The Second London Confession on the Doctrine of Scripture -- By: Robert P. Martin

Journal: Reformed Baptist Theological Review
Volume: RBTR 05:1 (Jan 2008)
Article: The Second London Confession on the Doctrine of Scripture
Author: Robert P. Martin


The Second London Confession on the Doctrine of Scripture

Part 3: The Authority of the Scriptures (1.4-5)

Robert P. Martin*

Dr. Robert P. Martin is Pastor of Emmanuel Reformed Baptist Church, Seattle, Washington, and Editor of Reformed Baptist Theological Review.

The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man or church, but wholly upon God (who is truth itself), the author thereof; therefore it is to be received because it is the Word of God.

We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the church of God to an high and reverent esteem of the Holy Scriptures; and the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, and the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole (which is to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man’s salvation, and many other incomparable excellencies, and entire perfections thereof, are arguments whereby it doth abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God; yet notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth, and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.

In the logical unfolding of the doctrine of Scripture, the next subject addressed by our Confession is the authority of the Bible. Having established the Scriptures’ necessity, in order to our having “a sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience,” having established their identity over against the Apocrypha and other merely human writings–the distinguishing mark separating them being the fact of divine inspiration, our Confession now expresses the classic Reformed doctrine of the authority of the Holy Scriptures. The Confession treats this subject in two paragraphs. This, of course, is not accidental. As Sam Waldron says,

The development of thought in paragraphs 4 and 5 makes use of the classic theological distinction between the authority of the Word in itself (quoad se) and its authority with us (quoad nos). This theological distinction is based on the difference between two questions which may be asked about the authority of the Bible: ‘Why is the Bible

authoritative?’ and ‘How do we know that the Bible is the Word of God and, thus, authoritative?’ While . . . these two questions and their answers are intimately related, they are logically distinct. While paragraph 4 says nothing about our confidence in the Bible, but only speaks impersonally of the authority of the Bible in itself,

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