The Apostle Paul’s instruction in 2 Thessalonians 2:15 to “hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter,” underscores the Ancient Faith’s belief in the value of both Scripture and oral tradition. Given the historical context, where written texts were less accessible and the New Testament not yet formalized, oral tradition served as a crucial means of conveying authentic Christian teachings. Paul’s endorsement was not a nod to random “teachings of men,” but a recognition that oral tradition carried divine authority. Therefore, both written and oral forms of teaching hold significant weight in the Ancient Faith’s understanding of Christian doctrine.

Ah, gather ’round, gather ’round! Welcome back to the tantalizing spectacle known as the Theater of Sola Scriptura: Reformed Edition™! Today’s riveting episode plunges us into an age-old drama: the standoff between the Ancient Faith’s reliance on the historic deposit of faith and the Reformed claim that such tradition is merely “teachings of men.”

Let us set the stage with the venerable Apostle Paul, a man not unfamiliar to our Reformed friends. Ah, but what’s this he says in 2 Thessalonians 2:15? “So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.” Word of mouth, you say? A round of applause for the oral tradition!

Now, let us turn our gaze to the illustrious Church Fathers. St. Basil the Great chimes in: “Of the beliefs and practices whether generally accepted or publicly enjoined which are preserved in the Church, some we possess derived from written teaching; others we have received delivered to us in a mystery by the tradition of the Apostles.”

Ah, but here comes the Reformed rebuttal: “Tradition? Teachings of men!” they cry, waving their Sola Scriptura banners high. “To the written Word alone we must cling!”

Oh, the irony, the dramatic tension! Here we have the same Apostle Paul, a starring figure in the Reformed doctrine, advocating for both written and oral tradition. And yet, in the grand theater of Sola Scriptura: Reformed Edition™, it seems that only the written acts make the cut, while the oral acts are left on the cutting room floor.

It begs the question: Is the Reformed theology so sola that it becomes sola-ly selective? Are we giving standing ovations to certain scriptural verses while sending others to the understudy role? What then becomes of the unity of Scripture and Tradition, so beautifully espoused by the Ancient Faith and its forefathers?

As the curtain descends on today’s episode, one can’t help but ponder: Is the ‘Sola’ in Sola Scriptura roomy enough to embrace the fullness of what the Apostle Paul—and indeed the early Church—deemed valuable? Or have we edited the script so much that we’ve lost some of its original lines?

Bravo, Reformed Edition™, for another thrilling installment that keeps us guessing what the next act will be. Until next time, may your Scriptura be as Sola as your theology allows.

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