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  • Writer's pictureScott Carr, Jr.

Authority of Scripture

"We receive all these books and these only as holy and canonical, for the regulating, founding, and establishing of our faith. And we believe without a doubt all things contained in them—not so much because the church receives and approves them as such but above all because the Holy Spirit testifies in our hearts that they are from God, and also because they prove themselves to be from God. For even the blind themselves are able to see that the things predicted in them do happen." Belgic Confession Article 5

I would not expect the reasons for believing the Scriptures listed in Belgic ConfessionArticle 5 to be compelling to a non-believer. The Confession itself says we believe Scripture “because the Holy Spirit testifies in our hearts that they are from God.” Belief in Scripture should not be expected from a person in whom the Holy Spirit has not yet begun to work. Even the best of al arguments in defense of Scripture and its authority are not enough to overwhelm all of our biases and experiences which contribute to a rejection of Scripture. It is only the work of the Spirit to bring someone to an affirmation Scripture’s authority. Yet for a believer, the work of the Spirit is sufficient reason for accepting its authority. Knowing that our loving God has promised His Word is the Scriptures is all we need to trust that His Word is in them. However, I will confess there is an element in the Confession which does not sufficiently explain how I accept Scripture as authoritative. “We believe without a doubt all things contained in them-not so much because the Church receives and approves them as such…” While I do agree that the emphasis on Scripture’s authority comes from the Holy Spirit, for me, an essential part of recognizing the voice of the Holy Spirit is hearing how the Church Catholic has heard His voice. Part of how I recognize the Spirit’s testimony of Scripture’s authority is because the Church hasreceived and approved them as such. I would have appreciated the Confession reflecting on how the Church together witnesses to the testimony of the Spirit. Yet in an era when there was no consensus on what the church was and a church which had abused its authority, it makes sense that the Confession would not emphasize the role of the Church.

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