Last weekend Jason Vickers and I traveled to the annual meeting of the Wesleyan Theological Society at Azusa Pacific University. The theme was “The Future of Scripture,” and the keynote speakers were William J. Abraham and Richard Hays. Abraham and Hays had a very fine dialogue about the nature and function of scripture. The conference was well worth going to.
At this conference, we talked a great deal about the viability of the principle of sola scriptura. In my own paper, I argued that sola scriptura does not reflect the use of scripture in in the first four centuries of the church when the New Testament canon was being formed. Rather, during this period the relationship between scripture and tradition was dialectical, each helping to shape the other. Scripture was never meant to do all of the theological “heavy lifting” for us. Further, sola scriptura unnecessarily limits the theological resources available to us through the Christian tradition.
I was surprised to find that many people agreed with this claim, though at least one person found it highly objectionable. I do think, though, that it’s time for a renewed conversation about this issue.