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Reformed Creeds & Confessions

Historical Theology

“If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God” (1 Cor. 11:16; cf. also 14:33b)
















 

Perhaps surprisingly, the apostle Paul periodically referred to the practice of other churches to support and validate his apostolic teaching. He tells the church at Corinth to consider what other churches have done and are doing. In obedience to Scripture, then, we must also humbly look at the practice of the churches of God through history to see if our beliefs and practices are deviating from its normative beliefs and practices. This is the New Testament embodiment of the Proverb: “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.” (Prov. 11:14). We are called to listen to the teachers that Christ has given as gifts to the church, whether their teaching comes to us in person or in print (Eph. 4:11-13) since the cloud of God-given witnesses includes those of our own day but is not limited to it (Hebrews 11-12:1).

This in no way detracts from the ultimate authority of Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16-17) which is embodied in the Reformation principle of sola scriptura. On the contrary, a sense of historical humility and teachability simply avoids the foolishness of Rehoboam, who limited his counselors to the men of his own generation (1 Kings 12:6-8).  As the saying goes, “Whoever marries the spirit of the age will be a widower in the next.”