God’s Liturgical Language
Sola Scriptura is God’s language. Scripture shares God’s authority.a For a man to put himself above scripture is to put himself above God. In the Bible, when Satan attacks he always attacks God’s word. But the Bible is always God’s answer to assaults on the Bible. God uses his language to defeat evil. We are well aware of that famous Lenten passage in Luke 4 when our Lord is tempted in the wilderness. Jesus, the Word of God, appeals to God’s word. Scripture alone is the language of Jesus. When the devil tempts our Lord, Jesus doesn’t say, “Well, remember the words of Rabbi Kushner who once said…” No. Our Lord says, “For it is written…” Again, when the Pharisees attack him, Jesus appeals to the Word of God. In Matthew 22, Jesus reminds the Pharisees of Psalm 110 to make a case for His divinity. In John 10:35, Jesus says, “The Scriptures cannot be broken.” Sola Scriptura is God’s language. It’s unbreakable because it comes by the inspiration of an unbreakable Spirit. When the late medieval church elevated unwritten tradition to the level of the Bible, the Reformers said, “No, Scripture alone is our highest authority.” The Bible must be supreme because it is God’s language.
Our Uniting Language
Sola Scriptura unites our language. It is the Church’s liturgical language, it manifests God’s inerrant language, but it is also uniting language. When we talk about the Scriptures, it’s important to make a distinction between Sola Scriptura vs. Solo Scriptura. Sola Scriptura means God’s Word is our final authority. There are other authorities like leaders and parents and creeds, but Sola Scriptura says that all these authorities must submit to God’s ultimate authority. Solo Scriptura teaches that the Bible is the only authority and there are no other authorities.
In the 16th century, a group called the Ana-Baptists rebelled against the Roman Church, but they also rebelled against the Reformation. They wanted no one to have authority over the individual. They did not submit to pastors or civic leaders, in fact, many of them came to deny the doctrine of the Trinity. Only a proper understanding of the authority of the Bible can save God’s people from themselves, from anarchy or from becoming little popes. The Baptists and Reformed will differ on baptism; the Lutherans and Catholics will disagree on the Sacraments, but fundamentally if disagreement over the authority of the Bibe persists, there will never be a united Church. There is no future church, Peter Leithart says, if there isn’t a Bible-saturated church. We are shaped and built in the image of God revealed in the Bible. When we engage the text whether privately or publicly, we are becoming like Jesus Christ, the Logos of God. When we engage the text and encourage others to engage the text, we are uniting ourselves under the banner of Sola Scriptura.
- Some thoughts from Rich Lusk’s lecture on Sola Scriptura (back)