Stockport Evangelical Church

Stockport Evangelical Church
"And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." (Galatians 6:9 KJV)

Monday, 4 August 2014

Arminius on the Authority of the Bible.

Jacob Arminius
The rule of Theological Verity [truth] is not two-fold, one Primary and the other Secondary; but it is one and simple, the Sacred Scriptures. The Scriptures are the rule of all Divine Verity, from themselves, in themselves, and through themselves: And it is a rash assertion that "they are indeed the rule, but only when understood according to the meaning of the [Belgic] Confession of the Dutch Churches, or when explained by the interpretation of the Heidelberg Catechism." No writing composed by men -- by one man, by few men, or by many -- (with the exception of the Holy Scriptures) is either "credible of itself," or "of itself deserving of implicit credence," and, therefore, is not exempted from an examination to be instituted by means of the Scriptures.

It is a thoughtless assertion that "the Confession and Catechism are called in question when they are subjected to examination:" For they have never been placed beyond the hazard of being called in doubt, nor can they be so placed. It is tyrannical and Popish to bind the consciences of men by human writings [of which the Dutch, Dortian Calvinists were overtly guilty] and to hinder them from being submitted to a legitimate examination under what pretext soever such tyrannical conduct is adopted.[1]

The authority of the word of God, which is comprised in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, lies both in the veracity of the whole narration, and of all the declarations, whether they be those about things past, about things present, or about those which are to come; and in the power of the commands and prohibitions, which are contained in the Divine word. Both of these kinds of authority can depend on no other than on God, who is the principal Author of this word; both because He is Truth without suspicion of falsehood, and because He is of Power invincible. On this account, the knowledge alone that this word is Divine is obligatory on our belief and obedience; and so strongly is it binding that this obligation can be augmented by no external authority.[2]

In what manner or respect soever the church may be contemplated, she can do nothing to confirm this authority: For she also is indebted to this word for all her own authority; and she is not a church unless she have previously exercised faith in this word as being divine, and have engaged to obey it. Wherefore, in any way to suspend the authority of the Scriptures on the church is to deny that God is of sufficient veracity and supreme power, and that the church herself is a church.[3]

[1] James Arminius, "Certain Articles to be Diligently Examined and Weighed," The Works of Arminius, the London Edition, three volumes, trans. James and William Nichols (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1996), 2:706.

[2] Arminius, Disputation VI: "On the Authority and Certainty on the Holy Scriptures," 2:324-35.

[3] Ibid., 325.