Friday, October 2, 2009

Not permitted to coin any new doctrine

Calvin's Institutes (1559)
Book 4 of 4 - External Means by which God Invites Us into the Society of Christ and Holds Us Therein

Chapter 8 - the Power of the Church
10-16 - Rejection of infallibility apart from the Word
10. This power of the church doesn't fit at all with what Rome contends. "They would have our faith stand and fall on their decision" at every last council, all of which they say are infallible: "they do not count a man as a Christian unless he firmly consents to all their dogmas."
11. They claim John 16:13 for this, but this promise is meant for all believers individually, as much as for the church corporately.
12. The Church has the gifts she needs (Eph 4:7), but not to perfect infallibility. They claim Eph 5:26-27, but Christ is still cleansing His bride, the church. They claim 1 Tim 3:15. This means the church preserves the Word of God in truth in the world, not that the church establishes the Word.
13. The church's authority is found in the Word, where Christ her head has spoken. We can't say we have the Spirit and thus go beyond the Word. Jesus says the Spirit will remind us of what Jesus already said - John 14:26. Jesus did not speak from Himself, either - John 12:49; 14:10. We are not to go beyond the Word - Deut 4:2; Rev 22:18-19.
14. They claim from John 16:12 that there is an oral authoritative tradition to follow, beside the Scriptures. But "they had already been led into all truth by the Spirit of truth when they put forth their writings."
15. They claim from Matt 18:17 but this relates only to moral discipline from the Word, not setting new doctrine. We should listen to the church, because she speaks the Lord's Word. "The church is not permitted to coin any new doctrine." Anyone can see the danger if we were given this authority.
16. They say the church established infant baptism and Christ being consubstantial with the Father, but these doctrines they exposited from Scripture, not new doctrine they made up.

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