Sola Scriptura 3

Sola Scriptura is fundamentally opposed to relativistic individualism. In a culture wherein the individual reigns supreme, and churches pander to “keep the customer satisfied,” the doctrine of Sola Scriptura states that all individual ideas and behaviors must be in submission to, and aligned with, Scripture. This opposes those in the church, and the culture, who justify their sinful behavior, and consequently their disobedience to Scripture, with a self-centered perspective wherein the individual’s desires are preeminent.

The inherent problem with relativistic individualism in the church, especially as it pertains to Scripture, is that the final authority does not rest with the Word of God but rather with the individual. “Every doctrine and practice is measured against a final standard, and that final standard is the individual’s personal judgment of what is and is not biblical. The result is subjectivism and relativism. The reformers appeal to ‘Scripture alone,’ however, was never intended to mean me alone” (Modern Reformation 16:2).

Keith Mathison explains:

In America during the eighteenth century, this individualistic view of the radical Reformation was combined with the rationalism of the Enlightenment and the populism of the new democracy to create a radical version (of authority) that has all but supplanted the Reformation doctrine of Sola Scriptura. This new doctrine, which may be termed “Solo Scriptura” instead of Sola Scriptura, attacks the rightful subordinate authority of the church and the ecumenical creeds of the church. (Reformation 16:2).

R.C. Sproul Jr. states:

When the Reformers affirmed Sola Scriptura, they did not suggest that we can know God’s revelation in a vacuum, that any man equipped with the Bible alone can be sure to affirm true Biblical teaching. They did not treat church history as bunk. They rejected the “just me and my Bible” approach with a deadly vigor. They understood that while there was no inerrant repository of tradition to guide our understanding of the Bible, there was a tradition that was a gift from God. They denied that God had ceased to interact with His church from the closing of the canon to the Reformation. They affirmed that God had graced His church with teachers, with scholars, and with wisdom expressed in church councils and the creeds. They refused to treat these good gifts of God as tainted and untouchable simply because Rome had abused them. (Tabletalk 25: VIII)

Ethan Harris, in reviewing Keith Mathison’s book The Shape of Sola Scriptura, states, “Sola Scriptura, as defined by Scripture, is not a rejection of tradition or of the subordinate authority of the church. It is a rejection of relativistic individualism, the two-source view of revelation, and other views that are not founded on Scripture or are a distortion of the Biblical formula of interpretation and authority” (Tabletalk 25:VIII).