Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Reformed Confessions and the Catholic Distortion of Sola Scriptura

"The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man's salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture... There are some circumstances concerning the worship of God and government of the church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word..."

The portion above is from the Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter I, section 6.

The Second Helvetic Confession, Chapter II, says (in part), "We do not admit any judge than God Himself, who proclaims by the Holy Scriptures what is true, what is false, what is to be followed, or what is to be avoided." But this comes only after, "We do not permit ourselves, in controversies about religion or matters of faith, to urge our case with only the opinions of the fathers or decrees of councils; much less by received customs, or by the large number of those who share the same opinion, or by prescription of a long time."

The Belgic Confession, Article 7, says, "This Holy Scripture most perfectly contains the whole will of God and... all things are taught in it abundantly, whatsoever is necessary to be believed by people in order to grasp salvation... No one, however much gifted with apostolic dignity, nor likewise any Angel cast down from heaven, as blessed Paul says, is lawfully allowed to teach otherwise than what we have already thoroughly learned long ago in the Holy Scriptures."

The reader may have a question, arising naturally from these extensive quotes, as to why I have presented these extensive quotes, repeating closely-related substance. And the answer is because of what I have seen, mainly on Amazon, in comments regarding books on the Reformation principle of sola scriptura, but also in comments on my own previous posts (click on the tag below), that this doctrine means that Protestants claim to believe only what is explicitly stated in Scripture, resulting in a "me and my bible" mentality.

While I certainly concede that there are people guilty of that attitude, I do not concede the Catholic red herring that it is representative of the successors of the Reformation. To the contrary, Protestants recognize both logical implications of the explicit statements of Scripture and the role of councils and tradition in maturing our understanding of those statements. What divides us from the Church of Rome is that we hold that Scripture alone is infallible, and, therefore, that all such councils and traditions, including our confessions, are inherently subordinate to the authority of Scripture. This separates orthodox Protestants from, on one side, the individualist Christian who claims authority for himself to despise the teachings of the biblical church, and, on the other side, the claims of the Church of Rome to infallibility for itself. Both errors are really opposite sides of the same coin: the rejection of the authority of Scripture as God's Word results in an elevation of the mind of sinful man to a pretense of that authority, the very temptation to Eve from the mouth of Satan (Genesis 3:5).

If you are asking if I equate the blasphemous claims of Rome with Satan, you can rest assured that I most certainly am (Revelation 17:3-4)!

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