Monday, July 17, 2006

Sola Scriptura: The necessity of Scripture

Carrying on from the previous post in this series, I would like to expound on the necessity of Scripture here.

All Scripture is breathed out (Gr. θεοπνευστος, transliterated: theopneustos) by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. (2 Tim. 3:16-17 —ESV)

As stated before, what is meant by the necessity of Scripture is that Scripture is necessary for people to be saved (conversion) and for Christians to grow in Christ and in their knowledge of Him, and to live their lives, without which they could not do so. I would like to prove this concept biblically and philosophically. Biblically, the primary prooftext for this concept is that of 2 Tim. 3:16-17 as cited above.

In 2 Tim. 3:16-17, we can see the necessity of Scripture as relating to growth in Christ as it states that "ALL Scripture ... is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be equipped for every good work." Therefore, Scripture is profitable, that is to say Scripture would greatly benefit and help the person in 'teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in rightouesness'. These four acts state how Scripture is to be used and utilized, with the ultimate aim that we would be trained in righteousness and that we would be equipped to be able to do and to do every good work. Thus, the aim of Scripture is to help us grow in righteousness, and thus more and more Christ-like, with the effect that we would be able to do the good works which God has prepared for us to do (Eph. 2:10). Since that is the express purpose of Scripture, Scripture is necessary for growing in Christ. The necessity of Scripture in conversion can be seen in Rom. 10:13-14, where the the preaching of the Good News of the Gospel to that person is necessary for him/her to come to Christ.

An objection may be raised to the effect that though the purpose of Scripture is help believers to grow in Christ, there may be other methods which are just as effective. Firstly, however, there are no other methods that are mentioned in Scripture, with the exception of 'traditions' which will be discussed in the section on the sufficiency of Scripture. This is because the Roman Catholic, and also Orthodox (Greek, Russian, Eastern etc.), view is that both Tradition and Scripture are necessary, thus they do not formally deny the necessity of Scripture. Secondly, and more importantly, Jesus said that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and that no one comes to the Father except through Him. (Jn. 14:6). Since He is the only Way, to grow in Christ one needs to follow Him, and that includes what is mentioned in Scripture. Thus, any other method, if there be any, must take the Scriptures into account, and thus Scripture is necessary.

Logically, in order to prove the necessity of Scripture, I would need to show a couple of things. I would need to show that Scripture is needed to cause all these good things, which I shall collectively name godly works. Similarly, I would need to prove that the little or no use and application of Scripture is accompanied with the absence of these godly works. Logically, this is what I would need to prove:

Only if p, then q (p is necessary for q; p is a sufficient condition for q)

where p = Scripture is used and applied properly
q = godly works are done

Only if p, then q = Only if not q, then not p

qp = ~p ⊃ ~q (Logical form)

The relation that the lack of usage and application of Scripture is the cause of the lack of godly works (~p ⊃ ~q) can be proven in the fact that in places where the Gospel is not heard and thus there is totally no usage and application of Scripture, no one is a Christian and therefore nobody can even begin to grow in Christ, and there are no exceptions. Similarly, there are no cases of new believers growing without reading the Word. Thus, the relation is proven and Scripture is necessary.

A very strong argument for the necessity of Scripture is through epistemology. How does one recognize what a godly life is except through the description from Scripture? How does one know one is a Christian unless they test themselves by the Scripture? The mere tagging of someone as a Christian, as in the case in people whose parents are Christians, does not make oneself a follower of Christ and thus can be legitimately called a Christian. Christ said that unless one is born again (regenerated), one cannot enter the Kingdom of God (Jn. 3:3). Even more problematic for nominalism is the teaching of Christ in the Sermon of the Mount where he said that not everyone who calls Him Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven (i.e. be saved) (Mt. 7:21), thus showing that mere calling of oneself a Christian does not make one a Christian. Therefore, epistemologically, it is proven that Scripture is necessary for all these godly works.

Biblically and philosophically, the doctrine of the necessity of Scripture is proven. So what are the implications of this doctrine?

Firstly, since Scripture is necessary, all Christian activity must be founded on Scripture, and all Christian teaching and doctrines also. Believers are to read the Word of God for spiritual nourishment and pastors are to preach from God's Word to feed the flock. The latter two cannot be emphasized further, for believers to neglect their study of God's Word and for pastors to neglect to preach it is to practically deny the necessity of Scripture. Let us therefore as God's people regularly read and study His Word and to grow in Christ, the head of the Church.

In the next installment I would continue on with the sufficiency of Scripture.

No comments: