Saturday, February 03, 2007

Eusebius on Sola Scriptura

But of the writings of John, not only his Gospel, but also the former of his epistles, has been accepted without dispute both now and in ancient times. But the other two are disputed.

In regard to the Apocalypse, the opinions of most men are still divided. But at the proper time this question likewise shall be decided from the testimony of the ancients.
This is not the only place that Eusebius makes such statements but it is especially clear here. The authority of the canon and the authenticity of some books was still very much in dispute up until this time.

In fact, we know that even up until Martin Luther, the canon was not understood as an infallible collection. We know this because Martin Luther himself removed 7 books and wanted to remove an 8th (James) but reserved himself to writing an insulting introduction for the epistle in his bible.

Now can you immagine that sort of thing happening today? Someone starting a new Christian sect and throwing 7 books out of the canon? He would be lynched by his contemporary theologians because the canon is viewed as such an unquestionable thing these days (more or less since the advent of the printing press). However, this was not always so (as Eusebius clearly points out).

But why is this significant? With particular interest in his phrase, "But at the proper time this question likewise shall be decided from the testimony of the ancients" it becomes increasingly clear.

At this time, the Church had not infallibly declared which books were officially in the canon. In fact, only one of the three major councils which had largely settled the issue of the canon (Nicaea, Hippo and Carthage) had taken place at the time of Eusebius' writing.

It wasn't until much later - council of Martin Luther's opinion for Protestants and council of Trent for Catholics, that this issue would be finally and authoritatively settled.

Note - I am not claiming that Eusebius was intending to contradict sola scriptura. If you were to ask him about the doctrine or any other early Church father, you'd receive a 'deer in the headlights' look. They'd have no clue what you were talking about. It simply wasn't a concept available at the time.

1 comment:

NotMyOpinion30 said...

Martin Luther also wanted to remove St. Jude, Hebrews, and the Apocolypse.