Benedict Pictet (1696) on Scripture as the Only Rule of Faith and Practice, part 2

From what has been said, we may easily ascertain who is the true and supreme Judge of controversies, viz. God who speaks in Scripture. For he only can be a supreme judge in religious matters, who never errs, nor can err, in his decisions, who is influenced neither by partiality, nor by passion, and from whom there is no appeal. But all these qualifications belong not to man; God alone can claim them, for he is truth itself, is no respecter of persons, and acknowledges no superior. To this judge the prophet and apostles always appeal, as we have already shown; and if there had been any other, the scripture would have mentioned him somewhere, since there was nothing of which the faithful had greater need to be reminded; whereas scripture is perfectly silent about it, as every reader may observe. But here we may remark that God, speaking in the scripture, is called a Judge, because he hath taught in his Word such things, as, being properly understood and applied, will finally settle all controversies of faith.

[Pictet in this section makes an important observation for the believer. If there had been another judge other than scripture to which the believer is to appeal, the scripture “would have mentioned him somewhere.” Take for instance a hypothetical and spurious verse, “The time will come when they will no longer have sound doctrine; therefore, in the fulness of time, text critical scholars will arise to set the scripture and people aright.” Of course, the fact that there is no such verse has not prevented the Evangelical church, with an air of misguided piety, to treat the text critical scholar as if the verse existed and was sanctioned by God. And because God speaking in scripture is no longer the Judge that “will finally settle all controversies of faith” ambivalent textual scholars have successfully left Christian theology frayed and controversies unresolved.]

The scripture, therefore, is the fountain and rule of divine law, by which all controversies of faith both can and ought to be clearly determined, as in the commonwealth all decisions and judgments are found in the law; and even the Turks, in all controversies make a final appeal to the Koran; and this is clearly perceived by the fathers of the church. This Optatus speaks: Ye say, It is lawful; we say, It is not lawful; between your lawful and our unlawful, the minds of the people are divided and perplexed. Let no one believe you, let no one believe us; the arbiter must be sought from heaven; no decision on this matter can be found on earth: but why do we knock on the door of heaven, since here below we have the gospel testament? And Augustine says: We are brethren; why do we strive? Out Father did not die without a will; he made a will, then died, and rose again. So long shall we strive about the inheritance, until the will be brought forward. And when the will is brought forth, all are silent, that it may be opened. The Judge listens attentively, the advocates are silent; silence is proclaimed in the court, all the people are attentive, the words of the deceased testator may be read. He lies unconscious in the tomb; but his words have power; so Christ sits in heaven, and his testament is called into question. Open it then, let us read; we are brethren, why do we strive?

[Pictet reminds us of the currently unresolvable conundrum the church has placed itself by the acceptance of Multiple Version Onlyism. Because no “fountain and rule of divine law, by which all controversies of faith both can and ought to be clearly determined,” exists, indeed, “the minds of the people are divided and perplexed.” When considering that the body being divided and perplexed is the bride of Christ, those for whom Christ died, to create such difficulty for the saints is not a peripheral matter. Resolving this division and perplexity should be of the highest priority but MVO by its pluralistic nature is wholly incapable of finding a resolution. This also begs the question regarding opponents to a standard sacred text. Other than from their own sectarian argument, from what grounds other than “I say so” or “He says so” can they produce something that relates to “a fountain and rule of divine law” first for themselves and then deliver that individualized perspective with such force as to impose such an autonomous rule in a convincing way upon others? MVO advocates are also divided and perplexed, maintain this perspective as ecclesiastically normative, and would have everyone experience the same enigma.]

Benedict Pictet, Christian Theology, translated from the Latin by Frederick Reyroux (London: R. B. Seely and Sons, 1696 [1834]), 55-56.

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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: