Rome’s Attack Predated the Enlightenment

Jerusalem Blade:

Where, in the post-Reformation centuries, does heterodoxy originate? With the relinquishing of the doctrine of the Bible’s inspiration by God, and then in a cascading loss of faith in biblical infallibility / inerrancy, or, on the other hand, with a rationalistic approach to textual studies, or from other factors, and possibly a combination of these and many others? Or, as you surmise, it primarily comes from the fountainhead of Enlightenment philosophy?

Rome did indeed seek to undermine the Reformation’s dependence on the Scripture alone, and through them by faith alone in Christ alone. They sought to execute this work of undermining by bringing forth variants from other manuscripts in the Vatican library that the Reformers eschewed as being unreliable, and also by seeking to attack their Hebrew Scriptures over the issue of the vowel points. For the Catholics their Tradition was above the Bible, and the church had – they said – given birth to the Bible. The Reformer’s view of the authority of God’s word in the Bible was a lethal attack on the very foundations of Rome.

I think Rome’s attack on the texts predated the full bloom of the Enlightenment by perhaps a little less than a century. Richard Simon (1638-1712), a Catholic scholar, is considered by Metzger as perhaps the father of textual criticism – highly critical of the Bible (OT & New) in the vein of Metzger. But then John Mill (1645-1708) brought Enlightenment / rationalistic thought to bear upon the Bible, and he is considered one of the very first textual critics in the modern sense of the term. So yes, the spirit of the age – the philosophy of the Enlightenment – in which reason was held to be the primary source and legitimacy for authority, was the immediate genesis of the heterodoxy that would come to fruition in the church in centuries to follow.

This development of textual criticism according to rationalistic principles – as opposed to the faith principles of the Reformers – would naturally result in views antagonistic to the Reformation churches’ stand on divine inspiration and God’s providential preservation of the Scriptures.

Source and read more: https://www.puritanboard.com/threads/skepticism-and-doubt-toward-the-bible.52046/, Comment 6