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Friday, June 22, 2007

Sola Scriptura and the "both Muslim & Christian" question

In the world of blogging, continuing to talk about something that was news 5 days ago is like discussing ancient history. But, yes, I am posting about the "both Muslim and Christian" story again. There's just so much there worth discussing. This time I want to look at one particular aspect of Rev. Ann Holmes Redding's experience. Here are two quotes from the Rev.:

"She still doesn't know why that meant she had to become a Muslim. All she knows is 'when God gives you an invitation, you don't turn it down.'" [source]

"I was following Jesus and he led me into Islam, and he didn't drop me off at the door." [
source]

Without twisting Rev. Redding's comments, it is clear that she believes that God told her to become a Muslim. What is a Christian to do with such a claim? Would God tell someone to do such a thing? If God told someone something, who are we to say that He didn't? How do we know?

This is where the doctrine of Sola Scriptura comes in. Han Solo who? Sola Scriptura, Latin for "by Scripture alone." The 19th c. theologian A.A. Hodge
explained the significance of Sola Scriptura this way, "The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, having been given by inspiration of God, are the all-sufficient and only rule of faith and practice, and judge of controversies."

One of my favorite theologians, Dr. W. Robert Godfrey,
says, "The Protestant position, and my position, is that all things necessary for salvation and concerning faith and life are taught in the Bible clearly enough for the ordinary believer to find it there and understand." In the same article he states, "As Protestants we maintain that the Scripture alone is our authority" and that Scripture is "the source of religious truth for the people of God." This is what is meant by Sola Scriptura.

Christian apologist James R. White
provides this additional explanation: "The Bible claims to be the sole and sufficient rule of faith for the Christian Church. The Scriptures are not in need of any supplement. Their authority comes from their nature as God-breathed revelation. Their authority is not dependent upon man, Church or council. The Scriptures are self-consistent, self-interpreting, and self-authenticating. The Christian Church looks at the Scriptures as the only and sufficient rule of faith and the Church is always subject to the Word, and is constantly reformed thereby."

The concept of Sola Scriptura is often misunderstood today. There are several things that Sola Scriptura does not imply. In
a debate with Catholic apologist Patrick Madrid, White stated four ideas that Sola Scriptura does not claim:
"First of all, it is not a claim that the Bible contains all knowledge. The Bible is not exhaustive in every detail."
"Secondly, it is not a denial of the Church's authority to teach God's truth."
"Thirdly, it is not a denial that God's Word has been spoken. Apostolic preaching was authoritative in and of itself. Yet, the Apostles proved their message from Scripture..."
"And, finally, sola scriptura is not a denial of the role of the Holy Spirit in guiding and enlightening the Church."

From Godfrey: "I am not arguing that all truth is to be found in the Bible, or that the Bible is the only form in which the truth of God has come to His people. I am not arguing that every verse in the Bible is equally clear to every reader. Nor am I arguing that the church — both the people of God and the ministerial office — is not of great value and help in understanding the Scripture. As William Whitaker stated in his noble work: 'For we also say that the church is the interpreter of Scripture, and that the gift of interpretation resides only in the church: but we deny that it pertains to particular persons, or is tied to any particular see or succession of men.'"

So there is what Sola Scriptura does and does not mean. How does all that apply to Rev. Redding's claim that God told her to become a Muslim? Or that Jesus led her to Allah? With the previous explanations in mind, it is fairly straightforward. Does Scripture support her claim? Or, does Scripture specifically contradict her claim? These are a couple of the questions that could be asked because it is Scripture which is authoritative in this matter, not personal revelations, dreams, feelings, or experiences. Scripture trumps each of these and is the standard against which they must be tested. I will leave the related
cessationism vs. continuationism discussion for another time.

As I mentioned in "Christian and Muslim? No.", when you compare the God of Scripture with the Allah of the Koran, you cannot conclude that the God of Christians and Muslims is the same God. I used the example of God's love for sinners versus Allah's lack of love for sinners as an example of a key difference between the two. Once this has been established (I'm not claiming to have thoroughly established this in these brief posts but I do assert that it can be established), it can be seen that the Bible categorically eliminates the possibility that God could tell a person to become a Muslim or that Jesus Christ would ever lead someone to the Muslim's Allah.

Why? Here are some verses of Scripture which would preclude such a thing:

"You shall have no other gods before Me." Exodus 20:3; Deuteronomy 5:7
"Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins."
John 8:24
"Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me."
John 14:6
"And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved."
Acts 4:12
"For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time."
1 Timothy 2:5-6
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
Matthew 28:19
"I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish."
Luke 13:3-5

How can we know if God told Rev. Ann Holmes Redding to become a Muslim? As A.A. Hodge has said, Scripture is the "judge of controversies." All claims of personal revelation, feelings, or impressions must be held subject to the Word. If this is true, then it can clearly be demonstrated that God has not told Rev. Redding to become a Muslim and Jesus Christ has not led her to Allah.

See also:
Salvation sans Jesus by J.I. Packer
For Whom Did Jesus Taste Death? by John Piper
What Do We Mean by Sola Scriptura? by Dr. W. Robert Godfrey
Sola Scriptura by A.A. Hodge
Does The Bible Teach Sola Scriptura? James White vs. Patrick Madrid

1 comment:

  1. I thought that you might be interested in this...

    Priest drawn to Islam loses her collar for year
    http://archives.seattletimes.nwsource.com/cgi-bin/texis.cgi/web/vortex/display?slug=redding06m&date=20070706&query=rev.+ann+holmes+redding

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