Since yesterday I have posted Carson’s text on his post-evangelical stance, I add now a continuation of that, his view of the Protestant principle of ‘Sola Scriptura’. To this view, which leaves no place for the concept of Tradition, Carson opposes the ‘Prima Scriptura’ position, a view which I also share, as it comes quite clear in the way I tend to handle Scripture on my blog.
Here is what Carson Clark says:
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The historic Reformation principle of Sola Scriptura often gets a bad wrap because people fail to distinguish it from Bible-onlyism, which is its unfortunate, dumbed down contemporary heir. The former was critically nuanced and discerning. The latter is overly simplistic and ignorant. So when I say I don’t affirm Sola Scriptura, let’s all be clear about a couple things. It’s not for a lack of respect for the Reformers nor am I castigating a strawman position. Here I’m making a concerted effort not to contribute to the entrenched, heated idiocy surrounding this issue.
Within the context of the 16th century, I understand how and why Sola Scriptura came to be. The late Medieval Roman Catholic Church was heavy-handed and hegemonic. Its abuses, corruptions, excesses, and hypocrisies were obvious. This coincided with Renaissance humanism’s call of “Ad fontes!” or “Back to the sources!” Long story short, Martin Luther and Co. were trying to pull a Marty McFly by going back to the future. I get all of that. Lord knows had I been alive at their time I almost certainly would’ve been sympathetic to the Protestant cause.
Nevertheless, the bottom line reason I don’t affirm Sola Scriptura is that it’s premised upon a contrast–not a clean break–between Scripture from tradition. This I simply cannot accept because Scripture is tradition. It’s a bit like trying to distinguish between a human heart and a human body. One is part of, and cannot survive without, the other. I understand the Protestant argument but, if I may be so bold, I think it’s an utterly nonsensical way of framing things. Baptist theologian D.H. Williams summarizes the issue far more eloquently than I ever could. He writes,
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