Sola Scriptura 17
Is there any way post-modern cultural contextualization can compliment a commitment to Sola Scriptura and not be a detriment? There can be a complementary relationship and doing so requires the Biblicist to remain committed to Sola Scriptura, which therefore frames his philosophy in sharing the Gospel. The directive is found in I Corinthians 9:19-23 states:
For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. (1 Corinthians 9:19-23 ESV)
A commitment to Sola Scriptura demands a historical, grammatical, and contextual understanding of these verses in order to make an appropriate interpretation. This is not only for a proper understanding of the text, but also for contextualization in the current culture.
In light of the overall tenor of Scripture, along with the Pauline catalog, it is reasonable to assume that the Apostle Paul was not advocating compromise to the principle of Sola Scriptura in winning people to Christ with the Gospel. However, he was advocating a gracious liberty in interacting with the lost.
As one commentator has written,
Within the limits of God’s Word, and his Christian conscience, he (Paul) would be as culturally and socially Jewish as necessary when witnessing to Jews (Romans 9:3; 10:1; 11:14). He was not bound to ceremonies and traditions of Judaism. All legal restraints had been removed, but there was the constraint of love. Within the bounds of God’s Word (Sola Scriptura), he would not offend the Jew, Gentile, or those weak in understanding. Not changing Scripture or compromising truth, he would condescend in ways that could lead to salvation.
This, therefore, must be the biblical and cultural mandate for the church today. To share the Gospel by any means necessary, but ensuring those means are consistent with a commitment to the authority of the Scriptures. The church must hold tightly to biblical authority, especially in communicating the good news of Jesus Christ, while concurrently holding loosely to cultural idioms which may hinder that communication.
Finally, God says “fulfill your ministry.” God has called the man of God into ministry. It is then most fitting for God to command the aforementioned individual to make full proof (πληροφορέω / plērophoreō) of the calling God has issued. “The concluding words discharge all the duties of your ministry draw attention to the accomplishment of the whole range of responsibilities in the ministry. Timothy is putting his hand to the plough and must not look back until his ministry (διακονία, δωροφορία / diakonia, dōrophoria) is completed” (Guthrie 180).
What guides the servant’s hand, the farmer’s plough, the soldier’s weapon, and the athlete’s ability? It is an authority greater than themselves. Without that, there is no way of knowing if they have truly accomplished their goals and become victorious. As with the above examples, what guides the pastor’s preaching, the Sunday school teacher’s lesson, the youth worker’s devotional, and the music minister’s lyrical poetry? It must be a standard by which they will know if they are functioning within assigned guidelines and whether or not they have achieved victory. It is the Word of God.