Richard A. Muller on the necessity of Scripture


“Not only is it necessary that God reveal himself by means of Word, it is also necessary that the Word be written.  Thus, the Reformed, together with the Lutheran orthodox, affirm the ‘necessity of Scripture’ or of the ‘written Word’ (verbum scriptum) over against the contrary claims of Roman Catholic writers like Robert Bellarmine, who argue the usefulness of written Scriptures to the church but not their necessity and who assume that the church and its ‘unwritten traditions’ could stand in the absence of Scripture.”

“In a material sense, in terms of the doctrines contained in the text, Scripture is necessary unconditionally and absolutely (simpliciter et absolute) – so that without this doctrine, the church itself could not exist.  It is clear also that Scripture, considered formally as a written document, is not necessary with respect to God (respectu Dei).  God can and did communicate with his people in a living voice (viva voce) apart from a written word: such was the form of his revelation before Moses.”

“The point to be debated is the Protestant contention that the written Word is necessary ex hypothesi or as a consequence of the will of God.  Granting that this is the will of God, the written Word is necessary not merely to the well-being (esse) of the church, so that the church would cease to exist without it: ‘Thus God is in no way bound to Scripture (alligatus Scripturae), rather he binds us to Scripture (nos alligavit Scripturae).’ [Francis Turretin]”

– Richard A. Muller, Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. II, p. 179


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