The Traditional Primary Principle of the Protestant Reformation

Colossians 2:8; Isaiah 8:20; 2 Thessalonians 2:15
       Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men.
       To the law and the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
       Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.

WILLIAM C. BURNS (1815-1868): The word “tradition” has no mysterious or difficult signification; it means something handed down, whether from God to man, or from man to man.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): All are ready to declare, that they do not speak except from God. So the Papists at this day boast with magisterial gravity, that all their inventions are the oracles of the Spirit. Nor does Mahomet assert that he has drawn his dotages except from heaven…But to all this I reply, that we have the Word of the Lord, which ought especially to be consulted.

J. H. MERLE d’AUBIGNÉ (1794-1872): The infallible authority of the Word of God alone was the first and fundamental principle of the Reformation. All the reformations in detail which took place at a later period, as reformations in doctrine, in manners, in the government of the Church, and in worship, were only consequences of this primary principle. One is scarcely able at the present time to form an idea of the sensation produced by this elementary principle, which is so simple in itself, but which had been lost sight of for so many ages…The bold voices of all the Reformers soon proclaimed this powerful principle, at the sound of which Rome is destined to crumble away: “Christians, receive no other doctrines than those which are founded on the express words of Jesus Christ, His apostles, and prophets. No man, no assembly of doctors, are entitled to prescribe new doctrines.”

WILLIAM ARNOT (1808-1875): In the times immediately after the Reformation, when the word of God was new to the people, it was much valued…They were not ashamed of their deliverer: all classes felt and acknowledged their obligations to the Bible. In this respect our lot has fallen on worse times: direct appeal to the Scriptures seems to be counted a violation of taste.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Another form which the modern attitude sometimes takes is the suggestion that those of us who are Conservative Evangelicals are “Bibliolators,” that is, we put the Scriptures in the place of the Lord. Their own authority, these critics tell us, is not the Scriptures, but the Lord Himself.
       Now this sounds very impressive and very imposing at first, as if they were but stating that for which we ourselves are contending. It sounds as if it were a highly spiritual position until, again, you begin to examine it carefully. The obvious questions to put to those who make such statements are these: “How do you know the Lord? What do you know about the Lord, apart from the Scriptures? Where do you find Him? How do you know that what you seem to have experienced concerning Him is not a figment of your own imagination, or not the product of some abnormal psychological state, or not the work perchance of some occult power or evil spirit?” It sounds all very impressive and imposing when they say “I go directly to the Lord Himself.”

JOHN CALVIN: When, therefore, false spirits pretend the name of God, we must inquire from the Scriptures whether things are so.

WILLIAM ARNOT (1808-1875): It is refreshing to observe how the early Reformers appealed to the Scriptures as the supreme arbiter.

J. H. MERLE d’AUBIGNÉ: “How is it possible,” asked the Reformers, “to distinguish between what is human in tradition, and what is divine, unless by the Scriptures of God?”

E. W. BULLINGER (1837-1913): It was the one great question which underlay all others at the Reformation. For, what was the Reformation in its essence? Was it not just the abandonment of human authority for Divine authority?

J. H. MERLE d’AUBIGNÉ: The Reformers and the Apostles held up the Word of God alone for light, just as they hold up the sacrifice of Christ alone for righteousness. To attempt to mix human authority with this absolute authority of God, or human righteousness with this perfect righteousness of Christ, is to corrupt Christianity in its two foundations.

HUGH LATIMER (1483-1555): Let us beware of the bypaths of human tradition, filled of stones, brambles, and uprooted trees. Let us follow the straight road of the Word.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): We hold it a sin to “take for doctrines the commandments of men,” Colossians 2:22; Titus 1:14. We give no heed to the traditions that are handed down to us. If our opponent cannot quote text or verse for anything he advances, we hold no argument with him.

CHARLES BRIDGES (1794-1869): The most exquisite deceivers are they, who under the shadow of religion do set forth men’s traditions.

MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): If a teaching is opposed to Scripture, whatever be its origin—traditions, custom, kings, sophists, Satan, or even an angel from heaven—all from whom it proceeds must be accursed.

C. H. MACKINTOSH (1820-1896): It has ever been a special design of Satan to lead God’s people away from Scripture. He will use anything and everything—tradition, the church so-called, expediency, human reason, popular opinion, reputation and influence, character, position, and usefulness—all those he will use to get the heart and conscience away from that one golden sentence—that divine, eternal motto, “It is written.”

C. H. SPURGEON: Thus, our Lord gave His opponents Scripture instead of tradition.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: It is always wrong to put tradition before truth―the Scripture is our sole authority, our only authority, I say this to emphasize that we do not accept tradition as an authority in any sense of that term.

WILLIAM C. BURNS: Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught―not the traditions of men, not the traditions of Rome, not the traditions of your fathers, Christ’s faithful martyrs though they were. No―your faith lies here, within the boards of this Book.

AUGUSTINE (354-430): The faith will totter if the authority of the Holy Scriptures loses its hold on men. We must surrender ourselves to the authority of Holy Scripture, for it can neither mislead nor be misled.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: We believe the Bible. We take it authoritatively. We don’t impose our philosophies and ideas upon it, and we’re the only people who are doing this. God has given us this solemn task of guarding and protecting and defending this faith, in this present evil age in which we find ourselves. But, my friends, we’re not only the guardians and custodians of the faith of the Bible itself. We are the representatives and the successors of the glorious men who fought this same fight, the good fight of faith in centuries past. We are standing in the position of the Protestant Reformers. Are we accepting this modern idea that the Reformation was the greatest tragedy that ever happened?

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): Never forget the principles of the Protestant Reformation―and let nothing tempt you to forsake them.


This entry was posted in Bible: Inspiration & Authority and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.