Order of Contents
Where to Start?
“Where should you begin? Read a persuasive, little book by D. Martyn Lloyd Jones titled Authority… which is a clarion call to return to the authority of Christ, the Word, and the Holy Spirit.” – Joel Beeke
Crampton, Gary – The Bible: God’s Word Buy (1989) 170 pp.
Calvin, John – ‘Of the Power of the Church in Articles of Faith’ 17 pp. being Bk. 4, ch. 8 of The Institutes of the Christian Religion
In this masterful treatment, the reformer proves from Scripture that the Church derives all of her authority from the Word, is under it, that the Word is sufficient, and that the Church regulated in doctrine, worship and government by the Word. One of the best chapters in Calvin’s Institutes.
Whitaker, William – 3rd Question – ‘Of the Authority of Scripture’ in A Disputation on Holy Scripture, Against the Papists, Especially Bellarmine & Stapleton (1588; Cambridge: Parker Society, 1849)
Willet, Andrew – 4th Question – The Authority of the Scriptures in the First Controversy, the Holy Scriptures in Synopsis Papismi (London, 1592)
Walaeus, Antonius – Disputation 2 – ‘On the Necessity & Authority of Scripture’ in Synopsis of a Purer Theology Buy (1625; Brill, 2015), vol. 1
Leigh, Edward – Ch. 2 – ‘Of the Divine Authority of the Scriptures’ in A System or Body of Divinity (London, 1654), First Book, ‘Of the Scriptures’
Binning, Hugh – Lecture 3, ‘The Authority & Utility of the Scriptures’ on 2 Tim. 3:16 in The Common Principles of the Christian Religion in The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning ed. Leishman 3rd ed. (Edinburgh: 1851), pp. 12-16
ed. Schmid, Heinrich – ‘Authority of the Scriptures’ 13 pp. being ch. 4, section 8 of Doctrinal Theology of the Evangelical Lutheran Church
This work is a standard anthology of translated quotations from the main orthodox Lutheran theologians of the late-1500’s and 1600’s.
Jacombe, Samuel – ‘The Divine Authority of the Scriptures’ in Puritan Sermons vol. 5
‘The Testimony of the Church is not the Only, Nor the Chief Reason of our Believing the Scripture to be the Word of God’ in Puritan Sermons, 5.606-648 & in Works, 8.495-543
Institutes of Elenctic Theology, vol. 1 (P&R, 1992), Locus 2, The Holy Scriptures: the Word of God, Questions 1-21
Question 4, ‘Are the Holy Scriptures genuine and divine? We affirm.’
Question 6, ‘From what source does the divine authority of the Scriptures become known to us? Does it depend upon the testimony of the Church either as to itself or as to us? We deny against the papists.’
Question 20 – ‘The Supreme Judge of Controversies & the Interpreter of the Scriptures’, pp. 154-162
Question 21 – ‘The Authority of the Fathers’, pp. 162-168
Howe, John – The Divine Authority of the Scriptures, 5 Lectures on 2 Tim. 3:16 53 pp.
Boston, Thomas – ‘The Divine Authority of the Scriptures’ on 2 Tim. 3:16 in An Illustration of the Doctrines of the Christian Religion in Works, vol. 1, pp. 19-37
Davies, Samuel – ‘The Divine Authority & Sufficiency of the Christian Religion’ in Sermons, vol. 1 (Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1864), pp. 71-108
Payson, Edward – Sermon 49, ‘The Oracles of God’ in Works, 3.11-33
Chapters 21-26 on the Authority of Scripture (1878) 73 pp. in Theological Lectures, pp. 269-342
Cunningham was one of the great lights of the Free Church of Scotland.
III. ‘What are the Scriptures’ on Jn. 5:39 in Sermons from 1828-1860 (London, 1872; Still Waters Revival, n.d.), pp. 42-57
Girardeau, John – ‘The Authority of the Scriptures’, pp. 385-93 in Discussions of Theological Questions (1905)
Girardeau (d. 1898) was a lesser known, though important, Southern presbyterian.
This is on the required reading list for those in training for the ministry in the American presbytery of the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing).
Ferguson, Sinclair – ‘The Authority, Sufficiency, Finality of Scripture’
Whitaker, William – A Disputation on Holy Scripture, Against the Papists, Especially Bellarmine & Stapleton †1595 742 pp.
Whittaker was an English Puritan.
Tilenus, Daniel – Positions lately held by the L. Du Perron, Bishop of Eureux, Against the Sufficiency & Perfection of the Scriptures, Maintaining the Necessity & Authority of Unwritten Traditions. Very Learnedly Answered & Confuted… with a defence of the Sufficiency & Perfection of the Holy Scriptures (London, 1606)
Tilenus (1563-1633) was a German-French Protestant theologian. Initially Reformed, he became a prominent and influential Arminian teaching at the Academy of Sedan. He was an open critic of the Synod of Dort of 1618-9.
Ford, Thomas – Logos Autopistos, or, Scriptures’ Self-Evidence to Prove its Existence, Authority, Certainty in Itself & Sufficiency (in its Kind) to Ascertain Others that it is Inspired of God to be the Only Rule of Faith: published as a Plea for Protestants in the Defense of their Profession (London, 1667)
Ford was a Westminster divine.
Of the Divine Original, Authority, Self-Evidencing Light & Power of the Scriptures; with an answer to that Inquiry, how we may know the Scriptures to be the Word of God. Also a Vindication of the Purity & Integrity of the Hebrew & Greek Texts of the Old and New Testament; in some considerations on the prolegomena and appendix to the late ‘Biblia Polyglotta.’ Whereunto are subjoined some exercitations about the nature and perfection of the Scripture, the right of interpretation, internal light, revelation, etc. in Works, 16.281-421
Bk. 6, pt. 1, The Reason of Faith; or, an answer unto that inquiry, ‘Wherefore we believe the Scripture to be the Word of God;’ with the causes and nature of that faith wherewith we do so: wherein the grounds whereon the Holy Scripture is believed to be the Word of God with faith divine and supernatural are declared and vindicated in Pneumatologia: or, A Discourse concerning the Holy Spirit, Continued in Works, vol. 4, pp. 1-115
Edwards, John – A Discourse Concerning the Authority, Style, and Perfection of the Books of the Old and New-Testament with a Continued illustration of several difficult texts of scripture throughout the whole work (London, 1693) ToC
Edwards (1637-1716) was a reformed Anglican.
De Moor, Bernard – Didactico-Elenctic Theology, ch. 2, Concerning the Principium of Theology, or Holy Scripture Buy
Girardeau, John – ‘The Ultimate Source, Rule & Judge of Theology: The Inspiration of the Scriptures’, pp. 73-393 ToC in Discussions of Theological Questions (1905)
Girardeau (d. 1898) was a lesser known, though important, Southern presbyterian.
ed. Stonehouse, Ned & Paul Woolley – The Infallible Word: a Symposium by the Members of the Faculty of Westminster Theological Seminary Buy (1946)
“The two most helpful books on biblical authority are The Infallible Word… the symposium contains an excellent series of Reformed essays dealing with the general character of biblical authority and canonicity. It concludes by stressing the relevancy and distinctive characteristics of these doctrines as well as the importance of preaching them.” – Joel Beeke
“A carefully reasoned series of essays dealing with the general character of Biblical authority, containing a chapter on the canonicity of the Scriptures, and concluding with an emphasis upon their relevancy, place in preaching, and distinctive characteristics of the Word of God. By members of the faculty of Westminster Theological Seminary.” – Cyril J. Barber
Ramm, Bernard – The Pattern of Religious Authority Buy (1957) 117 pp.
“The two most helpful books on biblical authority are… Bernard Ramm, The Pattern of Religious Authority… Ramm addresses issues on authority that confront the conservative evangelical. He distinguishes between the ‘grounds of accepting an authority’ and ‘the right of authority’, and claims that reason, intuition, or inclination are modes of perceiving or receiving an authority but do not constitute the right of the authority received. He argues that the believer’s doctrine of authority is threefold: the authority of the Scriptures, of the Holy Spirit, and of Christ. This threefold delineation is contrasted with Roman Catholocism, modernism, and neo-orthodoxy.” – Joel Beeke
Lightner, Robert Paul – The Savior & the Scriptures Buy (Philadelphia: P&R, 1966)
“Presents Christ’s view of the Scriptures and stresses His absolute reliance upon the irrevocability of the Word.” – Cyril J. Barber
“Helpful articles… the first major publication of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy (ICBI), founded in 1977.” – Joel Beeke
Ridderbos, Herman – Studies in Scripture & its Authority (Eerdmans, 1978) 120 pp.
Henry, Carl – God, Revelation & Authority, vol. 4 Buy (1979)
“…contains a massive technical treatment of Biblical authority.” – Joel Beeke
Owen, John – Exercitations for the Sacred Scriptures Against the Fanatics in Works, 16.424-476
Warfield, B.B. – ‘Augustine’s Doctrine of Knowledge & Authority’ in The Princeton Theological Review, vol. 5, issue 3, July, pp. 353-397 The authority spoken of is specifically Augustine’s trust in Christian revelation, which, of course, can hardly be separated from Scripture
Quote on Augustine & Church Authority
Willem van Asselt in Theology of the French Reformed Churches (RHB, 2014), pp. 259-60
“…a discussion [by Andrew Rivet in his Isagogue] of the famous adagium [proverb] of Augustine, ‘For my part, I should not believe the gospel except as moved by the authority of the Catholic Church’ (chap. 3).
In this hotly debated issue, Rivet adhered to the orthodox Protestant answer: Augustine voiced a personal problem relating to his Manichean past, and his adage is not to be viewed as a general rule.”
On the Reformation
‘Calvin & the Authority of Scripture’ in Collected Writings, 4:158-75
‘Holy Scripture’ in Collected Writings, 3:256-62 Excerpt
‘Calvin’s Doctrine of Scripture’ being one of three lectures given under the auspices of the Reformed Fellowship, Inc. in Grand Rapids, Michigan on May 21, 22, 26, 1959 in connection with the commemoration of the 450th anniversary of the birth of John Calvin
Davies, Rupert Eric – The Problem of Authority in the Continental Reformers: a Study in Luther, Zwingli, & Calvin Buy (London: Epworth Press, 1946) 165 pp. ToC
Fortsman, Henry Jackson – Word & Spirit: Calvin’s Doctrine of Biblical Authority (Stanford University Press, 1962) 190 pp. ToC
“…includes a helpful epilogue on ‘Calvin, Calvinism, and the Contemporary Situation’ as well as an excellent bibliography.” – Joel Beeke
In Reformed Theology
The Divine Right of Church of Government... (1646), Intro, Section 5, p. 78
“Now we hold that Scripture itself furnishes light and faith of itself, from itself; and that the Church does but hold forth the light: as I see the light of the candle, because of the light itself, not because of the candlestick.”
Ford, Thomas – Logos Autopistos, or, Scriptures’ Self-Evidence to prove its Existence, Authority, Certainty in itself, and Sufficiency (in its kind) to ascertain others that it is inspired of God to be the only rule of faith: published as a plea for Protestants in the defense of their Profession (London, 1667)
Ford was a Westminster divine.
van den Belt, Hendrik – ‘Autopistia: the Self-Convincing Authority of Scripture in Reformed Theology’ this is ch.4, ‘Reformed Orthodoxy’, being a survey of the era, from his book below, Autopistia: the Self-Convincing Authority of Scripture in Reformed Theology (1971)
van den Belt, Hendrik – Autopistia: the Self-Convincing Authority of Scripture in Reformed Theology Pre (1971) 375 pp.
Abstract: “Autopistia offers a historical survey and a theological evaluation of the self-convincing character of Scripture in Reformed theology. Calvin adopted the term autopistos from ancient Greek philosophy and used it to express that faith does not rest on the human authority of the church but on Scripture as the living voice of God. After discussing the meaning of the term in Reformed Orthodoxy and analyzing the theological position of Benjamin B. Warfield and Herman Bavinck on this issue, HenkVan den Belt draws his theological conclusions in this PhD thesis, advocating a revitalization of the autopistia of Scripture, because it implies that faith finds rest in Scripture itself and not in the external authority of the church or of rational arguments and that Word and Spirit are inseparably connected.”
How Scripture is the Rule of Faith over Nature
From ch. 1 of Bellarminus Enervatus tr. Charles Johnson
“5. We accept, secondly, on the topic of a rule:
I. That the rule or measure of a thing must be marked & easy. Suarez, Metaphysics, pt. 2, distinction II, section 3, because it must be accommodated to the knowledge of a thing. Therefore, since the Scripture is a rule, it is not obscure and difficult, as the Papists will.
II. A rule has a parity of proportion to that thing that it is the rule of. If, therefore, the Scripture is the rule of faith, faith does not extend beyond the Scripture: and therefore, unwritten traditions do not at all pertain to faith.
III. A rule that is such by its nature has in itself the reason of its exemplary cause, and is therefore prior by nature to the thing it regulates. If, therefore, the Scripture is the rule of faith, it is indeed prior to faith: if it is prior to faith, then also to the faithful; and if to the faithful, then to the church, which is the congregation of the faithful, and so it is that the Roman church banishes it from that superior place in which it tends to set its own self with some nefarious presumption, as if it were ahead of and above the Scripture.
IV. A rule consists in something indivisible; that is, so constituted that the least bit is neither increased or diminished. They therefore violate the Scriptures who join to them their own traditions or abolish anything whatsoever prescribed by them: and the Roman Pontiffs are manifestly possessed of both these evils.
V. If Scripture is the rule of faith, then those who can err in the exposition of Scripture can indeed err in faith, and commend a false rule of faith to others. That, however, the Pope and the Roman church interpret many parts of Scripture insipidly and impiously is so manifest that it need not be proven. Therefore, the Roman Pontiff may shamefully err in his decrees, even concerning faith and morals.
VI. Since such is the nature of this rule, that it be a precept, anything admitted without the direction of this rule, of what species soever it otherwise be, is anomalous, and an aberration: and therefore, as much the supererogations of the Papists as their many dogmas (concerning the worship of images and creatures, purgatory, the mass itself, and the Roman Pontiff) must be acknowledged to necessarily be mere error.
VII. Since the Scripture is not indeed a single precept, but a system of precepts respecting the same thing (namely, that we live well to God), it is necessary that it contain within itself the whole doctrine of theology: therefore, what thing sover the Roman Pontiff obtrudes without Scripture must be alien to true theology.
VIII. Finally, since it is the rule of faith, they must be enemies of the faithful who snatch that rule from their hands.
6. We accept those qualities conceded to Scripture from Bellarmine, that it is a certain and stable rule of faith. For:
I. If it is, in itself, a certain rule, then it can leave us certain of the will of God, without the definitions of the church.
II. Then all uncertainties, the lie of men, are by the decree of God to be examined according to that rule.
III. Then it does not admit various and uncertain senses.
IV. Then a certain determination is to be sought from Scripture of all controversies which are stirred up concerning the faith.
V. If it is indeed a stable rule, then nothing is necessary to be believed by us, or useful, which was unknown in the age of the apostles.
VI. Then the dispensations of the Papists are pernicious impostures.
VII. Then, finally, the stability of the church entirely depends upon this: if it constantly adheres to this rule.”
Martindale, Adam – 1st Doubt, ‘If the Scripture be a perfect rule, how can the light of nature be of any use in spiritual matters?’ in ch. 1, ‘Of the Scriptures, & by the Way, of the Light of Nature’ in Divinity-Knots Unloosed: or a Clear Discovery of Truth; by Resolving Many Doubts according to Scripture, Orthodox Divines & Sound Reason (London, 1649), pp. 1-2
Martindale (1623-1686) was an English presbyterian minister who had taken the Solemn League & Covenant.
Heidegger, Johann H. – sections 5-8 in Locus 1, ‘On Theology in General’ in A Marrow of the Marrow of Christian Theology, in Favor & in Use in Tyron (Zurich, 1697), pp. 2-4
On the Inner Testimony of the Holy Spirit: Historyical Theology
Reformed Dogmatics, vol. 1, pp. 584-585
“This doctrine [of the inner testimony of the Holy Spirit] was opposed, however, from the side of Sociniaism, Remonstrantism, and Romanism. And gradually the doctrine of the internal testimony began to lose its place of honor even in Reformed theology.
Already in Turretin, Amyrald, Molina, et al., it was weakened and identified with the so-called illumination of the Holy Spirit by which the intellect is enabled to note the marks and criteria of the divinity of the Holy Scripture. Faith no longer connects directly and immediately with Scripture but is the product of insight into the marks of truth and divinity it bears. Inserted between Scripture and faith, then, are the marks of the truth of Scripture.
This occurred first in the sense that the recognition of those criteria was attributed to an illumination of the intellect by the Holy Spirit. But rationalism soon also considered this illumination unnecessary, assigned the study of the truth of revelation to reason, and base[d] the authority of Scripture on historical proofs. Even orthodox theologians scarcely dared any longer to speak of the internal testimony [Wilhelmus A’Brakel and Johannes Marck are cited as examples].”