BY: JAN A. ANTONSSON
NOVEMBER 6, 2016
The Glory Road Blog, A Kingdom Highway
“Because no prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” (II Peter 1:21, RSV)
The title for this essay came from a book with the same name, sent to me by a good friend. It was written by Dave Armstrong, an Evangelical Protestant who converted to Catholicism. In it he offers 100 Biblical Arguments Against “Sola Scriptura.” To define the Latin term, the author quotes an Evangelical Protestant apologist who explained it this way: “What Protestants mean by sola scriptura is that the Bible alone is the infallible written authority for faith and morals…Scripture is the sufficient and final written authority of God. As to sufficiency, the Bible, nothing more, nothing less, and nothing else, is all that is necessary for faith and practice” (Page 17 of Introduction to this book). End quote.
The church I grew up in didn’t use Latin terminology to explain their belief, but it amounted to the same thing. They said they didn’t believe in creeds, and yet they had one: “We speak where the Bible speaks and are silent where the Bible is silent.” While that has a righteous ring to it, they didn’t actually practice it. My reasons for this conclusion evolved as God gently called me higher than Fundamentalist thought and practice by baptizing me in His Holy Spirit.
The Hebrew writer began his thoughts by stating unequivocally, “In the past, God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.” (Hebrews 1:1-3, NIV)
Jesus was very clear, and very sweet with His disciples, who were grief stricken to learn that He was shortly going to leave them. He comforted them by saying that it was for their good that He was going away, saying, “Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you…I have more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when He, the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth.” (John 16:6-7; 12-13, NIV) What does this mean for Christians today?
For me, it meant that diligent Bible study (reading the Bible through every year for years), gave me lots of information about God, about Jesus, and about the Church, but I didn’t know God or Jesus personally. I went to church every time the doors were open, Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night, in Neosho and in Thousand Oaks, California. God tossed me out of that beginning church in Neosho, Missouri, and I became involved in one in California which accepted and delighted in the workings of the Holy Spirit. He tossed me out of that one as well. Why? I’ve thought about that question for decades.
As immodest as it sounds, my personal growth outstripped that of the ones I was fellowshipping with, making it impossible to be who I was in Him, and to do what He called me to do. Part of that is because I’m a woman. This is not a feminist rant, but the simple truth remains that women still have no place as priest or preacher in the Catholic Church nor in most Protestant Churches. I never aspired to be a preacher, but I knew I was called to write about my journey into intimate fellowship with God. That would have made me a pariah in many churches.
When we began The Glory Road ministry, God told me I didn’t have to speak, which encouraged me, because I suffered from stage fright, but then He sent me to Medicalodge (nursing home) when we returned to Neosho, in 1998. At first, I thought I was only to play the keyboard, but God had other plans, and when the man who did the service was ill, or wanted to visit his grandchildren, he asked me to fill in for him. The old dears were sweet and clearly loved me, so my stage fright wasn’t an issue, but soon enough, his prostate cancer returned, and he asked me to do the whole service myself, which I did for over 10 years.
I gave them the full gospel that God had given me, beginning with a personal relationship with Him, and including God’s plan of ultimately saving everyone, spelled out clearly in the Bible for those whose eyes God has opened to see it. The old dears had sat under the teaching of this man who told them often how horrible hell is and how long it will last, making me wonder how much sin and corruption he thought they could get into in their wheel chairs and walkers. They were all members of some church before I met them, but at Medicalodge, they didn’t have church officials to hold them back, and they joyfully accepted all God led me to share with them. I then posted those “sermons” on The Glory Road website.
I had been taught, as most Fundamentalists have, that a woman was not to “usurp authority over the man” (I Timothy 2:12), and women were to “keep silence in church.” (I Corinthians 14:34) I printed my writings to mail to various people who had asked to receive them, but who didn’t have a computer. One day as I was waiting for the print shop to run them off, the young clerk asked, “Who is your audience at Medicalodge?” I told him it was mostly old ladies. He gave a sigh of relief and remarked, “Good, you’re not usurping a man’s authority.” That’s how pervasive this idea is here, that women cannot speak if there’s a man present.
The point is, however, that words in the Bible, scripture alone, which is what sola scriptura means, are not a complete guide for spiritual growth. Studying the Bible only, or basing it on church doctrine or tradition, often leads to rank legalism, or worse, dualistic thinking, which prevails in most church settings: “Our doctrine is better than yours. Our church has all truth, and is the only path to heaven.” That grieves my soul because it totally cuts the Holy Spirit’s authority and leading out of the equation. Two notable points about that: 1) Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation” (II Peter 1:19-20, NIV). 2) “Yet I know that the touch of his Spirit never leaves you, and you don’t really need a human teacher. You know that his Spirit teaches you about all things, always telling you the truth and never telling you a lie. So, as he has taught you, live continually in him.” (I John 2:27, Phillips)
By some accounts, there are over 30,000 different denominations. They don’t all agree in principal, or in practice, which takes dualistic thinking to new and ridiculous heights. “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called, one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.” (Ephesians 4:4-7, NIV)
If anyone thinks I don’t still hold the Bible in highest esteem, they don’t know me. I live my personal life by the voice of the Lord and my spiritual life by the voice of the Lord, confirmed by scripture. I have many translations available to me, in either hard copy or in computer and iPhone software, and many times, the Holy Spirit uses them to shed a more nuanced meaning on something I’m wondering about or researching for a writing. My study Bible is underlined and cross referenced on every page, a blessing every time I open it.
Where does that leave me in terms of the book, 100 Biblical Arguments Against Sola Scriptura? While I concur that it is NOT the Bible only, nothing more, nothing less, and nothing else, which will lead us Home, I don’t resonate to Dave Armstrong’s conclusions that only the Catholic Church has all truth. His book reflects his spiritual journey, even as this blog reflects mine. Nevertheless, I do respect his leading and scholarship, even as I hope he respects mine.
In Romans 14, Paul urged us not to condemn someone whose faith wouldn’t allow him to eat meat, but only vegetables. I think his comments also apply to our discussion on church membership as well. He asked, “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand…You then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.” (Romans 14:4, 10, NIV)
In his 10/31, meditation, entitled, “Bigger than Christianity,” Fr. Richard Rohr states what I also see and feel and taste of God’s plan for us. He wrote:
The “Christ Mystery” is much bigger than Christianity as an organized religion. If we don’t understand this, Christians will have little ability to make friends with, build bridges to, understand, or respect other religions or the planet. Jesus did not come to create a country club or a tribe of people who could say, “We’re in and you’re out. We’ve got the truth and you don’t.” Jesus came to reveal something that was true everywhere, for everyone, and all the time.
“God is saving everything and everybody, it is all God’s emerging victory, until, as Paul says, “God will be all in all.” (1 Corinthians 15:28) “You are chosen in Christ (see Ephesians 1:4), and the purpose of being chosen is to let everyone else know that they too are chosen! We are not making a triumphal statement about the Christian religion here, but we are making a triumphal statement about the nature of Divine Love, which will finally win the day!” End Quote.
Father, in times past, You gave us prophets who delivered your words to us, but now You speak to us through Your Son by the power of the Holy Spirit. We trust You, Abba, to lead us and guide us into all truth, to show us the path You have called us to walk. How marvelous that it is not up to us to find our way Home, but up to You, who called us in Christ before the foundation of the world, to lead us there. “To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever.” We glorify You now and forever, Father, and we join our voices to “the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.” Amen.
SOLA SCRIPTURA [Jan A. Antonsson] 11-06-16 1