系統神學緒論(周必克) - 第19講 被擴展為等級制教訓的特殊啟示(斯莫利牧師)
Welcome back to the lecture series on Prolegomena.
In today’s lecture, we’ll be picking up under heading 15 in the outline,
“Errors regarding special revelation.”
To begin our lecture, I’d like to read from Isaiah 8:19 and 20.
Isaiah 8, verse 19 and 20.
And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits,
and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter:
should not a people seek unto their God?
for the living to the dead? To the law and to the testimony:
if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
Our Father in heaven, we live in a world where we are surrounded
by claims to having spiritual light.
And frankly, Father, these things tug at our hearts.
We are always being attracted to some other source of truth than to Your holy Word.
But we thank You that You have given us Your Word,
because without it, Lord, we would live in utter darkness.
And we pray that You would use this lecture
to both confirm within our own hearts an absolute commitment
and dependence to the Holy Scriptures as the only divine source of truth
by which we may be saved.
And Lord, we also pray that You would equip us so that we would be ready to help others
to avoid false lights and instead to follow the true Light,
which is Christ as he shines in the Holy Scriptures.
We pray it in Jesus’s name. Amen.
Special revelation from God is the bedrock foundation for Christianity.
Now, a major flaw in the foundation of any building
will lead to cracks in the superstructure,
and eventually the demise of the entire building.
Therefore, we must watch carefully against error in foundational doctrines.
It may not seem as crucial as the atonement of Christ
or as justification by faith alone,
but the doctrine of special revelation holds a foundational position within Christian belief.
And all those doctrines face an uncertain future
if they’re not solidly supported by a biblical understanding
of how God has revealed Himself in His holy Word.
Special revelation is distorted whenever we place
a human source of knowledge alongside, above or in place of
the Word of God.
And in this lecture, errors regarding special revelation,
we are going to be considering some of the ways in which people seek to do that,
much to the harm of those who have listened to them.
We begin with subpoint A, “Special revelation extended to hierarchical tradition,”
that is tradition that is established by church authorities.
John Calvin warned against this error
when he said, “No other word is to be held
as the Word of God and given place as such in the church
than what is contained first in the law and the prophets
and then in the writings of the apostles.
And the only authorized way of teaching in the church is by the prescription
and standard of His Word.”
The Reformed churches state in the Belgium Confession, Article Seven.
“Since it is forbidden to add onto or take away anything from the Word of God,
it does thereby evidently appear that the doctrine thereof is most perfect and complete in all respects.
Neither do we consider of equal value
any writing of men, however holy these men may have been, with those divine Scriptures;
nor ought we to consider custom, or the great multitude,
or antiquity, or succession of times and persons, or councils, decrees, or statutes,
as of equal value with the truth of God.”
Now the reason why the Reformed churches found it necessary to make pronouncements such of these,
is because the Roman Catholic Church claimed to infallibly interpret Scripture
and even to supplement Scripture with its own authoritative traditions,
effectively making the church pronouncements into a means of divine revelation.
This was so in the 16th century and it remains so today.
The doctrine of divine revelation in both the Holy Scriptures and the teachings of Roman Catholicism
was codified in that church’s official confessional statements.
We find it today in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, copyright 1994.
Its teachings on this subject can be summarized in the following points.
First, divine revelation was passed down in two ways:
orally as “Sacred Tradition” and in writing as the “Sacred Scriptures,”
both of which “flow from the same divine well-spring” of supernatural revelation.
Secondly, the church “does not derive her certainty about all revealed truths
from the Holy Scriptures alone.” The Catholic Catechism says. “Both Scripture and Tradition
must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence.”
Third, the church’s “Magisterium,” that is the teaching office of the pope and the bishops,
has the authority to interpret the Word of God,
and when that Magisterium defines doctrine,
it does so “in a form obliging the Christian people to an irrevocable adherence of faith.”
Number four, the pope, “as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful,”
speaks with “infallibility” when “he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine
pertaining to faith or morals,”
and his doctrine “must be adhered to with the obedience of faith.”
And fifth, the Catholic Catechism says
that even when the pope is not making a definitive pronouncement,
his teachings must be received by the faithful “with religious assent.”
Now, the great problem with classic Roman assertions
is that there is no indication
in the Holy Scriptures of a second,
equally authoritative source of divine revelation beside the Bible.
Now, the Roman church attempts to find biblical support
for its position largely in two ways.
First, Ludwig Ott, who lived from 1906 to 1985, said,
“Christ promised His Apostles
the assistance of the Holy Ghost for the fulfillment of their teaching task.”
The key text here is John 16:12-13,
where Christ said, “I have yet many things to say unto you, but you cannot bear them now.
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth:
for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear,
that shall he speak and will show you the things to come.”
Roman Catholic apologist in the 16th century, John Eck, said,
“Not only are those things expressly stated in the Scriptures or proved from them to believed and kept…,
but also it is necessary to believe and keep those things Holy Mother Church believes and observes.
For not everything has been clearly handed down in the Sacred Scriptures,
but very many have been left to the Church to determine,
which is illumined and governed by the Holy Spirit,
and on this account cannot wander from the path of truth.”
Therefore, Eck wrote, it is wicked to depart from the church.
Because its “tradition” is “from the intimate inspiration of the Holy Spirit.”.
In other words, they’re taking this promise by Christ about the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit
and they’re using it to justify their taking their traditions,
and saying these are also from the Holy Spirit, just as Holy Scripture is.
Now, we respond to this argument by observing
that Christ didn’t say anything in this text about the infallibility of the bishop of Rome
or for any church organization, for that matter.
What the text promises is the continuing work of the Holy Spirit to teach the church
after Christ returns to heaven.
But what was Christ speaking of?
We can consider the application of his words either
in a very focused, immediate sense in the context of his original speaking them,
or in a more general application.
The most immediate application of the promise is to the eleven Apostles
是當時聽主耶穌說話的人 – 與他一起的十一個門徒。
who are with Christ at the time he said those things.
They would receive further insight into the truth,
so that by these revelations of the Spirit, they might lay the foundation
for the new covenant church, as Paul describes in Ephesians 2:20 and 3:5.
There is nothing in Jesus’s words that so much as hints
that any officers in the church in future ages
would inherit the infallibility of the apostles.
Christ’s promise also has a general application to all believers, as the Catholic Church admits.
The Spirit’s illumination enables believers to know the truth of God’s Word experientially
and to bear witness to that truth in a powerful way.
However, Christians, even though they have the Holy Spirit,
can and sometimes do have an incomplete and erroneous theology.
Individual churches may fall away.
The Church of Christ as a whole cannot fully or finally fail
because Christ is with her.
But sadly, this is not true of particular denominations.
While the church
is “governed by the Spirit,” that does not mean that
“it can proceed safely without the Word,” as Calvin said.
Rather, we must never separate the illumination of the Spirit from the Word of God.
A second line of argument to which Roman Catholics appeal
to support their idea of a divinely authoritative tradition
is the New Testament references to tradition,
such as 2 Thessalonians 2:15 and Chapter 3, verse 6.
In 2 Thessalonians 2:15, Paul wrote,
“Therefore, brethren, stand fast,
and hold the traditions which you’ve been taught, whether by word, or our epistle,”
and in Chapter 3, verse six, Paul said,
“Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
that you withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly,
and not after the tradition which he received of us.”
And so their argument is that
the Bible says the Word of God includes both the preaching and the writing of the apostles;
the preaching of the apostles created an authoritative tradition which is distinct from the writings
and is also preserved in the church.
How do we respond to that?
We respond by acknowledging that
the Bible can speak positively of “tradition” as authoritative truth
that we should receive and pass down to others.
Tradition is not inherently evil.
The question is whether or not that tradition is faithful to the Word of God.
If tradition is faithful to the word of God, it should be followed.
Those who heard the preaching of the apostles were to pass it along to others,
because the preaching of the apostles was the Word of God,
just as their writing is the Word of God.
For example, we can see that in 1 Corinthians 11:2,
However, there is no promise in the Bible that
the traditions of the church will always preserve the Word of God in its purity and entirety.
Much less is there a promise that any particular church, such as the Church of Rome,
will preserve the truth in its teachings perfectly through the ages.
And a point of fact, popes and councils have contradicted each other.
For example, we consider the great Western schism from 1378 to 1417,
where we find three rival popes excommunicating one another,
only to find themselves deposed by the Council of Constance,
the decrees of which council were then nullified by the very pope that it appointed.
History shows us that there is no infallible tradition.
Rather, when Paul speaks of “tradition”, he is referring to his own teachings.
The only direct access that we have to those teachings today is in the written Word of God.
Just as the teachings of Moses and the prophets were corrupted by the Pharisees
until their tradition contradicted the Word of God,
so the New Testament warns that
false teachers will invade the church, pervert the truth and draw people away.
Therefore, there are many traditions that claim to be God’s Word.
This means that tradition must always be tested by the written Word of God.
Paul writes in Colossians 2:6 through 8,
“As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord,
so walk you in him; rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith,
as you have been taught, abounding therein with Thanksgiving.
Beware, lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit,
after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”
Although the Roman Catholic Church continues to affirm
the official doctrinal stance taken at the Council of Trent,
which met from 1545 to 1563,
it has drifted in its understanding
of the nature of revelation in the church.
Avery Dulles, who lived from 1918 to 2008, noted that
since the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s,
tradition has been viewed not merely as an objective “body of explicit teaching,”
but as the organic “practice and life
of the believing and praying church,”
which contains, he says, many doctrines “in a merely implicit way.”
“Tradition, finally, is not static or simply preservative.
It develops dynamically.”
Thus, tradition in a post-Vatican II sense,
is a progressive understanding that develops
out of the Catholic liturgy, the writings of the church fathers,
and the “sense of the faithful” as moved by the Spirit.
Bruce Demarest notes,
“Vatican II thus moves in the direction
of liberal Protestantism when it claims that man finds God experientially
in the religious dimension of life.”
To understand the significance of this shift, we must give closer examination to the
theological currents that arose from the 18th century movement known as the “Enlightenment.”
But first, let’s take a break.