Chapter 1 Part 4-5 The Authority of Scripture


The witness of God
The witness of evidences
The witness of the Spirit


By what authority do we accept the Bible to be the word of God? This is the question that the 1689 is addressing in Ch. 1 para. 4-5. This may sound like a strange question to you but it is an important one. At the time of the Reformation a major part of the disagreement between the Protestants and the Catholics was over authority. The Reformers were saying that the Scripture alone is our authority as it is the Word of God; the Catholic Church would respond by saying, but the church came before the Bible, gave birth to the Bible and decided which books should be in the Bible, so the Church has an important authority that cannot be denied. A famous quote from Augustine was often used by the Catholics in this discussion, ‘For my part, I should not believe the gospel except as moved by the authority of the Catholic Church.’ You can feel the dilemma, if you admit that the Catholic church has the authority to decide which books are the word of God and can determine what the Canon of scripture is, then you must accept the authority of the church when it comes to interpreting the word as well and submit to its teachings and not those who are outside the church like Luther and Calvin. The point of these paragraphs was to show that the Bible is not the word of God because the church says so but because God says so.

These two paragraphs take up the two types of ways in which the Bible establishes its authority. Paragraph 4 has to do with the Bible’s testimony of itself, its objective authority. Paragraph 5 has more to do with how we know it is authoritative, its subjective authority. We will look at these under three headings, the witness of God, paragraph 4; the witness of evidences, the first part of paragraph 5; the witness of the Spirit, the last part of paragraph 5.