The Ground of Our Religion

What is the difference between the Roman Catholic view of Scripture & tradition and the Reformed understanding of it?  Richard Muller summarizes it quite well in Post Reformation-Reformed Dogmatics Volume Two: Holy Scripture.  There is more to his discussion, but here’s one helpful paragraph.

“The Reformed orthodox stand in accord with the Reformers in their assertion that ‘Scripture is the rule of faith and manners [life matters]’ or of ‘faith and life’ and has, for this reason, been called ‘canonical’ since the time of the fathers.  Scripture must be this rule inasmuch as ‘the ground of our religion and the rule of faith and of all saving truth is the Word of God, contained in the holy Scripture.’”

“This assumption stands in direct antithesis to the Roman claim of the coequality of Scripture and tradition.  In the Roman model, Scripture serves as a ‘foundation to tradition,’ and tradition serves to remedy the ‘deficiency’ of Scripture, inasmuch as Scripture does not contain all the truths necessary to salvation.  Indeed, there are Roman traditions that have no foundation whatsoever in Scripture.”

“What is more, in the Roman view, the interpretation of the tradition belongs to the bishop of Rome: this is directly counter to the Reformed and Protestant teaching, which assumes that Scripture alone is the norm of doctrine and the sole source of revelation, ‘rejecting all verbal Tradition in reference to things necessary to salvation.’  Even so, writes [Edward] Leigh, Scripture is a ‘worthy’ canon or ‘rule of religion, faith and godliness, according whereunto the building of the house of God may be fitted.’”

“The Protestant orthodox interest in religion is parallel to their interest in Scripture as the sole ground of religion: their stress is on the right relationship between God and humanity and on the way in which Scripture and faith in the truth of Scripture offer a foundation not for religion in general, but for right religion, the Christian religion.”

In these paragraphs, Muller was quoting from Edward Leigh, the Westminster Confession, the Irish Articles, and William Ames.  The entire section can be found on pages 345-370 of the second volume of Post Reformation Reformed Dogmatics.

shane lems
hammond, wi
covenant presbyterian church (OPC)

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