Reformation Matters 4

This is the fourth post in celebration of the 505th Reformation.

The Only Supreme Authority

All Scripture is breathed out by God (θεόπνευστος) and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

(2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV)

But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.”

(Matthew 22:29-32 ESV)

And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

(2 Peter 1:19-21 ESV)

We reaffirm the inerrant Scripture to be the sole source of written divine revelation,which alone can bind the conscience. The Bible alone teaches all that is necessary for our salvation from sin and is the standard by which all Christian behavior must be measured.

We deny that any creed, council or individual may bind a Christian’s conscience, that the Holy Spirit speaks independently of or contrary to what is set forth in the Bible, or that personal spiritual experience can ever be a vehicle of revelation.

Cambridge Declaration

“How one views Scripture will determine the rest of one’s theology. There is no more basic issue: Every system of thought that takes seriously the claims of the Bible to be the inspired, authoritative Word of God will share a commitment to particular central truths, and that without compromise. Those systems that do not begin with this belief in Scripture will exhibit a wide range of beliefs that will shift over time in light of the ever-changing whims and views of culture. Almost every single collapse involving denominations and churches in regard to historic Christian beliefs can be traced back to a degradation in that group’s view of the Bible as the inspired and inerrant revelation of God’s truth. Once this foundation is lost, the house that was built upon it cannot long stand”

― James R. White, Scripture Alone: Exploring the Bible’s Accuracy, Authority, and Authenticity

Aside from adding the Apocrypha[12] to their canon of scriptures, Rome contends that their bad tradition is on equal footing with the Scripture when it comes to authority, and must be revered as the church gives to the word of God.

Paragraph 82 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, after stating the transmission of the Holy Tradition to the successors of the apostles, states,

“As a result the Church, to whom the transmission and interpretation of Revelation is entrusted, ‘does not derive her certainty about all revealed truths from the holy Scriptures alone. Both Scriptures and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence.’ 

Therefore, they have twofold authority that the Holy Spirit who inspired the scriptures never intended.

As a major aspect of their tradition, the papacy and papal infallibility (First Vatican Council, 1870) claim for Rome an authority equal to that of the scripture. They believe that Peter, the first pope, has his apostolic authority passed in the single unbroken line of the bishops of Rome. However, its claim along with Rome’s faulty exegesis of Matthew 16:18 cannot by means of sound hermeneutical principles be demonstrated from the Scriptures.[13]

Dr. Reymond noted that “A year after Vatican I, in a letter to the Archbishop of Munich, the leading Roman Catholic historian in Germany, Ignaz von Döllinger, denounced the Vatican Decrees: As a Christian, as a Theologian, as a Reader of history, as a Citizen, I cannot accept this doctrine; for it is irreconcilable with the spirit of the Gospel, and with the clear declaration of Christ and the Apostles; it wishes directly to set up a kingdom of this world which Christ declined; it covets the Lordship over the Churches which Peter forbade to all and to himself.” [14]

This quote simply tells us that some of the Roman Catholic Church’s historians cannot accept their doctrine of the papacy and papal infallibility. [15]

Once again Dr. Reymond asserted, “The New Testament does not restrict the church’s foundation to him [the pope] alone [neither to their tradition] but founds the church on the entire apostolate, not in regard to their persons as such but in regard to their office in the church as authoritative teachers of doctrine who confess the truth about Jesus’ deity and messiahship. I must conclude from all of the Scripture data that there is no warrant whatever in these words of Jesus for Rome’s dogma of the exclusive primacy of “Peter’s chair” within Christendom.”[16]

We only have one supreme authority to be the rule of faith and life. The revealed word of God alone is to have authority over the bride of Christ. Its authority “depends not upon the testimony of any man or church, but wholly upon God (who is truth itself), the author thereof…”[17]

The Scripture’s supreme and infallible authority remains unchallenged. Our Reformed forefather held to it firmly. Supremely, “The Bible became a jewel in the hands of the Reformers not because it was a “handbook for happy living” or a “primer of metaphysics about God,” but because in it the Christian possessed the “the swaddling clothes in which Christ lies.” [18]

Wycliff, Hus, Luther, Calvin, and other reformers stood upon this one solid foundation. To confound the Scripture or add up to its supreme, infallible, and self-attesting authority is to incur the judgment of its Supreme Author. To those who are not content with the Scripture’s supremacy and sufficiency, hear Luther’s blunt words to the pope’s bull, “Because you have confounded the truth of God, today the LORD confounds you. Into the fire with you!” [19]

To God be the glory!

This blog is included in the series of posts for the 505th reformation month.

  • [12] from the Greek apokrupha, meaning hidden things, and is used by ecclesiastical writers for matters which are, (1) secret or mysterious; (2) or unknown in origin, forged, or spurious; or, (3) unrecognized, or uncanonical. It is primarily in the sense of spurious or uncanonical that we use the term. (Boettner, 142) 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith excludes these books from the divinely inspired scriptures as “not being of divine inspiration, are no part of the canon or rule of the Scripture, and, therefore, are of no authority to the church of God, nor to be any otherwise approved or made use of than other human writings.”
  • [13] Dr. Reymond in the same book offered an exegesis of Matthew 16:18, multiple observations and questions in the section under The Papacy and Papal Infallibility that I believe is the biblical view concerning Christ’s word that refutes the doctrine of the papacy. Additionally, William Webster provided a robust argument against Rome’s faulty interpretation of the text in his article The Church Fathers’ Interpretation of the Rock of Matthew 16:18
  • [14] Reymond, 58
  • [15] Added to Ignaz von Döllinger was Lord Acton who questioned the Pope’s Infallibility (Reymond, 65-67)
  • [16] Ibid, 53 (bracketed texts mine)
  • [17] 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith 1.4 (emphasis added). The writer as a Reformed Baptist subscribes to this confession.
  • [18] Matthew BarrettGod’s Word Alone—The Authority of Scripture: What the Reformers Taught…and Why It Still Matters, 85
  • [19] Michael Reeves, The Unquenchable Fire. Kindle Loc. 637

Published by Jeff Chavez

Sinner saved by grace

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