“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” -2 Timothy 3.16
As I have written before, echoing the words of men like Al Mohler and John Piper, it is every generation’s battle to determine whether they will stand on the authority of Scripture or not. In light of this thought, I found it refreshing to see the call to arms for standing on God’s One Inspired Word, turning away the philosophies and ponderings of imperfect man, tucked inside of a classic work of Christian thought.
The piece I am talking about is Richard Baxter’s The Reformed Pastor. I am about two-thirds of the way through this treatise right now and already I know that it will be a book I come back to for years as a guide on the pastoral ministry. Baxter speaks with such clarity and passion on the issues he sets out to deal with that it is hard to imagine him fitting the mold of the cliched stuffy-shirt Puritans.
In the close of his discourse on how ministers should exercise the oversight of their flocks (taken from Acts 20.28) Baxter says these words:
The Scripture sufficiency must be maintained, and nothing beyond it imposed on others; and if papists, or others, call to us for the standard and rule of our religion, it is the Bible that we must show them, rather than any confessions of churches, or writings of men.
This is such an incredible declaration. How often do we find Christians trying to define their faith by pointing to the current fad in Christian publishing (think Blue Like Jazz, Velvet Elvis, A Generous Orthodoxy, or The Shack) when all that is need and sufficient is the collected Word of God in the Bible? Or even among my own Calvinist friends, how fast are we to want to bind people by their confessions of faith, the same confessions which Baxter is decrying here (This book was published in 1656, the Westminster Confession of Faith was written in 1646)? This is a stern reminder that there must never be anything which we would refer to in place of the Bible when we are looking to defend or guide or lives as children of God.