By Mark Kreitzer
Faculty, College of Theology
What does sola Scriptura mean, and how is it relevant for our lives and culture?
The Lord was gracious to the marginalized like Zacchaeus, the hated Roman tax-agent and the Samaritan woman with many husbands. He was also firm in his love, speaking to the core idolatries of his people, such as the love of money and the self-worship of the Pharisees. He always spoke with the Spirit’s authority and held His people to the clear words of God, even as some tried to evade His persuasive presence and works.
Time and again, the Lord Jesus drew his antagonists back to the final and settled authority of the written Word above every tradition of man, whether that was religious, scientific or philosophical. In other words, God’s clear Word trumps every other authority. The Scripture He used is what we now call the Old Testament. His apostles and prophets extended the same authority as found in the OT Scriptures to each other’s writings as, for example, Peter did of Paul’s writings (2 Peter 3:16).
Paul writes that in Christ, our Father has hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, because through Him He created and presently upholds the universe (Colossians 1:15-17, 2:3). He is the only human eye-witness of what occurred, for example, in the creation and flood. “Before Abraham was, I AM,” Jesus claimed. This evoked the fury of the teachers of that era (John 8:58-59). Consequently, only His explanation of the history of the earth and its age; His interpretation of the meaning of the moral and civil instructions for love and justice; and His analysis of the foundational principles by which we are to do philosophy possess final authority. The Reformers termed this sola Scriptura. The return to this doctrine resulted in the greatest civilization earth has ever seen, built as it was on the Judeo-Christian worldview.
The Lord tells us unequivocally that God formed the first man and woman “at the beginning of the universe’s creation” (Mark 10:6). He also authoritatively interpreted the commands about murder, adultery and revenge to include internal motivation (Matthew 5:17-42). He rightly discerned that honoring our parents includes financially supporting them in their elderly years.
Every philosophy that is built upon him should also begin with two basic premises. First, the Father and Son are “one” as based off the doctrine of the Trinity (John 10:31, Col 2:9). Second, Christ’s person, completed work and revelation are clear, sufficient and necessary. Any philosophy built on other foundations is “hollow and deceiving” (Colossians 2:2-10). All other traditions about science, philosophy and religion merely honor Christ with lip service – teaching as doctrine the commands of men and not of God (Matthew 15:7-9; Isaiah 29:13).
As Judeo-Christian truths and values collapse around us, Christ-followers will begin to rebuild around a new Reformation, which returns to the final authority of our Lord’s Word and Spirit. “To God’s Instruction and to the Prophets. If they do not speak according to this Word, they have no light” (Isaiah 8:20).
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