Protestant Christians have always believed in Sola Scriptura, but they have also read the Bible with the Church. Until recently (since the American Revolution and the Enlightenment), the idea of “Me and My Bible” Christianity, or Solo Scriptura, has not been advocated. Like the Jews who plugged their ears and stoned Stephen, when we read the Bible without listening to the men who have gone before us, we endanger ourselves of committing many errors and foolishly rehashing untold biblical-theological arguments.
In this vein–reading the Bible with the light of Church History–is helpfully represented by American theologian, Charles Hodge.
Protestants admit that as there has been an uninterrupted tradition of truth from the protevangelium [Genesis 3:15] to the close of the Apocalypse [Revelation 21-22], so there has been a stream of traditionary teaching flowing through the Christian Church from the day of Pentecost to the present time. This tradition is so far a rule of faith that nothing contrary to it can be true. Christians do not stand isolated, each holding his own creed. They constitute one body, having one common creed. Rejecting that creed, or any of its parts, is the rejection of the fellowship of Christians, incompatible with the communion of saints, or membership in the body of Christ. In other words, Protestants admit that there is a common faith of the Church, which no man is at liberty to reject, and which no man can reject and be a Christian (Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, 1:113–14).
To learn more about the value of Charles Hodge for today, read my review of Paul Gutjahr’s recent biography, Charles Hodge: Guardian of American Orthodoxy. Another fresh biography on Charles Hodge is Andrew Hoffecker’s Charles Hodge: The Pride of Princeton.
Soli Deo Gloria, dss
(HT: J.T. English)