I really ought to look more closely at Reformation doctrines of the clarity and perspicuity of Scripture. They cannot mean what they seem to mean; if they do then they are just false. It seems to me that the Bible is not perspicuous in any straightforward sense. You don’t need a PhD to work that out. Just take a look at the gazillion different interpretations put forward by those claiming to just express the “clear teachings of the Bible.” If it was that clear then presumably there’d be a bit less diversity. Of course, you may reply that it is only clear to those led by the Spirit (i.e., us) and that the fleshy, unspiritual readers generate all the diversity. While such a reply is irrefutable it is also in-credible.
I think back to Irenaeus and his discussion of Gnostic interpretation of Scripture. He was well aware that the Bible could be read in many ways. Unlike some modern theorists, he did not think all such ways were equally valid. He said that what guided correct Christian readings was “the rule of faith” as passed down in public through the tradition of the apostolic churches. So Christian reading of Scripture was never based on “Scripture alone”—it was Scripture read in light of the tradition of the rule of faith. Christian theology was never based on “Scripture alone”.
Sola scriptura? That’s another Reformation doctrine I need to look at more carefully. It also cannot mean what it seems to say. Alone? Really? Just me and the Bible? No. That cannot be right.
It looks to me like the Reformers were either just plain wrong or they got a bit carried away with sound bites. Probably a bit of both but more of the latter.
But what do I know? I am just ignorance spluttering nonsense on a blog