The online Bible teaching ministry of John Brand

SOLA SCRIPTURE THE PROTESTANT POSITION: The Protestant Position on the Bible

There are few doctrines more important than that of the nature and authority of Scripture, and few doctrines more under sustained onslaught by Satan; whether it be through full frontal denials by heretics and liberals or the more subtle undermining of its rule as evidenced by many contemporary church practices and teachings. This helpful volume is not simply an explanation of the biblical teaching on Scripture’s authority, but analysis and rebuttal of the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church which, of course, vehemently denies what was one of the underpinning tenets of the Reformation.

Robert Godfrey opens with a clear explanation of the true meaning and implication of Sola Scriptura, setting it against the Roman emphasis on ‘tradition’ and showing that “the real authority for Rome is neither Scripture nor tradition, but the church.”

James White examines the views of early church fathers like Irenaeus and Augustine and shows how the “Roman apologists are forced to misrepresent the patristic materials badly, and to engage in…’anachronistic interpretation’, the reading back into ancient sources concepts and ideas that were not in the original contexts at all.”

R C Sproul exposes the differences between the Roman and Protestant views on the canon of Scripture. “The church did not establish the canon; the canon established the church. The church simply recognised the canon and submitted to its rule….The church does not create Scripture but receives it (recipimus), submitting to an authority that is already there.” In typically astute Sproul fashion, he shows how an inadequate view of the canon leads to serious consequences and is not limited to Rome or even to liberals but embraced by some bearing the label ‘evangelical’ who speak of such terms as ‘limited inerrancy’ and an ‘organic view of Scripture’. The result of this rejection of the ultimate authority of Scripture, asserts Sproul, is that “Perhaps we are living in the most antinomian period in church history.”

Derek Thomas tackles The Authority of Scripture in what I personally found to be one of the most helpful sections of the book. Thomas weds the issue of authority to a correct hermentical approach to Scripture and concludes by saying that “The doctrine of Scripture’s absolute and unchallengeable authority is, in the end, a christological issue. The question we have to ask ourselves is this: Am I willing to hold to a different view of Scripture than the one Jesus held to?”

John MacArthur brings his trademark forensic approach to a number of Bible texts that the Roman Church claims “justify the existence of extrabiblical tradition” while Sinclair Ferguson examines whether there is any real movement on Rome’s part toward the Reformed position. As you read chapters like this you are grateful that God has gifted such men to read extensively and analyse so carefully for the benefit of us lesser mortals. Following careful examination of the evidence, Ferguson concludes that while “major development has taken place, then, in Roman Catholic interpretation of Scripture…it is now clearer than ever…that the Roman Catholic Church cannot and will not subscribe to Sola Scriptura.”

If the previous chapters stretched the mind – and they certainly did – the closing chapter by Joel Beeke and Ray Lanning intensely warms the heart as they look at the Transforming Power of Scripture. “If half the strength spent in attacking or defending the Bible would be devoted to knowing and living the Scriptures, how many more would fall under the sway of their transforming power.” The authors examine the biblical analogies of lamp, hammer, sword and seed and then, in some of the most helpful application I have come across on the subject, lay out the power of the Scriptures to transform as it is read, preached, heard and sung.

If we err on this doctrine we will likely err on all others, so we need to be reminded again and again of what we believe and why? Thank God for such faithful, trusted and able men as the contributors to this welcome volume.

For the purpose of review, I received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher. I was under no obligation to write a positive review.

EVANGELICAL PRESS; 2nd ed. edition (23 July 2009) Review written in 2011

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