The Authority Of Scripture -- By: David Foster Estes

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 055:219 (Jul 1898)
Article: The Authority Of Scripture
Author: David Foster Estes


The Authority Of Scripture1

Professor David Foster Estes

The National Congregational Council of 1895 proposed to other Protestant evangelical churches church union based upon: “1. The acceptance of the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments inspired by the Holy Spirit, as containing all things necessary for salvation, and as being the rule and ultimate standard of Christian faith.” To this statement the Congregational creed of 1883 is closely parallel, which makes the declaration (Art. V.) that the Scriptures “constitute the authoritative standard by which religious teaching and human conduct are to be regulated and judged.” Our Congregational brethren, then, both accept the Scriptures . as authoritative, as, indeed, the ultimate standard of religious authority, and also lay such stress on this acceptance as to make it the first requisite for church union.

At the same time, however, it cannot be denied that the faith which our Congregational brethren have set in the forefront of their declaration is not to-day the faith of all. Not only do some within the pale of the Protestant evangelical churches to which they appeal, hold this view only loosely and half-heartedly, but there are a few at least who deliberately set aside and reject the authority of Scripture. A teacher of theology, discussing “The Theological Teaching for the Times,” lately declared: “The theological task to-day in all Western Christendom is the complete rejection of the false principle of authority.

Not an infallible church tradition, not an infallible church office, not an infallible canon of Scripture, only religion has sovereign right in the kingdom of religion. Today faith seeks freedom from these false principles of authority.”2

Now, while it must be recognized that there exists today, to a greater or less degree, a hostility to the authority of Scripture as to all authority in religion, which finds clear expression in the words just quoted, it is also to be remembered that this hostility is so far from being alarming or even surprising, that it is to be expected in view of the natural tendencies of the time. Of course this does not mean that all who may object to the authority of the Scriptures necessarily share all, or indeed any, of the characteristics of the age which are to be noted; but, even though unconsciously to themselves, men may be, must be, affected by the spirit of the age, as by the atmosphere in which they live. Of what sort, then, is the age, to the subtle influence of which we all are unceasingly exposed, and which may be molding us, intellectually and spiritual...

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