"Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." - Jerome

Friday, February 27, 2009

Clark on Reformed Confessionalism

"the classical Reformed approach controlled tradition with the Scriptures, but did not reject tradition as such...What makes us Reformed is how we understand Scripture, and this understanding is summarized in our confession. If we thought that our confession was not biblical, we would not use it, and if anyone can show that our confession is unbiblical, the church ought to revise it to bring it into conformity with Scripture...

The difference between the confessional Reformed and Rome is not that we deny tradition, but that we do not venerate our Reformed tradition 'with a feeling of piety and reverence equal to that with which Scripture is received and venerated.' Tradition properly understood, is subject to the authority and test of Scripture and as such has no intrinsic authority. Its authority is derived from Scripture...Christians are best served by reading Scripture with our tradition."

-R. Scott Clark. Recovering the Reformed Confession.pg 9-10


CMWoodall said...

I don't get it. How is this statement...

"Christians are best served by reading Scripture with our tradition"

not contradictory to this one...

"we do not venerate our Reformed tradition 'with a feeling of piety and reverence equal to that with which Scripture is received and venerated"?

Is our dear tradition the only one 'tested by scripture'?

Jared Nelson said...

Clark's description here is a great introduction to the idea of confessionalism and tradition especially for generic evangelicals who object to any tradition (since, as Clark observes, most evangelicals are really Anabaptist in their theological worldview).

On tradition generally, the issue is of tradition as an autonomous authority versus tradition as a corpus of Scriptural interpretation handed down to us. As a Reformed Christian, I am friendly to the latter, but not to the former. But I do know you are a little friendlier to the former being an Anglo-Catholic.

Our tradition is not the only one tested by Scripture (Lutherans have a similar view of tradition and confessionalism), but I think it is the most faithful to Scripture, or I would not be Reformed!

Andrew said...

The statement is a contradiction because obviously they venerate their scripture over tradition. Extrinsic Imputed Righteousness by faith alone - their 'cornerstone' isn't even found in Scripture, and obviously the Lutherans, Anglicans, and Anabaptists all have been showing you their prooftexts for centuries and you haven't changed your views so... ya. I doubt it's fair to say that the Reformed are the 'only ones REALLY reading their bible'.. and of course it's not even something to be proud of unless scripture alone is taught by the bible or church tradition....which it isn't.

Sorry for annoying you with more Papistry, but I thought as we were attacked in the post, I'd reply

Jared Nelson said...

Catholics do give "tradition" an authority equal to Scripture. I even hesitate to use the word tradition, since the Roman Catholic does not truly venerate tradition, but an ecclesiastical authority (the Pope) and merely use tradition to justify his role. Once one finds something that has no tradition to support it, the Catholic apologist just runs to the Pope.

I say nothing here on tradition that I have not said elsewhere (http://deadtheologians.blogspot.com/2008/08/why-i-cannot-be-roman-catholic-part-2-i.html) and there in more detail.

Now Andrew, you must adhere to your own standards. You have, before, protested that the problem is interpretation. Romans 4 uses the word, translated in the KJV, of "imputed" to describe righteousness given to Abraham and for sin not being imputed to David. Now, if you would like to have a discussion on what "logizomai," the Greek word, means, I am more than willing.

Also, Paul specifically says we are "justified by faith apart from works." The question is what that means, not pretending that Paul didn't say it or use the word "logizomai."

Andrew said...

"I even hesitate to use the word tradition, since the Roman Catholic does not truly venerate tradition, but an ecclesiastical authority (the Pope)"

... except for the fact that tradition teaches Papal Supremacy... Criticizing the authority of the Pope's interpretation of tradition because he is removed from the early church, is like criticizing Calvin's interpretation of tradition because he is removed from the church.

In the end it becomes meaningless

p.s. We don't need to go back to the endless Sola Fide discussion because we disagree immediately to the question 'Who has the authority to interpret scripture with accuracy?'

I don't want us to fight angrily. If you want you can remove my blog from your's, and I won't waste your time with anymore of these polemics.

CMWoodall said...


You will no doubt grow into your new clothes in due time but do not exit the conversation.

I commend this new resource to you both.

They are attempting to dialog. One of the things I like about these guys is the refinement and nuance to their approach.

Andrew, I don't know you, friend. However I can tell by your use of words like "attack" "papistry" "obviously" "angrily" & "polemic" that you should model your approach after men that are more centered and polished in their defense of the faith. I commend them to you.


Andrew said...

Hello CMWoodall, just for your information I use words like "papistry" "romanism", etc because those are the attacks of the Reformers, and I use them for 2 reasons.

1. They're kind of funny in my opinion.

2. If I'm using them to describe myself, then the Protestants are disarmed because if they call me a Romanist, I've already called myself one. So it eliminates extra hostilities.

Jared Nelson said...

Andrew - I'm not going to remove your blog as a link because I enjoy the interaction. I grow by being challenged and even change my mind by having objections or new questions raised that come at an issue from a perspective I have not thought of before. We both stop posting on each others' blogs, we will both be poorer for it.

Also, on the authority question, I can refer you to my earlier treatment in the Catholicism series and I would love critiques if you have some now:


Andrew said...

Ok. thanks Jared, I'll try and think up something new for once on those.