Inspired by a true story….
I Corinthians 13: 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.
12(b) Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Sola Scriptura: Interpretationes Infinitum
We certainly must acknowledge the truth that ever since sola Scriptura, Christian understanding has gone forth in a thousand directions, every one of which can point to countless verses to make their point. The point isn’t the Scripture, it is the interpretation. Using sola Scriptura, there are those who can remove the divine from Jesus. They have the verses – interpreted their way – to prove it.
What am I getting at, and what does this have to do with the passage in Corinthians? I am not sure, but indulge me while I work through this. I have often used the phrase “men of good will.” It takes men of good will to properly work through differences of understanding, differences of interpretation. King James, His Bible,... Best Price: null Buy New $19.95 (as of 11:36 EST - Details)
I am reading a book written by Laurence Vance: King James, His Bible and its Translators. Separate from my point, I must say that Vance has done a remarkable bit of scholarship. But to my point, in reading the book and the work of the translators, I cannot help but be struck by the idea that those working on the translation were men of good will.
What if Martin Luther ran into a Church that was led by men of good will? Or John Wycliffe or Jan Hus?
My point isn’t to rail against the Catholic Church – after all, since the Reformation it hasn’t split into a thousand pieces. My point also isn’t to rail against the Protestants. My point is to focus on this idea of men of good will.
The more I learn, the more I learn what I don’t know. How am I qualified to judge matters that have been developed over centuries by men infinitely more knowledgeable than I am? Shall I rely on my own wisdom, or the wisdom of the ages? Compared to that, my wisdom is but a drop in the ocean.
Tradition is a valuable thing, except when it isn’t. Regarding Christianity, it is quite true that Jesus broke with a lot of tradition. We Christians certainly deem this necessary. Luther also broke with tradition. I think there is little doubt that much of what he noted in the Church tradition needed change.
So, how is one to consider when to keep tradition, slowly modify it, or make a significant break? It seems to me that before one advocates change – minor or major – one should first be able to speak to why the tradition is what it is, what it is based on, how and why it came to be accepted in the larger population. In other words, be able to articulate the wisdom of the ages.
Once one can speak knowledgably to these points, then one is qualified to advocate for change. Certainly, Jesus qualifies as such. Luther did as well.
Now, it doesn’t mean that such a person is correct (Jesus absolutely was; Luther was so to a greater or lesser part). This comes back to the men of good will thing.
I have come across various versions of the following: truth can only be found through love. I have struggled with what, exactly, this meant. I think I am beginning to see through the glass a little less darkly.
What have I meant by men of good will? Perhaps it is nothing more than men motivated by love. It is only through such motivation that differences can be overcome and truth can be found.
Go back to the excerpt from Corinthians. Paul writes of one with less-than-full knowledge: knowing only in part; completeness has not yet come. Completeness comes when he is fully known – and this comes through the greatest of these: love. Full knowledge comes through love.
The Four Cardinal Virtues: Prudence or Wisdom, Courage, Temperance, Justice. Through these virtues, man works toward his telos. All four virtues require knowledge of truth. Truth can only be found through love as demonstrated by men of good will.
Reprinted with permission from Bionic Mosquito.