From their beginning, Seventh-day Adventists have considered themselves to be people of the Book, that is, Bible-believing Christians. To affirm the scriptural principle of sola Scriptura (by Scripture alone), we acknowledge the unique authority of the Bible. Scripture alone is the ruling norm for our theology and the ultimate authority for life and doctrine. Other sources, such as religious experience, human reason, or tradition, are subservient to the Bible. In fact, the sola Scriptura principle was intended to safeguard the authority of Scripture from dependence upon the church and its interpretation, and it ruled out the possibility that the standard of its interpretation should come from outside the Bible.
Read 1 Corinthians 4:1-6, especially verse 6, in which Paul says we should not go “beyond what is written” (NKJV). Why is this point so crucial for our faith?
Not to go beyond what is written does not exclude insights from other fields of study, such as biblical archaeology or history. Other fields may shed light on some biblical aspects and the background of scriptural passages, and thus may help us to understand the biblical text better. Nor does it exclude the help of other resources in the task of interpretation, such as lexicons, dictionaries, concordances, and other books and commentaries. However, in the proper interpretation of the Bible, the text of Scripture has priority over all other aspects, sciences, and secondary helps. Other viewpoints have to be evaluated carefully from the standpoint of Scripture as a whole.
What we positively affirm when we practice the sola Scriptura principle is that if a conflict arises in the interpretation of our faith, then Scripture alone carries the authority that transcends and judges any other source or church tradition. We should not go beyond or against what is written in the Bible. True Christianity and convincing, gospel preaching depend on a firm commitment to the authority of Scripture.
“Scripture alone is the true lord and master of all writings and doctrine on earth”. — Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, vol. 32: Career of the Reformer II, eds. Hilton C. Oswald and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 32 [Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999], pages 11, 12.
|Read Acts 17:10-11. How do these verses inform what we’re talking about here regarding the primacy of Scripture?|