Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Reformers Before the Reformers #1, The Supremacy of Scripture

“As long as it seems to me that the pope or theologians or any school assert a position contradicting the truth of Scripture, my concern for scriptural truth obliges me to give it first place, and after that I am bound to examine the evidence on both sides of the question, since it is unlikely the majority would err. But in every case I owe more respect to canonical Scripture than to human assertions, regardless of who holds them."- Wessel Gansfort (1419-1489) [Heiko Oberman, Forerunners of the Reformation (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1966),99-100].

No Christian ought "to subscribe to any statement of an assembly against his conscience, so long as it seems to him to assert anything contrary to Scripture." Wessel Gansfort (1419-1489) [Heiko Oberman, Forerunners of the Reformation (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1966), 64].

"Wessel does not deny ... that apostolic traditions not contained in the canon can be part of the 'rule of faith'- but only if they make explicit what is contained in the Sacred Canon. Wessel is therefore willing to say that sacramental confession falls into this category of apostolic Tradition and is part of the rule of faith, but only 'since indeed it is confirmed by the general statements of John and by the more specific words of James. Therefore[!] I admit that in this rule of faith I ought to depend on the authority of the Church...'"[Heiko Oberman, Forerunners of the Reformation (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1966), 64-65].

Addendum
Life and Writings of Wessel Gansfort vol. 1

Life and Writings of Wessel Gansfort vol. 2

10 comments:

Martin Yee said...

Interesting. Looks like what Luther said at the Diet of Worms is nothing new! This book looks good. I checked the price of this book on the Internet but it seems to be very expensive especially to us Asians. Even the paperback costs a princely sum.

James Swan said...

Try this link. I'm not sure how shipping charges will be for you, but the price of the book is reasonable.

Martin Yee said...

Wow..thanks. Looks more affordable now.

Four* Pointer said...

But!!...But!!...But!!!...But!!!

I thought "Everybody was Roman Catholic until Martin Luther came along and invented his new religion." That "There was only one church until Luther, and it was the Roman Catholic Church."

Are you trying to say that, before October 31, 1517, there were men who wrote volumes against the spiritual abuses of Rome?

Naaahhh.

[/sarcasm]

James Swan said...

Those comments were actually the tip of the iceberg.

Tim Enloe said...

I've been talking about Wessel Gansfort for 6 years. He's a critically important "pre-Reformer" from whom Luther took much of value. Last I checked, Wessel's works were free on Google in a 2 volume set. They're well worth checking out in detail.

Martin Yee said...

Hi Tim Enloe,

Thanks for the tip off. I have downloaded both digital volumes on Wessel Gansfort and his works. The quotation cited by Oberman "to subscribe to any statement of an assembly against his conscience, so long as it seems to him to assert anything contrary to Scripture" is found on page 204 in Vol II. This two volumes are certainly interesting to explore.

James Swan said...

Tim (and Martin)

Thanks for the tip on the Google books version.

Tim Enloe said...

You really need to read his tracts on ecclesiastical power, where he highlights the severe pastoral failures of the papacy, and offers counsel about how Christians can resist its unlawful authority. (Significantly, he was thought of highly by that awful tyrant Pope Sixtus IV.) Wessel even uses that funny phrase Catholic apologists often use, "the Barque of Peter," to argue that when the captain of a ship tries to destroy it and kill all the passengers, it is the passengers' duty to overpower the captain and take control of the ship themselves. (This was a common Medieval argument about the limits of authority, but you won't find Catholic apologists talking about because they don't know about it.)

James Swan said...

Thanks for the recommendation Tim.