Chapter II:39: Scripture’s Normative and Directive Judgment

3.  Moreover, Normative and Directive Judgment ought to be attributed to the Scripture itself, which, as the fountain of divine law and the most absolute norm of faith, ought to direct the understanding in Judgment concerning controversies of faith, and ought and is able to supply that understanding, whence definitions in controversies of this sort are sought by the subaltern Judge; which is the function of Law in every republic; ARISTOTLE, Politics, book IV, chapter IV at the end: Δεῖ γὰρ τὸν μὲν νόμον ἄρχειν πάντων· τῶν δὲ καθ᾽ ἕκαστα τὰς ἀρχὰς καὶ τὴν πολιτείαν κρίνειν, for Law ought to rule all, but in particulars magistrates and the republic ought to judge; namely, by application of the Law to particular cases; whence Law is also able to be called Judge in a broad sense and the normative Judge, distinct from a personal Judge. This same Scripture, as the norm of its own Interpretations also, is the highest rule, Isaiah 8:20, on which text see § 4 of this Chapter; 2 Peter 1:19, 20, of which passage I have recently spoken, but see more on § 32.

4. But whether there be in addition any Judge Supreme, Absolute, Infallible, ἀνυπεύθυνος, not accountable, in interpreting the Sense of Scripture and deciding Controversies concerning matters of Faith, there is great controversy.  Our AUTHOR will untangle this Question, by proceeding, 1.  Negatively, § 40-42; 2.  Positively, § 43.  The orthodox opinion concerning this controversy is set forth by VAN MASTRICHT, Gangræna Novitatum Cartesianarum, Section I, chapter X, § 19, pages 125-127.

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  1. Westminster Confession of Faith 1:10: ‘The supreme Judge, by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture.’

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