The general rule in Internet writing is “short is sweet”. Because most people are reading these articles on their computer screen (or even their cell phone screen) it is a good idea to keep articles relatively brief or else you will lose most readers.
I’ve mentioned before that when I started blogging I decided to try to keep my blogs to less than 400 words if possible. I often break that barrier, but I still try to keep all posts under 1,000 words unless I just really can’t shut up. The Internet, generally, isn’t a very conducive medium for long, drawn-out arguments; most people aren’t going to stay that long at one site. Conventional wisdom says that the longer an article is, the less likely it is to be read or commented on.
So what if I told you someone wrote an Internet article that was over 18,000 words and included almost 100 footnotes? And that it had generated, at last count, almost 700 comments? Sounds interesting, even if a bit insane, does it not?
Bryan Cross over at Called to Communion is the author of such audacity and the topic of the article is Solo Scriptura vs. Sola Scriptura. Over the past decade or so, Catholic apologists have been very successful showing the weaknesses of a “Bible Alone” approach to authority as it is practiced by Protestants today; common sense alone shows that having the Bible as the only authority is simply illogical. In response, Keith Mathison has crafted a Protestant reply: he has distinguished between Solo Scriptura and Sola Scriptura. The former, which is practiced by most Protestants over the past 150 years, takes the Bible as the only authority. The latter, on the other hand, accepts the Bible as the only infallible authority. True followers of Sola Scriptura, according to Mathison, accept other authorities, such as church councils and creeds, but they accept only Scripture as infallible. Mathison’s argument is a strong one, and it is good to see Protestants recognizing the faults in how their conferees have practiced their faith in the past two centuries.
However, Cross in his article details (in great detail!) why ultimately both Solo Scriptura and Sola Scriptura end up with the same interpretive authority: oneself. It is only through apostolic succession, argues Cross, that one can escape this conundrum and have a truly independent authority.
I recommend the article highly. I printed it out (25 pages in 10-point type!) and read it at my leisure rather than burn out my eyeballs staring at the computer screen. This article and the ensuing discussion gives me hope that the Internet hasn’t completely made us stupid yet!