The third of these, sola scriptura, is supposed to mean that the Scriptures are the norm (normans normata)for all Christian doctrine. If there is a practice or dogma that Scripture flat out condemns, it must be cast to the wind! However, to say that Lutherans (but again, remember that modern day Lutherans have different ideas as to what sola scriptura means precisely) are fundamentalist Bible thumpers like the Baptist is simply untrue (though some definitely fit into that mold more and more in the MO Synod these days). Scripture remains the gem, but Lutherans also hold on to the "catholic principle." Notice this is little "c" catholic, not big "C" Catholic as in the Roman Catholics. The catholic principle refers to those traditions and doctrines which belong to the universal church and which are good for preserving order but are not necessary for salvation. However, even this has come under attack in modern Lutheranism with more fundamentalist groups pulling on one side and more liberal groups pulling from the other.
On another blog I often read, Pr. McCain's Cyberbrethren, he was discussing a recent issue of First Things which had an article on woman's ordination. Responding to a poster who said that he opposed women's ordination on Scripture alone, not Scripture plus tradition, Pr. McCain writes the following:
Lars, actually…the point the post makes is that the “tradition” of the Church is what it is, precisely because there is no Dominical or Apostolic mandate/authority for women to be pastors. That is the “Scripture alone” approach we take as well.
Now, I must admit that I was taken aback by that comment. Pr. McCain is saying, by my reading of his statement, that the authority placed in Scriptures is also placed in the Apostolic Fathers. Sola scriptura=auctoritate apostolorum! Now, I would like to ask Pr. McCain for more elaboration on this. However, Pr. McCain doesn't much like me, which is his right (lots of people don't like me and I don't lose sleep over it) and probably thinks of me as an apostate (his attacks on Lutherans who have left the faith for Rome or Constantinople make for some good reading) so I can't really see if I'm correct in reading him. If I am, it does reaffirm that modern Lutheranism does have a catholic principle and that those who would pull the church to a Biblical Christianity (which is an oxymoron) or a "believe-what-we-feel-like" Christianity really represent novelties.
A lot of people who don't know the Orthodox and who think of them as merely "Catholics without the Pope" don't understand what we mean by words such as Scripture and Tradition. To us Orthodox, there is no dichotomy of categorizing the faith in scriptural or traditional terms. Such is a very western and Aristotelian manner of thinking (nothing wrong with that though it does present some very difficult conflicts with the faith). Tradition includes Scripture. It is not separated from it. Tradition includes all those ways by which God has revealed Himself to us. Tradition includes Scripture, the Holy Councils and Canons, the Hymnography of the Church, Iconography, the Mysteries (i.e. Sacraments),etc. God's Word (the Man God, Jesus Christ and His Icon of the Holy Scriptures) is not revealed strictly through writings.
Though many modern books on Orthodoxy from Orthodox authors make the mistake of examining things through the western lens of scripture vs. tradition, they are wrong. It is Scripture in tradition, not Scripture and tradition. Pr. McCain, on the other hand, seems to be arguing for Tradition in Scripture.
Whatever or however Pr. McCain may mean by his one comment, it should be very clear that the sola scriptura of authentic historic Lutheranism is NOT the Biblical fundamentalism we see with many Baptists and evangelicals today and is certainly not the rejection of Scriptural authority we see with Episcopalians, the ELCA and the Presbyterians. It's just something I found interesting from my reading today.