I’ve been reading through the 3 vol. set, Holy Scripture: The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith by William Webster and David King. Several evangelicals have “swam the Tiber” in recent years, but what is more scandalous is that some Reformed Christians seem to be following suit. In reading their “testimonies,” whether online at websites devoted to promoting apostasy, or in print venues calling people to “return home,” I’m finding how many ex-Reformed people first stumbled over the Biblical doctrine of sola scriptura. In light of this, I’ve been doing more reading on this topic.
In vol. 1, A Biblical Defense of the Reformation Principle of Sola Scriptura, David King does an outstanding job exegeting scripture relevant to the debate, in additional to tracking the history of exegesis. Noting how several of the church fathers interpret texts in ways vastly different than modern day Roman apologists, King is able to demonstrate that the so-called “consent of the fathers” is grossly overstated. Indeed the vast and substantial disagreements that exist even among present day Roman theologians should disabuse anyone of the claim that sola scriptura is to blame for all theological disagreements.
I could (and eventually hope to) interact more with these (and other) compelling volumes in defense of this important doctrine. But I thought I’d post a quote noting how believers should treat scripture, in light of its formal sufficiency and its perspicuity. King writes:
Scripture itself gives very clear instruction as to the responsibility of believers with respect to the word of God:
1.) We are to desire the word of God. The scriptures are to be the daily nourishment of the people of God. It is necessary to read and study them daily to receive spiritual sustenance. Peter commanded his readers to ‘desire the pure milk of the word that you may grow thereby’ (1 Pet 2:2).
2.) We are to meditate in the Law of God day and night. See Joshua 1:8 and Psalm 1, cited above. The Psalmist says, ‘I will meditate on Your precepts’ (Ps. 119:15, 78) and ‘Oh, how I love Your Law! It is my meditation all the day’ (Ps. 119:97). The Psalmist shares the reason for his wisdom, ‘You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; For they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, For Your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, Because I keep your precepts’ (Ps. 119:98-100). ‘Through Your precepts I get understanding’ (Ps. 119:104).
3.) We are to tremble at God’s word, i.e., reverence it. ‘But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, And who trembles at My word’ (Is. 66:2).
4.) We are to memorize God’s word. ‘Your Word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against you’ (Ps. 119:11). ‘Let the word of Christ dwell in your richly …’ (Col 3:16). The word cannot dwell in us richly unless it is memorized, so the implication of the text is clear.
5.) We are to obey God’s word. ‘How shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word’ (Ps. 119:9).
6.) We are to pray to God for understanding of his word. ‘Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law’ (Ps. 119:18). ‘Incline my heart to Your testimonies, and not to covetousness’ (Ps. 119:36). ‘Give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments’ (Ps. 119:73).
Holy Scripture: The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith, Vol. 1, pgs. 210-211.
Thankfully Romanism does not consistently adhere to its “infallible” councils, and now not only permits the average lay-person to read scripture, but “forcefully and specifically exhorts all the Christian faithful … to learn ‘the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ,’ by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures. ‘Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ'” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 133 – King sketches this progression on pgs. 211-218). We can only hope that renewed study of the Bible by Romanists will lead many to embrace the gospel of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, on account of Christ alone.
As for we who already find the sufficiency and perspicuity of scripture self-evident, would that we might continually flee to God’s word and drink up the life giving words contained therein unto the nourishment of our souls!