by Randall Hardy

Two extracts from well known reformed authors which illustrate that the rejection of the witness of the Holy Spirit by some at the time of the Reformation, was wilful and not accidental. If this is true then it explains why since then there has been a resistance to (fear of) the clear leading of the Holy Spirit amongst Evangelicals.

Randall Hardy, June 1996

(Banner of Truth 1971, Pages 19-20)

5. The Perfection's of Scripture. The Reformers developed the doctrine of Scripture as over against the Roman Catholics and some of the Protestant sects. While Rome taught that the Bible owes its authority to the Church, they maintained that it has authority in itself as the inspired Word of God. They also upheld the necessity of Scripture as the divinely appointed means of grace over against the Roman Catholics, who asserted that the Church had no absolute need of it, and some of the Protestant sects, who exalted the 'inner light,' or the word of the Holy Sprit in the hearts of the people of God, at the expense of Scripture. In Opposition to Rome they further defended the clearness of the Bible. They did not deny that it contains mysteries too deep for human understanding but sharply contended that the knowledge necessary unto salvation, though not equally clear on every page of the Bible, is yet conveyed in a manner so simple that anyone earnestly seeking salvation can easily gather this knowledge for himself, and need not depend on the interpretation of the Church or the priesthood. Finally, they also defended the sufficiency of Scripture, and thereby denied the need of the tradition of the Roman Catholics and of the inner light of the Anabaptists.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones - AUTHORITY 
(Inter-Varsity Fellowship 1966, Pages 62-63)

In the second place, there is often a conflict in the minds of people between the authority of the Scriptures and the authority of the Holy Spirit. How this comes about is an aspect that in itself merits careful and prolonged treatment, but we cannot linger on it because our concern at the moment is to deal with something else. I would just remind you in passing that in the seventeenth century this conflict became acute among the Puritans and divided them into two main groups. Those who asserted that nothing mattered except the authority of the Spirit became known as the Society of Friends (or 'Quakers'). They said that nothing mattered but the 'Inner Light', the inner witness, the inner experiences and an inner power. They also tended to depreciate the Scriptures, some of them going so far as to say that the Scriptures were not even necessary at all. That attitude naturally provoked a reaction in the other party who tended perhaps to depreciate somewhat the place, influence and authority of the Spirit and to emphasise exclusively the authority of the Scriptures.

Now this, surely, is a thoroughly artificial and false antithesis.

© R Hardy June 1996. This paper may only be copied in its entirety for private non-commercial use. All other usage requires the written permission of the author.
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