Pastor’s Post for the week of Sunday, October 16th!
PASTOR’S POST – SOLA SCRIPTURA & MERKLE’S BONER (10-16-16)
Grace and peace to you and yours from God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!
This month in my messages on Sunday I am focusing on the “Five Solas” of the Reformation: Grace alone (Sola Gratia), Faith alone (Sola Fide’), Scripture alone (Sola Scriptura), Christ alone (Solus Christus), to the glory of God alone (Soli Deo Gloria). These watchwords of the Reformation are not unlike the bases on the baseball diamond. (You’ll pardon this metaphor but I just watched the Cubs with their division defeating the San Francisco Giants in an astounding four run 9th inning!)
Here’s the point: no matter how colossal a home run you smack out of the park you still have to touch all the bases as you round the diamond. It has in fact happened that a major league player has hit a crucial home run but failed to touch all the bases.
Or maybe you have heard of “Merkle’s Boner”. This refers to the notorious base running mistake committed by rookie Fred Merkle of the New York Giants in a game against the Chicago Cubs in 1908. Merkle’s failure to advance to second base on what should have been a game-winning hit led instead to a force out at second and a tied game. The Cubs later won the makeup game, which proved decisive as they beat the Giants by one game to win the National League pennant in 1908. It has been described as “the most controversial game in baseball history” according to Wikipedia, certainly a most reliable source of baseball trivia.
Scripture Alone, (Sola Scriptura) is one of the crucial “bases” of the Christian faith and is my topic this Sunday. Paul speaks to this in the Epistle reading this Sunday when he wrote to Timothy, “As for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:14-15).
What sola scriptura means is simply this: the truth about God and His desires for you and all his beloved people (God so loved the world…) is not able to be discovered or concluded by human reason or other rational inquiry. Nor is it a matter of how we may be “feeling” at any moment. Indeed, to narrow our understanding of God to what is possible through our rational thinking or to the inner feelings I may have at any given moment, which can so easily flip from warm “fuzzies” to antipathy and apathy, is to make God over in our own image.
Sola Scriptura means that the Bible is the one source for the revelation of God’s self to us. Yet it does not follow from this that every word of the Bible is to be understood literally. This again would neglect the spirit for the letter. It would be to reduce God’s self-revelation to utter simplicity, devoid of uses of metaphor and hyperbole. We approach Scripture prayerfully asking: “God what are You saying to me about me, and my life?”
Remember too that the Bible is an adult book written by and for adults, to be read and understood with the intelligence, emotional, and spiritual and maturity God gave us. Martin Luther gave us a wonderful image of why the Bible is so important to us when he said the Bible was like the manger that held the Christ child, and image so familiar to us from the Christmas Gospel.
Just as the manger is not the infant Christ, neither is the Bible God. We do not worship the Bible. We worship God who has revealed Himself to us in the Bible. It is God’s story unfolded across the millennia so that we also might be among those who believe, as we read in John 20:31, “but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” God speaks to us in His Word that we may have life.
It has been said all Christian faith depends on these three words: “And God said.” That’s true because God didn’t have to. God is under no compulsion to speak to us. But by God’s grace we are allowed to listen in, and by His Holy Spirit to believe and trust in the Good News of God’s love and mercy.
Pastor Joe Hughes
Voice & text: 217-898-9063 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org