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CHAPTER ONE RECENT DEVELOPMENTS IN THE DOCTRINE OF SCRIPTURE D. A. Carson ....... tr ___________ ~ CHAPTER ONE RECENT DEVELOPMENTS IN THE DOCTRINE OF SCRIPTURE The pattern of Christian thought that emerged from the Reformation is often summed up under the three phrases: sola gratia, sola fides, and sola Scriptura. When I was a boy! I sometimes wondered how logic could be preseIVed if there were three statements each claiming that something or other was "sola"; but in due course I learned that grace is the sole ground of salvation! faith is the sole means of salvation! and the Scriptures are the sole ultimate authority for faith and life-all set in the context of the polemics of the Reformation period. Precisely because the Reformers' theological formulations were shaped by the controversies of their age! it is clear that the "faith and life" formula was meant to be an all-embracing rubric! not a limiting one. They claimed that the deposit of truth lies in the Bible! not in the church or in the magisterium of the church. Their concern! in other words! was to spell out the locus of authority in order to rebut their Roman Catholic opponents! not to restrict the range of the Bible's
authority to religious life and thought! away from history and the natural world.l The modern disjunction would have seemed strange to them. This side of the EnlightenmenC debate over the Scriptures soon moved on to broader matters. Although the history of these debates has been chronicled many times!2 a great deal of detailed work still needs to be done. But perhaps the most difficult period to comprehend! in some ways! is the most recent. We do not yet have the advantage of distance; and the twists in the debate are many and intricate. Not a few of the issues r:aised are so fresh or are so much a part of modern scholarly thought that evenhanded and disinterested evaluation is extraordinarily difficult. The essays printed in this volume and in the companion volume3 have been written in order to address the most important of these issues. We have written as Evangelicals; and so far as the doctrine of SCripture is concerned! we believe we stand within the central tradition of the church and in line with the teaching of the Scriptures themselves. This ancient tradition is worth defending! examining! and rearticulating as theological fashions raise new questions. The present essay attempts to scan rather rapidly some of these recent 5 6 D. A. Carson developments, in the hope that a bird's-eye view will provide these volumes with breadth and unity that might otheIWise be lacking. The aim is not to deal with denominational bodies (e.g., the Missouri
Synod or the Southern Baptist Convention) or particular publications that have agonized over the issue (e.g., Churchman) but to focus on theological, philosophical, and historical matters that in the modern debate impinge directly on how we view the Bible.

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