Monday 17 October 2016

Mentoring and "Sola Scriptura"

This mini blog series on mentoring is an important one I believe. This is the third post on this subject in recent weeks. Perhaps the most important aspect that I am trying to elucidate is an individual's responsibility to seek out godly mentors. When you read the gospels you see people coming to the Lord Jesus to ask questions. Usually, the asking questions is a sign that good things are happening spiritually, except of course the Pharisees who were always asking questions to be divisive. Let's avoid the latter. An individual seeking out godly Christian mentors, is often a mark of humility and a recognition that you need help. This attitude is the opposite of pride, an approach which thinks it knows most of the answers and therefore that person has no interest in seeking other opinions. Which attitude best describes you?

"Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment, Proverbs 18:1".

However, my main point here is an essential point, one that all Christians, both mentor and mentee (a person trained advised or counselled by a mentor) are to be wholly submitted to the authority of Scripture. What does this mean in practice? One of the watchwords of the Reformation was that of "Sola Scriptura". This means that the written Scriptures are our baseline for authority and the church is to submit to God's wisdom revealed in the written Scriptures. If this does not happen in the church and in a mentoring relationship, then things will go sour, they will become unbiblical and at worst, the relationship could break down into carnal manipulation.

Sola Scriptura means:

I. The written Scriptures are our source of wisdom, faith and direction. The question has to be asked continually: "What does the Scripture say? (Romans 4:3), and not what does my mentor say?

II. The written Scriptures are to be accepted as final and sole authority. This closes the door to revelations outside of Scripture, such as personal prophecies, extra-biblical words and so forth. It is sad, when in a mentoring relationship, when it spirals downwards so that extra-biblical words begin to be used to manipulate people in an unbiblical direction, or worse still in the direction a mentor thinks is right. Perhaps another blog post should be written on: "mentoring and the danger of manipulation".

III. We want to avoid the "Ah but ..." syndrome when we come to Scripture. What is this? Well some people who find aspects of Scripture which they do not like or they struggle to submit to, sometimes say "Ah but ... that part of Scripture is cultural or it does not mean x, y and z". If this is done to rightly understand Scripture, then it is acceptable, but if "Ah but ... " is said to escape submitting to the Lord, then there is a real and dangerous spiritual problem. Our sinful nature does not easily submit to authority and that includes the full authority of Scripture.

Much, much more needs to be said on Sola Scriptura, but I wanted to raise this doctrine in the context of mentoring. Let me stress that mentoring relationships are never to be a substitute for sitting under preaching in the church, nor for searching out counsel from the church's elders. Here is a danger also. None-the-less let us seek out godly mentors who are wholeheartedly committed to the authority, finality and sufficiency of Scripture.

"All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work". 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Recommended reading: "The Scripture Cannot be Broken: Twentieth Century Writings on the Doctrine of Inerrancy", edited by John MacArthur, published by Crossway.

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