David T. King and William Webster
BattleGround, Washington, USA
Volume I: Paperback: 308 pages (6" x 9") $20.00
Volume II: Paperback: 487 pages (6" x 9") $25.00
Volume III: Paperback: 312 pages (6" x 9") $20.00
One of the foundational principles of the Reformation was the perspicuity, primacy and sufficiency of Scripture. Historically, Roman Catholic apologists and theologians have maintained that sola Scriptura is illegitimate, because, as they claim, it is not taught in Scripture. All three volumes will be available September, 2001.
Volume I: In this Volume, David King provides a biblical defense of sola Scriptura. He sets forth the positive teaching of Scripture regarding itself, convincingly demonstrating that Scripture teaches its own sufficiency as God’s revelation, and possessing the innate ability to communicate clearly and understandably the necessary truths for faith and morals for every Christian. He systematically addresses and answers the Roman Catholic arguments against sola Scriptura.
Volume II: In this Volume, William Webster addresses the common historical arguments against sola Scriptura, demonstrating that the principle is, in fact, eminently historical, finding support in ‘the unanimous consent of the fathers.’ Webster also provides a detailed examination of the question of the canon from the time of Christ to the Reformation in which he answers the spurious arguments of Roman apologists that the Church of Rome infallibly established the canon in the fourth century.
Volume III: The principle of sola Scriptura — the teaching that Scripture is materially and formally sufficient and the ultimate authority for the Church — was the formal principle of the Reformation. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that the principle is illegitimate because, she claims, it is unhistorical. By this she means that sola Scriptura is a theological novelty in that it supposedly has no support in the teaching of the early Church. Roman apologists charge that the teaching on Scripture promoted by the Reformers introduced a false dichotomy between the Church and Scripture which elevated Scripture to a place of authority unheard of in the early Church. The Church of Rome insists that the early Church fathers, while fully endorsing the full inspiration of the Old and New Testaments, did not believe in sola Scriptura.
This volume is a compilation of the teaching of the Church fathers on the primacy, sufficiency and ultimate authority of Scripture. It contains one of the most extensive documentations of the patristic understanding of Scripture in the English language brought together in one volume. The editors have gone to great lengths to provide the primary sources where the quotations can be found in the original works, where appropriate.
The documentation provided reveals in the clearest possible terms the Church fathers’ belief in the material and formal sufficiency of Scripture. By material sufficiency we mean that all that is necessary to be believed for faith and morals is revealed in Scripture. Formal sufficiency means that all that is necessary for faith and morals is clearly revealed in Scripture, so that an individual, by the enablement of the Holy Spirit alone, can understand the essentials of salvation and the Christian life. Page after page gives eloquent testimony to the supreme authority that Scripture held in the life of the early Church and serves as a much needed corrective to Rome’s misrepresentation of the Church fathers and her denigration of the sufficiency and final authority of Scripture.
Dr. Jay Adams: For centuries the Roman Catholic Church has maintained that the rule of faith and practice is Scripture plus tradition, which is understood as the unanimous consent of the Church fathers. Now, in an unprecedented manner King and Webster have utterly destroyed that position by showing that the consent of the fathers teaches the doctrine of sola Scriptura. This work is a substantive volume, providing much material in one place that would take a scholar years to amass. It is a vital resource for the study of the fathers, the canon and, particularly, of the apocrypha. I predict that it will become the standard work on these subjects.
John MacArthur: William Webster and David King have done a tremendous amount of careful, painstaking research to bring us this valuable work. It is a digest of patristic writings on the sufficiency and perspicuity of Scripture. It reveals that the leading Church Fathers’ view of the authority and finality of the written Word of God was as lofty as that of any Protestant Reformer. In effect, Webster and King have demonstrated that _sola Scriptura_ was the rule of faith in the early church. The absolute sufficiency of Scripture is not a novel doctrine unknown until the time of the Reformation, as Roman Catholic apologists are fond of claiming. Holy Scripture, the Ground and Pillar of Our Faith is a monumental achievement and will be of immense value to anyone seeking to understand the high esteem in which the early church held Scripture
Tom Nettles: William Webster and David King have hit the bull’s eye repeatedly and with great force in their treatment of sola scriptura. The exegetical material sets forth a formidable biblical foundation for this claim of exclusivity and the historical argument illustrates how the early church believed it and traces the circuitous path by which Roman Catholicism came to place tradition alongside Scripture as a source, or deposit, of authoritative revelation. The authors’ knowledge of both primary and secondary literature is massive and their analysis of it is helpful and rigorously honest. Roman Catholicism’s departure from this principle receives a healthy investigation while the Protestant affirmation of it also is investigated critically, and affirmed. The footnotes, while intimidatingly long in places, are of immense help in placing the pertinent material directly before the reader. This book is not a quick read but its subject matter and its execution are well worth the time and concentration demanded.
Joel R. Beeke: A massive book that contains an enormous amount of biblical and patristic research, Holy Scripture: The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith ably answers Roman Catholic arguments that denigrate the ultimate authority and perspicuity of Scripture. King and Webster excel in meeting Roman Catholics on their own turf, frequently drawing on their works. They provide a compelling read for both Protestants and Catholics who seriously desire to grasp the proper role of Scripture and tradition for the life of believers and the Christian church today.
(Joel R. Beeke, president and professor of systematic theology and homiletics at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary)
Eric Svendsen: I have anxiously awaited this book since I was informed about the decision to write it several years ago. To characterize this volume as comprehensive and historically informed is to engage in understatement. I can always count on Bill Webster to provide meticulous documentation of the fathers; and the addition of David King lends a certain pastoral element that causes the reader to relive the emotions surrounding the events of the Reformation itself. In painstaking detail, Webster and King systematically dismantle the unbiblical and ahistorical assertions made by modern Roman Catholic apologists who all too often rely on eisegetical interpretations of the Bible and “cut and paste” patrology. Not many books qualify as an actual reference volume. This volume will prove to be an invaluable reference to the scholar, pastor and layman alike; and I anticipate consulting it again and again.
James White, ThD: Great efforts must be put forward to defend great truths. Each generation of faithful believers is tempted to rest upon the laurels of past generations, especially when it comes to foundational truths of revelation that “everyone knows.” The result is always the same: the slow but certain degradation of the church’s dedication to those beliefs that make up the very foundation upon which she stands. At first the decay is not blatant or even noticeable except to the most observant eyes. As it spreads and becomes more pervasive, however, it begins to impact the entire life of the Church. And history shows that God often uses the enemies of His truth to remind His Church of the preciousness of the faith “once for all delivered to the saints.”
We live in such a day. God is reminding us that we must cherish certain beliefs and embrace them with our whole heart or else lose the precious freedom of the gospel that has been entrusted to us. On every hand the defining truths of the Christian faith are under constant and often vitriolic attack. The Trinity, and its constituent truths of the deity of Christ and the deity and person of the Holy Spirit, is more of a historical novelty in many seminaries than a definitional truth. The gospel of grace and justification by faith without human works of merit has been placed in the category of the “negotiable” and “non-foundational” by major leaders of “conservative” denominations.
But underneath all of the compromises lies a deeper problem, a more fundamental erosion of Christian belief. Christian theology by definition comes from the Scriptures, and as soon as one rejects the ultimate authority of Scripture, the rest of Christian theology must be redefined and in the end, denied. The doctrine of Scripture--its nature as God-breathed revelation and its resultant ultimacy in the realm of religious authority--is always under attack from the enemies of the cross. The Reformers understood well the truth that the Word must be allowed to speak without the addition of human authority or the Church would be left without the clear voice of her loving Husband. The result they knew too well: a gospel encrusted in man-made tradition, a dead, externalized “church” without the vibrant heart-beat of truth.
The doctrine of sola scriptura is a divinely given bulwark against error and the traditions of men. It teaches us that Scripture is the sole infallible rule of faith for the Church. This divine truth provides us with the “walls” of revelation outside of which we dare not roam if we wish to remain true to the only reliable source of Christ’s voice to His sheep. But since the doctrine quashes all additions to God’s truth, all human traditions, and all false authorities, it likewise is under constant attack by those who seek to enslave God’s people. Each generation of Christ’s followers must be reminded why they look to the sure Word as their sole infallible rule of faith.
William Webster and David King are passionate about sola scriptura, so passionate, in fact, that they have given the service of their hearts and minds to produce for this generation the very defense of the doctrine that is so sorely needed in the believing Church. In a generation where postmodern exaltation of feelings and emotions runs rampant, Webster and King remind us of the objective truth of a completed and perfect revelation in Scripture. Responding directly and forcefully to those of the Roman Church who press flawed, illogical, un-scriptural, and a-historical arguments upon a gullible audience, Webster and King demonstrate the truth of sola scriptura through sound and knowledgeable exegesis of the text of Scripture and the writings of the early Christians. No element of Rome’s modern assault upon this divine truth is left without a full and at times simply over-whelming rebuttal.
The reader may judge from the sheer size and volume of the work the amount of effort and research that went into its production. But lest the girth of this document intimidate, I wish to encourage the reader to realize its necessity. The enemies of sola scriptura, whether they be Roman Catholic apologists, LDS scholars, or even “evangelicals” who have abandoned this truth, are never at a loss to come up with another argument, another twist on Scripture and history. A full work is therefore necessary, and given the need, more than warranted. You hold in your hands a veritable treasure of biblical and historical facts. Read it deeply, refer to it often, thank God for those who labored so hard to provide it to you, and then make it all worthwhile by sharing its insights with those who need to hear them.
DAVID T. KING is a graduate of Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi and is currently the pastor of Dayspring Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Forsyth, GA.
WILLIAM WEBSTER is Founder and Director of Christian Resources and author of several books dealing with the Gospel, Roman Catholicism, Church history and the Christian life.
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