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1786Re: [LutheransLookingEast] 1 Cor 4:6

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  • Richard K. Futrell
    Oct 10, 2011
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      WARNING: Lutheran Response!

      Josh, I’ll share with you my understanding as a Lutheran who likes
      to lurk on this board.

      1 Corinthians 4:1 says that the Corinthians Christians should
      consider Paul and Sosthenes, the authors of 1st Corinthians, as
      “servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.” In that
      context, Paul and Sosthenes say as an Apostle and elder or bishop
      “not to go beyond what is written.”

      Normally, "what is written" refers to Scripture. But we can’t
      state what is specifically what is being referenced? Is it the gospels
      of Matthew, Mark, and Luke (certainly not John!). If not, it would, at
      least, refer to Christian scriptures existing when Paul and Sosthenes
      wrote 1 Corinthians--around the mid-fifties of the first century A.D.

      This implies that the earliest form of an official body of
      writings--a canon of the New Testament--may have begun to form by the
      time of the writing of 1 Corinthians. Your Lutheran friend has stated,
      based on this verse in the New Testament itself, that Scripture itself
      “sola scriptura.”

      Josh, remember that “sola Scriptura” originally meant that
      scripture alone is the final authority. And Paul and Sosthenes could
      very well mean that. However, sola Scriptura does not mean scripture
      is the only authority. That’s why the Lutheran Church subscribes to
      a confession, which also includes the creeds.

      So, based on 1 Corinthians 4:6, a case very well could be made for
      “sola Scriptura” as it is meant to be understood. However, this
      verse does not--and cannot support--sola scriptura as Protestants (and
      others against Sola Scriptura) often understand the term: Scripture
      alone is the only authority (really “nuda Scriptura”).

      The Bible doesn’t teach that idea. If it did, the Bible would be
      contradictory. 2 Thessalonians 2:15 reads, “So then, brothers, stand
      firm and hold to the traditions you were taught, whether by our spoken
      word or by our letter.” The Apostle Paul wrote to the Church in
      Corinth, “I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold
      to the traditions just as I delivered them to you” (1 Corinthians

      So the Bible itself rejects the idea of only the Bible! So how are
      we to make sense of this? The Apostle Paul wrote to Pastor Timothy,
      “Hold on to the pattern of sound teaching that you have heard from
      me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Guard the good
      deposit that was entrusted to you” (2 Timothy 1:13-14).

      The Church is to “guard the good deposit.” This deposit isn’t
      only the Bible, for the Bible isn’t the only authority in our
      faith-life. That’s why the Protestant Reformers (especially Luther)
      continued to use the ancient creeds of the Church. For those ancient
      statements of faith were also part of the “good deposit.”

      Later, Gregory of Nyssa would write, “Let the inspired Scriptures
      then be our umpire, and the vote of truth will be given to those whose
      dogmas are found to agree with the Divine words” (“On the Holy
      Trinity”, NPNF, p. 327). John Chrysostom would write, “I will not
      rely on my own opinions, but instead, prove them with Scripture, so the
      matter will remain certain and steadfast” (Homily 8 “On Repentance
      and the Church”).

      So the issue is much more nuanced than most appreciate today.
      Sadly, most Lutherans have bought into the current-day Protestant
      understanding of “sola Scriptura,” which is really “nuda
      Scriptura.” Scripture does not teach “nuda Scriptura,” but it
      does allow for “sola Scriptura” properly understood.

      You need to find out if you friend is talking about “nuda
      Scriptura” or the real “sola Scriptura.” One is biblical, the
      other is not.

      --Rich Futrell, Pastor
      Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church, Kimberling City, MO

      Where we receive and confess the faith of the Church (in and with the
      Augsburg Confession): The faith once delivered to the saints, the faith
      of Christ Jesus, His Word of the Gospel, His full forgiveness of sins,
      His flesh and blood given and poured out for us, and His gracious gift
      of life for body, soul, and spirit.

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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