The Suffiency of Scripture and Divine Warrant for Doctrine, Government and Worship in the Church

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frog

Puritan Board Freshman
I was reading "Sola Scriptura and the Regulative Principle of Worship" by Brian Schwertley, and he makes the following statements regarding sola scriptura and divine warrant in the areas of doctrine, government and worship in church:
There is a great contrast between the Anglican and the Reformed understanding of sola scriptura and the sufficiency of Scripture. Reformed confessions regard the perfection and sufficiency of the Bible as extending not only to doctrine but also to worship and church government. If the worship and government that God has instituted in his word is sufficient, then obviously it does not need supplementation.
And
Those who do not consider divine warrant an important issue for the government and worship of the church should remember that over 18,000 men, women and children who were dedicated Scottish Presbyterians (Covenanters) were murdered simply for refusing to submit to the human ordinances of Prelacy.
And
There can be no question whatsoever but that the phrase “good and necessary consequence” applies to the worship and government of the church. To argue otherwise would render the section on the “circumstances concerning the worship of God and government of the church” totally out of place.
And
John L. Girardeau writes, “A divine warrant is necessary for every element of doctrine, government and worship in the church; that is, whatsoever in these spheres is not commanded in the Scriptures, either expressly or by good and necessary consequence from their statements, is forbidden.”
So it seems that the sufficiency of Scripture indicates that God has told us all that we need to know for doctrine, government and worship in church. And that divine warrant is required in each of these areas.

I am unfamiliar with this idea. I've only been taught that the sufficiency of Scripture refers to God giving us all we need in the Bible for salvation and obeying Him, and this is applied in a general framework in all of life through principles. Though this seems a bit different than what was spoken about above. Additionally, the idea that divine warrant is required in these areas is foreign to me. I'm aware of many practices where anyone can baptise, anyone can preach, and the government of the church is left to what seems to be rational and pragmatic. If challenged, they would argue that there is no explicit prohibition in these areas and so we're free to do these things as we see fit. Perhaps there is a pattern in the Bible, but by no means is this binding as it is not explicitly forbidden. Else, they would argue that if divine warrant was required in these areas then why would that not be extended to all facets of life and so we couldn't drive cars, couldn't have computers, couldn't post on forums etc..

Question: How does the sufficiency of Scripture apply to doctrine, government and worship in the church and is divine warrant required in these areas? If so, why is divine warrant and the sufficiency of Scripture limited to these areas and not expanded to the rest of life such as eating ice cream, building a bridge etc.?

I'm interested in an exegetical and theological case.
 
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NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
See the man cited, John L. Giardeau and the article length (long article) The Discretionary Power of the Church who discusses all three areas of doctrine, government and worship. A longer work is the 2 volume work of James Bannerman, The Church of Christ. Vol. 1. Vol. 2.
Also see Jus Divinum Regiminis Ecclesiastici. by the London provincial assembly many of whom were at the same time part of the Westminster assembly. Old texts are online; you can pick up the new more critical edition from RHB which appears in the new Naphtali Press Special Editions series (it from last year). Part one deals with what is of divine right and part two answers what form of church government is of divine right. https://www.heritagebooks.org/produ...vine-right-of-church-government-coldwell.html
 

frog

Puritan Board Freshman
Thank you very much Chris! I've had a read of Girardeau's sermon and it was very helpful. I'll have to check out Bannerman along with that other work you mentioned.

If divine warrant is required in the area of government and worship, would this entail that divine warrant would be required in the methods of achieving the mission of the church, namely, to make disciples? E.g. is divine warrant required then for the existence of parachurches (ones whose mission is also to make disciples), for unordained men teaching in Bible studies, for church marketing (like handing out flyers or advertising in general). Are there any other works that explore how this impacts church and how disciples are made?
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Thank you very much Chris! I've had a read of Girardeau's sermon and it was very helpful. I'll have to check out Bannerman along with that other work you mentioned.

If divine warrant is required in the area of government and worship, would this entail that divine warrant would be required in the methods of achieving the mission of the church, namely, to make disciples? E.g. is divine warrant required then for the existence of parachurches (ones whose mission is also to make disciples), for unordained men teaching in Bible studies, for church marketing (like handing out flyers or advertising in general). Are there any other works that explore how this impacts church and how disciples are made?
The thing that comes to mind is the debate between Hodge and Thornwell on church boards and any study and commentary; others may opine with more study leads.
 
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