Not So Sola Scriptura

By on August 1, 2011

teacher in class room with students gathered aroundBy Janelle Alberts –

My sister teaches a class of 7th Graders about the Bible.

Their parents make them come. They barely blink or smile until class is over and then they bat each others’ eyes out while shoving arms into coat sleeves and bolting out the door as fast as they can.

According to them, that Bible is boring.

To spark their interest, my sister asked them to compare Matthew, Mark, Luke and John’s illustrations of Jesus coming into Jerusalem one day.

The four men’s accounts differ: was it one donkey or a donkey plus a colt? Palm branches on the road or just cloaks? Did Jesus get the animal or have one of his crew fetch it?

According to the kids, somebody got his story wrong.

The way I see it, somebody had a crummy editor. Who publishes a book with four eyewitness views side-by-side only to have basic details not match up?

These 7th Graders would like to pin down that editor, whom believers believe to be God. There’s a “sola scriptura” theory that says pinning down God is possible from the scripture alone.

The problem with that is personal. The God of this book is personal. He reacts differently depending on the person before Him.

So even if we “sola scriptura” the plotlines, we meet a God who is sometimes fast, slow, loud, still, unbending and then… and then… “Return to me, and I will…” Personal.

Isn’t He still personal?

A bible teacher once said that God no longer personally reaches out to people because we’ve become such a sinful generation. That sounded to me like another famous quote, “Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt…disrespect…” Socrates.

Sinfulness seems to be steady as she goes whatever century we pick.

And people do experience miracles and personal God-interactions. They write books about it.

Reasonably, it’s hard to tell which are wacky and which are real. Look at God’s first best-seller; He let it go to press with four eyewitness tales that imperfectly tell a story.

The Bible’s sixty-six books do represent a God with a consistent mantra: Pick Me.

Pick me. I love you. I made you. Me. Pick me.

It is scriptura, but not so sola. There’s picking, there’s choosing. Please refer to the primary resource for getting to know this God…and that circles us right back to the Bible.

Bart Ehrlman, a scholar who outlines Bible idiosyncrasies said in an interview that churchgoers regularly ask him, “Why haven’t I heard this before?”

After running their comparisons firsthand, my sister’s 7th grade class might tell those churchgoers, “You probably started putting your coats on too early.”

Janelle Alberts spent her early career managing crisis communication needs for Microsoft, UPS and Wells Fargo. Alberts joined the Akron Beacon Journal online religion page in the summer of 2010. Alberts sets out in The Bible Book Club to observe the messaging strategy of one historical icon who is consistently quoted but inconsistently represented – God and His world’s best-selling book, the Bible. You can find Janelle at http://ohio.webfactional.com/faith_folly/.

About Janelle Alberts

Janelle Alberts spent her early career managing crisis communication needs for Microsoft, UPS and Wells Fargo. Alberts joined the Akron Beacon Journal online religion page in the summer of 2010. Alberts sets out in The Bible Book Club to observe the messaging strategy of one historical icon who is consistently quoted but inconsistently represented – God and His world’s best-selling book, the Bible. You can find Janelle at http://ohio.webfactional.com/faith_folly/.

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Not So Sola Scriptura