“[Tradition is] the regenerated reason, the Christian consciousness of the Church; which stands not beside the scriptures as an independent fountain, but is simply the stream of their contents reaching to us through the life of the Church, embracing always only what is contained in the scriptures themselves.” (91)
And to the claim by some that it is only by Tradition that we know the contents of the Scriptures, Schaf responds with a quotation from one Nitzch: “The Church has not made the scriptures genuine by acknowledging them, bu the scriptures have demonstrated themselves to her, and now make the Church genuine.” (92)
And to the accusation that a demotion of Tradition to a level below that of scripture will invite all manner of subjectivity and chaos in interpretation (everyone reading their bibles and thinking, O horrors!), Schaff replies: “It is prodigous injustice to ascribe all clearness to man’s word, and all darkness to the word of God.” (93)
In a grand suggestive moment, Schaff suggests that the Roman Church is entrenched in various forms of rationalism. He asserts in one place that the “Jesuits first proclaimed the principle of the sovereignty of the people, which produced the French Revolution, and by their casuistry opened the way for the formal overthrow of all morality, with which all religious faith also must necessarily fall at the same time.” (103)
(The Principle of Protestantism, by Philip Schaff or Schaf)
Now I believe that the Jesuits prompted the French Revolution, too, and will suggest as much whenever the Jesuits are mentioned…
Not that this idea runs contrary to every history book I’ve ever read, even history books written with a strongly Reformed bent and Protestant bias.