Posted by: Standing Solus Christus | September 18, 2006

Who’s to Say? – Part 1

As we continue to review our understanding of revelation, today we encounter Article 5 of the Belgic Confession.  In our previous entry in this series, we introduced the concept of the authority of Scripture by stressing the importance of the authorized agents.  Today we will continue to develop the position that it is the Scripture, alone, which is our rule for faith and practice. 

As the Article indicates, it is the Scripture (all canonical books) that is to be used for the regulation, foundation and confirmation of our faith.    As we discussed a couple of entries ago, the Scripture’s authority is not derived from the Church (also stated in the confession).  Interestingly though, the confession states that the Holy Spirit witnesses to our hearts of their authenticity and authority.  Although, we agree with this statement it does need to be clarified in light of what our contemporary culture may conclude about it.  It should be noted that Scripture is objectively authoritative on its own.  Yes, our hearts being made alive by the Holy Spirit acquiesce to it and affirm its authority.  However, its authority is not dependent upon our assent or acknowledgement.  We must always be a little apprehensive of trusting in our own hearts to determine what is true.  It is God’s word not our hearts that should be trusted for what is right Numbers 15:39-41. 

Many in our modern culture believe that nobody has the authority to dictate what is right and wrong.  “Who’s to say?” is the common response to any assertion to right or wrong.  The response to this question is simply God’s word, which possesses the authority to bind the lives of men.  Francis Turretin expands upon this in his Institutes as follows:  

The authority of Scripture (concerning which we here inquire) is nothing else than the right and dignity of the sacred books, on account of which they are most worth of faith with regard to those things which they command us to omit or to do.  The divine and infallible truth of these books (which have God for their author) is the foundation because he has the highest right to bind men to faith and duty.  2.4.3

The Scripture’s inherently possess this authority since they are from God.  Although, there is much evidence to support the authenticity of the Scripture’s this should not be the sole reason why we believe this to be true.  Otherwise, we would subtly affirm the authority of this evidence over and above the authority of the Scripture’s.  This may be what the confession was driving at when it indicated that the Holy Spirit testifies this to our hearts.  Deep in our psyche we possess an understanding that knows the Scripture’s are truly God’s word.  However, through our sinful nature we suppress this truth in unrighteousness.  If we were to examine them impartially, however we would acquiesce to the fact that they should obeyed.  John Calvin expresses this concept in his Institutes as follows:   

Yet, unless they become hardened to the point of hopeless impudence, this confession will be wrested from them:  that they see manifest signs of God speaking in Scripture.  From this it is clear that the teaching of Scripture is from heaven.  And a little later we shall see that all the books of Sacred Scripture far surpass all other writings.  Yes, if we turn pure eyes and upright sense toward it, the majesty of God will immediately come to view, subdue our bold rejection, and compel us to obey.  1.7.4

It is the Scripture alone that governs what we should believe and how we should live.  It is God’s word to us and the means that He has provided to communicate to us.  We will continue to deal with this subject in our next entry.


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