Thomas Ford, 1667 Scripture’s Self-Evidence: a 17th century answer to a 21st century question

The Controversy: How Does Scripture Prove Itself to be the Word of God?

It is well known, that this question hath been much disputed between us, and our Adversaries, for many years, and that two things especially have been insisted on by them, to prove the Scripture no competent Rule of Faith, viz. the obscurity, and the imperfection of it. In this dispute they have labored to puzzle and plunge us, by putting us to show, how Scripture proves it self to be (what we account it) the Word of God.

First Principle

To this we may justly think it a sufficient answer to say, (as one, yea may have said long since) that in every profession the Principles are indemonstrable, assented to without discourse; and the Scriptures are the Principles of Christian Religion, and therefore first we must grant them to be the very Word of God, and then say, they contain all points needful to be known. And since Scripture avoucheth it self to be the word of God, 2 Tim. 3.16. 2 Pet. 1:20, 21. Luke 1:70. It is rational in us to believe it. Notwithstanding our Adversaries are not satisfied, but insist much on this question, viz. How we know, that the Scripture, that faith it is in the Word of God, is so in very deed.

Summary of the Argument

To this the Protestants have long since answered, “That they know this first and principally by the illumination of God’s Spirit, as the inward means, and then by the testimony of the Scriptures themselves, as the outward means; and lastly, by the ministry of the Church inducing us to assent.”

Scriptures Self-Authentication

Here we do not say, that the certainty of Scripture is written in any particular place, or Book of it, but the virtue and power that showeth it self in every line and leaf of the Bible, proclaimeth it to be the Word of the eternal God; and the sheep of Christ discern the voice and light thereof, as men discern light from darkness, and as children are known by their faces and favors, resembling their parents.

Thomas Ford, Scripture’s Self-Evidence: to prove its Existence, Authority, Certainty in it Self, and Sufficiency (in its kind) to ascertain others, That it is inspired of God to be the Only Rule of Faith (London: Printed for Edward Brewster, and are to be sold at Mr. Marriotts at Scrivener; over against Hicks-Hall, in St. Johns Street, 1667), 39-41.

Published by Dr. Peter Van Kleeck, Sr.

Dr. Peter William Van Kleeck, Sr. : B.A., Grand Rapids Baptist College, 1986; M.A.R., Westminster Theological Seminary, 1990; Th.M., Calvin Theological Seminary, 1998; D. Min, Bob Jones University, 2013. Dr. Van Kleeck was formerly the Director of the Institute for Biblical Textual Studies, Grand Rapids, MI, (1990-1994) lecturing, researching and writing in the defense of the Masoretic Hebrew text, Greek Received Text and King James Bible. His published works include, "Fundamentalism’s Folly?: A Bible Version Debate Case Study" (Grand Rapids: Institute for Biblical Textual Studies, 1998); “We have seen the future and we are not in it,” Trinity Review, (Mar. 99); “Andrew Willet (1562-1621: Reformed Interpretation of Scripture,” The Banner of Truth, (Mar. 99); "A Primer for the Public Preaching of the Song of Songs" (Outskirts Press, 2015). Dr. Van Kleeck is the pastor of the Providence Baptist Church in Manassas, VA where he has ministered for the past twenty-one years. He is married to his wife of 43 years, Annette, and has three married sons, one daughter and eighteen grandchildren.

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