Is Sola Scriptura taught by Scripture?

One of the defining characteristics of classical Protestantism in all its forms is sola scriptura, which in Latin means “Scripture alone” or “only Scripture.”  This can sometimes be misunderstood as the Bible being absolutely the only authority Christians should look to on any matter, but while that is held by some Christians, it is not what is meant.  What sola scriptura means is that Scripture is the only infallible rule of faith or authority, not that it is the only one of any kind.  In other words, those who hold to sola scriptura do not have a problem with turning to philosophy, history, natural science, tradition, or even experience to help inform their beliefs on a variety of matters, but they simply do not treat these other sources of knowledge or authority as infallible.

This view contrasts with that of the Roman Catholic Church (obviously, since Luther was reacting to Rome).  The official teaching of the RCC of course affirms that Scripture itself is infallible, but it also holds that Sacred Tradition, the tradition allegedly handed down from the Apostles, is also infallible.  There may be a bit of variation on how Catholics may rank Tradition vs. Scripture, but it’s enough for now to state that official Catholic teaching upholds both the Bible and Sacred Tradition as infallible.  A good example of how this plays out is in the doctrines of Mary.  It is considered dogma, for instance, that Mary’s body was physically assumed to heaven, yet even Catholic theologians will admit that there is basically nothing in the Bible that even hints at this.  What they will claim is that this is nonetheless infallibly true because tradition says so, even though no early church father even mentions this as well.  Protestants are often aghast that Catholics could call such a teaching dogma when there is no written evidence of it from the Bible, from the early church fathers, and from early history about Christianity, but Catholics hold fast to what they believe was passed on in tradition.

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Hey Guys: Punching Out A Girl After She Slaps You Isn’t Self-Defense

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the controversy surrounding Stephen A. Smith and his comments about domestic abuse following the Ray Rice case.  Since I did not know anything at the time about Rice’s issue (I don’t follow the NFL much anymore), I simply tackled Smith’s comments on their own and critiqued the media’s reaction to them.  However, recently, with TMZ releasing the video of Ray Rice punching his girlfriend out, I went back and looked at the situation: Did the NFL really have no clue?  I have a hard time believing that.  Not only is it unbelievable that the NFL did not have access to this video, multiple reporters have said that they did and that the contents of the video were accurately described to them.  Not to mention the fact that Ray Rice himself never lied about it.  I’m not going to weigh in here further on Roger Goodell and the NFL, but let’s just say that the NFL’s excuses at the moment sound very fishy.

In any case, this is just one example of an athlete striking a woman recently.  An Oklahoma football player, Joe Mixon, has also been caught on tape punching a small college girl and breaking her face in four places.  Now, a Texas basketball player, Martez Walker, is being accused of beating up his girlfriend.  Violence against women is obviously not new, but with the Ray Rice incident and NFL’s mishandling of it, the public spotlight on it is brighter than it has been for a while.

There are several ways to approach the issue.  Matt Walsh does a great job pointing out that the gut reactions of most people to the Ray Rice video indicates the fact that we intuitively understand that men and women are different, and if anything, this means that men should be taught to use their general physical advantages to protect and not harm women.  One could also possibly talk about the lack of strong, moral father figures for many athletes, though Mixon himself is not fatherless.  Here, though, I’ll focus more on one issue: Self-defense, since it has been brought up many times in this discussion.

Believe it or not, many people came to the defense of Ray Rice, citing the fact that, according to reports, his then fiance slapped him first.  Some OU fans have rushed to the defense of Mixon as well, citing the fact that the college girl attacked him first while she was drunk and possibly said something very insulting (one such fan is in the comment section of this article, going by the screenname Toby H).  Walker as well was apparently slapped by his girlfriend first before he lost it.  Aren’t men and women equal, and if so, can’t men defend themselves against a woman as if she were a man?  Do we not have that right?  If a man attacked them, wouldn’t this not even be a story?

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Short-Attention Spans For the Word Indicate Spiritual Immaturity

I was reading through Nehemiah recently, and I was struck by chapter 8.  The walls around Jerusalem had been repaired, the returning Exiles were accounted for, and then the people were gathered in front of the Water Gate to listen to basically a sermon.  Ezra gets in front of everyone to read and expound upon the Law:

So on the first day of the seventh month Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, which was made up of men and women and all who were able to understand. He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law. (NIV, emphasis mine)

I have to admit, when I read this, a funny picture came to my head of a pastor reading and preaching over Leviticus from early Sunday morning to midday and the congregation slowly dying inside.  I mean, however you interpret the time which the NIV renders “daybreak to noon,” that is at least several hours.  Granted, the Book of Law contained the entirety of the Pentateuch and not just Leviticus, but Ezra also did this everyday for entire week.  I guess the most cynical of readers might think that they endured this with joy because they knew there was good food at the festival ;).

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