Friday, July 04, 2008

A Problem with Sola Scriptura?

"The construction of new models of early Judaism and the circumstances of the rise of Christianity raise important questions for theologians. What happens, or should happen, when one discovers that theology is based on wrong history? It bears some serious reflection that the church has canonized documents that were written in its youth, in the heat of a polemic begotten of its identity crisis with Judaism, and that these early, highly tendentious, historically conditioned documents of the New Testament remain the yardstick for anti-Jewish and apocalyptic theologies.

"These observations are not intended to undercut the uniqueness and value of these texts as theological benchmarks. The question is of a different sort. Is there sufficient elasticity in the understanding of tradition to recognize that the texts of Scripture are themselves the crystallization of moments in the tradition and to seek, cherish, and recognize the value of other moments in that tradition? Catholicism and Orthodoxy, with their understanding of the complementarity of Scripture and tradition, can perhaps more easily adopt this approach than can Protestantism, with its emphasis on sola scriptura."

George W. E. Nickelsburg, Ancient Judaism and Christian Origins, p. 6.

1 Peter and "selective accomodation"

"First Peter had to help its readers justify their existence as Christians living as a 'holy community' within society. It was a single strategy with two interlocking components: creating an identity that separated them from Roman culture, and yet showing how they, as a 'community of the elect,' upheld the best of Greek and Roman values by 'living honorably among Gentiles.' First Peter does not urge its readers to reject the larger society wholesale. Instead, it urges a policy of selective accommodation. Those values that contribute to moral ruin it rejects wholeheartedly; those that foster political stability and social order it upholds steadfastly and encourages vigorously."

Carl Holladay, A Critical Introduction to the New Testament, p. 705.