Sola Scriptura

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AV1611

Puritan Board Senior
How would you answer this?

esp:

LOGIC AND THE "SOLA SCRIPTURA" PRINCIPLE

Thus, with my awakening interest in logical analysis as a test of religious truth, I was naturally led to ask whether this illogicality in the practice of the Reformers was, perhaps, accompanied by illogicality at the more fundamental level of their theory. As a good Protestant I had been brought up to hold as sacred the basic methodological principle of the Reformation: that the Bible alone contains all the truth that God has revealed for our salvation. Churches that held to that principle were at least "respectable," one was given to understand, even though they might differ considerably from each other in regard to the interpretation of Scripture. But as for Roman Catholicism and other Churches which unashamedly added their own traditions to the Word of God—were they not self-evidently outside the pale? Were they not condemned out of their own mouths?

But when I got down to making a serious attempt to explore the implications of this rock-bottom dogma of the Reformers, I could not avoid the conclusion that it was rationally indefensible. This is demonstrated in the following eight steps, which embody nothing more than simple, commonsense logic, and a couple of indisputable, empirically observable facts about the Bible:

1. The Reformers asserted Proposition A: "All revealed truth is to be found in the inspired Scriptures." However, this is quite useless unless we know which books are meant by the "inspired Scriptures." After all, many different sects and religions have many different books, which they call "inspired Scriptures."

2. The theory we are considering, when it talks of "inspired Scriptures," means in fact those 66 books, which are bound and published in Protestant Bibles. For convenience we shall refer to them from now on simply as "the 66 books."

3. The precise statement of the theory we are examining thus becomes Proposition B: "All revealed truth is to be found in the 66 books."

4. It is a fact that nowhere in the 66 books themselves can we find any statements telling us which books make up the entire corpus of inspired Scripture. There is no complete list of inspired books anywhere within their own pages, nor can such a list be compiled by putting isolated verses together. (This would be the case: (a) if you could find verses like "Esther is the Word of God," "This Gospel is inspired by God," "The Second Letter of Peter is inspired Scripture," etc., for all of the 66 books; and (b) if you could also find a Biblical passage stating that no books other than these 66 were to be held as inspired. Obviously, nobody could even pretend to find all this information about the canon of Scripture in the Bible itself.)

5. It follows that Proposition B—the very foundation of all Protestant Christianity—is neither found in Scripture nor can be deduced from Scripture in any way. Since the 66 books are not even identified in Scripture, much less can any further information about them (e.g., that all revealed truth is contained in them) be found there. In short, we must affirm Proposition C: "Proposition B is an addition to the 66 books. "

6. It follows immediately from the truth of Proposition C that Proposition B cannot itself be revealed truth. To assert that it is would involve a self-contradictory statement: "All revealed truth is to be found in the 66 books, but this revealed truth itself is not found there."

7. Could it be the case that Proposition B is true, but is not revealed truth? If that is the case, then it must be either something which can be deduced from revealed truth or something which natural human reason alone can discover, without any help from revelation. The first possibility is ruled out because, as we saw in steps 4 and 5, B cannot be deduced from Scripture, and to postulate some other revealed extra-Scriptural premise from which B might be deduced would contradict B itself. The second possibility involves no self-contradiction, but it is factually preposterous, and I doubt whether any Protestant has seriously tried to defend it—least of all those traditional Protestants who strongly emphasize the corruption of man’s natural intellectual powers as a result of the Fall. Human reason might well be able to conclude prudently and responsibly that an authority which itself claimed to possess the totality of revealed truth was in fact justified in making that claim, provided that this authority backed up the claim by some very striking evidence. (Catholics, in fact, believe that their Church is precisely such an authority.) But how could reason alone reach that same well-founded certitude about a collection of 66 books which do not even lay claim to what is attributed to them? (The point is reinforced when we remember that those who attribute the totality of revealed truth to the 66 books, namely Protestant Church members, are very ready to acknowledge their own fallibility—whether individually or collectively—in matters of religious doctrine. All Protestant Churches deny their own infallibility as much as they deny the Pope’s.)

8. Since Proposition B is not revealed truth, nor a truth which can be deduced from revelation, nor a naturally-knowable truth, it is not true at all. Therefore, the basic doctrine for which the Reformers fought is simply false.
 

AV1611

Puritan Board Senior
It is this that I have never been able to settle properly in my mind. Who decided what became the Canon? The Church? The Spirit in the Church etc...

And then how this regulates how Scripture relates to Tradition. As I understand it the Ceed was used as a Rule of Faith and not Scripture.
 

Peter

Puritan Board Junior
Chapter I of the WCF would be a good place to start

IV. The authority of the holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed and obeyed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man or Church, but wholly upon God (who is truth itself), the Author thereof; and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God.

V. We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the Church to an high and reverent esteem of the holy Scripture; and the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole (which is to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man's salvation, the many other incomparable excellencies, and the entire perfection thereof, are arguments whereby it doth abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God; yet, notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit, bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.

What the divines said of the whole of scripture is true of each book. In the end we are convinced of the inspiration of each particular book of the bible by the inward witness of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit may work through the means of rationally demonstrable arguments to convince us of the canonicity of particular books but our only infallible argument is the super-rational anointing of the Spirit.
 

DTK

Puritan Board Junior
I will say more if I find the time, but the man's first premise regarding sola Scriptura is wrong. Protestants do not claim that all revealed truth is found in Holy Scripture, upon which he builds his entire argument. We claim that all necessary revealed truth is found in Holy Scripture, and that the Bible is the only infallible, extant body of special revelation for the Church today. Romanists begin the way this author does so that they don't have the bear the burden of proving their truth claims concerning extrabiblical revelation. Again, he begins with a false premise and constructs his house of cards on that sand.

DTK
 

Mathetes

Puritan Board Freshman
Ah, the canon. The grand canard of Roman Catholic Apologetics.

Where to begin?

As a good Protestant I had been brought up to hold as sacred the basic methodological principle of the Reformation: that the Bible alone contains all the truth that God has revealed for our salvation.

1. The Reformers asserted Proposition A: "All revealed truth is to be found in the inspired Scriptures."

Notice the blatant bait-and-switch here. He goes from "the Bible alone contains all the truth that God has revealed for our salvation" to "all revealed truth is to be found in the inspired Scriptures"

The second claim is patently false. Sola scriptura doesn't hold that all revelation is contained in Scripture. John admits as much at the end of his gospel. Sola scriptura is the belief that Scripture contains sufficient teaching for the man of God in matters of faith and morals (including, but not limited to, salvation). His argument doesn't hinge on this point, however, so it's not a huge issue.


However, this is quite useless unless we know which books are meant by the "inspired Scriptures." After all, many different sects and religions have many different books, which they call "inspired Scriptures."

That's a pretty weak hypothetical. Sure, if the premise were true, then the conclusion would logically follow. But the best demonstrations of sola scriptura come from Jesus' dealings with the Pharisees and Satan. Yet, the canon of Scripture wasn't a question of doubt either of the three parties, so why should we consider it doubtul? Interesting that Satan knew better than to try questioning either the authority of Scripture or the status of the canon.

4. It is a fact that nowhere in the 66 books themselves can we find any statements telling us which books make up the entire corpus of inspired Scripture. There is no complete list of inspired books anywhere within their own pages, nor can such a list be compiled by putting isolated verses together. (This would be the case: (a) if you could find verses like "Esther is the Word of God," "This Gospel is inspired by God," "The Second Letter of Peter is inspired Scripture," etc., for all of the 66 books; and (b) if you could also find a Biblical passage stating that no books other than these 66 were to be held as inspired. Obviously, nobody could even pretend to find all this information about the canon of Scripture in the Bible itself.)

This is patently false. The Bible is an interlocking book with intertwining references. The Old Testament books contain numerous prophecies and promises that the New Testament authors use to legitimize their claims. Furthermore, both the OT and the NT have internal references to books within their own canon (such as Paul quoting Luke, Daniel quoting Jeremiah, etc.)

Once blogger is back up and running properly, you can see a demonstration of this by going to:

http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2004/04/canon-of-scripture-1.html

http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2004/04/canon-of-scripture-2.html

The second possibility involves no self-contradiction, but it is factually preposterous, and I doubt whether any Protestant has seriously tried to defend it—least of all those traditional Protestants who strongly emphasize the corruption of man’s natural intellectual powers as a result of the Fall.

The corruption of man's natural intellectual powers as a result of the fall? This is more cute than acute.

I guess this is a veiled reference to total depravity, but a) the regenerate are not subject to total depravity and b) even the unregenerate have greater intellectual capability than he seems to imply.

Futhermore, this either proves too much or too little. If we're incapable of intellectually reasoning our way to the canon, then we're incapable of verifying the claims of the Vatican.

Jesus expected people to infer logical conclusions from Scripture, so I think trying to close off the route to intellectual verification fails.

Human reason might well be able to conclude prudently and responsibly that an authority which itself claimed to possess the totality of revealed truth was in fact justified in making that claim, provided that this authority backed up the claim by some very striking evidence. (Catholics, in fact, believe that their Church is precisely such an authority.)

Do they do so using human reason? Are they aware of what their denomination thinks of using private judgment?

But how could reason alone reach that same well-founded certitude about a collection of 66 books which do not even lay claim to what is attributed to them? (The point is reinforced when we remember that those who attribute the totality of revealed truth to the 66 books, namely Protestant Church members, are very ready to acknowledge their own fallibility—whether individually or collectively—in matters of religious doctrine. All Protestant Churches deny their own infallibility as much as they deny the Pope’s.)

Of course, this ignores what we're to make of the alternative. If it's impossible that we can rely on human reason to determine the canon, and that we instead need a divinely appointed, infallible institution to decide the canon, why did it take the Roman Church 16 centuries to infallibly declare one? Isn't that a little late to be rescuing us from our own ignorance?

Also, how come the canon wasn't a problem for the early church? Irenaeus and Tertullian seemed to quote extensively from the gospels and the epistles without wondering whether or not those works were canonical?

Of course, early manuscripts weren't just single books, they were collections of books, implying an existing canon.

What infallible magisterium did an Old Testament Jew rely on to tell which books were canonical?
 

Magma2

Puritan Board Sophomore
Chapter I of the WCF would be a good place to start

IV. The authority of the holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed and obeyed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man or Church, but wholly upon God (who is truth itself), the Author thereof; and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God.

I would take issue on some points that have already been offered in response, like this one; "Sola scriptura is the belief that Scripture contains sufficient teaching for the man of God in matters of faith and morals." Recall the Confession; "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: unto which nothing at any time is to be added . . . ."

To artificially restrict the sufficiency and authority of Scripture to matters of faith and morals is to contradict the Confession which includes God's own glory and life itself. Can it really be maintained that the Scriptures have nothing to say concerning politics and the proper ordering of society, relationships between people, economics, law, and all other areas and concerns of life? I don't think so. Besides, the Confession also asserts that Scripture alone is the "supreme Judge, by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest . . . ." Hardly a restriction of the authority of Scripture to faith and morals.

Regardless, you still have provided an excellent place to start and I would include the supporting passages to the Confession as well. Not least of which is 1 Th 2:13; "For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe."

Notice, God's word is received, it is recognized as the truth, the Word of God. It's not to be received as -- or even on -- the word or authority of men. Another passage to consider is Psalms 12:6,7; "The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever." Of course, God's immutable promise will not phase anyone whose heart is already set against the sole authority of Scripture. But you can try ;)

For what it's worth, the above critique of the principle of Scripture alone is tantamount to demanding someone prove that the Scriptures are true which is absurd. If we take Scripture, that is, the entire 66 books and all they contain, as an axiom, then it is irrational to demand we prove our axiom. If we could, then that proof, whatever it might be, would be the axiomatic starting point of the Christian faith, not Scriptures and Protestants would be shooting themselves in the foot.

While you can't prove an axiom, you can certainly disprove one. That's why the next tactic usually employed is to try and show that the Scriptures contradict themselves, for if they did we would know that one side of any contradiction is false -- even if we didn't know which side. So I'm sure that is coming next if you continue with this man.

More could be said, but I'm sure I've said enough. I'm already embroiled on another front, so I'm not about to start anything here. This was just my :2cents:
 

Philip A

Puritan Board Sophomore
I will say more if I find the time, but the man's first premise regarding sola Scriptura is wrong. Protestants do not claim that all revealed truth is found in Holy Scripture, upon which he builds his entire argument. We claim that all necessary revealed truth is found in Holy Scripture, and that the Bible is the only infallible, extant body of special revelation for the Church today. Romanists begin the way this author does so that they don't have the bear the burden of proving their truth claims concerning extrabiblical revelation. Again, he begins with a false premise and constructs his house of cards on that sand.

DTK

:up: :up:

This is a perfect summary of my initial thoughts, although presented much more clearly. All I can say is:

:ditto:
 

DTK

Puritan Board Junior
You wrote: It is this that I have never been able to settle properly in my mind. Who decided what became the Canon? The Church? The Spirit in the Church etc...
The recognition of the canon itself is not God-breathed revelation. Rather the canon is the result of revelation; It’s an artifact of revelation. Notice Augustine’s testimony; even though his canon included the apocrypha, nonetheless, he recognized the principle that the Holy Spirit established (rather than revealed) the canon for the church, and not by the Church...
Augustine (354-430): Let us treat scripture like scripture, like God speaking; don’t let’s look there for man going wrong. It is not for nothing, you see, that the canon has been established for the Church. This is the function of the Holy Spirit. So if anybody reads my book, let him pass judgment on me. If I have said something reasonable, let him follow, not me, but reason itself; if I’ve proved it by the clearest divine testimony, let him follow, not me, but the divine scripture. Works of Saint Augustine, John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., Part 3, Vol. 11, trans. Edmund Hill, O.P., Newly Discovered Sermons, Sermon 162C.15 (New York: New City Press, 1997), p. 176.
Metzger points out that....
There are, in fact, no historical data that prevent one from acquiescing in the conviction held by the Church Universal that, despite the very human factors (the confusion hominum) in the production, preservation, and collection of the books of the New Testament, the whole process can also be rightly characterized as the result of divine overruling in the providentia Dei. Bruce M. Metzger, The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origin, Development, and Significance, third, enlarged ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997), p. 285.
Moreover, he goes on to note that...
The distinction between the New Testament writings and later ecclesiastical literature is not based upon arbitrary fiat; it has historical reasons. The generations following the apostles bore witness to the effect that certain writings had on their faith and life. The self-authenticating witness of the word testified to their divine origin of the gospel that had brought the Church into being; such is the implication of Paul’s words to the Thessalonians: ‘We thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of any human being but as what it really is, the word of God which is at work in you believers’ (1 Thess. ii. 13). During the second and succeeding centuries, this authoritative word was found, not in utterances of contemporary leaders and teachers, but in the apostolic testimony contained within certain early Christian writings. From this point of view the Church did not create the canon, but came to recognize, accept, affirm, and confirm the self-authenticating quality of certain documents that imposed themselves as such upon the Church. If this fact is obscured, one comes into serious conflict not with dogma but with history. Bruce M. Metzger, The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origin, Development, and Significance, third, enlarged ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997), pp. 286-287.
Nor did Rome (contrary to the claims of Roman apologists) ever officially determined its canon until the Council of Trent, as the following Roman Catholic historian has noted...
George Tavard: The question of the “deutero-canonical” books will not be settled before the sixteenth century. As late as the second half of the thirteenth, St Bonaventure used as canonical the third book of Esdras and the prayer of Manasses, whereas St Albert the Great and St Thomas doubted their canonical value. George H. Tavard, Holy Writ or Holy Church: The Crisis of the Protestant Reformation (London: Burns & Oates, 1959), pp. 16-17.
The Church does/did not determine the canon. The Church, as Metzger put it, “came to recognize, accept, affirm, and confirm the self-authenticating quality of certain documents that imposed themselves as such upon the Church.” The early church fathers themselves (again, contrary to the claims of Roman apologists) affirm the self-attesting nature of Holy Scripture. I can list several quotes and references upon request, which counter the claims of Roman apologists that the witness of the early church never affirmed the self-attesting nature of Holy Scripture.
You wrote: And then how this regulates how Scripture relates to Tradition. As I understand it the Ceed was used as a Rule of Faith and not Scripture.
How was it that you came to this understanding? I assume you referenced the Creed above, and if so, then I think you have misunderstood the use of the Creed by the early church. The early church fathers regarded the creed as a summary of the scriptures, not two separate rules of faith. In other words, they did not drive the wedge between the Creed and Holy Scripture as your paradigm suggests. Notice the testimony of the following ancient witnesses concerning the creed and what they understood the rule of faith to be...

Cyril of Jerusalem (318-386): But in learning the Faith and in professing it, acquire and keep that only, which is now delivered to thee by the Church, and which has been built up strongly out of all the Scriptures. For since all cannot read the Scriptures, some being hindered as to the knowledge of them by want of learning, and others by a want of leisure, in order that the soul may not perish from ignorance, we comprise the whole doctrine of the Faith in a few lines. This summary I wish you both to commit to memory when I recite it, and to rehearse it with all diligence among yourselves, not writing it out on paper, but engraving it by the memory upon your heart, taking care while you rehearse it that no Catechumen chance to overhear the things which have been delivered to you. I wish you also to keep this as a provision through the whole course of your life, and beside this to receive no other, neither if we ourselves should change and contradict our present teaching, nor if an adverse angel, transformed into an angel of light should wish to lead you astray. For though we or an angel from heaven preach to you any other gospel than that ye have received, let him be to you anathema. So for the present listen while I simply say the Creed , and commit it to memory; but at the proper season expect the confirmation out of Holy Scripture of each part of the contents. For the articles of the Faith were not composed as seemed good to men; but the most important points collected out of all the Scripture make up one complete teaching of the Faith. And just as the mustard seed in one small grain contains many branches, so also this Faith has embraced in few words all the knowledge of godliness in the Old and New Testaments. Take heed then, brethren, and hold fast the traditions which ye now receive, and write them an the table of your heart. NPNF2: Vol. VII, Catechetical Lectures, Lecture V, §12.

Augustine (354-430): Receive my children, the Rule of Faith, which is called the Symbol (or Creed). And when ye have received it, write it in your heart, and be daily saying it to yourselves; before ye sleep, before ye go forth, arm you with your Creed. The Creed no man writes so as it may be able to be read: but for rehearsal of it, lest haply forgetfulness obliterate what care hath delivered, let your memory be your record-roll: what ye are about to hear, that are ye to believe; and what ye shall have believed, that are about to give back with your tongue. For the Apostle says, “With the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” For this is the Creed which ye are to rehearse and to repeat in answer. These words which ye have heard are in the Divine Scriptures scattered up and down: but thence gathered and reduced into one, that the memory of slow persons might not be distressed; that every person may be able to say, able to hold, what he believes. For have ye now merely heard that God is Almighty? But ye begin to have him for your father, when ye have been born by the church as your Mother. NPNF1: Vol. III, On the Creed: a Sermon to the Catechumens.

Augustine (354-430): These two angelic communities, then, dissimilar and contrary to one another, the one both by nature good and by will upright, the other also good by nature but by will depraved, as they are exhibited in other and more explicit passages of holy writ, so I think they are spoken of in this book of Genesis under the names of light and darkness; and even if the author perhaps had a different meaning, yet our discussion of the obscure language has not been wasted time; for, though we have been unable to discover his meaning, yet we have adhered to the rule of faith, which is sufficiently ascertained by the faithful from other passages of equal authority. NPNF1: Vol. II, The City of God, Book XI, Chapter 33.

Hilary of Poitiers (c 315-67): How I admire you, lord Constantius, as a man of blessed and religious will who yearns for a creed only according to the scriptures! Very rightly do you haste towards those utterances of the Only-begotten God so that the breast holding an emperor’s cares may be full with the awareness of divine words. He who rejects this is anti-Christ, he who feigns it is anathema. . . . Hear it not from new pamphlets, but God’s books. Lionel R. Wickham, Hilary of Poitiers: Conflicts of Conscience and Law in the Fourth-century Church, Liber II Ad Constantium, §8 (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1997), p. 108.

Gregory of Nyssa (c. 335-395): If these doctrines approve themselves to some of the sages “who are without,” let not the Gospels nor the rest of the teaching of the Holy Scripture be in any way disturbed. For what fellowship is there between the creed of Christians and the wisdom that has been made foolish? But if he leans upon the support of the Scriptures, let him show one such declaration from the holy writings, and we will hold our peace. NPNF2: Vol. V, Gregory of Nyssa Against Eunomius, Book 10, §4. (3rd paragraph)

Niceta of Remesiana (335-415): These things beings so, beloved, persevere in the tradition which you have learned. Be true to the pact you made with the Lord, to the profession of faith which you made in the presence of angels and of men. The words of the Creed are few—but all the mysteries are in them. Selected from the whole of Scripture and put together for the sake of brevity, they are like precious gems making a single crown. Thus, all the faithful have sufficient knowledge of salvation, even though many are unable, or too busy with their worldly affairs, to read the Scriptures. FC, Vol. 7, Writings of Niceta of Remesiana, Explanation of the Creed, §13 (New York: Fathers of the Church, Inc., 1949), p. 53. Thus the tradition that has “sufficient knowledge of salvation” is that which is inscripturated.

John Cassian (360-430s?): For, as you know, a Creed (Symbolum) gets its name from being a “collection.” For what is called in Greek suvmboloj is termed in Latin “Collatio.” But it is therefore a collection (collatio) because when the faith of the whole Catholic law was collected together by the apostles of the Lord, all those matters which are spread over the whole body of the sacred writings with immense fullness of detail, were collected together in sum in the matchless brevity of the Creed, according to the Apostle’s words: “Completing His word, and cutting it short in righteousness: because a short word shall the Lord make upon the earth.” This then is the “short word” which the Lord made, collecting together in few words the faith of both of His Testaments, and including in a few brief clauses the drift of all the Scriptures, building up His own out of His own, and giving the force of the whole law in a most compendious and brief formula. Providing in this, like a most tender father, for the carelessness and ignorance of some of his children, that no mind however simple and ignorant might have any trouble over what could so easily be retained in the memory. NPNF2: Vol. 11, On the Incarnation of Christ Against Nestorius, Book 6, Chapter 3.

Cyril of Alexandria (patriarch 412-444): It is best not to love to be moved by the bold assertions of others, since they carry us away to incorrect views, but to make the words of the inspired writers the correct and exact rule of faith. For, it is but right, that we should assent to them rather than to others, and say, ‘It is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father that speaks in you;’ to which the other man in dialogue replies, You have spoken most correctly. Trans. by William Goode, The Divine Rule of Faith and Practice, 2nd ed., 3 Vols. (London: John Henry Jackson, 1853), Vol. 3, p. 183. See Migne, SS. Trinitate Dialogus IV, PG 75:860.

Hope this helps,
DTK
 

AV1611

Puritan Board Senior
Thank you all for your replies.

What the divines said of the whole of scripture is true of each book. In the end we are convinced of the inspiration of each particular book of the bible by the inward witness of the Holy Spirit.

Surely that is wholly subjective and is dependant upon feelings?

Newman in Tract 90 said:
Two important questions, however, it does not settle, viz. whether the Church judges, first, at her sole discretion; next, on her sole responsibility, i. e. first, what the media are by which the Church interprets Scripture, whether by a direct divine gift, or catholic tradition, or critical exegesis of the text, or in any other way; and next, who is to decide whether it interprets Scripture rightly or not;--what is her method, if any; and who is her judge, if any. In other words, not a word is said, on the one hand, in favour of Scripture having no rule or method to fix interpretation by, or, as it is commonly expressed, being the sole rule of faith; nor on the other, of the private judgment of the individual being the ultimate standard of interpretation. So much has been said lately on both these points, and indeed on the whole subject of these two Articles, that it is unnecessary o enlarge upon them; but since it is often supposed to be almost a first principle of our Church, that Scripture is "the rule of faith," it may be well, before passing on, to make an extract from a paper, published some years since, which shows, by instances from our divines, that the application of the phrase to Scripture is but of recent adoption. The other question, about the ultimate judge of the interpretation of Scripture, shall not be entered upon.

"We may dispense with the phrase ‘Rule of Faith,’ as applied to Scripture, on the ground of its being ambiguous; and again, because it is then used in a novel sense; for the ancient Church made the Apostolic Tradition, as summed up in the Creed, and not the Bible, the Regula Fidei, or Rule. Moreover, its use as a technical phrase, seems to be of late introduction in the Church, that is, since the days of King William the Third. Our great divines use it without any fixed sense, sometimes for Scripture, sometimes for the whole and perfectly adjusted Christian doctrine, sometimes for the Creed; and at the risk of being tedious, we will prove this, by quotations, that the point may be put beyond dispute.

"Ussher, after St. Austin, identifies it with the Creed’—when speaking of the Article of our LORD’S Descent to hell, he says,--

"‘It having here likewise been further manifested, what different opinions have been entertained by the ancient Doctors of the Church, concerning the determinate place wherein our Saviour’s soul did remain during the time of the separation of it from the body, I leave it to be considered by the learned, whether any such controverted matter may fitly be brought in to expound the Rule of Faith, which, being common both to the great and small ones of the Church, must contain such varieties only as are generally agreed upon by the common consent of all true Christians.’—Answer to a Jesuit, p. 362.

"Taylor speaks to the same purpose: ‘Let us see with what constancy that and the following ages of the Church did adhere to the Apostles’ Creed, as the sufficient and perfect Rule of Faith.’—Dissuasive, part 2, i. 4, p. 470. Elsewhere he calls Scripture the Rule: ‘That the Scripture is a full and sufficient Rule to Christians in faith and manners, a full and perfect declaration of the Will of GOD, is therefore certain, because we have no other.’ Ibid. part 2, i. 2, p. 384. Elsewhere, Scriptures and the Creed: ‘He hath, by His wise Providence, preserved the plain places of Scripture and the Apostles’ Creed, in all Churches, to be the Rule and Measure of Faith, by which all Churches are saved.’—Ibid. part 2, i. 1, p. 346. Elsewhere he identifies it with Scripture, the Creeds, and the first four Councils: ‘We also [after Scripture] do believe the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene, with the additions of Constantinople, and that which is commonly called the symbol of St. Athanasius; and the four first General Councils are so entirely admitted by us, that they, together with the plain words of Scripture, are made the Rule and Measure of judging heresies among us.’—Ibid. part 1, i. p 131.

"Laud calls the Creed, or rather the Creed with Scripture, the Rule. ‘Since the Fathers make the Creed the Rule of Faith; since the agreeing sense of Scripture with those Articles are the Two Regular Precepts, by which a divine is governed about his faith,’ &c.--Conference with Fisher, p. 42.

Bramhall also: ‘The Scripture and the Creed are not two different Rules of Faith, but one and the same Rule, dilated in Scripture, contracted in the Creed.’—Works, p. 402. Stillingfleet says the same (Grounds, i, 4. 3.); as does Thorndike (De Rat. fin. Controv. p. 144 &c.). Elsewhere, Stillingfleet calls Scripture the Rule (Ibid. i. 6. 2.); as does Jackson (vol. i. p. 226). But the most complete and decisive statement on the subject is contained in Field’s work on the Church, from which shall follow a long extract.

"‘It remained to show,’ he says, ‘what is he Rule of that judgment whereby the Church discerneth between truth and falsehood, the faith and heresy, and to whom it properly pertaineth to interpret those things which, touching this Rule, are doubtful. The Rule of our Faith in general, whereby we know it to be true, is the infinite excellency of GOD..... It being pre-supposed in he generality that the doctrine of the Christian faith is of GOD, and containeth nothing but heavenly truth, in the next place, we are to inquire by what Rule we are to judge of particular things contained within the compass of it

"‘ This Rule is, 1. The summary comprehension of such principal articles of this divine knowledge, as are the principles whence all other things are concluded and inferred. These are contained in the Creed of the Apostles.

"‘All such things as every Christian is bound expressly to believe, by the light and direction whereof he judgeth of other things, which are not absolutely necessary so particularly to be known. These are rightly said to be the Rule of our Faith, because the principles of every science are the Rule whereby we judge of the truth of all things, as being better and more generally known than any other thing, and the cause of knowing them.

"‘3. The analogy, due proportion, and correspondence, that one thing in this divine knowledge hath with another, so that men cannot err in one of them without erring in another; nor rightly understand one, but they must likewise rightly conceive the rest.

"‘4. Whatsoever Books were delivered unto us, as written by them, to whom the first and immediate revelation of the divine truth was made.

"‘5. Whatsoever hath been delivered by all the saints with one consent, which have left their judgment and opinion in writing.

"‘6. Whatsoever the most famous have constantly and uniformly delivered, as a matter of faith, no one contradicting, though many other ecclesiastical writers be silent, and say nothing of it.

"‘7. That which the most, and most famous in every age, constantly delivered as a mater of faith, and as received of them that went before them, in such sort that the contradictory and gainsayers were in their beginnings noted for singularity, novelty, and division, and afterwards, in process of time, if they persisted in such contradiction, charged with heresy.

"‘These three latter Rules of our Faith we admit, not because they are equal with the former, and originally in themselves contain the direction of our Faith, but because nothing can be delivered, with such and so full consent of the people of GOD, as in them is expressed, but it must need be from those first authors and founders of our Christian profession. The Romanists add unto these the decrees of Councils and determination of Popes, making these also to be the Rules of Faith; but because we have no proof of their infallibility, we number them not with the rest.

"‘Thus we see how many things, in several degrees and sorts, are said to be Rules of our Faith. The infinite excellency of GOD, as that whereby the truth of heavenly doctrine is proved. The Articles of Faith, and other verities ever expressly known in the Church as the first principles, are the Canon by which we judge of conclusions from thence inferred. The Scripture, as containing in it all that doctrine of Faith which Christ the Son of God delivered. The uniform practice and consenting judgment of tem that went before us, as a certain and undoubted explication of the things contained in the Scripture. .... So then, we do not make Scripture the Rule of our Father, but that other things in their are Rules likewise; in such sort that it is not safe, without respect had unto them, to judge things by the Scripture alone,’ &c.—iv. 14. pp. 364, 365.

"These extracts show not only what the Anglican doctrine is, but, in particular, that the phrase ‘Rule of Faith’ is no symbolical expression with us, appropriated to some one sense; certainly not as a definition or attribute of Holy Scripture. And it is important to insist upon this, from the very great misconception to which the phrase gives rise. Perhaps its use had better to be avoided altogether. In the sense in which it is commonly understood at this day, Scripture, it is plain, is not, on Anglican principles, the Rule of Faith."
(http://anglicanhistory.org/tracts/tract90/section1.html)
 

Civbert

Puritan Board Junior
I will say more if I find the time, but the man's first premise regarding sola Scriptura is wrong. Protestants do not claim that all revealed truth is found in Holy Scripture, upon which he builds his entire argument. We claim that all necessary revealed truth is found in Holy Scripture, and that the Bible is the only infallible, extant body of special revelation for the Church today. Romanists begin the way this author does so that they don't have the bear the burden of proving their truth claims concerning extrabiblical revelation. Again, he begins with a false premise and constructs his house of cards on that sand.

DTK

To be sure, not all truth is revealed in Scripture, but the Reformed position seems to be that the Bible alone is the Word of God. 1 This doesn't leave room for extra-biblical revelation. And that was the point the reformers were trying to make - that nothing but the Bible is to be considered revelation. 2 The Bible is "the whole counsel of God". While it may not convey all possible truths, or all the knowledge of God, it does contain all that God has revealed that are necessary for life, salvation, faith, and God's glory.

The recognition of the canon itself is not God-breathed revelation. Rather the canon is the result of revelation; It’s an artifact of revelation. Notice Augustine’s testimony; even though his canon included the apocrypha, nonetheless, he recognized the principle that the Holy Spirit established (rather than revealed) the canon for the church, and not by the Church...

This is a critical point. Without the Holy Spirit's roll in directing our minds to understand Scriptural truths, then Reformed case for Sola Scriptura would be pointless.

Surely that is wholly subjective and is dependent upon feelings?
Based on feelings - maybe. If conviction is a feeling. Subjective, not in the least. The Holy Spirit does not simply give us positive feelings to some vague truth, he transforms our minds so that we are convicted of the immutable and perfect truth of Scripture. We believe exactly what the Holy Spirit intends for us to believe. Our beliefs are subject to the will of the perfect mind of God.

******************

Footnotes:
1
(WCF 1:6a) 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
Please note the comma after "God". The complete phrase is "The whole counsel of God is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture. The dependent clause, "concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith, and life", explains the purpose of the "whole counsel of God".​
2
(WCF 1:6b) unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men (Gal_1:8, Gal_1:9; 2Th_2:2; 2Ti_3:15-17).
 

DTK

Puritan Board Junior
You wrote: I have not read anything directed specifically at them no. Do you know of any?
Yes, I do. It is surprising to me that someone in the UK would aware of any of the Tractarians’ works and yet be unaware of the many contemporary responses to them. In his work, Evangelical Theology 1833–1856: A Response to Tractarianism (Atlanta: John Knox, 1979), Peter Toon has listed some 128 Anglican Evangelical works, and another 14 Non–Anglican writings, all of which were contemporary replies to the Tractarian party of the day. Goode’s two editions of The Divine Rule of Faith and Practice were replies to Newman both before (1842) and after (1853) his conversion to Rome. Of Goode’s work, Toon writes:

Without any doubt the most learned and elaborate reply to the Tractarian doctrine of Tradition came from the pen of William Goode. Taking over 1200 pages The Divine Rule of Faith and Practice…defended the position that Holy Scripture has been and is the sole, divine Rule of Faith and practice to the Church. Edward Hawkins, Provost of Oriel, from whom Newman had learned to look carefully at Tradition…appreciated Goode’s work calling it ‘a learned discussion’; and the Bishop of Chichester, Dr. Gilbert, presented copies of it to the deacons whom he ordained. Evangelicals thought it struck a death–blow at Tractarianism. Peter Toon, Evangelical Theology 1833–1856: A Response to Tractarianism (Atlanta: John Knox, 1979), p. 117.

DTK
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Yes, I do. It is surprising to me that someone in the UK would aware of any of the Tractarians’ works and yet be unaware of the many contemporary responses to them. In his work, Evangelical Theology 1833–1856: A Response to Tractarianism (Atlanta: John Knox, 1979), Peter Toon has listed some 128 Anglican Evangelical works, and another 14 Non–Anglican writings, all of which were contemporary replies to the Tractarian party of the day. Goode’s two editions of The Divine Rule of Faith and Practice were replies to Newman both before (1842) and after (1853) his conversion to Rome. Of Goode’s work, Toon writes:



DTK

See Peter Toon's work online here.
 

AV1611

Puritan Board Senior
Yes, I do. It is surprising to me that someone in the UK would aware of any of the Tractarians’ works and yet be unaware of the many contemporary responses to them. In his work, Evangelical Theology 1833–1856: A Response to Tractarianism (Atlanta: John Knox, 1979), Peter Toon has listed some 128 Anglican Evangelical works, and another 14 Non–Anglican writings, all of which were contemporary replies to the Tractarian party of the day. Goode’s two editions of The Divine Rule of Faith and Practice were replies to Newman both before (1842) and after (1853) his conversion to Rome. Of Goode’s work, Toon writes:



DTK

Thank you for this :) (For what it's worth: we all have our blind spots).

See Peter Toon's work online here.

Thanks a lot for this :up:
 
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