Monday, May 24, 2010

Horton on Sola Scriptura

“In the experience of many evangelicals, sola scriptura has become transferred from its ecclesial habitat to the domain of private spirituality. Downplaying the sacramental Word, through which God works his own magic, the Bible becomes a resource for “personal growth.” In some cases, criticism of sola scriptura is fueled by yet one more attempt to escape the clutches (imaginary and real) of “fundamentalism” and “modernity,” particularly in what has come to be called the emergent movement

Michael S. Horton
People and Place: A Covenant Ecclesiology, p. 91.

An interesting perspective, and assuredly correct at least in part, that sola scriptura is often not so much a theological commitment as a personal one. It is doubtless sometimes born, not out of a desire to honor the life-giving and transformative Word of God, but out of a desire to honor selfish ambition of all types.

The way for some to escape the “oppressive nature of man-made religion” (by which they mean churches who believe that the gospel is more a transformative tool than a catchy slogan) is to claim sola scriptura—which being interpreted is, “You can’t tell me what to do. I can decide for myself.”

Whether we like conservatism or not, we must wrestle with the fact that things that we do now have been conserved for generations for a reason. Before we use sola scriptura to jettison them as being “oppressive legalism,” we should at least consider more seriously the fact that they may have been conserved for good reason that have nothing to do with power and control, and that our commitment to sola scriptura may be more personal than theological.

1 comment:

Nick said...

I'd say it's a double-edged sword, for if Horton can use Sola Scriptura to reject/deny any 'legalism' he deems too much (e.g. high Anglicanism), then by the same principle a 'house church' can throw out anything it deems too 'legalistic'.