Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Authority of the Gospel and the Hermeneutic of Suspicion

I realize that I claimed to have wrapped up our Sola Scriptura discussion, but it's my blog and I can do whatever I want (so there). But in order to keep my word, immediately after I finish this final word on the subject I will move on to Sola Fide.

One of the most significant ramifications of Galatians 1:8-9 is that there is not only authority that Paul demands, there is authority that makes demands upon him. Whether or not he could have ever preached another gospel, the fact remains that if he did he would have brought the curse he uttered down upon his own head. In other words, Paul was a servant of the gospel, a minister of the Word of Christ.

Now if it is the gospel that creates the church rather than the other way around, then the Protestant Reformation may not be quite as scandalous as Catholics consider it. As the unbroken priestly succession stretching from Aaron to Caiaphas demon-strates, the mere existence of the form does not guarantee that the power of godliness is also present.

Lastly, there is a profound "hermeneutic of suspicion" with respect to the gospel on the part of Catholics that seems, at least to this renegade Protestant, unhelpful. Obviously the Bible has its deep and mysterious passages, but we still maintain that although "All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all," it is still true that

"... those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed, for salvation, are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them" (WCF I.7).
Jesus' sheep hear his voice, and this applies not just to those sheep who belong to the Church's Sacred Magisterium. Yes, the church needs ministers to expound the Word, but I still maintain that it is possible, first, for the duly ordained shepherds of the flock (from Rome or Geneva) to go astray, and second, for the sheep to recognize and reject the voice of the stranger.