Extra-Scriptural Information and the Supremacy of the Bible
Lately, I’ve been rereading John Frame’s 1976 article “Van Til: The Theologian” (originally published as “The Problem of Theological Paradox” in Foundations of Christian Scholarship) In the article, Frame expounds and expands on Cornelius Van Til’s distinctive contribution to Christian theology and apologetics (I’ve provided my own introductions to the major themes of Van Til’s thought here, here, and here).
From pages 25-27 Frame discusses the use of extra-biblical material in the interpretation of Scripture. The balance between honoring extra-scriptural information on the one hand and honoring the supremacy of the Bible on the other is refreshing. Frame begins:
…we need not be embarrassed about using extra-scriptural information to interpret Scripture. If indeed the creation were somehow autonomous, then we might fear that the use of such data might to some extent hide the full truth of God’s revelation. But creation is not independent of God.
Yet Frame’s robust affirmation of using extra-scriptural information to help interpret Scripture never compromises sola Scriptura (Scripture as the only infallible rule of faith and life):
Even when we use extra-scriptural information (as we must) to understand Scripture, we must hold loosely to this information–loosely enough to allow Scripture to call it in question. It is only when our methods of Scripture interpretation are themselves purified by Scripture that real progress can be made in theology.
The entire article is a great read, and I encourage you to dive in.