Interpretation of Tradition

Kevin DeYoung’s recent article entitled “Tradition Still Requires Interpretation” is very interesting. He responds to the Catholic critique of Evangelicalism’s doctrine sola scriptura. Their accusation basically picks at the Evangelical claim that one person has the ability to interpret Scripture, rather than submitting to the interpretation of the Catholic Church. I encourage you to check it out as he clarifies the doctrine and responds by critiquing Catholic hermeneutics. DeYoung writes:

I respect Catholic theology for its intellectual history, its commitment to doctrinal precision, and for the many places it promotes historic orthodoxy. But I do not see how an appeal to authoritative church tradition, in its practical outworking, makes the interpretation of Scripture any more settled. In my experience, what it does is push the boundaries of the debate away from Scripture out to papal encyclicals and the like. This is fine to do as a means for establishing what Catholics have believed about Christian doctrine (much like I don’t think it’s a waste of time for Presbyterians to discuss the Westminster Confession of Faith). But here’s my point: just because you have an authoritative tradition doesn’t mean you won’t argue over the interpretation of that tradition.

For example, take the immigration debate. How should Christians view the ethics of immigration? Two evangelicals might both turn to the Bible and come up with a difference response. I’m not saying one answer wouldn’t be more right than the other (we’re not relativists or hard postmodernists when it comes to texts), but they could very well disagree even though they both adhere to sola scriptura. So do Catholics have an easier time giving a definitive answer? Clearly not.

Check out his post in its entirety by clicking the link at the top.

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