Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Warfield on authority and the Liberal attack on "bibliolatry"

Thus, he [a Liberal], too, throws back the spirit upon itself, under the euphemism of "the witness of the Spirit in the heart," for the source and test of all truth. One of the strange things in connection with this widely prevalent subjectivism is the tendency observed in many and very diverse quarters to represent it [this attitude of rejecting the authority of the external text of Scripture] as a return to the attitude of the Reformers. It stands rather, of course, in direct contradiction to the Reformers' attitude. What they renounced was not "external authority," but "human authority," inclusive naturally of that of their own spirits; and what they fell back on was "Divine authority,: which not only includes, but primarily exhibits itself in, the Scriptures. When it is "external authority" that is renounced, the authority of God goes with it, and we can revert only to the human authority of the individual soul. And that, conceal it under whatever honeyed phrases we may, is nothing but a return to the fundamental principle, not of the Reformation, but of "Rationalism." [B.B. Warfield, "Recent Reconstructions of Theology," in Selected Shorter Writings, 2:293]

The charge of "bibliolatry," or making an idol of the Bible, is a spurious charge by liberals against those who believe the true Christian faith. Since no one is actually bowing down to a physical copy of the Bible, or to Codex Sinaiticus or any of the Papyrii, the charge is false. Those who refuse to be constrained by Scripture are rejecting the authority of God Himself, and thus are themselves idolators of their own reason and/or experience.

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