(I thought of this analogy before leaving seminary. I was later very disappointed to find a variation in former evangelical Scott Hahn’s book. Life is hard.)
Imagine there was a man who felt the President was using his executive power in an unconstitutional way. He also thought our Congress and Supreme Court were corrupt. He started a movement telling Americans to go “back to the source—the Constitution.” Not a bad idea. But he took it a step further.
The man started telling people that all they needed to do was follow the Constitution. “Do we need to register to vote? Do we need to celebrate the 4th of July? Do we need to know our national anthem?” his friends asked. “No,” he replied. “The essentials are in the Constitution. It’s clear as day. Just study the Constitution and you’ll be a great American citizen.”
Though the man thought everyone would agree with his reforms, his friends disagreed. “The Pentagon is not in the Constitution, and neither is the White House.” The friends’ friends disagreed with them. 500 years later there were thousands of groups with their own president, claiming to be variations of America. Every citizen had several copies of the Constitution in different languages, but they simply couldn’t agree. Many of the them lived faithful and patriotic lives as best as they could. Unfortunately, they were living in a flawed system of government.
I know it sounds harsh, but this is what I believe Martin Luther did to the Bible.
What do you think?
(Some would claim I have misunderstood sola scriptura. At the very least this is a critique of evangelicalism. As Joshua Lim’s recent conversion story demonstrates, though, even confessional Christianity reduces to this situation.)