Beckwith, Trueman, and the Holy Spirit

Rick Phillips
Thanks Carl for the link to Dr Michael Liccione's response to your piece on Beckwith.  I found it most illuminating.  On the key issue of tradition and authority, Liccione's main argument is that when it comes to interpreting Scripture we must either throw in our lot with the authority of the Church or the authority of private interpretation.  He sees the Protestant approach relying on the latter.  What he fails to appreciate, in this response at least, and what many other critics of the Reformation fail to appreciate (including evangelical postmoderns) is that we are not relying on the authority of private interpretation but upon the ministry of the Holy Spirit.  This is the lynchpin of Reformed hermeneutics, our conviction from the Scriptures that the Spirit will lead God's people into truth by the Word (Jn. 16:13).  Whereas Liccione and other Roman Catholics see the divide as consisting between ecclesiastical and individual authority, Reformed theology sees a divide between church authority and the authority of the Holy Spirit.  We are not relying on private interpretation, but on the witness of the Spirit to the Word in the church to the people of God.

Everyone sees the chaos in church history when it comes to Bible interpretation and each side blames the other: Rome blames individualism and Wittenburg blames tradition.  I would blame both, but then I would turn to the witness of the Holy Spirit as the solution and hope.  I suppose that if I had to choose between the witness of the Church and the witness of private interpretation, I, too, would reluctantly submit to Rome.  Fortunately, I am faced with no such dichotomy, because in step with the Reformed faith for the last half-millennium I may rely on the Spirit's authority for both the church and the private individual.


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