Talk:Prima scriptura

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Why is the Anglican position (from which Wesley's derives) not discuss here? TheEvilPanda 16:56, 26 October 2007 (UTC)


There are a number of items that should be done here. First, which denominations or theologians advocate this doctrine? (looking at the creator's orther edits, I'd guess it's at least an Adventist formulation.) Second, I don't think the article fairly represents sola scriptura. Many Protestants who believe the former do value tradition (especially for help interpreting the Bible) and would more accurately fit under prima scriptura. The only ones who wouldn't qualify would be radical Anabaptists, fundamentalists, etc., who actually reject tradition ("No creed but Christ" and all that). In what sense is tradition secondary to the Bible in prima scriptura? Third, the Roman Catholic view is caricatured unfairly, methinks. Their doctrine is not as fixed as it may appear from a distance. Just some thoughts. --Flex 15:42, July 19, 2005 (UTC)

I agree. I wandered upon this page accidentally, and clearly it needs some work. KHM03 15:57, 19 July 2005 (UTC)

The chief sin of this article is that it is a complete distortion of sola scriptura. Is it supposed to describe the Anglican view? Maybe the Quadrilateral? Mkmcconn (Talk) 16:50, 19 July 2005 (UTC)

I believe Anglican; the Quadrilateral has its own article. KHM03 17:02, 19 July 2005 (UTC)
I also believe it can probably be cleaned up fairly easily. I've heard the view before, though I've never heard it called "prima scriptura" (actually, I personally believe that all evangelicals are "prima scriptura" people...but that's another story). KHM03 17:07, 19 July 2005 (UTC)
All evangelicals believe that the Bible's meaning is known by Christian people, and that this understanding is shared - faith is not a private interpretation, but a communion in truth. They believe in the holy catholic church (and many used to rehearse this confession as an element of their worship). They believe departure from orthodoxy can be so radical that there is no salvation in it, and that regardless of whether this apostasy is supposed to be justified by reference to the Bible, it is heresy. Mkmcconn (Talk)
In other words, all evangelicals mean "Scripture first", when they say 'sola scriptura' if what someone thought is that they meant 'me + plus + the Bible, by myself'. On the other hand, ANYone can say "Scripture first". Roman Catholics, Orthodox, ecclecticists, mystics and spiritualists, "Present truth" Adventists and Jehovah's Witnesses, and believers in the charismatic gift of private prophetic guidance. These all Speak as though sola scriptura/tota scriptura contradicts their belief. They want a place for something else as an original source of authority for the Christian faith. Perhaps that's what "prima scriptura" means. Otherwise, prima scriptura is just another way of saying sola scriptura. Mkmcconn (Talk) 17:45, 19 July 2005 (UTC)
If by sola scriptura one means "Scripture alone"...its literal meaning...then there are very few people who affirm that; as you make refernce to, we interpret Scripture through the lens of tradition. Tradition is not the opposite of "sola scriptura"'s a vital companion.
Now, I've conversed with people who insist that sola scriptura means that tradition is to be entirely rejected. That's certainly not what Luther or Calvin meant by it; but many traditionalist Catholics see it that way. That may be the origin of a more precise term like prima scriptura; I really don't know.
In my view, we all use the Wesleyan Quadrilateral, whether we realize it or not. For me, it wasn't so much an innovation of Wesley's as much as a recognition of reality...a good reality. KHM03 19:27, 19 July 2005 (UTC)

Made a minor edit to the first paragraph re: the Wesleyan quad. The sentence was a train of three complete clauses, each conjoined with a comma and "but." I broke apart the first clause to stand alone and offered a slight rewording. Smontg2 (talk) 09:15, 2 February 2008 (UTC)

sola scriptura[edit]

Since I'm not familiar with this term, I've looked around the internet to familiarize myself with how it's being used. It's as I thought - mostly people who think that "sola scriptura" overstates their case, but who want to affirm the primacy of Scripture. In most cases, they distort what sola scriptura originally meant (admittedly, the meaning has morphed). Modifying accordingly Mkmcconn (Talk) 21:00, 19 July 2005 (UTC)

Check to see if I've accurately stated the views treated. Especially, is the Catholic view stated correctly, and is the Quadrilateral properly characterized as expressing this idea (I'm not really sure that it does - I have doubts). Mkmcconn (Talk) 21:44, 19 July 2005 (UTC)
I personally don't have a problem with it, but I think John Wesley would; he maintained that he was faithful to "sola scriptura". But...let him come and edit the article!
I'm also uncomfortable with Wesleyan stuff being "on par" with Adventist & (esp.) JW stuff.
The Quad is a (Methodist) way of interpreting the Scriptures and "doing theology"...but the Bible is still paramount. KHM03 22:19, 19 July 2005 (UTC)
That's what I'm uncomfortable with, yes. The "Quad" (especially as Oden explains it) is sola scriptura as I understand it - although he speaks with greater emphasis on earliness as being foundational, than I feel comfortable with. I agree that history does mediate Scripture's meaning, but I think that early problems were often solved later; and most of what we have dividing us are early problems that are still in the process of being resolved. As Cyprian said: "Antiquity, without truth is an old error". Please boldly correct the alignment of the Quadrilateral in this article, as you see fit. As I've admitted, I am not confident that I understand this view (especially as it seems to mean very different things to different people). Mkmcconn (Talk) 22:46, 19 July 2005 (UTC)
It seems to me that we could combine the Quad section with the sola scriptura section (or maybe that we could combine this article with sola scriptura). Really, it seems that prima scriptura is just a more accurate term for what the Reformers meant by sola scriptura. It's unclear to me how many evangelicals accept what critics call "solo scriptura", which is what the original author meant to contrast with prima scriptura. See this link. --Flex 18:39, July 20, 2005 (UTC)


Tried to clarify a few things; it seems to me that prima scriptura is a Catholic notion, and perhaps a minority view at that. I've asked Essjay to chime in, as he is a scholar of Catholicism. Hopefully, he can give some guidance here! KHM03 23:28, 19 July 2005 (UTC)

Much improved. It has the ring of credibility, now. Mkmcconn (Talk) 00:27, 20 July 2005 (UTC)

I'm a bit reluctant to get involved here; I really don't like to get involved in article disputes. However, from what I see, the "dispute" is basically between the established Wikipedia theology community and the anon who wrote the article two months ago and hasn't been seen since.

I would reject this section:

Tradition in Catholicism is a key authority, and Catholic theologians maintain that a better understanding of tradition can develop over time utilizing the approach of prima scriptura. In correcting understanding, Scripture is primary, Church tradition is the interpreter of Scripture, and the bishops in submission to the Pope speak in God's name in a living way. Formally then, Roman Catholics subscribe to the idea of prima scriptura.

As it is defined here, prima scriptura refers to the belief that scripture is the primary authority while anything else (esp. Sacred Tradition) is secondary. While I don't doubt that some Catholics, and perhaps some high level Catholics, believe that Sacred Tradition is subordinate to Scripture, I think the Catechism is fairly clear on the accepted RC position:

One common source...

80 "Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture, then, are bound closely together, and communicate one with the other. For both of them, flowing out from the same divine well-spring, come together in some fashion to form one thing, and move towards the same goal."40 Each of them makes present and fruitful in the Church the mystery of Christ, who promised to remain with his own "always, to the close of the age".

...two distinct modes of transmission

81 "Sacred Scripture is the speech of God as it is put down in writing under the breath of the Holy Spirit."
"and [Holy] Tradition transmits in its entirety the Word of God which has been entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit. It transmits it to the successors of the apostles so that, enlightened by the Spirit of truth, they may faithfully preserve, expound and spread it abroad by their preaching."
82 As a result the Church, to whom the transmission and interpretation of Revelation is entrusted, "does not derive her certainty about all revealed truths from the holy Scriptures alone. Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honoured with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence."

Apostolic Tradition and ecclesial traditions

83 The Tradition here in question comes from the apostles and hands on what they received from Jesus' teaching and example and what they learned from the Holy Spirit. the first generation of Christians did not yet have a written New Testament, and the New Testament itself demonstrates the process of living Tradition.
Tradition is to be distinguished from the various theological, disciplinary, liturgical or devotional traditions, born in the local churches over time. These are the particular forms, adapted to different places and times, in which the great Tradition is expressed. In the light of Tradition, these traditions can be retained, modified or even abandoned under the guidance of the Church's Magisterium. (Emphasis added.) (Taken from the Catechism of the Catholic Church)

As it stands now, the official RC position is that "Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honoured with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence"; that is, Scripture and Sacred Tradition are equal sources. Scripture nor Sacred Tradition is superior; they are particularly intertwined and completely equal. Prima scriptura, as it is defined here, does not refelct the Church's position. -- Essjay · Talk 17:37, July 20, 2005 (UTC)

Essjay, thank you. Do you think that it's possible that prima scriptura is not defined accurately, if this is supposed to be expressive of the Catholic position? Or, is it possible that this concept only represents certain (controversial?) Roman Catholic theologians or apologists? (The name of Scott Hahn seems to be connected with it, frequently, where it appears on the internet)

I'm also following the lead here <- to find Vatican II, Dei Verbum 11 Mkmcconn (Talk) 17:55, 20 July 2005 (UTC)

I don't think it is misdefined; the title "prima" scriptura is fairly self evident, even to the layperson, that the concept is the primacy of scripture. I'm sure that some Catholic theologian (perhaps Scott Hahn) has made the claim, and the original author took the theologian's opinion to be the Church's position. (That's why I always preface my contributions with "According to the Church" or "The official Church position.") Scholars propose many theories as to what is the de facto practice of the Church, but the ultimate authority rests with the Magisterium, and the Magisterium says they are equal. I've changed the article text to reflect the de jure teaching, and clarified that the suggestion that prima scriptura is authoritative is opinion, not fact. -- Essjay · Talk 18:11, July 20, 2005 (UTC)
Sacred theology rests on the written word of God, together with sacred tradition, as its primary and perpetual foundation. It appears to me as though the Scriptures in combination with sacred tradition are the "primary and perpetual foundation" [1]. Would this formula be equally accurate as a description of the Catholic view, if its terms were reversed? ... rests on sacred tradition, together with the written word of God ...  ? Mkmcconn (Talk) 18:04, 20 July 2005 (UTC)
Yes, I believe so. The Church's position is that the two must be used together, but that neither in and of itself is better than the other. So I belive you could formulate it either way (ST + Scripture or Scripture + ST); in each it remains clear that the two, in coordination are the prime authority. -- Essjay · Talk 18:11, July 20, 2005 (UTC)

Article worth[edit]

Essjay, a new administrator 'round these parts, has done his usual fine job clearing things up, but now I have to ask before we do any more work: is this subject worth article development, or should we just redirect to another, more worthwhile page? KHM03 18:40, 20 July 2005 (UTC)

Hey, that's what I suggested above! --Flex 18:45, July 20, 2005 (UTC)

You're the man, Flex. What do the rest of you (all 2 of you, it seems) think? KHM03 18:47, 20 July 2005 (UTC)

I think that it's worth developing; but I'm just not sure that I know what this topic really deals with. I'm pretty sure that it isn't right, yet. The Scott Hahn clue seems to be a promising direction, as he has a book out with this latin phrase in its title. Mkmcconn (Talk) 18:54, 20 July 2005 (UTC)

It's all yours, brother. Do you think the neutrality warning can be removed? Seems pretty fair & NPOV to me...your call. KHM03 19:05, 20 July 2005 (UTC)

Mkmcconn, see the link above for some potential source material. --Flex 19:44, July 20, 2005 (UTC)
I agree with you, Flex, that the Quad belongs somewhere on a continuum of sola scriptura views. The distinction here, if the definitions are almost correct, is that prima scriptura implicitly "acknowledges other sources of divine revelation", which are normative for faith and practice, in a sense secondary to Scripture.
Sola scriptura also acknowledges divine revelation outside of Scripture, but "the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence ... manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God", yet, general revelation is "not sufficient to give that knowledge of God, and of His will, which is necessary unto salvation". (Westminster)
So the difference, if there is one we can put our finger on, concerns the sufficiency of Scripture. Mkmcconn (Talk) 20:24, 20 July 2005 (UTC)
It seems to me that some may indeed use it that way but that others may use it as synonomous for sola scriptura (as the Reformers meant it) -- for instance, our anonymous originator. The spectrum seems to run from Catholicism (Scripture and tradition on par) to sola/prima scriptura (scripture as the ultimate authority, whether or not there are is on-going special revelation) to solo scriptura (tradition is rejected -- sort of). Does that seem accurate to you? --Flex 21:00, July 20, 2005 (UTC)
I'm not sure. I'm going to find the fuller sources that have been excerpted, and those referred to in the article you pointed out, and see if I might be able to form a better idea of the difference intended by those who use this terminology; especially those who reject sola scriptura and accept prima scriptura. If I can't get a clear idea, I probably won't revisit the article; but I do think that it's worth keeping. Mkmcconn (Talk) 21:14, 20 July 2005 (UTC)

I think the page is fine in the context of those denominations that actually believe prima scriptura. Although I'm a bit worried the RC section might tend to misinform a reader who isn't familiar with the difference between the authority of the Magisterium/Catechism and the opinion of the one scholar cited, I think it's okay as it stands. Certainly, some of the information could be merged out, an entry added to sola scriptura suggesting that prima scriptura may be the more accurate term, and this page redirected to sola scriptura, as well. I'll go with the majority on this one. -- Essjay · Talk 15:45, July 21, 2005 (UTC)

Mild dispute of one small bit of this article...[edit]

Under "Others" I noticed that Jehoavh's Witnesses are listed as an example of Prima Scriptura. I believe this is an erroneous addition and would like to discuss my proposed change here. If no one objects within two weeks I will removing them as an example.

Jehovah's Witnesses hold the word of the Governing Body to be even superior to the Bible, since the Governing Body is held to be the only source properly authorized by holy spirit to interpret the Bible. (see Organized to Do Jehovah's Will chapter 3).

Jehovah's Witnesses defer any direct conflicts between policy and Scripture to the Governing Body and are required to wait for any changes to come from the Governing Body. They are not permitted to act in accordance with their own consciences in a way that contradicts Governing Body dogma without risking expulsion and shunning, a practice far more severly applied and enforced than mainstream Christianity. If a person chooses not to shun someone, they risk expulsion as well.

This is the reality and is demonstrable from primary source material. Jehovah's Witnesses do not hold the Bible as a superior authority to the interpretation and directives of the Governing Body, therefore, they do not fit the definition of Prima scriptura and should be removed from this article as an example.

Respectfully, --Evident 17:56, 18 February 2006 (UTC)

I'm confused[edit]

This article seems to be written by Roman Catholics, describing a supposed protestant doctrine. A quick search online found this to be a term primarily used by Roman Catholics. There is not problem with that, but lets define it as what it is: e.g., "prima scriptura is a term used by Roman Catholics to describe the position of some Protestants."

Also, I don't think that the term is actually used by the churches described, evidenced by the continued use of phrase like "another example may be ...

Did Yves Conger actually use the phrase "prima scriptura"? Is there a citation of this somewhere?

I'm sorry, I know this sounds a little beligerent. I don't mean it in that way at all. Pastordavid 21:44, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

I think you may be confused about the (attempted) objectivity of the article. Referring to Protestants in the third person - i.e. as not part of the group being discussed - is not supposed to imply that the author is Catholic, only that the author is objectively looking at the other groups. "Prima-Scriptura" is not necessarily a term used exclusively by Catholics, but it does not matter whether it is or not. It is a position which many Catholics feel a close association with, and because it is so similar to the (mainline) Protestant definition of "sola-Scriptura" it could be a springboard for ecumenism. Lutheran churches and Anglican churches, for example, have a view of sola-Scriptura that is virtually indistinguishable from prima-Scriptura, and prima-scriptura is compatible - and some (including myself) would say supported by - Catholic teaching. So with the differences between the two views worked out, and the similarities focused, ecumenism is very possible with sola-Scriptura-ists. That is probably the reason you see it used primarily by Catholics. We want our brethren back. But that subjective desire should not detract from the objectivity of this article, which is why there is so much discussion and work being done. (talk) 20:49, 17 December 2007 (UTC)Dmar198

Link to album[edit]

I'm changing the link to Sola Scriptura (album) to point instead to Sola Scriptura. It looked at first like subtle vandalism to me... the link to the album may belong in the Sola Scriptura page, but its relevance here is not obvious. But it was added [2] by a now inactive [3] editor who seems generally OK. Interesting... Andrewa (talk) 19:21, 19 May 2014 (UTC)

Didn't work, [4] so I'll try a different tack. The main point is of course not that the wikilink to Sola Scriptura is required, it clearly isn't (although that rule isn't hard and fast, see MOS:SEEALSO), the main point is the link to the album (however meritorious this album may be) is not appropriate at all. Andrewa (talk) 00:37, 20 May 2014 (UTC)