Tuesday, November 26, 2013

How to read a map

One popular attack on sola Scriptura is the objection that an infallible Bible is useless without an infallible interpreter.

i) To begin with, this isn't a hypothetical question for Protestants. We believe in sola Scriptura because that is how God in fact chooses to operate. One could toy with abstract alternatives which have different consequences, but that's irrelevant to the real-world situation God chose to put us in.

ii) Let's take a comparison. If I have an up-to-date street map, that doesn’t prevent me from taking a wrong turn. I can misread the map. I can miss a street sign.

But because I have an accurate street map, I can also reread the map, correct for my mistakes, and find my way out of the maze. I can retrace my steps and find my way back. Circle back and try again until I get it right.

But if the map itself is out-of-date, then I’m hopelessly lost. I have no frame of reference. No standard of comparison.

Even absent an infallible interpreter, an infallible Bible is a great advantage over a fallible Bible.


  1. Someone said Protestants have a fallible Bible because the canon is recognized by the church but not infallibly defined by the church.
    Thus, a fallible list of infallible books means the Bible is fallible overall.

    What's your opinion?

    1. That's often attributed to R. C. Sproul, although it goes back to his mentor, John Gerstner.

      One problem with that claim is the cross-referential nature of the Bible. The canon of Scripture isn't just a compilation of unrelated books. Rather, books of Scripture attest other books of Scripture in explicit or implicit ways. In that respect, the canon enjoys infallible self-attestation.

    2. This post from Steve too.

      For more info, you can click on our labels (e.g. canonics). This should bring up various posts on the topic including a post linking to Steve's eBook on Scripture here. At the same time, you can use our search feature on the right sidebar (newly updated).