The differences between evangelicals and Catholics on the question of ultimate authority really isn’t all that different, argues Kevin DeYoung, since tradition still requires interpretation :

One of the common Catholic objections to the Protestant doctrine of sola scriptura is that without the Church to offer authoritative interpretations we are all just left with our own personal readings of Scripture. So, the argument goes, evangelicals may talk a big game about the Bible being our ultimate authority, but actually the final authority rests with each individual interpretation of Scripture. In light of this chaotic free-for-all, consider how much better is the Catholic understanding of authoritative Tradition with a capital T.

[ . . . ]

I respect Catholic theology for its intellectual history, its commitment to doctrinal precision, and for the many places it promotes historic orthodoxy. But I do not see how an appeal to authoritative church tradition, in its practical outworking, makes the interpretation of Scripture any more settled. In my experience, what it does is push the boundaries of the debate away from Scripture out to papal encyclicals and the like. This is fine to do as a means for establishing what Catholics have believed about Christian doctrine (much like I don’t think it’s a waste of time for Presbyterians to discuss the Westminster Confession of Faith). But here’s my point: just because you have an authoritative tradition doesn’t mean you won’t argue over the interpretation of that tradition.


Read the rest and then come back and let me know what you think. Naturally, I side with DeYoung (we evangelicals have to stick together) but I’m interested in hearing the counter-arguments.

blog comments powered by Disqus