A friend sent me a copy of an article from the late 1890s. While it is very interesting and telling, a citation from the Encyclopedia Britannica (doesn’t say which edition, but I guess circa early 1890s) really shakes up the ‘sola scriptura’ idea… But, this blog has said this before.
Here is a portion of the article:
Inconsistency of Reformers.
Thus the reformed churches, while professing to reject tradition for the pure Word of God, were led to deny their own position, by accepting Sunday on the authority of tradition only, and tradition directly opposed to the divine Word. It was the weakness caused by thus practically denying their own position that more than any other one thing arrested the progress of the Reformation. Draper says: “Toward the close of Luther’s life it seemed as if there was no other prospect for papal power than total ruin; yet at this day out of three hundred millions of Christians more than half owe allegiance to Rome. Almost as if by enchantment the Reformation suddenly ceased to advance. Rome was not only able to check its spread, but even to gain back a portion of what she had lost.”—Intellectual Development, vol. 2, page 216.
At the Council of Trent, called by the Roman Catholic Church to deal with questions arising out of the Reformation, it was at first an apparent possibility that the council would declare in favor of the reformed doctrines rather than against them, so profound was the impression made thus far by the speeches and writings of Luther and the other reformers. The pope’s legate actually wrote to him that there was “a strong tendency to set aside tradition altogether, and to make the Scripture the sole standard of appeal.” The question was debated day after day, until the council was fairly brought to a standstill. Finally the archbishop of Reggio turned the council against the Reformation by the following argument:—
The Protestants claim to stand upon the written Word only. They profess to hold the Scripture alone as the standard of faith. They justify the revolt by the plea that the church has apostatized from the written Word and follows tradition. Now, the Protestants’ claim that they stand upon the written Word only is not true. Their profession of holding the Scripture alone as the standard of faith, is false. Proof: The written Word explicitly enjoins the observance of the seventh day as the Sabbath. They do not observe the seventh day, but reject it. If they do truly hold the Scripture alone as their standard, they would be observing the seventh day as is enjoined, in the Scripture throughout. Yet they not only reject the observance of the Sabbath enjoined in the written Word, but they have adopted and do practise the observance of Sunday, for which they have only the tradition of the church. Consequently, the claim of “Scripture alone as the standard,“ fails; and the doctrine of “Scripture and tradition as essential,” is fully established, the Protestants themselves being judges. (See the proceeding’s of the Council of Trent; Augsburg Confession; and “Encyclopedia Britannica,” article Trent, Council of.)
At this argument the party who had stood for Scripture alone, surrendered, and the council at once unanimously condemned Protestantism and the whole Reformation, and proceeded to enact stringent decrees to arrest its progress. It was by this means, and also by the denial of the other cardinal principle of the Reformation, the doctrine of soul liberty, by an appeal to force, that the glorious progress of truth was arrested as by a magic wand. Then the churches wrote their creeds, and so took the individual from the guidance of the Spirit, and delivered him over to the control and teaching of the organization, which must always be ultra conservative.
I used a similar argument against dividing the Law into three categories. (I was previously taught the Three-fold Division of the Law is the ‘gold standard’ of Protestant “wisdom.”)
Here is the quote from a private email I later redacted names from and posted on my blog:
Elsie,*(changed) in her paper on homosexuality, makes a significant observation: “(paraphrasing) Some homosexuals say that since parts of the Levitical law have been abrogated, then they have a right to declare parts dealing with their homosexuality also done away with.” Astute! And, a major indictment against any who would alter the law without clear Scriptural reason. I say, “No sacrifices because Scripture says it is unlawful without Levites and a Temple.” The one who divides the Law says, “No sacrifices because it seems to me that the Law is divided and that part is done away with” thus opening the door for any yahoo to divide the law to his/her own liking. Even Ross admits it is often hard to determine which category different laws fit in and therefore how they may/may not apply. Do we not do damage to our testimony by declaring parts of the Law to be annulled when scripture nowhere teaches such? By declaring laws abrogated do we not open the door for others to pick and choose according to their own proclivities? Is it not significantly stronger footing to understand them as suspended?
Sola Scriptura... yeah. Protestantism is ‘sola Scriptura’ as long as it doesn’t mess with their traditions… Traditions like pagan holidays, worship days, diet and dress… Things Scripture says are directly related to holiness.
Set tradition aside and find out what the Scriptures REALLY say. Test Everything!!