority and witness of versions, and so on (not least the place of the Septuagint). But be that as it may, let us assume common starting points: that there is a body of texts which can be established as the Scriptures, and that all Christians would be able to come to complete agreement about the precise content, wording and extent of those Scriptures. That is to say, there is no question as to the text.

What we cannot assume, however, is the complete agreement of all Christians on the meaning of those texts. Does 1 Corinthians 13 refer to the cessation of the gifts enumerated in 1 Corinthians 12? Does Hebrews 6 and 10 teach that any Christian can fall away into unrepentance? Does 1 Timothy 2 absolutely forbid women’s ordination to Eucharistic ministry?

In other words, Scripture cannot come to us except through interpretation. So the question is: what is the key to such interpretation? Is it the case that “every man seems right in his own eyes”? To such a sentiment can be attributed the tens of thousands of schisms (i.e., denominations) among Christians.

But, in fact, there is a key to interpreting the Scriptures.

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