Protestants, Sola Scriptura, and Peter Leithart
Peter Leithart in a recent blog post on sola scriptura.
“Converts from Protestantism often despair that Scripture is a wax nose that can be made to mean anything at all. It is so ambiguous that we need another authority to limit the scope of interpretation, whether it is a Confession or a magisterium.
Of course, Scripture, being a piece of human language, is subject to the slippage and ambiguity that characterizes all human language. But if ambiguity is characteristic of human language, then it’s also characteristic of the human language of Confessions and magisterial decisions.
Nicaea didn’t resolve the Christological disputes; it just started a bunch of new ones, and once those were out of the way, Nestorius provided a new flashpoint. Even today, people still debate over the exact force of homoousios and whether or not Chalcedon is Cyrillian. Catholics are still debating the import of Vatican II. No criticism of Catholicism there; it’s simply the human condition. We are historical beings; we speak in time, and what we say is interpreted later, sometimes centuries later; later interpreters interpret from a different historical and cultural moment. There is no way to jump this process – not sola scriptura, not Confessionalism, not magisterial decrees.”