Saturday, 28 July 2012

Jesus Christ - Sole King and Head of the Church

This is the mantra that is used by reformed evangelicals that is true in theory but false in practice.  Why do I say that?  Because in actual practice Jesus Christ does not hold the top place in the church, but that place is occupied by man-made codes and confessions and religious preferences.

Christians believe that Christ is the sole of Lord of all and that His sole authority is found in His speaking through the Holy Scriptures. Only these are the inspired, or better, expired, Word of the living and true God.  While written by human penmen under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the end product is the mind and heart of God on all matters of faith and practice.

Or is it?  Whilst human compositions have their place and are most helpful, they must never occupy the place of the sole and final authority of God speaking in the Scriptures. 

But that said, human compositions have been elevated to a position higher than Scripture in the thinking and practice of the church.  A man might say what he likes about the Scriptures and the various interpretations that abound, but let him not say a wrong word about the Confession of Faith or other doctrinal standards.  Reformed orthodoxy is not measured by the Confession of Faith alone, but by the only final touchstone of Scripture.  Indeed, there is an argument that says that the Three Forms of Unity (the Heidelberg Catechism, the Belgic Confession and the Canons of Dort) among the continental reformed church post reformation are a more accurate reflection of the teaching of the Bible as rediscovered at the Reformation.  But these too are subordinate standards held by the church.  Where they conflict in any way with the clear teaching of Scripture, the voice of God speaking in the Scripture must be given prime place in moulding our understanding of the Gospel.

Other human preferences are also used as touchstones of orthodoxy - the exclusive use of the King James Version of the Bible, the exclusive use of Psalms in the worship of God, and whether or not woman cover their heads in church (not to mention other modes of dress).  These human preferences are used to justify separation from other true believers on the most trivial of matters.  Obviously God has a special place in heaven for those who are most orthodox.

I long for the day when Jesus Christ will be, in reality, the sole King and Head of the church whose alone authority is the standard of orthodoxy in His church.  And we must always remember this: It is His Church, not yours or mine.

The fact remains that when anyone puts anything alongside or above Scripture, they have confessed the insufficiency of Scripture alone as an adequate rule of faith and practice.

What is worse, if worse is possible, is that these secondary documents have become the evangelical and reformed equivalent of Roman Catholicism's magisterium.

Now there's something to think about!

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