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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Questions for GotQuestsions: Foundations

GotQuestions starts off by laying down its foundations: "We strongly believe that the Bible is to be our guide for faith and practice. While we recognize the value of church traditions, we refuse to accept any tradition that is not clearly supported by the Word of God."

This is my response:

The books and letters of the nascent Christian Church were written over a long period of time, from St. Paul's letter to the Thessalonians in the AD 40s to the book of Revelations in AD 90 or so. The oldest possible list that we know of that makes the New Testament canon (table of contents) codified or made official is from the Muratorian fragment, which might have been drawn up at the earliest in AD 170, supposedly. Synod-based canonization of the Bible is recorded from Rome (AD 382), Hippo (393) and Carthage (397). My questions then:
  • What then was the "guide for faith and practice" for the early Church before this canon of Scripture was authorized to the universal Church?
  • What is the basis for today's Christians to believe in the canon of the New Testament, and why should they trust these synods of bishops? After all, the Bible does not state which books and epistles are inerrant and God-breathed.
  • How does this professed doctrine of sola scriptura square with St. Paul's straightforward attribution to the Church as "pillar and ground of truth" (1 Tim 3:15)?
Now of course I am not belittling the value of Scripture. It is inerrant and God-breathed in a way that the Church Magisterium is not. The best that the Magisterium has is infallibility (can't teach error as truth) whereas the Bible has God as the primary author. But you can't have one without the other! They are both necessary and are both in God's plan, so neither one should be ignored, nor should they be used incorrectly. One such manner of using them incorrectly is to pit one against the other.

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