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Pitting truth against truth

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The Priesthood of Believers
Luther, Calvin and all other 16th century Reformers agreed to three essential principles:
    l Scripture as sole authority (sola Scriptura),
    l Grace alone, through faith alone (sola gratia / sila fide), and
    l The priesthood of believers.
Indeed, each so depended on the other two that none could retain its validity without both of the others.

From the beginning Adventists emphasized sola Scriptura, basing all doctrine upon the Bible. In the 1880s Waggoner and Jones emphasized grace through faith alone, and many since have placed great stress upon this some in a balanced way and some in an imbalanced way that undermines the role of obedience.

But these two cannot function properly unless based upon the foundation of priesthood of believer principles. And lack of commitment to this principle has prevented a balanced approach to the other two. For sola Scriptura is faulty unless based upon the principles found in Scripture itself. And that, as well as grace and faith, requires a continuous practice of priesthood of believer principles. For it is the entire body of Christ, not merely scholars and vocal laymen who are responsible for the purity of the faith once delivered to the saints.

Indeed, it was this principle that broke Papal power. For it was this that empowered sola Scriptura, as the individual not only became his own priest to confess his sins directly, began to determine truth for himself, as Luther and other Reformers translated the Bible into the peoples languages. But, before long each group formed its own creeds and persecuted those who held different views, such as the seventh-day Sabbath, adult baptism, etc. -- even to death.

We have not done that. But we do fail to listen prayerfully to those we disagree with, seeking the balance of truth on each issue. Thus for half a century we have been in conflict over the first two principles, the nature of sola Scriptura, and grace through faith alone. But, by the tension itself, God is calling for us to develop and practice those priesthood of believer principles that will bring us to balanced understandings of sola Scriptura and faith alone.