Glorifying God Together
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'No Creed But the Bible', is Not Biblical

Zach Putthoff Written by 
Tuesday, 11 February 2014 17:32

One of the foundational theological convictions of our church is the sufficiency of Scripture. We believe and preach the principle of Sola Scriptura, which says that Scripture is the only infallible authority of Christian faith and practice. God has given us many authorities – the Bible, the church, Bible teachers, pastors, church leaders, etc – but Scripture is the only infallible authority. It is the only authority that God has given us that will not fail or error at some point. This is one of the biblical principles that sparked the Protestant Reformation, and we gladly embrace it at SCC.

A lot of well meaning Christians who believe in the sufficiency of Scripture, however, seem to misunderstand the vital principle of Sola Scriptura, and apply it in an unbiblical way. These Christians make it seem like they believe teachers of the Bible are somehow not necessary. They don’t like to read Christian books. They’re not really interested in what others say about the Bible or about what a passage in the Bible means. They don’t want to go to groups and studies that are focused around a book written by another man, because they believe that only studies that study the Bible directly are worth their time.

Now, on the one hand, I get what they’re intending, at least most of them. They’re acknowledging the authority of the Bible and wanting it to have its rightful place as the final and ultimate authority of our faith. And in this desire, I am right there with them.

But, I think their resistance against human teachers is actually a self-defeating and self-contradicting position. It's just not possible to have "no creed but the Bible."

It is not possible, because “no creed but the Bible” is itself a creed. Carl Trueman explains…

“Christians are not divided between those who have creeds and confessions and those who do not; rather, they are divided between those who have public creeds and confessions which are written down and exist as public documents, subject to public scrutiny, evaluation, and critique; and those who have private creeds and confessions which are often improvised, unwritten, and thus not open to public scrutiny, not susceptible to evaluation and, crucially and ironically, not subject to testing by scripture to see whether they are true or not.” (Carl Trueman, The Creedal Imperative)

And ironically, not even the Bible advocates such a position. In the words of the Apostle Paul, when Jesus ascended to his Father, he actually gave gifts to the Church; gifts like apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers”; people who are given to the church to (at least in part) explain the Word of God to the people (Ephesians 4:11-13).

The whole “no creed but the Bible” position is actually a mistreatment of the Reformed doctrine of Sola Scriptura. Some have put a label on this, calling it the principle of Solo Scriptura. In the days of the Reformation, the doctrine meant that the Bible was and is the sole infallible authority of our faith and practice. Today however, many have twisted the doctrine to now treat the Bible as the sole authority…period! The problem is, as Keith Mathison points out, is that “if a proponent of solo scriptura is honest, he recognizes that it is not the infallible Scripture to which he ultimately appeals. His appeal is always to his own fallible interpretation of that Scripture.”

The result of this is an extremely individualistic reading of Scripture that gives far too much weight to person and private interpretations of the Bible. And when this happens, people begin listening not to the true voice of God in the Bible (which can only be discerned through a faithful and careful and consistent method of interpretation) – but themselves.

Which means, not only is the position not possible – it is actually not biblical at all. “No creed but the Bible” is actually a creed in and of itself that goes against the direct teaching of Scripture.

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