I was recently told by a ‘calvinistic Baptist’ pastor that ‘sola Scriptura’ restricts one to the explicit statements of Scripture. This is a very common assertion.
And it is DEAD WRONG.
The principle of sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone) is simply that the Word of God is our final authority and sufficient source for “all things necessary for God’s own glory, man’s salvation, faith, and life. ” (WCF 1) The Word of God is our “supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined.” (WCF 1)
None of that negates the role and necessity of deductive inference (aka logic). The Westminster Confession goes on to state,
The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture…
Interestingly, the very men who made ‘sola Scriptura’ famous, acknowledged that God’s Word is NOT ONLY what is explicitly stated in Scripture, but also includes what may be logically DEDUCED from Scripture! So, either these Reformers did not understand their own principle, or this ‘calvinist pastor’ does not understand the principle. I’ll stick with the latter.
BB Warfield even goes so far as to state that “This is the strenuous and universal contention of the Reformed theology against the Socinians and Arminians, who desired to confine the authority of Scripture to its literal asservations; and it involves a characteristic honoring of reason as the instrument for the ascertainment of truth….The re-emurgence in recent controversies of the plea that the authority of Scripture is to be confined to its expressed declarations, and that human logic is not to be trusted in divine things, is, therefore, a direct denial of a fundamental position of Reformed theology, explicitly affirmed in the Confession, as well as an abnegation of fundamental reason, which would not only render thinking in a system impossible, but would logically involve the denial of the authority of all doctrine of the Trinity, and would logically involve the denial of all doctrine whatsoever, since no single doctrine of whatever simplicitly can be ascertained from Scripture except by the process of the understanding.”
Be extremely cautious with those who cry out “sola Scriptura” as their justification to reject doctrine that is soundly deduced from Scripture. In fact, i find that where such a faulty understanding of ‘sola Scriptura’ is advocated, heresy is not far behind. You find it among the “Socinians and Arminians”, and you find it among Churches of Christ and full preterists.