William Bucanus, 1659, Professor of Divinity in the University of Lausanne on Regeneration, Infallibility, Perspicuity, and Authority

Willian Bucanus observes that it takes more than a keen mind to understand Scripture. In the following three quotes taken from his Body of Divinity, Bucanus accents regeneration as the essential element to understanding that Scripture comes from God, that it is clear to the elect, and that it is the Authority standing above the Church and men.

  1. Regeneration and God’s Truth

What is the true infallible note, whereby all men of sound judgment do acknowledge doctrine to be the doctrine of the true God?

Because that doctrine which doth teach us to seek the glory of the one God and of him alone and everywhere to cleave unto him, out of all doubt that the doctrine is the doctrine of the true God. But only the regenerate do rest in it, as that that bringeth salvation and the doctrine of God, with full assurance to their heart. 48-49

  • Regeneration and Scripture’s Obscurity

Is the Scripture manifest, or is it obscure?

It is manifest if you regard the foundation of the doctrine of salvation; as the Articles of faith, the precepts of the Decalogue hence it is called a Lantern to those whose minds God doth open: but it is obscure to those which be blind, and to all that perish, whose minds the god of this world hath blinded.

But is not always obscure to the Elect, and only in part, 1. That they should not too much rely upon their own wit but should seek understanding of at the hands of Gid by prayer. 2. That they might be stirred up to a more careful study of the same. 3. That they might make more account of the ministry of the word whereby they are taught, and therefore stand in need to have it expounded, by the example of Christ and of Philip. 50-51

  • Regeneration and the Question of Scriptural Authority

What shall we answer to that saying of Augustine: I would not believe the Gospel, unless the authority of the Church moved me?

That Augustine speaketh of himself, as yet not converted unto the faith. Neither is it any marvel that those which are not as yet converted , are moved with the consent of the Church, and the authority of men. Therefore his meaning is, that the Church is as it were an introduction (eisagoga, eisagwgh), whereby we are prepared to give credit to Scripture. 51-52

Such writing on the part of our 17th c. Protestant forefathers sounds quite unsettling to the modern reader, protesting, “Let’s keep this born again experience out of our theological formulation and discourse.” Bucanus argues that the acceptance of Scripture’s doctrine being from God, its perspicuity, and the superiority of Scriptural authority to ecclesiastical or external authorities come from the reasoning of a regenerate man. Not believing the Scripture came from God, finding its meaning totally obscured, and subjugating the Scripture to the authority of men, according to Bucanus, is not the practice of born-again saints. The spiritual condition of the speaker, scholar, writer, accordingly, has a direct impact on whether or not he has any assurance it is God’s Word at all, whether he is spiritually blinded to the meaning of the Word, or whether he holds other authorities above Scripture’s authority.

William Bucanus, Body of Divinity or Institutions of the Christian Religion; framed out of the Word of God, and the writings of the best divines, methodically handled by was of questions and answers, fit for all such as desire to know and practice the will of God. Written in Latin. Translated into English by Robert Hill and Fellow at St. Johns College in Cambridge, for the benefit of the English Nation. (London: Printed for Daniel Pakeman, Abel Roper and Richard Tomlins, and are to be sold in Fleet-street, and at the Sun and Bible near Py-corner, 1659), 48-52.

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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