Blogging through and answering the questions from G. I. Williamson’s The Westminster Confession of Faith for Study Classes for personal review and comprehension.
WCF. I. Of the Holy Scriptures – 9.
1. False religions deny that the Bible is God’s complete revelation. What other aspect of revelation do they deny?
False religions (and Christian viewpoints that are not fully Biblical) deny the sufficiency-and-perspicuity of Scripture, and they also deny that Scripture interprets itself (since they believe Scripture is deficient, they insist it needs an outside interpreter).
2. In such religions is the Bible important or necessary to the individual believer (according to the view of that religion)?
In such religions the Bible is not necessarily important, since it is not the ultimate standard or authority. The outside interpreter is the authorial matrix; the outside interpreter becomes the standard, thus it becomes necessarily important. (And this is over and against Scripture; it is a myth to insist that Scripture and the outside interpreter, e.g., Tradition, are parallel standards/authorities.
3. Reconcile any apparent conflict between the Reformed insistence that the Bible is self-interpreting and the Reformed teaching that there are to be ministers of the Word ordained with authority to teach the Word in the Churches.
There is no conflict. The Bible is self-interpreting, but the Bible still needs to be studied in depth and taught; there are many hard things in Scripture, but they are understandable. It takes effort and time, it takes exertion and care. Pastor’s are ordained to “study” Scripture (see 2 Timothy 2:15), and after studying to preach!
4. Are all portions of the Scripture equally simple to understand? If not, does this change the fact that they are self-interpreting? Explain.
No. All portions of Scripture are not equally simple to understand. This is why we say Scripture is self-interpretive – “that difficult places are clarified by the parallel passages which speak more clearly” (18), i.e., oftentimes this is referred to as the “analogy of faith” – all of Scripture is united, “the sense of Scripture is one (not many)” (18) – and since all of Scripture is harmonious and without contradiction you are able to clarify difficult passages by the passages that are not difficult.
5. Why is creedless Christianity a perversion of this doctrine?
Creeds are evidence that the teaching of Scripture is clear and has perspicuity. If you say, “No creed but Christ!” then you are denying the clarity of Scripture.
6. Why do creeds (which are agreeable with Scripture) have authority?
Creeds, while subordinate to Scripture, are both “useful” and “authoritative”, but this is only to the “degree that they are ‘agreeable to and founded on the Word of God.” Because Scripture is self-interpretive we are able to formulate creeds, and “creeds are evidence that the Bible is clear” (19).