Blog 192: 4.9.12-4.10.2

Calvin moves from the claim that the Church has the power to set up new doctrines to the idea that the Church has the power to interpret Scripture. Calvin, of course, does not believe that just because a council decrees something that the interpretation is thereby accurate. Calvin's opponents use this as a pretext, saying that whatever the council decrees is an "interpretation," no matter how contrary it might be to Scripture.
They also claim that the Church has the power to enact laws that bind the conscience of men. These laws, they say, are both spiritual and necessary. Calvin's concern here is twofold: the pure worship of God and the spiritual liberty of his children.
Since God is the only Lawgiver, to function in his place is to usurp his authority and to hurt his people. In order to have peace with God, we must be free, and in order to be free we cannot be under the burden of laws that are not prescribed by God. The Church must not make necessary that which Christ has left free. If we ignore this rule, the result will be anxiety, pain, terror, and grief.
It's easy to condemn this in 16th century Roman Catholicism. But what about in our own families, churches, ministries? Are we prescribing rules and binding consciences in areas beyond the stipulations of God's holy Word?