Saturday, February 17, 2007

Sola ScripturaS Part Deux

The approach to Sola Scriptura outlined in my previous post does not deny an authoritative role for the ongoing teaching and tradition of the Church. As an Anglican I believe tradition (the living teaching and preaching of the gospel handed down from generation to generation), the creeds, the liturgies, etc. have theological authority. They are important and indispensable sources of of theological knowledge. When Anglicans do theology they do not read the scriptures using only the historical/grammatical method. They read the scriptures with the Church -- especially the fathers of the undivided Church.

Here is a way to think about how scripture and tradition relate with each other. Scripture is the only intrinsically infallible source of revelation. Only the scripture is always a reliable source of revelation. The tradition is not intrinsically infallible. For example, we can read Origin, Augustine, Gregory Nazianzus, etc. In their writings we hear and discern the gospel. We use what we discern to help us read the scriptures. But we also know, even though those guys were really great, what they say is not intrinsically infallible. Nevertheless, tradition is authoritative.

The venerable Anglican divine Richard Hooker penned these words:

What Scripture doth plainly deliver, to that first credit and obedience is due; the next whereunto is whatsoever any man can necessarily conclude by force of reason; after these the voice of the Church succeedeth... (Laws, Book V, 8:2; Folger Edition 2:39,8-14)

He says it better than I can say it.


MattJP said...

Peter, it's great to see you have a blog. I look forward to reading it. I found it linked from Stand Firm's page.
-Matt Perkins

Kyle said...

I blame the Baptists. For them, the only thing that can be authoritative is what can be proved to be infallible. Bloody foundationalists.


Stand Firm? Welcome to the club...