Protestantism Produces Pluralism

Protestantism Produces Pluralism January 10, 2015

Protestantism Produces Pluralism

Richard Beck wrote the following in a blog post on why being “biblical” means being doctrinally tolerant:

People who claim to literally interpret the inspired and inerrant Word of God do not agree on what the bible says…

The problem at the heart of Protestantism is that the bible is unable to produce consensus. This isn’t a theological claim. This is an empirical fact.

Sola scriptura produces pluralism. The “bible alone” creates doctrinal diversity. Biblical literalism proliferates churches.

And five-hundred years of Protestantism is Exhibit A…

…If your are going to accept the burden of being of Protestant, of living with sola scriptura, then you are going to have to learn to welcome doctrinal diversity.

If you want to be biblical you’re going to have to reconcile yourself to pervasive interpretative pluralism. That’s life being biblical. Being biblical requires a fair amount of tolerance for doctrinal diversity. Being biblical means creating a big tent.

So if you want to be biblical–if you want to go sola scriptura and drop the magisterium–then you are morally obligated to assume the burden and responsibility of welcoming the doctrinal diversity you will create.

The alternative is to be delusional, pretending that opening the bible brings everyone to a consensus. Unfortunately, that just doesn’t happen. And pretending otherwise just sets you up to be judgemental and condemnatory. It tempts you into using the word “biblical” as a weapon. 

In the end, if you’re going to be biblical you’re going to have to learn to be tolerant.

Click through to read the rest, as the above is just an excerpt.

Of related interest, Jason BeDuhn has written an interesting article for Bible and Interpretation about Al Mohler’s response to the recent Newsweek article about the Bible. See too Eric Alexander’s blog post on how big the progressive Christian tent should be.


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