One of the central themes of my theological studies at this moment is the question of Sola Scriptura. This pedagogy of the Reformation has at times as Richard Pratt stated, “been twisted to fit the individualistic tendencies of American Christians.” Sola Scriptura as defined by the Reformers is not a declaration of the autonomy of humans to isolate themselves for forty days and forty nights and discover new truth yet unknown in 2000 years of Christianity, but rather it is an alternative to such practices.
The very soul of Sola Scriptura is not that all we need is Scriptures, but rather that only the Scriptures can shape our thinking. As the Confession states, it is “sufficient for faith and life.” The current tendency of individual Christianity towards isolationism has led the Church to lose its commitment to the very doctrine they cherish. The church properly defined is made up of the “called out ones.” This is a statement of utter dependency on communal living. It is the community that Christ came to save and deliver. The purpose of the Church is to invite individuals to join a community. Jay Adams once wrote that there is “no place for lone ranger Christianity.”
The Scriptures have been preserved and given to the benefit of the Church as a whole. It is in this environment which we will find growth and a greater passion for God’s special revelation. It is also there in the “communion of saints” that unregenerate people come to embrace the gospel in all its fullness As Augustine has said: “There is no salvation outside the church.” The proper interpretation of that statement is that there is no truth outside the community of believers. Simply put, there is no other way to know God outside an environment committed to the Head of the Church, Jesus Christ.
The Apostle’s Creed says, “I believe in the Holy Catholic Church, the Communion of Saints.” This historical truth reveals the apostolic intent which breaks the sinful tendencies of our fallen hearts to divorce ourselves from our need for one another.