Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Sola Scriptura?

On facebook, Seth Hahne asked:
Hey Christian peeps, question here. While I like Sola Scriptura for the normative interpretive cycle, clearly a *strict* Sola Scriptura is inadequate because it doesn't leave room for either the Regula Fide or canon formation (perhaps arrived via Regula Fide).

So here's the question: are there any adequate or necessary alternative models you like?
It was a question that I haven't really thought much about, nor studied very deeply, so I mustered up the best response I could:
Asking "How do we decide what the Bible says?" without first contextualizing the "we" and "the Bible" makes one vulnerable to reading in assumptions and presuppositions that simply may not be shared or which may not even be legitimate.

The "we" seems easy enough to explain. "We" are the Church founded on the teaching and fellowship of the apostles sent by Jesus. "We" are the work of the Spirit sent by the Father to build and knit together the Body of the Son.

Placing "the Bible" seems less straightforward. Obviously, "the Bible," as we know it today - a mass-produced, single-volume, closed text - did not exist in the minds of the apostles (though I believe Ridderbos, to some degree, contradicts this). It's been well-noted before that this deflates the *strict* Sola Scriptura view fairly quickly: after all, the Bible itself does not seem to concieve of the Bible itself, at least as such. Rather, the Bible says that Church is built, not from the Bible itself, but rather through the Spirit. The more appropriate question, then, might be, "What is the economy of the Spirit and the Church, especially with respect to Scripture?"

To use the typology set forth in the link shared by Mr. Nguyen, I would identify my own position in the whereabouts of the "Prima Sciptura" or "Regula Fidei" camps. This, in part, stems from studying Scripture according to itself. Given its wantonness for dressing itself according to creeds and customs which it simultaneously shapes and is shaped by, I find that any attempt to make an *absolute* distinction between Scripture and Tradition to be ultimately indefensible, much in the way that Derrida would say that absence is the limit of presence.

I'm well aware of the problems my own position brings me, and I don't have those well sorted out, but the upshot of this is that it makes the Eucharist the heart of biblical interpretation, because all hermeneutical acts become protologically, eschatologically, and liturgically shot through with the Body of Christ as the grammar, end, and exercise of our worship (though at every point assuming, modeling, and assembling the ecclesiastical orders).