Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Sola Scriptura, the Norming Norm, and the Doctrine of Preservation

Sola Scriptura said the Bible was the only infallible authority for faith and practice, or as Protestants began calling it:  "the norming norm."  Creeds were normative.   They stated the agreed upon teachings of scripture.  The Bible is the norming norm in that it judges the creeds and statements.  As the Westminster Confession stated:  "The supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be judged."  Creeds and confessions are normed by the Bible -- the norms are normed -- hence, the "norming norm."  The statements and creeds were not an infallible authority, but they were the norm, even though God's Word would finally judge them for their adequacy and truthfulness.

The creeds and confessions taught perfect, verbal preservation.  The men who wrote the creeds and confessions in their writings explained.  Every word was preserved and accessible.  Of course, all that preceded fundamentalism, even evangelicalism, and, of course, revivalism, when some think all Christian history began.  Men, who held to the Bible as final authority, wrote that every Word of Scripture was perfectly preserved.  That was the norm.  You won't see another teaching.  And then the norming norm, the Bible, says the same.

Then along came modern textual criticism.  Is textual criticism a norming norm on the doctrine of the Bible?  If the confessions and creeds taught perfect preservation, and scripture itself teaches it, which is why people believed it, can something come along and overturn the Bible?  Do we redo the confessions and creeds based upon textual criticism?

You can read the importance of the creeds and confessions in that they aren't be changed.  They weren't changed.  That wouldn't look good.  Instead, they were spun into a different meaning.  We started hearing things like "the preponderance of the manuscripts," which became the new norm.  The norm changed.  Were the confessions fallible and they were corrected by the Bible?  No.  The Bible didn't norm the new view.  The new view was normed by textual criticism.   Textual criticism was the new norming norm.  And the Bible was not sola scriptura on the doctrine of preservation.  Scripture was shucked for science.

The Charismatic movement goes outside of scripture for authority.  Roman Catholicism goes outside of the Bible for authority.  Many religions norm the Bible by either their experiences or tradition.  Evangelicalism and fundamentalism violate sola scriptura for science on the doctrine of preservation.  When you depend on science instead of the Bible for your doctrine, scripture is no longer your sola.  Could not these Protestants agree that there are really only four solas, and not five?


Daniel Knezacek said...

Well said brother Kent,

I would suggest you put quotes around "science", since textual criticism is a "science falsely so called".

Another attack on Scripture is a new book by Muslim Reza Aslan, something else you might be interested in commenting on;

God Bless,

Dan Knezacek

elderdxc said...

It would appear that you neither understand the science of textual criticism nor the work of science itself. Textual criticism does not challenge the authority of Scripture. It seeks to determine what is the most accurate form of the text that we have available to us. No reputable textual scholar, on the basis of textual criticism, has ever come to the conclusion, for example, that Jesus either did not die on the cross, or did not rise from the dead. While God watches over His Word to perform it, He doesn't promise to watch over the scribe who copies it. If He did, then there wouldn't be textual issues, for all the manuscripts would agree, including any translations from Greek - more importantly, the Hebrew that underlies the Gospels would still be in our possession if the doctrine of preservation meant what you are trying to make it mean. God never promised that, which would mean that you are writing a check that God is not obligated to cash.

Kent Brandenburg said...


What is the Hebrew that underlies the Gospels? I'm interested in that. Before I move forward with you, perhaps you could help me with that.