Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sola Scriptura or Tota Scriptura?

Sola Scriptura or Tota Scriptura?
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"Moreover I also assert that these problems are themselves caused on the Christian side by the inerrantist, literalist, ‘sola scriptura’ assumptions of conservative Protestantism."


Inerrantism means: all of the Scripture is God's word and therefore inerrant. Tota Scriptura. Obviously what a bad or stupid guy says is not inerrant per se, but the statement that he says it is inerrant. "The fool has said in his heart: there is no God". What the fool has said in his heart is not inerrant, but that he has said so in his heart is.

Sola Scriptura means: only Scripture is God's word and therefore a religious authority. Again, the application does not go immediately to each and every absurdity, like denying the Trinity because that word does not figure in Scripture. Arians (the Homoean school) and Jehovah's witnesses have taken it to that extreme, however.

Literalism again subdivides: must all of Scripture be believed in literal sense or must Scripture be believed only in literal sense? Once again: any application important enough to be an agenda does not go to absurdities. Not every phrase belongs to the literal sense of the text in its own literal sense. And sometimes parables are used - not for truth of their literal sense, but for what can be understood by them.

Now: Sola Scriptura is Protestantism. It was the principle of Reformation. Inerrantism as to Tota Scriptura is "fundamentalism" as the word is understood today.

A Protestant who believes the 66 books are totally inerrant, a Roman Catholic who believes the 72 books are inerrant, a Russian Orthodox who belives the even more books of his canon are inerrant are equally "fundamentalist". But they are not equally Protestant. Because the Russian Orthodox admits, beside Scripture, also iconographic and liturgic tradition, and Seven Councils; the Roman Catholic furthermore 20 or 21 Councils and Popes up to present or Pius XI (or almost any limit in between) as religious authorities.

Then again there is literalism. If you are against non-literal senses, you are an extreme of the Antiochean tradition, maybe a Nestorian. Even they did not believe that the lady making a feast for retrieval of a coin belonged as such to Christian dogma. Or that God had hands or eyes before the Incarnation. If you are against literal sense of some historic passages, you are an Alexandrian extremist, like Origen. But if you believe all Bible history must be believed literally, but not for its own sake, therefore not only nor even mainly literally, you are the Patristic mainstream, like St Augustine or St John Cassian.*

Hans Lundahl
on Sunday 9 March 2008 19:44
this was posted on Antimodernism


At least: the exegesis of St John Cassian and St Augustine seem to be the mainstream of the West. If pure literalism and pure allegorism have remained accepted in the Orthodox Calchedonian East, I do not know that, but I do not know the opposite either. HGL

*The link did not open, so I cannot repost it. However, it went to some kind of explanation of either St Augustine taking task with both pure literalists denying the allegoric sense or pure allegoricists who deny the literal sense: he said we must believe about the Ark of Noah, both that it was the only haven of safety where one could be saved from the waters of the flood and that it was an allegory for the Church which is now the only haven from Sin and Damnation. The Quadriga Cassiani means that each passage has (up to?) four senses: the literal and three different spiritual ones, namely allegoric by which OT signs represent Jesus Christ and the Church, the moral by which OT and NT good persons are examples to follow in our lives, the anagogic by which even especially NT points forward to the Eternal Heavenly Glory yet to come, as to us who still live here on earth.

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