Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sola Scriptura Redux

Kevin deYoung, a blogger over at that American megaplex T4G wrote recently about Sola Scriptura.  I wanted to blog on the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, both to aid my own thinking, remark on an important distinction and remind my readers, in a sort of sequel to the last post about the role of 'bias'.

Sadly as deYoung reminds us and as Keith Mathison has pointed out previously, Sola Scriptura does not mean Solo Scriptura as many evangelicals mistakenly think.  No-one's neutral, so the question is what shape should our bias take?  Sola Scriptura rightly suggests the history of church tradition correctly shapes our bias.  DeYoung doesn't explain this, but as Mathison observed the Reformers were not arguing against church shaped bias but giving the church equal authority with Scripture.  The Modern Roman Catholic church seems to have merged the authority of Scripture with the authority of the church, which is neither the position of the Medieval Catholic church or the early church.

Importantly the Sufficiency of Scripture is about the content of Scripture, is the Bible enough for faith and godly living? The doctrine of Sola Scriptura is about the interpretation and authority of the Bible. Of course both doctrines are related but it's important to note the distinction.  In practical terms the doctrine of Sola Scriptura is a cycle, you can jump in at any point but you need to be aware it's a cycle.  We interpret the Bible based on bias --> We acknowledge the Bible has authority over church tradition --> We allow church tradition to shape our bias. 
This means that the hermeneutical debates should take place on different three fronts: 1. What does Church History say or not say about a given portion of Scripture?  2. What topics does Scripture speak to (Sufficiency of Scripture)? 3. Have we been clear about the entirety and scope of our biases?