Apostles today & Sola Scriptura?


Can one believe that there are apostles today and still believe in Sola Scriptura? What does one have to do with the other? Increasingly cessationists (those who don't believe that the supernatural gifts of the Spirit continue today) are pointing to the existence of contemporary apostles as being incompatible with the doctrine of Sola Scriptura. Apostles, they reason, have some sort of authority independant of and above that of the Bible.

If this idea of apostleship were true, it would indeed be a denial of Sola Scriptura, for it would make the apostles the ultimate authority for the Church rather than the Bible. This would almost tend towards the Roman Catholic idea of the Magisterium (the bishops being seen as the successors of the apostles).

Wayne Grudem argues that the words of the apostles were 'the very words of God' (The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today [Eastbourne: Kingsway, 2000], 30). He goes on to write that 'to disbelieve or disobey an apostle's authoritative words is to disbelieve or disobey God' (ibid. 33). This sentance bears an uncanny resemblance to Grudem's definition of the authority of Scripture:

The authority of Scripture means that all the words in
Scripture are God's words in such a way that to disbelive or disobey any word of
Scripture is to disbelieve or disobey God.

(Grudem, Systematic Theology [Leicester: IVP, 1994], 73). Thus it is no wonder that Grudem concludes: 'In place of living apostles present in the church to teach and govern it, we have instead the writings of the apostles in the books of the New Testament' (The Gift of Prophecy, 235). For Grudem, one is obliged to choose between Sola Scriptura and contemporary apostleship.

But must we really choose between the two? Can we not have both? For nearly a century the position of the Apostolic Church has been that present-day apostleship and Sola Scriptura are not mutually exclusive beliefs; we can, and do believe in (and practise) both.

But how can that be? For the answer, I'm afraid you'll have to wait for the next post!

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The Tenets of the Apostolic Church

The Unity of the Godhead, and Trinity of the Persons therein.

The utter depravity of human nature, the necessity for repentance and regeneration and the eternal doom of the finally impenitent.

The virgin birth, sinless life, atoning death, triumphant resurrection, ascension, and abiding intercession of our Lord Jesus Christ; His second coming, and millennial reign upon earth.

Justification and Sanctification of the believer through the finished work of Christ.

The Baptism of the Holy Ghost for believers, with signs following.

The nine gifts of the Holy Ghost for the edification, exhortation and comfort of the Church, which is the body of Christ.

The Sacraments of Baptism by immersion and of the Lord's Supper.

The Divine inspiration and authority of the Holy Scriptures.

Church government by apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, elders and deacons.

The possibility of falling from grace.

The obligatory nature of tithes and offerings.