How Scriptural Testimony Is Used: Finding Biblical Principles

Go to the Beginning of this Book Sola Scriptura or Prima Scriptura? (The Bible Alone or the Bible First?) – What Scripture Alone Testifies Concerning the Church as the Body of Christ Expressing Himself in Scripture, Tradition, and Magisterium: The Biblical Basis for the Early Church’s Formal Repudiation of Heretics, Which Is the Biblical Basis for Refuting Modern Doctrinally Liberal Christianity Which Likewise Rejects or Doubts Traditional Christian Faith and Morality

How Scriptural Testimony Is Used: Finding Biblical Principles

There are few theological treatises in Sacred Scripture, even on the most fundamental points of Christian doctrine, which is why terms and formulas like “Trinity,” “Incarnation,” “Christ, one in being/substance with the Father”, and “Jesus, fully God and fully man” do not even appear in the Sacred Scripture although they are essential to fundamental Christian doctrine.  There are few precise and detailed instructions for Christian worship and liturgical practices, and not every conceivable moral problem is specifically covered.  So, without referring to the lived Sacred Tradition of the Church which Protestants do not consider at all and Catholics consider to be at least implicit in Scripture, it is clear that Christian belief and practice (Protestant and Catholic) is not guided precisely by the letter of Sacred Scripture, but by theological and practical and moral principles which are culled from the sacred text (with the aid of the Holy Spirit), principles usually sought in response to a current question, need or challenge.  Indeed, this is how the Apostle Paul used his Bible, our Old Testament, when he quoted the text, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.” (Deuteronomy 25:4, quoted in 1 Corinthians 9:6-14, 1 Timothy 5:17-18).  This sacred text testified to God’s unchanging character and therefore provided a principle which he applied to the current question in the newly emerging Church regarding payment of ministers of the Gospel.  The leaders of the Early Church who succeeded Paul and the other Apostles likewise hammered out the more precise fundamental Christian doctrine handed on to us (like Trinity, Incarnation, etc., above) by searching the Scriptures (and the Living Tradition of the Church) with the Spirit’s guidance, in response to the honest questions and misunderstandings of many Christians, and the challenges of outright heretical interpretations of Scripture.

Since almost anything can (and has) been justified from the Bible by taking a single verse or collection of verses out of the context of the entire Bible (and different Protestant denominations often pit different groups of Biblical “proof-texts” against each other in order to justify contradictory doctrines), Christians must be very careful that the principles they infer from the Scripture text do not contradict what Scripture has testified to elsewhere.  Considering Scripture alone, the best doctrine will be that which takes into thorough account everything the Scripture testifies relating to a particular topic, seeking a synthesis of all that the Holy Spirit has considered important enough to speak to us in the Bible, finding underlying principles which harmonize with each other, or at least finding a valid principle of relation between apparently opposing principles.  Space obviously prevents this essay from being absolutely thorough in this regard, but I will here present the testimony of many Scriptures clearly pertaining to the disputed question of “Scripture Alone” or “Scripture, Tradition, and Magisterium,” Scriptures which must be accounted for and incorporated into any truly Biblical doctrine concerning the authoritative source or sources of the Christian faith.

Go To the Next Section The Testimony of the Scriptures and the Principles Which Follow

Go to the Beginning of this Book Sola Scriptura or Prima Scriptura? (The Bible Alone or the Bible First?) – What Scripture Alone Testifies Concerning the Church as the Body of Christ Expressing Himself in Scripture, Tradition, and Magisterium: The Biblical Basis for the Early Church’s Formal Repudiation of Heretics, Which Is the Biblical Basis for Refuting Modern Doctrinally Liberal Christianity Which Likewise Rejects or Doubts Traditional Christian Faith and Morality

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