website stands in agreement with these men regarding the supreme authority of Scripture over all councils, creeds, rulings or writings:

Saint Athanasius, Defender of orthodoxy, Council of Nicaea A.D. 325, LINK

"The sacred and inspired Scriptures are sufficient to declare the truth."

Saint Augustine, LINK

"I am not bound by the authority of [Cyprian’s] epistle because I do not hold the writings of Cyprian as canonical, and I accept whatever in them agrees with the authority of the divine Scriptures with his approval, but what does not agree I reject with his permission."

"I have learned to give this reverence and honour to those books of Scripture alone which are now called canonical, as firmly to believe that no one of their authors erred in writing anything ... but I so read the others, that however excellent in purity of doctrine, I do not therefore take a thing to be true because they thought so; but because they can persuade me, either through those canonical authors, or probable reason, that it does not differ from the truth. Nor do I think that you, my brother, are of a different opinion. I say further, I do not suppose that you wish your books to be read as if they were the writings of the prophets or apostles, which beyond a doubt are free from any error."

John Wycliffe, LINK

"Chapter 15
Why every man should know and obey the scripture, which is the scripture of peoples, as Jerome says.

Christ said that the gospel should be preached in all the world, and David said of the Apostles and their preaching, "the sound of them went out into each land, and the words of them went out into the ends of the world." And David also said, "the Lord shall reveal his truth in the scriptures of peoples, and of the princes that were in Zion," that is, in the church, as Jerome explains in his commentary on this verse. He also explains that scripture is here called "the scriptures of peoples" because it was intended that all nations should know the scriptures, and he explains that the "princes" of the church spoken of in this verse are the Apostles who had the authority to write scripture, for it is because the Apostles wrote their scriptures by this authority, and by the confirmation of the Holy Spirit, that it is holy scripture, and the authoritative basis of our Christian faith. And no man has been given this authority after them, however holy or wise he may be, as Jerome declares in his commentary on that verse."

Jean Calvin, LINK

"What, then, you will say, is there no authority in the definitions of councils? Yes, indeed; for I do not contend that all councils are to be condemned, and all their acts rescinded, or, as it is said, made one complete erasure. But you are bringing them all (it will be said) under subordination, and so leaving everyone at liberty to receive or reject the decrees of councils as he pleases. By no means; but whenever the decree of council is produced, the first thing I would wish to be done is, to examine at what time it was held, on what occasion, with what intention, and who were present at it; next I would bring the subject discussed to the standard of Scripture. And this I would do in such a way that the decision of the council should have its weight, and be regarded in the light of a prior judgment, yet not so as to prevent the application of the test which I have mentioned. I wish all had observed the method which Augustine prescribes in his Third Book against Maximinus, when he wished to silence the cavils of this heretic against the decrees of councils,

  • 'I ought not to oppose the Council office to you, nor ought you to oppose that of Ariminum to me, as prejudging the question. I am not bound by the authority of the latter, or you by that of the former. Let thing contend with thing, cause with cause, reason with reason, on the authority of Scripture, an authority not peculiar to either, but common to all.'

In this way councils would be duly respected, and yet the highest place would be given to Scripture, everything being brought to it as a test."

[collapse collapsed title= Read more ...](Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion 4, part 10)

Chapter 9. Of councils and their authority.

Since Papists regard their Councils as expressing the sentiment
and consent of the Church, particularly as regards the authority of
declaring dogmas and the exposition of them, it was necessary to
treat of Councils before proceeding to consider that part of
ecclesiastical power which relates to doctrine. I. First, the
authority of Councils in delivering dogmas is discussed, and it is
shown that the Spirit of God is not so bound to the Pastors of the
Church as opponents suppose. Their objections refuted, sec. 1-7. II.
The errors, contradictions, and weaknesses, of certain Councils
exposed. A refutation of the subterfuge, that those set over us are
to be obeyed without distinction, sec. 8-12. III. Of the authority
of Councils as regards the interpretation of Scripture, sec. 13,14.


1. The true nature of Councils.
2. Whence the authority of Councils is derived. What meant by
assembling in the name of Christ.
3. Objection, that no truth remains in the Church if it be not in
Pastors and Councils. Answer, showing by passages from the Old
Testament that Pastors were often devoid of the spirit of
knowledge and truth.
4. Passages from the New Testament showing that our times were to be
subject to the same evil. This confirmed by the example of
almost all ages.
5. All not Pastors who pretend to be so.
6. Objection, that General Councils represent the Church. Answer,
showing the absurdity of this objection from passages in the
Old Testament.
7. Passages to the same effect from the New Testament.
8. Councils have authority only in so far as accordant with
Testimony of Augustine. Councils of Nice,
Constantinople, and Ephesus. Subsequent Councils more impure,
and to be received with limitation.
9. Contradictory decisions of Councils. Those agreeing with divine
truth to be received. Those at variance with it to be rejected.
This confirmed by the example of the Council of Constantinople
and the Council of Nice; also of the Council of Chalcedony, and
second Council of Ephesus.
10. Errors of purer Councils. Four causes of these errors. An
example from the Council of Nice.
11. Another example from the Council of Chalcedony. The same errors
in Provincial Councils.
12. Evasion of the Papists. Three answers. Conclusion of the
discussion as to the power of the Church in relation to
13. Last part of the chapter. Power of the Church in interpreting
Scripture. From what source interpretation is to be derived.
Means of preserving unity in the Church.
14. Impudent attempt of the Papists to establish their tyranny
refuted. Things at variance with Scripture sanctioned by their
Councils. Instance in the prohibition of marriage and communion
in both kinds.

1. Were I now to concede all that they ask concerning the
Church, it would not greatly aid them in their object. For
everything that is said of the Church they immediately transfer to
councils, which, in their opinions represent the Church. Nay, when
they contend so doggedly for the power of the Church, their only
object is to devolve the whole which they extort on the Roman
Pontiff and his conclave. Before I begin to discuss this question,
two points must be briefly premised. First, though I mean to be more
rigid in discussing this subject, it is not because I set less value
than I ought on ancient councils. I venerate them from my heart, and
would have all to hold them in due honour. But there must be some
limitation, there must be nothing derogatory to Christ. Moreover it
is the right of Christ to preside over all councils, and not share
the honour with any man. Now, I hold that he presides only when he
governs the whole assembly by his word and Spirit. Secondly in
attributing less to councils than my opponents demand, it is not
because I have any fear that councils are favourable to their cause
and adverse to ours. For as we are amply provided by the word of the
Lord with the means of proving our doctrine and overthrowing the
whole Papacy, and thus have no great need of other aid, so, if the
case required it, ancient councils furnish us in a great measure
with what might be sufficient for both purposes.

2. Let us now proceed to the subject itself. If we consult
Scripture on the authority of councils, there is no promise more
remarkable than that which is contained in these words of our
Saviour, "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there
am I in the midst of them." But this is just as applicable to any
particular meeting as to an universal council. And yet the important
part of the question does not lie here, but in the condition which
is added, viz., that Christ will be in the midst of a council,
provided it be assembled in his name. Wherefore, though our
opponents should name councils of thousands of bishops it will
little avail them; nor will they induce us to believe that they are,
as they maintain, guided by the Holy Spirit, until they make it
credible that they assemble in the name of Christ: since it is as
possible for wicked and dishonest to conspire against Christ, as for
good and honest bishops to meet together in his name. Of this we
have a clear proof in very many of the decrees which have proceeded
from councils. But this will be afterwards seen. At present I only
reply in one word, that our Saviour's promise is made to those only
who assemble in his name. How, then, is such an assembly to be
defined? I deny that those assemble in the name of Christ who,
disregarding his command by which he forbids anything to be added to
the word of God or taken from it, determine everything at their own
pleasure, who, not contented with the oracles of Scripture, that is,
with the only rule of perfect wisdom, devise some novelty out of
their own head, (Deut. 4: 2; Rev. 22: 18.) Certainly, since our
Saviour has not promised to be present with all councils of whatever
description, but has given a peculiar mark for distinguishing true
and lawful councils from others, we ought not by any means to lose
sight of the distinction. The covenant which God anciently made with
the Levitical priests was to teach at his mouth, (Mal. 2: 7.) This
he always required of the prophets, and we see also that it was the
law given to the apostles. On those who violate this covenant God
bestows neither the honour of the priesthood nor any authority. Let
my opponents solve this difficulty if they would subject my faith to
the decrees of man, without authority from the word of God.

3. Their idea that the truth cannot remain in the Church unless
it exist among pastors, and that the Church herself cannot exist
unless displayed in general councils, is very far from holding true
if the prophets have left us a correct description of their own
times. In the time of Isaiah there was a Church at Jerusalem which
the Lord had not yet abandoned. But of pastors he thus speaks: "His
watchmen are blind; they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs,
they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. Yea, they
are greedy dogs which never have enough, and they are shepherds that
cannot understand: they all look to their own way," (Isa. 56: 10,
11.) In the same way Hosea says, "The watchman of Ephraim was with
my God: but the prophet is a snare of a fowler in all his ways, and
hatred in the house of his God," (Hosea 9: 8.) Here, by ironically
connecting them with God, he shows that the pretext of the
priesthood was vain. There was also a Church in the time of
Jeremiah. Let us hear what he says of pastors: "From the prophet
even unto the priest, every one dealeth falsely." Again, "The
prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I
commanded them, neither spake unto them," (Jer. 6: 13; 14: 14.) And
not to be prolix with quotations, read the whole of his thirty-third
and fortieth chapters. Then, on the other hand, Ezekiel inveighs
against them in no milder terms. "There is a conspiracy of her
prophets in the midst thereof, like a roaring lion ravening the
prey; they have devoured souls." "Her priests have violated my law,
and profaned mine holy things," (Ezek. 22: 25, 26.) There is more to
the same purpose. Similar complaints abound throughout the prophets;
nothing is of more frequent recurrence.

4. But perhaps, though this great evil prevailed among the
Jews, our age is exempt from it. Would that it were so; but the Holy
Spirit declared that it would be otherwise. For Peter's words are
clear, "But there were false prophets among the people, even as
there shall be false teachers among you, who privily will bring in
damnable heresies" (2 Peter 2: 1.) See how he predicts impending
danger, not from ordinary believers, but from those who should plume
themselves on the name of pastors and teachers. Besides, how often
did Christ and his apostles foretell that the greatest dangers with
which the Church was threatened would come from pastors? (Matth. 24:
11, 24.) Nay, Paul openly declares, that Antichrist would have his
seat in the temple of God, (2 Thess. 2: 4;) thereby intimating, that
the fearful calamity of which he was speaking would come only from
those who should have their seat in the Church as pastors. And in
another passage he shows that the introduction of this great evil
was almost at hand. For in addressing the elders of Ephesus, he
says, "I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves
enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves
shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples
after them," (Acts 20: 29, 30.) How great corruption might a long
series of years introduce among pastors, when they could degenerate
so much within so short a time? And not to fill my pages with
details, we are reminded by the examples of almost every age, that
the truth is not always cherished in the bosoms of pastors, and that
the safety of the Church depends not on their state. It was becoming
that those appointed to preserve the peace and safety of the Church
should be its presidents and guardians; but it is one thing to
perform what you owe, and another to owe what you do not perform.

5. Let no man, however, understand me as if I were desirous in
every thing rashly and unreservedly to overthrow the authority of
pastors. All I advise is to exercise discrimination, and not
suppose, as a matter of course, that all who call themselves pastors
are so in reality. But the Pope, with the whole crew of his bishops,
for no other reason but because they are called pastors, shake off
obedience to the word of God, invert all things, and turn them
hither and thither at their pleasure; meanwhile, they insist that
they cannot be destitute of the light of truth, that the Spirit of
God perpetually resides in them, that the Church subsists in them,
and dies with them, as if the Lord did not still inflict his
judgements, and in the present day punish the world for its
wickedness, in the same way in which he punished the ingratitude of
the ancient people, namely, by smiting pastors with astonishment and
blindness, (Zech. 12: 4.) These stupid men understand not that they
are just chiming in with those of ancient times who warred with the
word of God. For the enemies of Jeremiah thus set themselves against
the truth, "Come, and let us devise devices against Jeremiah; for
the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise,
nor the word from the prophet," (Jer. 18: 18.)

6. Hence it is easy to reply to their allegation concerning
general councils. It cannot be denied, that the Jews had a true
Church under the prophets. But had a general council then been
composed of the priests, what kind of appearance would the Church
have had? We hear the Lord denouncing not against one or two of
them, but the whole order: "The priests shall be astonished, and the
prophets shall wonder," (Jer. 4: 9.) Again, "The law shall perish
from the priest, and counsel from the ancients," (Ezek. 7: 26.)
Again, "Therefore night shall be unto you, that ye shall not have a
vision; and it shall be dark unto you, that ye shall not divine; and
the sun shall go down over the prophets, and the day shall be dark
over them," &c., (Micah 3: 6.) Now, had all men of this description
been collected together, what spirit would have presided over their
meeting? Of this we have a notable instance in the council which
Ahab convened, (1 Kings 22: 6, 22.) Four hundred prophets were
present. But because they had met with no other intention than to
flatter the impious king, Satan is sent by the Lord to be a lying
spirit in all their mouths. The truth is there unanimously
condemned. Micaiah is judged a heretic, is smitten, and cast into
prison. So was it done to Jeremiah, and so to the other prophets.

7. But there is one memorable example which may suffice for
all. In the council which the priests and Pharisees assembled at
Jerusalem against Christ, (John 11: 47,) what is wanting, in so far
as external appearance is concerned? Had there been no Church then
at Jerusalem, Christ would never have joined in the sacrifices and
other ceremonies. A solemn meeting is held; the high priest
presides; the whole sacerdotal order take their seats, and yet
Christ is condemned, and his doctrine is put to flight. This
atrocity proves that the Church was not at all included in that
council. But there is no danger that any thing of the kind will
happen with us. Who has told us so? Too much security in a matter of
so great importance lies open to the charge of sluggishness. Nay,
when the Spirit, by the mouth of Paul, foretells, in distinct terms,
that a defection will take place, a defection which cannot come
until pastors first forsake God, (2 Thess. 2: 3,) why do we
spontaneously walk blindfold to our own destruction? Wherefore, we
cannot on any account admit that the Church consists in a meeting of
pastors, as to whom the Lord has no where promised that they would
always be good, but has sometimes foretold that they would be
wicked. When he warns us of danger, it is to make us use greater

8. What, then, you will say, is there no authority in the
definitions of councils? Yes, indeed; for I do not contend that all
councils are to be condemned, and all their acts rescinded, or, as
it is said, made one complete erasure. But you are bringing them all
(it will be said) under subordination, and so leaving every one at
liberty to receive or reject the decrees of councils as he pleases.
By no means; but whenever the decree of a council is produced, the
first thing I would wish to be done is, to examine at what time it
was held, on what occasion, with what intention, and who were
present at it; next I would bring the subject discussed to the
standard of Scripture. And this I would do in such a way, that the
decision of the council should have its weight, and be regarded in
the light of a prior judgement, yet not so as to prevent the
application of the test which I have mentioned. I wish all had
observed the method which Augustine prescribes in his Third Book
against Maximinus, when he wished to silence the cavils of this
heretic against the decrees of councils, "I ought not to oppose the
Council of Nice to you, nor ought you to oppose that of Ariminum to
me, as prejudging the question. I am not bound by the authority of
the latter, nor you by that of the former. Let thing contend with
thing, cause with cause, reason with reason, on the authority of
Scripture, an authority not peculiar to either, but common to all."
In this way, councils would be duly respected, and yet the highest
place would be given to Scripture, every thing being brought to it
as a test.
Thus those ancient Councils of Nice, Constantinople, the
first of Ephesus, Chalcedony, and the like, which were held for
refuting errors, we willingly embrace, and reverence as sacred, in
so far as relates to doctrines of faith, for they contain nothing
but the pure and genuine interpretation of Scripture, which the holy
Fathers with spiritual prudence adopted to crush the enemies of
religion who had then arisen. In some later councils, also, we see
displayed a true zeal for religion, and moreover, unequivocal marks
of genius, learning, and prudence. But as matters usually become
worse and worse, it is easy to see in more modern councils how much
the Church gradually degenerated from the purity of that golden age.
I doubt not, however that even in those more corrupt ages, councils
had their bishops of better character. But it happened with them as
the Roman senators of old complained in regard to their decrees.
Opinions being numbered, not weighed, the better were obliged to
give way to the greater number. They certainly put forth many
impious sentiments. There is no need here to collect instances, both
because it would be tedious, and because it has been done by others
so carefully as not to leave much to be added.

9. Moreover, why should I review the contests of council with
council? Nor is there any ground for whispering to me, that when
councils are at variance, one or other of them is not a lawful
council. For how shall we ascertain this? Just, if I mistake not, by
judging from Scripture that the decrees are not orthodox. For this
alone is the sure law of discrimination. It is now about nine
hundred years since the Council of Constantinople, convened under
the Emperor Leo, determined that the images set up in temples were
to be thrown down and broken to pieces. Shortly after, the Council
of Nice, which was assembled by Irene, through dislike of the
former, decreed that images were to be restored. Which of the two
councils shall we acknowledge to be lawful? The latter has usually
prevailed, and secured a place for images in churches. But Augustine
maintains that this could not be done without the greatest danger of
idolatry. Epiphanies, at a later period, speaks much more harshly,
(Epist. ad Joann. Hierosolym. et Lib. 3 contra Haeres.) For he says,
it is an unspeakable abomination to see images in a Christian
temple. Could those who speak thus approve of that council if they
were alive in the present day? But if historians speak true, and we
believe their acts, not only images themselves, but the worship of
them, were there sanctioned. Now it is plain that this decree
emanated from Satan. Do they not show, by corrupting and wresting
Scripture, that they held it in derision? This I have made
sufficiently clear in a former part of the work, (see Book 1 chap.
11. sec. 14.) Be this as it may, we shall never be able to
distinguish between contradictory and dissenting councils, which
have been many, unless we weigh them all in that balance for men and
angels, I mean, the word of God. Thus we embrace the Council of
Chalcedony, and repudiate the second of Ephesus, because the latter
sanctioned the impiety of Eutyches, and the former condemned it. The
judgement of these holy men was founded on the Scriptures, and while
we follow it, we desire that the word of God, which illuminated
them, may now also illuminate us. Let the Romanists now go and boast
after their manner, that the Holy Spirit is fixed and tied to their

10. Even in their ancient and purer councils there is something
to be desiderated, either because the otherwise learned and prudent
men who attended, being distracted by the business in hand, did not
attend to many things beside; or because, occupied with grave and
more serious measures, they winked at some of lesser moment; or
simply because, as men, they were deceived through ignorance, or
were sometimes carried headlong by some feeling in excess. Of this
last case (which seems the most difficult of all to avoid) we have a
striking example in the Council of Nice, which has been unanimously
received, as it deserves, with the utmost veneration. For when the
primary article of our faith was there in peril, and Arius, its
enemy, was present, ready to engage any one in combat, and it was of
the utmost moment that those who had come to attack Arius should be
agreed, they nevertheless, feeling secure amid all these dangers,
nay, as it were, forgetting their gravity, modesty, and politeness,
laying aside the discussion which was before them, (as if they had
met for the express purpose of gratifying Alias,) began to give way
to intestine dissensions, and turn the pen, which should have been
employed against Arius, against each other. Foul accusations were
heard, libels flew up and down, and they never would have ceased
from their contention until they had stabbed each other with mutual
wounds, had not the Emperor Constantine interfered, and declaring
that the investigation of their lives was a matter above his
cognisance, repressed their intemperance by flattery rather than
censure. In how many respects is it probable that councils, held
subsequently to this, have erred? Nor does the fact stand in need of
a long demonstration; any one who reads their acts will observe many
infirmities, not to use a stronger term.

11. Even Leo, the Roman Pontiff, hesitates not to charge the
Council of Chalcedony, which he admits to be orthodox in its
doctrines, with ambition and inconsiderate rashness. He denies not
that it was lawful, but openly maintains that it might have erred.
Some may think me foolish in labouring to point out errors of this
description, since my opponents admit that councils may err in
things not necessary to salvation. My labour, however, is not
superfluous. For although compelled, they admit this in word, yet by
obtruding upon us the determination of all councils, in all matters
without distinction, as the oracles of the Holy Spirit, they exact
more than they had at the outset assumed. By thus acting what do
they maintain, but just that councils cannot err, or if they err, it
is unlawful for us to perceive the truth, or refuse assent to their
errors? At the same time, all I mean to infer from what I have said
is, that though councils, otherwise pious and holy, were governed by
the Holy Spirit, he yet allowed them to share the lot of humanity,
lest we should confide too much in men. This is a much better view
than that of Gregory Nanzianzen, who says, (Ep. 55,) that he never
saw any council end well. In asserting that all, without exception,
ended ill, he leaves them little authority. There is no necessity
for making separate mention of provincial councils, since it is easy
to estimate, from the case of general councils, how much authority
they ought to have in framing articles of faith, and deciding what
kind of doctrine is to be received.

12. But our Romanists, when, in defending their cause, they see
all rational grounds slip from beneath them, retake themselves to a
last miserable subterfuge. Although they should be dull in intellect
and counsel, and most depraved in heart and will, still the word of
the Lord remains, which commands us to obey those who have the rule
over us, (Heb. 13: 17.) Is it indeed so? What if I should deny that
those who act thus have the rule over us? They ought not to claim
for themselves more than Joshua had, who was both a prophet of the
Lord and an excellent pastor. Let us then hear in what terms the
Lord introduced him to his office. "This book of the law shall not
depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and
night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is
written therein: for then shalt thou make thy way prosperous, and
thou shalt have good success," (Josh. 1: 7, 8.) Our spiritual
rulers, therefore, will be those who turn not from the law of the
Lord to the right hand or the left. But if the doctrine of all
pastors is to be received without hesitation, why are we so often
and so anxiously admonished by the Lord not to give heed to false
prophets? "Thus saith the Lord of Hosts, Hearken not unto the words
of the prophets that prophesy unto you; they make you vain: they
speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the
Lord," (Jer. 23: 16.) Again, "Beware of false prophets, which come
to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves,"
(Matth. 7: 15.) In vain also would John exhort us to try the spirits
whether they be of God, (1 John 4: 1.) From this judgement not even
angels are exempted, (Gal. 1: 8 ,) far less Satan with his lies. And
what is meant by the expression, "If the blind lead the blind, both
shall fall into the ditch?" (Matth. 15: 14.) Does it not
sufficiently declare that there is a great difference among the
pastors who are to be heard, that all are not to be heard
indiscriminately? Wherefore they have no ground for deterring us by
their names in order to draw us into a participation of their
blindness, since we see, on the contrary, that the Lord has used
special care to guard us from allowing ourselves to be led away by
the errors of others, whatever be the mask under which they may
lurk. For if the answer of our Saviour is true, blind guides,
whether high priests prelates, or pontiffs, can do nothing more than
hurry us over the same precipice with themselves. Wherefore, }et no
names of councils, pastors, and bishops, (which may be used on false
pretences as well as truly,) hinder us from giving heed to the
evidence both of words and facts, and bringing all spirits to the
test of the divine word, that we may prove whether they are of God.

13. Having proved that no power was given to the Church to set
up any new doctrine, let us now treat of the power attributed to
them in the interpretation of Scripture. We readily admit, that when
any doctrine is brought under discussion, there is not a better or
surer remedy than for a council of true bishops to meet and discuss
the controverted point. There will be much more weight in a decision
of this kind, to which the pastors of churches have agreed in common
after invoking the Spirit of Christ, than if each, adopting it for
himself, should deliver it to his people, or a few individuals
should meet in private and decide. Secondly, When bishops have
assembled in one place, they deliberate more conveniently in common,
fixing both the doctrine and the form of teaching it, lest diversity
give offence. Thirdly, Paul prescribes this method of determining
doctrine. For when he gives the power of deciding to a single
church, he shows what the course of procedure should be in more
important cases, namely, that the churches together are to take
common cognisance. And the very feeling of piety tells us, that if
any one trouble the Church with some novelty in doctrine, and the
matter be carried so far that there is danger of a greater
dissension, the churches should first meet, examine the question,
and at length, after due discussion, decide according to Scripture,
which may both put an end to doubt in the people, and stop the
mouths of wicked and restless men, so as to prevent the matter from
proceeding farther. Thus when Arius arose, the Council of Nice was
convened, and by its authority both crushed the wicked attempts of
this impious man, and restored peace to the churches which he had
vexed and asserted the eternal divinity of Christ in opposition to
his sacrilegious dogma. Thereafter, when Eunomius and Macedonius
raised new disturbances, their madness was met with a similar remedy
by the Council of Constantinople; the impiety of Nestorius was
defeated by the Council of Ephesus. In short, this was from the
first the usual method of preserving unity in the Church whenever
Satan commenced his machinations. But let us remember, that all ages
and places are not favoured with an Athanasius, a Basil, a Cyril,
and like vindicators of sound doctrine, whom the Lord then raised
up. Nay, let us consider what happened in the second Council of
Ephesus when the Eutychian heresy prevailed. Flavianus, of holy
memory, with some pious men, was driven into exile, and many similar
crimes were committed, because, instead of the Spirit of the Lord,
Dioscorus, a factious man, of a very bad disposition, presided. But
the Church was not there. I admit it; for I always hold that the
truth does not perish in the Church though it be oppressed by one
council, but is wondrously preserved by the Lord to rise again, and
prove victorious in his own time. I deny, however, that every
interpretation of Scripture is true and certain which has received
the votes of a council.

14. But the Romanists have another end in view when they say
that the power of interpreting Scripture belongs to councils; and
that without challenge. For they employ it as a pretext for giving
the name of an interpretation of Scripture to everything which is
determined in councils. Of purgatory, the intercession of saints,
and auricular confession, and the like, not one syllable can be
found in Scripture. But as all these have been sanctioned by the
authority of the Church, or, to speak more correctly, have been
received by opinion and practice, every one of them is to be held as
an interpretation of Scripture. And not only so, but whatever a
council has determined against Scripture is to have the name of an
interpretation. Christ bids all drink of the cup which he holds
forth in the Supper. The Council of Constance prohibited the giving
of it to the people, and determined that the priest alone should
drink. Though this is diametrically opposed to the institution of
Christ, (Matth. 26: 26,) they will have it to be regarded as his
interpretation. Paul terms the prohibition of marriage a doctrine of
devils (1 Tim. 4: 1, 3;) and the Spirit elsewhere declares that
"marriage is honourable in all," (Heb. 13: 4.) Having afterwards
interdicted their priests from marriage, they insist on this as a
true and genuine interpretation of Scripture, though nothing can be
imagined more alien to it. Should any one venture to open his lips
in opposition, he will be judged a heretic, since the determination
of the Church is without challenge, and it is unlawful to have any
doubt as to the accuracy of her interpretation. Why should I assail
such effrontery? to point to it is to condemn it. Their dogma with
regard to the power of approving Scripture I intentionally omit. For
to subject the oracles of God in this way to the censure of men, and
hold that they are sanctioned because they please men, is a
blasphemy which deserves not to be mentioned. Besides, I have
already touched upon it, (Book 1 chap. 7, 8, sec. 9.) I will ask
them one questions however, If the authority of Scripture is founded
on the approbation of the Church, will they quote the decree of a
council to that effect? I believe they cannot. Why, then, did Arius
allow himself to be vanquished at the Council of Nice by passages
adduced from the Gospel of John? According to these, he was at
liberty to repudiate them, as they had not previously been approved
by any general council. They allege an old catalogue, which they
call the Canon, and say that it originated in a decision of the
Church. But I again ask, In what council was that Canon published?
Here they must be dumb. Besides, I wish to know what they believe
that Canon to be. For I see that the ancients are little agreed with
regard to it. If effect is to be given to what Jerome says, (Praef.
in Lib. Salom.) the Maccabees, Tobit, Ecclesiasticus, and the like,
must take their place in the Apocryphal: but this they will not
tolerate on any account.

Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Volume 4
(continued in part 11...)[/collapse]

Philip Schaff

The Creeds of Christendom, published by Baker Book House.

“In the Protestant system, the authority of (creeds), as of all human compositions, is relative and limited. It is not coordinate with, but always subordinate to, the Bible, as the only infallible rule of the Christian Faith and practice. The value of creeds depends upon the measure of their agreement with the Scriptures. In the best case, a human creed is only an approximate and relatively correct exposition of revealed truth, and may be improved by the progressive knowledge of the Church, while the Bible remains perfect and infallible. The Bible is of God; the Confession is man’s answer to God’s Word. The Bible has, therefore, a divine and absolute (authority), the Confession only an ecclesiastical and relative authority. Any higher view of the authority of (creeds) is unprotestant and essentially Romanizing. (Creedolatry) is a species of idolatry, and substitutes the tyranny of a printed book for that of a living Pope. It is apt to produce the opposite extreme of a rejection of all creeds, and to promote rationalism and infidelity.”

Francis Turretin, LINK

"The orthodox (although they hold the fathers in great estimation and think them very useful to a knowledge of the history of the ancient church, and our opinion on cardinal doctrines may agree with them) yet deny that their authority, whether as individuals or taken together, can be called authoritative in matters of faith and the interpretation of the Scriptures, so that by their judgment we must stand or fall. Their authority is only ecclesiastical and subordinate to the Scriptures and of no weight except so far as they agree with them" (Institutes of Elenctic Theology, vol. 1, p. 163).

B. B. Warfield, LINK

"This church-doctrine of inspiration differs from the theories that would fain supplant it, in that it is not the invention nor the property of an individual, but the settled faith of the universal church of God; in that it is not the growth of yesterday, but the assured persuasion of the people of God from the first planting of the church until today; in that it is not a protean shape, varying its affirmations to fit every new change in the ever-shifting thought of men, but from the beginning has been the church’s constant and abiding conviction as to the divinity of the Scriptures committed to her keeping" (Works, vol. 1, p. 52).

John William Burgon, LINK

"... the Bible is none other than the voice of Him that sitteth upon the Throne! Every book of it, every chapter of it, every verse of it, every word of it, every syllable of it (where are we to stop?) every letter of it, is the direct utterance of the Most High! ... Well spake the HOLY GHOST by the mouth of the many blessed men who wrote it. The Bible is none other than the Word of God: not some part of it more, some part of it less; but all alike the utterance of Him who sitteth upon the Throne, absolute, faultless, unerring, supreme."

Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., LINK

"Statement of Faith: Scripture: We believe the Bible alone (the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments) is the Word of God. It is "God-breathed" and therefore verbally inspired and completely without error (historically, scientifically, morally, and spiritually) and is the final authority on all issues pertaining to life and faith."