Thursday, February 13, 2014

Augustine on the Authority of Scripture

The following extracts, expressing his beliefs about the authority of Scripture, are taken from Augustine's Answer to Faustum, a Manichean, which is, lets face it, perhaps, not as well known and read as his Confessions or The City of God.  The work was written in 397-398, shortly after Augustine had finished On Christian Doctrine (De Doctrina Christiana).

As you will see, it is easier to make the case that the Old Princeton tradition of the Hodges and Warfield followed in the footsteps of Augustine, than it is to claim that they were Modernists who invented a doctrine of inerrancy previously unknown:
In order to leave room for...profitable discussions of difficult questions, there is a distinct boundary line separating all productions subsequent to apostolic times from the authoritative canonical books of the Old and New Testaments. 
The authority of these books has come down to us from the apostles through the successions of bishops and the extension of the church, and, from a position of lofty supremacy, claim the submission of every faithful and pious mind.
If we are perplexed by an apparent contradiction in Scripture, it is not allowable to say, the author of this book is mistaken; but either the manuscript is faulty, or the translation is faulty, or you have not understood.
In the innumerable books that have been written latterly we may sometimes find the same truth as in Scripture, but there is not the same authority.  Scripture has a sacredness peculiar to itself.
In other books the reader may form his own opinion, and perhaps from not understanding the writer may differ from his...but in consequence of the distinctive authority of the sacred writings, we are bound to receive as true whatever the canon shows to have been said by even one prophet, or apostle, or evangelist, otherwise not a single page will be left for the guidance of human fallibility.
Answer to Faustus, a Manichean, Book 11:5

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