“Blogging the Institutes” is my on-going attempt to paraphrase John Calvin’s work, the Institutes of the Christian Religion. You can find out more about the series in the Introduction. For all the posts in this series, check out the Master List.
Sugar is Sweet; Scripture is Truth
The belief that the church has authority over the Scriptures is refuted by one single verse from the apostle Paul. Paul testifies that the church is “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets” (Ephesians 2:20). If the teachings of the apostles and prophets are the foundation of the church, then they must have existed prior to the church. And thus, the church could never be built upon something which didn’t have prior authority. Now, some people might respond by arguing that although the church came after the Scriptural writings, the Bible didn’t have authority until the church determined which writings were in the canon. Yet, if the church was founded on the teachings of the apostles and prophets, then those teachings were certainly approved of by the church because if they church didn’t approve those teachings, she would have never existed in the first place!
Therefore, the whole idea that the church has the authority over the Scriptures is nonsense. When the church received the truth and placed her “stamp” on it, she wasn’t determine the Scriptures’ authority. Rather, she was acknowledging it as the truth from God and proclaiming her duty to submit to it with unreserved consent.
Now, people ask: How can we know that the Bible is God’s Word without appealing to the authority of the church? Well, think about this. What if we asked a different set of questions: How can we distinguish between light and darkness? Sweet from bitter? Scripture gives clear evidence of its truth by what it is, just like sweet and bitter things are known by their taste.