My first draw to this book, truth be told, was the title of it. As a student of history and Christian theology, I have come to understand both the faultiness of Sola Scriptura and the faultiness of suggesting that this is what the Reformers actually believed. Unfortunately, I realize that such a title is a turn off for many Christians who do not know the real intent beyond the Reformers’s literary solitude, who have not escaped their own contextual lexicon. What the author needed to soften the title’s reception was a chapter on the role of Scripture, and perhaps even mentioning why he chose the title the way he did. I read the preface, the introduction, and the first two chapters hoping to stumble upon this rather apparent truth.
It is rather unfortunate to the reader who passes this book up due to the title that it is not the first but the third chapter that deals with the proper role of Scripture and how the title, and thus outlook of the book, is well within the tradition of the mainline, or magisterial, Reformers. If there is one fault with this book, it is that this chapter does not come first. Because in this chapter, the reader is introduced to the need for a proper reading of Scripture as well as the proper placement of Scripture. Further, Croy is able to reasonably take a shared experience with the tradition of the scripturally based Wesley Quadrilateral and show why it is a perfect method, when used correctly, to read Scripture. Croy’s great sincerity, his appreciation, and his love of Scripture is plainly evident in this too-short and ill-placed chapter. Yes, he is a Wesleyan theologian – flying in the face of William Abraham’s great pronouncement of the death of Wesleyan theology(ians) – and because of this, he straddles the neutral zone between the extreme views of Tradition and Scripture. He is able to take into account both the Catholic views (and advances of Scripture within Roman doctrine) as well as Anglican and more conservative views. Because of Croy’s unique position afforded by his Wesleyanism (experience), his work is respectful of Scripture, Tradition, and Reason so when he arrives at the goal of contemporizing the Text we can trust that he has only Christ as his goal.
There are names here that every reader will recognize. The great cloud of witnesses at Croy’s disposal surrounds us with a hope that we can reclaim a proper reading of Scripture. Yes, he pulls from those still alive, such as Tom Wright, but he turns to those who are Triumphant, such as G.K. Chesterton. There is Lane, Torrence, and Hill and still more. The casual reader may not fully appreciate the wealthy of knowledge and experience these names lend to Croy’s work, but the student must. We, as perpetual students, stand only on the shoulders of those who have come before and we should listen to them still yet. This chapter is best served as read first.
If this book was a map, you would have to begin here.