Monday, February 1, 2010

Christ our Teacher

It is nothing, my brethren, to the faithful servant of Jesus Christ that a certain dogma comes down to him with the grey antiquity of the ages to make it venerable. Like a sensible man, the Christian respects antiquity, but like a loyal subject of his King, he does not so bow before antiquity as to let it become ruler in Zion instead of the living Christ. A multitude of good men may meet together, and they may, in their judgment, propound a dogma, and assert it to be essential and undoubted, and they may even threaten perils most abundant to those who receive not their verdict; but if the dogma was not authorized long before they decided it - if it was not written in the Book, the decision of the learned council amounts to nothing.

All the fathers, and doctors, and divines, and confessors, put together, cannot add a word to the faith once delivered unto the saints: yea, I venture to say, that the unanimous assent of all the saints in heaven and earth would not suffice to make a single doctrine binding upon conscience unless Jesus had so determined. In vain do men say, “So did the early church” - the early church has no supremacy over us. It is to no purpose to quote Origen or Augustine: quote the inspired apostles and the doctrine is established, but not otherwise. In the church of God it is never sufficient to say, “So thinks Martin Luther.” Who was Martin Luther? A servant of Jesus Christ, and nothing more. It is not sufficient to say, “So teacheth John Calvin,” for who is John Calvin? Hath he shed his blood for you, or is he your master? His opinion is to be respected as the opinion of your fellow servant, but in no respect as a doctor or authoritative teacher in the church - for Christ alone is Rabbi, and we are to call no man Master upon earth.

From a sermon entitled "The Head of the Church," delivered November 1, 1868. Image by Martina Rathgens under Creative Commons License.

No comments: