All Hollows’ Eve Oct. 31, 1517

Matthew Barrett has written an article describing what “Sola Scriptura” is and what it is not. This is an article that I would highly recommend.

‘Sola Scriptura’ Radicalized and Abandoned

LutherReformation Day reminds us of Luther’s monumental decision to post his 95 theses to the church door at Wittenberg on October 31, 1517. Luther’s theses would strike into motion an irreversible set of confrontations with Rome, eventually leading to the genesis of Protestantism.

While these 95 theses are important, Luther’s stance on the authority of Scripture over against Rome was not expressed in all of its maturity in 1517. The formal principle of the Reformation would become more and more conspicuous with every passing debate between these two nemeses.

Sola Scriptura

In 1519 at the Leipzig debate with the Catholic debater Johann Eck, whom Luther called “that little glory-hungry beast,” Eck brought the real issue to the table: who had final authority, God’s Word or the pope? For Eck, Scripture received its authority from the pope. Luther strongly disagreed, arguing instead that Scripture has authority over popes, church fathers, and church councils, all of which have erred.

Luther was quickly classified with the forerunning heretics, John Wycliffe and Jan Hus. At first Luther denied such an association, but during a break in his debate Luther realized that Hus had taught exactly what he believed. Eck returned to Rome and reported his findings to the pope, and Luther left the debate only to become further convinced that Scripture, not the pope, is the sole and final infallible authority.

Luther’s sola scriptura principle would be most famously articulated in 1521 at Worms. On April 17, 1521, Luther was told he must recant. After thinking it through for a day, Luther returned and declared:

Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason, for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they often err and contradict themselves, I am bound to the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not retract anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. I cannot do otherwise. Here I stand. May God help me. Amen.

Luther’s speech is firm and straightforward: Scripture is the norma normans (determining norm), rather than the norma normata (determined norm). As he would explain in future writings, Scripture has priority over the church, for the church is the baby born out of the womb of Scripture, not vice versa. “For who begets his own parent? Who first brings forth his own maker” (LW 36:107; WA 6:561)? Luther rejected the two-source theory that viewed oral tradition as a second, extrabiblical, and infallible source of divine revelation passed down from the apostles to the magisterium. Instead, he argued that Scripture alone is our infallible source of divine revelation.

Continued Here

A glimpse of God’s hand

A couple of weeks ago God prompted me to write a thank you letter to the church that led me to Christ forty years ago. I had attended that church for a very short time while in the second grade and I have had no contact with them since. After writing and sending my letter, I found that they had recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of their bus ministry (the ministry that God used to bring me to Christ) and had produced a video to celebrate it. The video brought back a lot of wonderful memories from that time in my childhood. By writing a letter to bless their church, I found that I too was blessed. Over the last couple of weeks, I had not thought much more about that ministry until yesterday morning at church.

Yesterday morning a friend at my church told me a miraculous story. Last week my friend had finished work early and decided to try and get in a round of golf. He went to the local golf course and asked if there were any groups with upcoming tee times that he might be able to join. He was paired up with an older man and his adult son. As they played and talked they discovered that they were all Christians and after sharing a little about the churches they attended, the older man asked my friend if he knew me. This man, whom I did not know, was the pastor of the church to whom I had just written my thank you letter the week before. The church I attend today and his church are in neighboring cities almost 30 miles apart in an area where 2,000,000 people live. Statistically this chance meeting, apart from God’s design, was impossible! I do not know yet what God is doing but it would take too much faith to believe that this was simply an accident.

Below is the video of the bus ministry and my thank you letter to the church.

Dear Pastor Smith,

I know from the church’s website that you were not at Liberty Baptist church when I attended but I wanted to share with you a little about my brief time at Liberty Baptist church in 1973 and how I came to know my Savior during the time I spent there. I was not raised in a Christian family and had only been in a church a couple of times in my life prior to attending Liberty Baptist Church (once was to a Mormon church). My family moved to the eastside of San Jose when I was in the 2nd grade and shortly after we had moved my brother, sisters, and I (five of us all together) were invited to attend church by a Liberty Baptist bus driver who stopped in our neighborhood. With our parents’ permission we got on the bus each week and went to church. We all enjoyed the time at church each Sunday and our parents enjoyed the free babysitting. I still remember some of the crazy songs we sang like “you can’t get to heaven in an electric chair cause the Lord don’t want no French fries there.” While not the most theologically sound lyrics, they are certainly hard to forget.  During one Sunday service, I answered an alter call and was taken across the walkway from the Sanctuary to a small classroom where one of the church members shared the gospel message with me and where I prayed the sinners prayer. Within months my family moved to South San Jose and the first thing my parents did was find a local church nearby to provide the same free child care that they had become accustom to at Liberty Baptist. That small American Baptist church became my church home for the next 16 years (until it closed) and although I have never been back to Liberty Baptist church, since that first visit in 1973 there has never again been a time in my life where there was not a church I called home. Today my wife and I have six children who all profess faith in Christ. My wife, I, and my four daughters currently serve at Hillview Bible chapel in Cupertino. I just wanted to take a moment to let you know that the seeds of faith planted in my life so many years ago at Liberty Baptist church continue to produce fruit today.  Through God’s sovereign grace and the obedience of those at Liberty Baptist church, I was brought to faith in Christ. While my time there was brief, that time changed the course of my life for all eternity and I wanted to thank those at Liberty Baptist church for their faithfulness in fulfilling the great  commission; especially those who served in the children’s ministries and bus ministries in 1973.

In Christ,

Mike Tisdell

P.S. I was glad to see that you still have a bus ministry that brings people to the church. May God continue to richly bless that ministry and your church.