Sola Scriptura: Explanation of Tradition 1 (Part 2)

To understand sola scriptura, we first need to understand the attributes of Scripture: authority, necessity, perspicuity, and sufficiency. Authority rests in scripture’s own witness of its authority. Calvin commenting on 2 Timothy 3.16 reveals that Christians owe Scripture, as it reveals Christ, the same reverence owed to God.[1] It’s not the passages or the book that is reverenced, but the Christ of the Scripture. Scripture is God’s Word and carries its own authority. Confidence in Scripture’s authority rests in the inner testimony of the Holy Spirit (2 Cor 2). 

Necessity of Scripture means the Bible, during this dispensation, is not only useful and good, but also decidedly necessary for the being of the church.[2] The church would not exist without Scripture; it came first, then the church. It is important to understand that man has always needed God’s Word. Even Adam had God’s Word, from the beginning. Scripture in totality, nevertheless, has not always been needed as Herman Bavinck clarified, “Whatever part of Scripture existed in a given period was sufficient for that period.”[3] The doctrine of progressive revelation asserts that Scripture grew as God progressively revealed redemption, and this growth was needed for the new dispensation.

Perspicuity means the Bible is clear to Christians in matters of salvation.[4] When dealing with perspicuity one needs to be aware of enlightenment thinking. Many take perspicuity to mean they can approach Scripture with pure reason alone—foundationalism—not relying on any authority other than their own mind. One, however, cannot, leave out tradition when interpreting Scripture to do so, as stated before, is an autonomous gesture that leads to heresy and church division. In addition, disagreeing with church doctrine is disagreeing with perspicuity for it assumes tradition. If the Bible is clear, it has been clear to the entire church past.

The same Scripture that asserts the need for teachers (Eph 4.11-12) affirms its own clarity. Scripture cannot interpret itself; it needs human involvement. Irenaeus argued that the Apostles, themselves said, “Scripture could not be allowed to be interpreted in any arbitrary or random way: it had to be interpreted within the context of the historical continuity of the Christian Church.”[5] Gifted men research doctrine and teach it to the Church. The church clearly recognizes this doctrine in the Word.

[1] Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, vol 1, ed. by John Bolt (Grand Rapids: Baker

Academic, 2003), 455.

[2] Bavinck, 471.

[3] Bavinck, 471

[4] Philip Schaff, and David S. Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom, vol. 3, of The Evangelical Protestant Creeds (Kessinger Publishing, LLC, 2007-07-25), 606.

[5] McGrath, Christian Theology An Introduction, 188.

2 thoughts on “Sola Scriptura: Explanation of Tradition 1 (Part 2)

  1. Pingback: Articles of Interest for Scriptural Study | Moje Da Poet: Meditations & Musings

  2. Pingback: Articles of Interest for Scriptural Study « Variegated Vision

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