Over at Biblical Christianity today
( http://bibchr.blogspot.com/ ) the inestimable Dan Phillips (always provocative, usually right, sometimes wrong, rotten taste in music) has had another go at what he calls ‘Leaky Canoneers’. (Well, somebody has to.) It’s a phrase that he uses for those who formally affirm Sola Scriptura but in practice think God is whispering in their ears. That is to say, our charismatic friends.
What he doesn’t mention – but I think would acknowledge – is that it is not only charismatics who can be guilty. I know a pastor in Christ who was told on one occasion that his (really very mild) taste in music was demonic. To the inevitable question ‘How would you justify that from Scripture?’ came the answer ‘I don’t need the Bible for this; my conscience is all the authority I need.’
It isn’t, of course, a new problem and it is one that the authors of the Westminster Confession addressed. Look how well they put it:
Chapter 1.VI: The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man's salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men.
IX. The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture, is the Scripture itself; and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it may be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly.
X. 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.
Note especially that last paragraph: what do the Worthy Westminsters mean by ‘private spirits’? They mean that those who ‘just know’ they’re right must submit to Scripture. Those whom ‘God has told’ they are right must submit to Scripture. As Dan argues elsewhere – to be forced to submit to anything else is the worst kind of bondage.
Thanks be to God for his holy word!