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the argument of church history

21-02-2014 - Posted by Andre Piet

Paul Washer, a well-known American preacher, explains in this video clip (from 1’13), that Scripture is the only source of truth, BUT that it always should be read within the context of the Church.

I ask attention for this video fragment, because this line of reasoning is always raised against the message of GoedBericht. It is the primary accusation which I constantly encounter, when I open the Scriptures among Christians and e.g., expound that there is one God, namely, the Father, or that God, through the blood of the cross, will reconcile all, to Himself. My teaching on this can not be true, because the majority of theologians reject it as they have always rejected it. Church history would put me in the wrong. Let’s take a closer look at this argument. When Paul Washer says that it is useful for every researcher of Scripture to take note of what others have discovered, before him, then I wholeheartedly agree. To take no note of this would indicate an unpleasant attitude of arrogance. I am not the only one, and not the first one dealing with a particular Scripture or Biblical subject. Why would I want to pretend this and take no account of what others have said? It may well be that I might have missed a detail that others may have noticed. Only “together with all the saints” are we able to grasp the width, length, height and depth of the love of Christ, taught the apostle Paul (Eph.3:18). So far, I totally agree. However, Paul Washer mixes two things erroneously together. To take note of what others have said and written is one thing. But to accept the position of the majority, concerning truth, is something altogether different.

If everyone is in agreement and they do not agree with us, then we are probably wrong.

What do you mean “probably”? Is the truth democratically determined? If everyone says that two plus two equals five, does that make it true? Hasn’t the history of science taught us that new discoveries, almost always, are met with widespread resistance? Is it not so, when it comes to the truth, that the majority, as a rule, by definition, is wrong? Did the prophets represent the majority? Was Jesus’ ministry supported by the religious leadership of His day? And was Paul’s message generally accepted? The unspoken assumption of Paul Washer is that the church is always right. In the first place, I ask myself: which church? The Greek Orthodox Church? Or the Roman Catholic Church? But this would condemn Paul Washer, himself, as Protestant theologian! In the context of this video, Paul Washer is especially referring to the ideas of great preachers like Jonathan Edwards and Charles Spurgeon. But did these preachers represent ‘the church’? But apart from the fact that “the church” does not exist (since there are numerous churches), there is a much more fundamental reason why Paul Washer is missing the boat. He claims:

We can learn from church history, how the church resolved the problems. How they overcame heresies.

However, the opposite is true! The apostle Paul wrote that after his departure, the vast majority of Christians would even turn further away from the truth and would not tolerate sound doctrine (2Tim.4:3.4). If church history teaches us one thing, it is that the church did not solve the problems but, instead, created them. For instance, how it made of “one God” a triune God, of Gehenna a hell, of eon an eternity, of Israel the church, and so on. Church history does not show how the churches overcame heresies, but how they were overcome by them! Church history shows how the churches opposed sound doctrine and all those who propagated it, they ex-communicated. These are the lessons of church history!