How can one have a principled way of differentiating between Divine Revelation and theological opinion without engaging Tradition?
Or, more polemically stated: How can one claim that the bible (or any document for that matter) is self interpreting, when there is so much disagreement about what it’s contents mean? Are we even supposed to be able to know what it means? Surely, right? So how are we to reconcile disparaging views? Just read, pray, and decide for ourselves?
No. This isn’t a recipe for unity. And, that may not even be how the text tells us we are to find out what it means.
I have been thinking and reading about this for a few weeks now, how we can come to know something from the bible, and I keep on coming back to the absolute necessity of engaging tradition. (Everyone has one. Not everyone is aware of it, or claims to engage one. A mere canon of books in a bible is proof of a tradition.)
One person suggested that its common sense. Something along the lines of “Either you have it or you don’t.” As if, clearly, when you just read it everything makes sense. And whatever doesn’t likely doesn’t matter all that much. But that wasn’t satisfying either.
I’m all for common sense readings. Common sense also tells me though, that it’s difficult to decide and agree upon on what the “common sense” reading of a text may be. So common sense tells me we need more than just common sense. Make no bones about it, I am not pro-tradition. I am way more than that. I am currently incapable conceiving of a way to reading this text, or any text, without one.
So help me out here: explain the logic behind how one can read scripture and claim to understand or to know something from the bible without tradition. Not “give me reasons why tradition is bad”, but positively show me how you can operate without it at all. Because I can’t find any myself. Even if you don’t hold that position, give it a shot.