Pelikan on Sola Scriptura

I am reading through Jaroslav Pelikan’s History of the Christian Tradition (5 volumes).  One reason is that I’ve always wanted to do this.  The other will deal with what some call “conversion sickness” (e.g., in order for a Protestant to legitimately convert out, he must make sure he has read the top guys, or something…whatever).

From volume 1, alluding to the later Reformers:

“The supporters of the sole authority of Scripture, arguing from radical hermeneutical principles to conservative dogmatic conclusions, overlooked the foundational role of tradition”

Pelikan, I: 119


7 Responses to “Pelikan on Sola Scriptura”

  1. The Ecclesiastical Hipster Says:

    So to properly convert in you must read Calvin’s Institutes?

    • tesla1389 Says:

      True….I had that brought up in a recent (and much foolish) discussion on this. Anyway, I’ve read it three times.

  2. The Ecclesiastical Hipster Says:

    P.S. I want to read Pelikan, but I’m afraid he’s over my head.

  3. tesla1389 Says:

    SOme parts are easier than others.

  4. I’m not sure I understand why one would have to read “the top guys” in order to leave protestantism (whatever that is) behind. That smacks of certain, modern philosophical presuppositions if you ask me. I think we need to leave the traditions of men behind on this kind of decision.

    Besides — the Church isn’t a set of ideas or arguments. It is the transcendent community of the world re-created in Jesus Christ. To become Orthodox or Catholic, one needs to seek out Who Christ is; not learn “the top” arguments or scholars. That’s not found in the Scripture. Jesus told us to take up our crosses and follow him, denying ourselves. Not prove to everyone how smart and well read we are before making an “informed” decision. If the faith really boils down to that then children and invalids are definitely left out of the Kingdom, whereas Jesus says they are First and the Example to follow.

    Just some thoughts.


    P.S. In regards to the quote: Spot on. The Church is the pillar and ground of Truth, not a fallible collection of books called the Bible (brought together and arranged by fallible men, according to the protestant mindset — assuming you can pin down a protestant long enough to understand their present viewpoints). The Scriptures as the Icon of Christ – the Word of God – are given to us by the Life of the Church, not our own private judgment. I’m pretty sure there’s a prooftext for that, too, if someone’s interested in such things. 🙂

  5. tesla1389 Says:

    You’re right, Gabe. I was actually referencing a series of blogs done this summer by one of the better Protestant bloggers. He actually made a few good points about some Catholics who watched a few episodes of EWTN and read a few pages of St Augustine and then decided to convert.

    I wasn’t actually endorsing the mindset. I am reading Pelikan simply because when I read his narrative of the early guys, I find that there is something familiar there and that I should follow it. Reading his story it seems like I am coming home…to somewhere.

  6. I’m sure I’ll get to Pelikan’s works someday. I’m still wading through the Fathers and I’m not sure I’ll ever exhaust that.

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