Alan has written an article on what to do with Tradition in a practical way: "discernment and tradition > 2" (see also Part I).
As I've said before, the notion "sola scriptura" as most contemporary Christians describe it is a false and hurtful teaching, though propagated by devout and faithful people. It usually means that one should not see "tradition" (whatever that might be) as a source of authority, and that only Scripture itself should be authoritative. Unfortunately, the notion that I can stand as an "objective" reader who does not bring any presuppositions to the text, and have the intellectual wherewithal to discern the mind of God from it all by myself is one born of post-Enlightenment, modernist arrogance. We have been deceived. We must realize that the Canon of Scripture does not exist in a vacuum, and cannot be read as if it did. The fact of the Canon itself is a development of Tradition.
As one of Alan's commentators put the matter,
There is no such thing as sola scriptura. That's right, not even for those who trumpet it all the time, it doesn't exist. In my experience, what really exists instead is always some version of "only scripture as I or my group interprets it." And that is unavoidable. You see there is no meaning or teaching without interpretation no matter who you are. As if the scripture existed in some interpretation free pure vacuum. Of course it does not. So the minute you begin interpretation, and then codify that interpretation as doctrine, then you have a sacred tradition. In fact, everyone has a sacred tradition in addition to scripture. At least the Catholics are honest about it from the get go.
Along those lines, Jared directed me to an article by Travis Stanley, who writes out of the Campbellite tradition:
As a young boy, I was taught to “search the scriptures,” like the Bereans did [context: Acts 17:9-11]. I remember being told in VBS: Be a Berean! ... I was taught to distrust the “traditions of men.” Christ was the true authority, and anything “man” would say must accord with the teachings of Christ. I actually took these teachings to heart, though some may doubt my sincerity. I still deeply desire to be a Berean. I don’t simply trust the traditions which are handed down to me, but desire to put everything to the test. I am doing my best to live out these truth-seeking virtues instilled in me as a youth. Though it is easy and safe to accept the traditions and beliefs that are handed down to me, for me, I have to place everything on the table.
Why, then, is my desire to “question authority” viewed harshly by many of the very people that desire to instill in me the discipline of “searching the scriptures” to see if the things I am taught are true? Am I only allowed to “search the scriptures” so long as I come down on the “right side” of the issue at hand?
Tom Mohan did well to remind us of C.S. Lewis' assertion that "the devil always overplays his hand."
I welcome comments and rebuttals. I will delete ad hominem attacks. That means you, seminarians.