A common charge against Protestantism is that it is rationalistic. By raising doubts about relics, candles, prayers to saints, pools of healing waters, sightings of Mary, or reports of the stigmata, Protestantism supposedly set into motion the kind of skepticism about the supernatural that brought down belief in God altogether. Robert Langbaum echoes this trope of modern intellectual history in his book on Isak Dinesen:
[T]he fundamental failing of Protestantism is the failing already identified in Isak Dinesen’s criticism of Unitarians. In trying to rationalize Christianity, Protestantism cut fact off from myth and thus lost the double vision or the ability to understand symbols. (Isak Dinesen’s Art, 216)
That may be true of modernist Protestants who take their cues more from the natural sciences than the Bible. But when Protestants insisted on sola Scriptura they were not exactly embracing a faith free from challenges to the intellect. Burning bush? Crossing the Red Sea? Battle of Jericho? Virgin birth? Paul’s conversion? Critters covered with eyes? The Trinity?
The Bible presents plenty of material to keep the smartest guys in the room humble, and it also supplies plenty of symbols in need of interpretation (from Hebrew vowel points to apocalyptic metaphors).
What Protestantism did was cut back on the clutter of things requiring more faith and hope than reason. Why add to all the reason-defying aspects of the Bible with the bells and whistles of saints and relics? Whatever the sufficiency of Scripture means, it involves at least the affirmation that Christians only need to swallow the contents of the Bible (the way the whale did with Jonah) and no more.