Contra Sola Scriptura by Robert Arakaki
Book Review: The Shape of Sola Scriptura. By Keith A. Mathison. (2001)
Keith Mathison’s book The Shape of Sola Scriptura is an apologia for the classic Protestant dogma of sola scriptura (the Bible alone). The book is timely because in recent years a growing number of Protestants have become Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox. Many of these former Protestants left because of a theological crisis, including the loss of confidence in sola scriptura. These conversions have given rise to a stream of apologetics materials challenging Protestant theology, sola scriptura in particular. Mathison’s book is needed because Protestantism must be able to provide a reasoned defense of its foundational tenets if it is to stop the exodus to Roman Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy, and present itself as a reasonable faith.
Dr. Mathison structures his book along three lines: (1) the historical argument — the Protestant doctrine of sola scriptura is consistent with the teachings of the early Church Fathers, (2) the biblical argument — the New Testament teaches sola scriptura, and (3) the pragmatic argument — sola scriptura is capable of providing church unity. He also makes use of Heiko Oberman’s categories of Tradition I (one source theory) for Protestantism and Tradition II (two source theory) for Roman Catholicism (Mathison p. 48). He then creates a new category Tradition for modern Evangelicals. The new category was created to distinguish classical Protestants who respect the historic creeds from modern Evangelicals who disdain them.