Belgic Confession: The sufficiency of Holy Scripture

6 Oct

[TheReformedMind comment]: It has been said that evangelicals, particularly the Southern Baptist Convention, spent too much time in the 1970s defending the inerrancy of scripture and not enough time defending (and practicing) the sufficiency of scripture.  Consequently, you end up with an inerrant book that is scarcely used and trusted as the basis of worship and the Christian life while other man-made and man-centered methods, topics, and activities are favored over the simple teaching and preaching of the Word of God for equipping the saints.  Key entry this week:


We believe that this Holy Scripture fully contains the will of God and that all that man must believe in order to be saved is sufficiently taught therein.1 The whole manner of worship which God requires of us is written in it at length. It is therefore unlawful for any one, even for an apostle, to teach otherwise than we are now taught in Holy Scripture:2 yes, even if it be an angel from heaven, as the apostle Paul says (Gal 1:8). Since it is forbidden to add to or take away anything from the Word of God (Deut 12:32),3 it is evident that the doctrine thereof is most perfect and complete in all respects.4

We may not consider any writings of men, however holy these men may have been, of equal value with the divine Scriptures; nor ought we to consider custom, or the great multitude, or antiquity, or succession of times and persons, or councils, decrees or statutes, as of equal value with the truth of God, since the truth is above all;5 for all men are of themselves liars, and lighter than a breath (Psalm 62:9). We therefore reject with all our heart whatever does not agree with this infallible rule,6 as the apostles have taught us: Test the spirits to see whether they are of God (1 John 4:1). Likewise: If any one comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting (2 John 1:10).

1. 2 Tim 3:16-17; 1 Pet 1:10-12. 2. 1 Cor 15:2; 1 Tim 1:3. 3. Deut 4:2; Prov 30:6; Acts 26:22; 1 Cor 4:6; Rev 22:18-19. 4. Psalm 19:7; John 15:15; Acts 18:28; Acts 20:27; Rom 15:4. 5. Mark 7:7-9; Acts 4:19; Col 2:8; 1 John 2:19. 6. Deut 4:5-6; Isa 1:20; 1 Cor 3:11; Eph 4:4-6; 2 Thes 2:2; 2 Tim 3:14-15.

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2 Responses to “Belgic Confession: The sufficiency of Holy Scripture”

  1. J. Palmer October 6, 2014 at 8:27 am #

    “We may not consider any writings of men, however holy these men may have been, of equal value with the divine Scriptures…”

    But wasn’t it holy men, like Paul for instance, who wrote the scriptures? Was there a specific time when God set the scriptures as permanent, and if so, was that before or after the Catholic church tinkered with them?


    • thereformedmind October 6, 2014 at 9:14 am #

      Good question. First, the Belgic Confession is saying that no writing of any man, apostle of otherwise is on the same level of authority as scripture. The apostles wrote other things, for instance, besides what we find in scripture. Yet, they are not equally authoritative. Conversely, the canonical status of writings of non-apostles (Luke, author of Hebrews) show us that their writings receive their authority because they are self-authenticating and self-attesting sacred scripture, not because of the church office of the author.


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