The Rule of Faith and Practice, Summary

In summary, the debate with Rome comes down to two options: 1) a man has to interpret the Bible for himself (fallibly), or 2) to interpret the teachings of the Pope (fallibly). For the Bible Christian, the Word of God is the life-giving Gospel message and rule of life, and therefore designed to be read, understood, and obeyed. For the Roman Catholic, the Bible is authoritative alongside the teaching authority of the Pope, but only in so far as Scripture is interpreted by the Pope. The Romanist then, is left with the dizzying and most difficult task of trying to interpret centuries of dogmas, decrees, encyclicals, regional councils, ecumenical councils, canons, catechisms, tradition, etc. – all the work of men.

Roman Catholic Authority

Dogmatic Decrees of the Vatican Council, Chap. 4

“Therefore faithfully adhering to the tradition received from the beginning of the Christian faith, for the glory of God our Saviour, the exaltation of the Catholic religion, and the salvation of Christian people, the sacred Council approving, we teach and define that it is a dogma divinely revealed: That the Roman Pontiff when he speaks ex cathedra, that is, when in discharge of the office of pastor and doctor of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to he held by the universal Church, by the divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter, is possessed of the infallibility with which the divine Redeemer willed that his Church should be endowed for defining doctrine according to faith and morals; and that therefore such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are irreformable of themselves, and not from the consent of the church. But if any one—which may God avert—presume to contradict this our definition: let him be anathema.”

Protestant Authority

Baptist Confession of Faith, Chapter 1, Sections 1 and 4

The Holy Scriptures are the only sufficient, certain and infallible rule for saving knowledge, faith, and obedience. …Holy Scripture demands belief, yet its authority does not depend on the testimony of any person or church, but entirely on God its author, who is truth itself. Therefore it is to be received because it is the Word of God

Relevant Scriptures

Taken from AA Hodge, Outlines of Theology, Chap 5

  1. Scriptures are the Word of God -1 Pet 1:20 – For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

    2 Tim 3:16 – All scripture is given by inspiration of God…

  2. Christ gives Scripture its authority (not the Church) -John 5:39 – Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
  3. The Scriptures Contain All We Need for Salvation -John 17:17 – Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

    John 20:31 – But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

    2 Tim 3:15-17 – And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

    2 Pet 1:19 – We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts

  4. The nobility of studying the Scriptures -Acts 17:11 – These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

    Rev 1:3 – Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.

    Isaiah 8:20 – To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

  5. Nothing can be added to (or taken from) the Scriptures -Mark 7:6-7 – He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

    Rev 22:18-19 – For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

    Dt 4:2 – Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.

    Dt 12:32 – What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.

    Joshua 1:7 – Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper withersoever thou goest.


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