CHAPTER ONERECENT DEVELOPMENTS INTHE DOCTRINE OFSCRIPTURED. A. Carson.......tr ___________ ~ CHAPTER ONERECENT DEVELOPMENTS IN THE DOCTRINE OFSCRIPTUREThe pattern of Christian thought that emerged from the Reformationis often summed up under the three phrases: sola gratia, solafides, and sola Scriptura. When I was a boy! I sometimes wonderedhow logic could be preseIVed if there were three statements eachclaiming that something or other was "sola"; but in due course Ilearned that grace is the sole ground of salvation! faith is the solemeans of salvation! and the Scriptures are the sole ultimate authorityfor faith and life-all set in the context of the polemics of theReformation period.Precisely because the Reformers' theological formulations wereshaped by the controversies of their age! it is clear that the "faith andlife" formula was meant to be an all-embracing rubric! not a limitingone. They claimed that the deposit of truth lies in the Bible! not in thechurch or in the magisterium of the church. Their concern! in otherwords! was to spell out the locus of authority in order to rebut theirRoman Catholic opponents! not to restrict the range of the Bible's
authority to religious life and thought! away from history and thenatural world.l The modern disjunction would have seemed strangeto them.This side of the EnlightenmenC debate over the Scriptures soonmoved on to broader matters. Although the history of these debateshas been chronicled many times!2 a great deal of detailed work stillneeds to be done. But perhaps the most difficult period to comprehend!in some ways! is the most recent. We do not yet have theadvantage of distance; and the twists in the debate are many andintricate. Not a few of the issues r:aised are so fresh or are so much apart of modern scholarly thought that evenhanded and disinterestedevaluation is extraordinarily difficult.The essays printed in this volume and in the companion volume3have been written in order to address the most important of theseissues. We have written as Evangelicals; and so far as the doctrine ofSCripture is concerned! we believe we stand within the centraltradition of the church and in line with the teaching of the Scripturesthemselves. This ancient tradition is worth defending! examining! andrearticulating as theological fashions raise new questions. Thepresent essay attempts to scan rather rapidly some of these recent5 6 D. A. Carsondevelopments, in the hope that a bird's-eye view will provide thesevolumes with breadth and unity that might otheIWise be lacking. Theaim is not to deal with denominational bodies (e.g., the Missouri
Synod or the Southern Baptist Convention) or particular publicationsthat have agonized over the issue (e.g., Churchman) but to focus ontheological, philosophical, and historical matters that in the moderndebate impinge directly on how we view the Bible.