SolA Scripura OR SolO Scriptura? This is the common error of many cults and heretics, a pathetically reductionist view of this doctrine. Here are two very good articles on the subject:
Sola Scriptura Extremis
A Critique of the Evangelical Doctrine of Sola Scriptura
My friend Rusty Entrekin of Things to Come wrote me and several other friends the following comments on the second article (by Mathison which is actually part of his book The Shape of Sola Scriptura)
Amen to Keith Mathison’s article! Here are some additional thoughts regarding this.
Ephesians 4:11 - And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head, Christ.
Prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers have been given to us by God to equip us so that we will not be “carried about with every wind of doctrine,” as Ephesians 4:12-14 teaches. Note that all of these offices are mentioned together as a group, and in the plural. It is these all of these men together who equip the church (”the saints”) to discern sound doctrine. It follows that sound doctrine can be more reliably discerned by the collaboration of gifted leaders than by single individuals acting alone. Thus church-wide councils of gifted leaders, such as Nicea, have better discerning ability than local, denominational, or provincial councils.
The canon of the Bible was recognized by the church primarily by the aid of men who occupy the five equipping offices. How did they do this? By discerning, through the aid of the Holy Spirit, which manuscripts contained only sound, error-free doctrine, and which contained errors. If we affirm that these church leaders were gifted by God with the ability to do this, we must also affirm that they had the ability to make statements of sound doctrine, such as the creeds.
If God did not grant to gifted church leaders the ability to correctly interpret scripture, He would not command us to allow ourselves to be persuaded by the sound reasonings of our leaders (Hebrews 13:17).
Related to this, scripture teaches us that there is such a thing as sound doctrine:
2 Ti 4:3 - For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears
Titus 2:1 - But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine
Sound doctrine simply means “correct teaching.” If God holds us accountable to adhere to sound doctrine, this means two things:
1) He often grants to gifted teachers the ability to properly interpret scripture, and
2) He often grants to believers the ability to accurately recognize the truthfulness of teachings.
(Although scripture is infallible and inerrant, as individuals we can be fallible and errant in our interpretations. There are many factors mentioned in scripture that can aid us in discerning correct doctrine.)
If correct teaching exists, then so does correct interpretation. If correct interpretation exists, then the interpretations of men (including the creeds) may accurately represent the truth. When the interpretations of gifted teachers do represent the truth (i.e.., agree with scripture), then they cannot logically be dismissed on the grounds of sola scriptura.
To use Sola Scriptura as justification to discount the relevance of “sound doctrine” is to deny Sola Scriptura of any meaning. If we could not be certain that anything was an accurate interpretation of scripture, then scripture would be of little use to us, because we could never know for sure what it means!
What Sola Scriptura means is that the interpretations of men must always be considered subject to the scrutiny and test of scripture. Sola Scriptura leads us to reject some interpretations, but to affirm others. It therefore has the effect of affirming the importance of statements which pass the test of scripture. The early creeds have always been rightly subject to the test of scripture, and they have stood that test for over one and a half millennia. Thus, the doctrine of sola scriptura leads us to affirm the importance of the early creeds, not to discount their importance.