Friday, August 24, 2007

W2K Part Three: Sola Scriptura

One of the arguments for the two kingdoms position that many of its detractors are either unaware of, or simply choose to ignore, is from the Reformation principle of Sola Scriptura. Let me explain....

One critic of W2K stated in the comments under the previous thread that he is "interested in changing the priorities of culture through the increased influence of the church on government, specifically, how government is structured, what laws are passed, and how they are enforced." As I stated in my reply, a very problematic version of the doctrine of Sola Scriptura is being invoked in such a statement.

In a word, it is way too broad.

As the Westminster Confession points out, the way the Bible governs the cultic sphere of "worship" is very different from the way it orders "all of life." In the former, nothing is permitted without an explicit biblical command or precept, while the rule for the latter is that we may do all manner of extra-biblical things (like eating tacos or playing baseball), provided we do not violate an express biblical command. This is why we are told, "God alone is Lord of the conscience, and hath left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are in any thing contrary to his Word, or beside it in matters of faith or worship" (xx.2). Further, concerning Holy Scripture we read:

"... there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and the government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed" (i.6).
In other words, those things concerning which God has spoken clearly can be declared with a confident "Thus saith the Lord," while those things about which Scripture only provides "general rules" must be held to with humility, by the "light of nature," and with "Christian prudence."

The danger of seeking to subsume "all of life" under the direct jurisdiction of the Church is such that the authority of the Bible will need to be significantly watered down for such a grandiose endeavor.

After all, it's a small leap from "My personal reading of the Bible kinda lends support to my views on the Middle East" to "My personal reading of the Bible kinda lends support to my views on justification by faith alone."