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 The Principles of Theology - Article 6

by W.H.Griffith Thomas


<< Part 5. The Supremacy of Holy Scripture

Part 6. The Practical Use of Holy Scripture

The use of Holy Scripture as sufficient and supreme in all essential matters can be applied in various ways.

1. We use it against a Rationalism which is not content without demanding a reason for everything. But, as we have already seen, reason is only one faculty, while religion speaks to all. In the light of what has been said about the duty of verification of revelation by reason, it is obvious that to set up reason as supreme would be to insist upon a false or at least an inadequate and partial criterion. Christ is our authority, and to the spiritual enlightened reason Christ makes His constant appeal.

2. We use it against what is called Mysticism, which in various forms tends to emphasise the inner light as against, or additional to, the written Word. This is a modern danger of real force and seriousness, and it is essential to remember that the Holy Spirit speaks through and according to the Word of God and never contrary to it. [1]

3. We use it against Scepticism. The Bible is a comparatively small book, and yet all that is necessary is found therein. This is a tremendous claim and the question is whether it is justified. The answer is obvious: the Bible has moulded literature, coloured civilisation, affected philosophy, and transformed individuals and races.

4. We use it against an extreme Protestantism or Puritanism. In the sixteenth century men of this type taught that everything is in Scripture, and that nothing else was to be valued in Church life. But the Bible is a book of principles, not of rules, and presupposes natural law, social law, and civic law.[2] As spiritual life is varied it can and must express itself in various ways. So long as individual and Church life is true to the principles of Scripture all outside authority is to be welcomed. Scripture as sufficient and supreme is intended to emphasise things essential as distinct from things beneficial.

5. We use it against Roman Catholicism, which exalts the Church and Church tradition to the place which our Church gives to Holy Scripture. When once the Rule of Faith is settled, all else is really detail. Apart from the Bible as supreme, it is easy to appeal to Church authority and tradition. In the position of the Article, as laid down at the Reformation and maintained ever since, we find the safeguard of purity and the best guarantee of progress because we possess in Scripture the complete requirement of God for Christian faith and life.


>> Introduction to Article 7 (to be added)



[1]See The Holy Spirit of God, Ch. 28.
[2]Hooker, Eccl. Pol., Bk. 1.

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The Principles of Theology

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Article 6

>> Introduction

>> 1 - Canon

>> 2 - Limits of the Canon

>> 3 - Character of Scripture

>> 4 - Sufficiency of Scripture

>> 5 - Supremacy of Scripture

>> 6 - Practical Use of Scripture

Content of The Principles

>> Index

>> Preface by J I Packer

>> Introduction

>> 1 - Trinity

>> 2 - Christ

>> 3 - Descent into Hell

>> 4 - Resurrection

>> 5 - Holy Spirit

>> 6 - Holy Scripture

>> 7 - The Old Testament

>> 8 - The Three Creeds

>> 9 - Of Original or Birth Sin

>> 10 - Of Free Will

>> 11 - Of the Justifcation of Man




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