A canon-within-a-canon is the idea that there are a group of verses, sections or books that determine how you interpret or understand the rest of the Bible. Fred Sanders observes everyone has favorite sections of the Bible but rightly warns against using that idea to make decisions about which parts of the Bible are divinely inspired. While Carson's warnings, reported here, about the idea of a canon-within-a-canon should be heard, there isn't much around the traps about how to practically construct your own canon-within-a-canon and interact with others. It seems like something everyone does, but isn't talked about much.
Figuring out whose canon-within-a-canon is right when there's a conflict probably comes down to Sola Scriptura and the role of (small t) tradition. Tradition asks if your canon-within-a-canon connects with a thread of historical thinking that can be traced back through church history? Perhaps to keep the authority Scripture central we should also ask how flexible our canon-within-a-canons are, would they change in the light of other biblical evidence? Maybe there is also an existential dimension as well, does your canon-within-a-canon ring true to you in your circumstances?
Thoughts, comments or questions?
[How I remember the difference: a cannon has a a barrel of two n's.]