Sola Scriptura or "Reductio ad Absurdum"
Many Protestants seem to believe that if you give someone his trusty KJV bible and lock him up in a room for sufficient time and he will, by sheer virtue of the magnificent action of the Holy Spirit through the written word inspired by God (no sarcasm or disrespect intended) definitely and completely derive the entire corpus of Christian thought and understanding. While it's certainly possible for this happen, after all, with God nothing is impossible, the only question I would pose to my friends who seem to think that all you need is the air that you breathe and a Bible is this: Why has this in fact never happened?
It's a simple question really. Why is it that so many millions can proclaim a very simple, and eminently provable postulate that Scripture alone is sufficient for any one person to know and understand everything he needs to achieve a perfect Christian life and subsequently salvation, and yet no one can point to any person, save for the Incarnate Author of Scripture Himself, who has actually done this? Because if Scripture alone really were sufficient for any person, wouldn't in fact, all Christians who read it, meditate on it, and pray over it agree? On anything?
Let's look at this another way. If we were try a simple experiment, and take two faithful Christians, cloister them in a comfortable setting for a sufficient time each with a fresh-of-the-press copy of the King James Bible, and task them with coming up with a simple description of how God wants us to live in this modern world, we should, after a reasonably sufficient time , say a couple of years, be able to call these two folks out and have them compare notes, and find that they agree on every single topic. That sounds reasonable enough to me. Then why can't we? Why can't we, in fact, find any one single topic upon which all self-proclaimed Christians agree?
Is it possible that while the Word of God is sufficient, not all of us, or perhaps not any of us, are equipped with the intellectual and moral faculties to fully complete this exercise? What if the two people we were to choose for our little test above were, say Augustine of Hippo and Ernest P. Worrell? Wouldn't it be a little silly to assume that these two people would come to the exact same conclusions? Well, what about you and what about me? I won't speak for anyone else, but I can safely say that I am further from "Nothing conquers except truth and the victory of truth is love." and a little closer to "KnowWhutIMeanVern?".
In fact, if we take the idea of Sola Scriptura to its logical extreme, we would have not thousands of Christian denominations, but in fact one for each single person in Christendom. I don't think this is quite what Christ had in mind when He established His Church. Do you? Yet, this is exactly where Sola Scriptura leads, and in fact, to a large degree, has already lead!
What I think Sola Scriptura is actually, is twofold. First, having been a major precipitate of the Protestant movement, which was originally driven by corruption in the Church, this principle obviates the need for a Magisterium, which is a desired end since its proponents are opposed to the Magisterium. Secondly, and more importantly, I believe that this idea is a misguided attempt at individualism, that each Christian should be some kind of rugged pioneer, trekking across the religious wilderness in some kind of Donner Party quest for the Meaning of Life. Despite the fact that Christ established a Church, an organization that would need to be guided by His Spirit, in order to spread His Gospel, and bring His Truth to all the corners of the world, that Church really isn't necessary any more. I guess under Sola Scriptura, once the canon was settled, the Church wrote itself out of a job. Or perhaps it was Johannes Gutenberg that finally eliminated the need for the Church, having provided the means for every pauper and peasant to have his own copy of Scripture. And let's not even question the utter chaos that must have meant for the first three of four centuries, before it was conclusively decided what was Scripture and what wasn't. "Sola Scriptura" certainly doesn't.
There are many points on which persons of good faith (little 'f' faith and big 'F' Faith) can disagree and debate, but this idea has always struck me as one of the sillier ones. Far from requiring some deep theological and scriptural research, this philosophy falls apart with the simple application of logic and the empirical evidence of centuries of Christian disunity. In other words, you don't even have to crack a book to show this can't be true.
Ultimately I think Sola Scriptura is, in fact, a symptom of that most common religion of this, and perhaps any, age, the Church of Self.