In Hebrews 6, the author of Hebrews recounts God swearing an oath to confirm his promises to Abraham.
Now when people swear, they do so by appealing to some sort of authority higher than themselves in order to validate their promise. But what happens when God swears to confirm his promise?
For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself (Heb 6:13).
When God swears, he swears by his own authority, because there is no possible higher authority. There is no authority higher or equal to God himself to which he can appeal. He is the highest.
And so, by extension, God’s Word is the highest authority. No authority can possibly usurp it. The scriptures stand alone as our supreme authority.
I composed the following as a devotional for some of my Christian coworkers at work.
For those of us who are Protestant, we will likely be celebrating the 500 year anniversary of the Protestant Reformation this coming fall.
In light of that, as we think of our Christian calling in relation to our work, it’s more than fitting to recount the Protestant doctrine of the priesthood of all believers.
Christian historical philosopher Alister McGrath explains in the following:
“From the outset, Protestantism rejected the critical medieval distinction between the ‘sacred’ and ‘secular’ orders. While this position can easily be interpreted as a claim for the desacralization of the sacred, it can equally well be understood as a claim for the sacralization of the secular. As early as 1520, Luther had laid the fundamental conceptual foundations for created sacred space within the secular. His doctrine of the ‘priesthood of all believers’ asserted that there is no genuine difference of status between the ‘spiritual’ and the ‘temporal’ order. All Christians are called to be priests – and can exercise that calling within the everyday world. The idea of ‘calling’ was fundamentally redefined: no longer was it about being called to serve God by leaving the world; it was now about serving God in the world.”
The spearhead of recovering this Biblical theology was Protestant reformer Martin Luther:
Almost two months (Sept. 4, 1517) before posting his famous 95 Theses to the door of Wittenberg Castle Church, Luther released a lesser known but even more radical statement called the Disputation against Scholastic Theology.
By “scholastic theology” Luther was referring mainly to the late Medieval nominalism proposed by some Roman Catholic scholars, in particular William Ockham and Gabriel Biel. Nominalism’s motto was Facere quod in se est, or “do the best that lies within you.” In response to doing the best one could (congruent merit), God would grant grace, namely through the sacraments. Through cooperation with this grace, one could perform fully meritorious deeds (condign merit) that could merit/earn salvation. Clearly such teaching is not only unbiblical (i.e., not found in scripture) but even anti-biblical by its complete reworking of the relationship between grace and works (e.g., Rom 4:4-5; 11:16). Nominalism is what Luther had been trained in; and to this errant theology Luther was reacting. It should also be noted that in these statements Luther believed that he was stating “nothing that is not in agreement with the Catholic church and the teachers of the church” (final statement in his Disputations).
So, what did Luther have to say before his famous 95 Theses? He had a lot to say, and in fact, he was probably more extreme here than in his more controversial 95 Theses.