Learn and Teach

Again and again you ask me, my dear Nepotian, in your letters from over the sea, to draw for you a few rules of life, showing how one who has renounced the service of the world to become a monk or a clergyman may keep the straight path of Christ, and not be drawn aside into the haunts of vice. . . . Read the divine scriptures constantly; never, indeed, let the sacred volume be out of your hand. Learn what you have to teach. “Hold fast the faithful word as you have been taught that you may be able by sound doctrine to exhort and convince the gainsayers. Continue thou in the things that thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;” and “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope and faith that are in you.” Do not let your deeds belie your words; lest when you speak in church someone may mentally reply “Why do you not practice what you profess? Here is a lover of dainties turned censor! his stomach is full and he reads us a homily on fasting. As well might a robber accuse others of covetousness.” In a priest of Christ mouth, mind, and hand should be one.

Jerome, Letter/Epistle 52

Septuagint?

It is generally thought that the Pentateuch was translated first, perhaps followed by the Psalms, Historical Books, and Major Prophets, with certain of the Wisdom Books translated last. Although this conjectured timeline is far from certain, what is clear is that the entire project took over four centuries to produce (early or mid-third-century BCE through first or second century CE).

Hence, in some respects it is potentially misleading to refer to “the Septuagint.” Accordingly, when we say “Septuagint” we must remain alert to the fact that we are studying a collection of books, or even a library of sorts, one that was produced by many anonymous Jewish translators, in various places, in unknown circumstances and over several centuries (Gregory R. Lanier and William A. Ross, eds., Septuaginta: A Reader’s Edition, xviii).

Much Needed Bridle

The only bridle that checks the degenerating tendency of the Church — a tendency manifested in all ages — is the Word of God: for the Spirit of grace Himself ordinarily operates only in connection with that Word. If this restraint be discarded, the downward lapse is sure.

John L. Girardeau

Deduced From the Word of God

Good and necessary consequences are such as the word is designed for. What is deduced from them, so is indeed the sense and meaning of the words; and if you have the words without the meaning of them, or without the full meaning of them, in so far ye come short of the true intent of the words. If I bid a man draw near the fire, do I not desire him to warm himself, though I speak not one word of his warming himself? Were not the Scriptures written for that end, that “we through patience and comfort of them might have hope?” Rom. xv. 4. But this cannot be obtained without the use of consequences. Are they not profitable for doctrine, — “that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works?” 2 Tim. iii. 16. But can this be had without the use of consequences? (Thomas Boston, An Illustration of the Doctrines of the Christian Religion, with Respect to Faith and Practice, upon the Plan of the Assembly’s Shorter Catechism, Comprehending a Complete Body of Divinity, 29).

By Good and Necessary Consequence (WCF 1.6)

[George Gillespie] argues that although arguments and consequences are drawn by deductive reason, the resulting consequent is not believed by the power of reason but because it is “the truth and will of God.” According to his citation from Cameron, Gillespie argues that reason is an instrument in this process, not the foundation of the argument (J.V. Fesko, The Theology of the Westminster Standards: Historical Context & Theological Insights, 88).

In the era of orthodoxy, the issues of drawing conclusions from the text of Scripture in order ot establish doctrinal points was debated by the Reformed against the Arminians and Socinians in particular who, in the estimation of the Reformed, refused to allow full use this interpretive device largely because it could establish orthodoxy against their teachings. The proper use of consequences assumes that, “Necessary consequences form the written Word of God do sufficiently and strongly prove the consequent or conclusion, if theoretical, to be a certain divine truth which ought to be believed, and, if practical, to be a necessary duty which we are obliged unto jure divino” [quotation from George Gillespie, A Treatise of Miscellany Questions, 238] (Richard Muller, Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 2, 497).

Argument, If we say that necessary consequences from Scripture prove not a jus divinum, we say that which is inconsistent with the infinite wisdom of God, for although necessary consequences may be drawn from a man’s word which do not agree with his mind and intention, and so men are oftentimes ensnared by their words; yet (as Camero well noteth) God being infinitely wise, it were a blasphemous opinion, to hold that any thing can be drawn from his holy word, which is not his will. This were to make the only wise God as foolish as man, that cannot foresee all things which will follow from his words. Therefore we must needs hold, ’tis the mind of God which necessary followeth from the word of God (George Gillespie, A Treatise of Miscellany Questions, 243).


Canon

As a general description, community-determined approaches view the canon as something that is, in some sense, established or constituted by the people — either individually or corporately — who have received these books as Scripture. Canonicity is viewed not as something inherent to any set of books, but as ‘something officially or authoritatively imposed upon certain literature.’ Thus, a ‘canon’ does not exist until there is some sort of response from the community (Michael Kruger, Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origin and Authority of the New Testament Books, 29-30).

If canon is something that is created and constituted by the community, and there is nothing inherent in these books to make them canonical, then a canon cannot exist before the community formally acts. Thus, it is not unusual for the historical-critical approach to have a fairly late date for canon and to insist on a strict semantic distinction between Scripture and canon (33).

[T]he fundamental problem with the historical-critical model is not its affirmation that the church played a role, but rather its insistence that the church played the determinative and decisive role. . . . Such an approach provides us with a merely human canon stripped of any normative or revelational authority and thereby unable to function as God’s word to his people (34-35).

[I]f one views the canon as Christians have historically understood it, namely, as the product of God’s divine covenant-making activity (as we shall discuss further below), then there is no reason to think that we should reserve the term canon to refer only to the end of the entire process . . . Indeed, from the perspective of God’s revelational activity, a canon exists s soon as the New Testament books are written — the canon is always the books God has given to the corporate church, no more, no less (38).

Rational Basis

If [as purported by critics of biblical Christianity] the early church was a theological quagmire, if apocryphal books are as valid as so-called canonical books, and if scholars are convinced the New Testament is filled with forgeries, then on what possible basis can Christians have confidence that they have the right twenty-seven books? How can Christians ever know such a thing? It is here that we come to the precise question this book is designed to answer. This volume is concerned with the narrow question of whether Christians have a rational basis (i.e., intellectually sufficient grounds) for affirming that only these twenty-seven books rightfully belong in the New Testament canon. Or, put differently, is the Christian belief in the canon justified (or warranted)? (Michael Kruger, Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origin and Authority of the New Testament Books, 20)

Significant Questions

Certainly, there can be no New Testament theology if there is no such thing as a New Testament in the first place. Thus, questions about the canon can take on more foundational significance than other types of questions (Michael Kruger, Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origin and Authority of the New Testament Books, 16).

Communion with God

The Trinity created us with a capacity to live in him, as creatures in and with our Creator. The incarnation proves it. If it were not so and could not be so, then Jesus Christ–God and man–could not be one person, for the difference between Creator and creature would be so great that incarnation would not be possible. But now our humanity in Jesus Christ is in full and personal union with God, and so in union with Christ we are brought into union with God (Robert Letham, The Holy Trinity, 470).

Church Government

The presbyterial government hath no such liberty nor arbitrariness, as civil or military government hath, there being in all civil or temporal affairs a great deal of latitude left to those who manage the same, so that they command nor act nothing against the word of God. But presbyterial government is tied up to the rules of Scripture, in all such particulars as are properly spiritual and proper to the church, though, in other particulars, occasional circumstances of times, places, accommodations, and the like, the same light of nature and reason guideth both church and state; yet in things properly spiritual and ecclesiastical, there is not near so much latitude left to the presbytery, as there is in civil affairs to the magistrate (George Gillespie, Aaron’s Rod Blossoming, Or, The Divine Ordinances of Church Government Vindicated, 84).