We concluded our preceding article with a quotation from Irenaeus’ Writings against Heresies. Of Iren- aeus, Hagenbach writes as follows, Vol. I, 167:
4. The doctrine of the merit of good works as taught by Romanists is another most prolific error. They hold that works done after regeneration have real merit (meritum condigni), and that they are the ground of the sinner’s justification before God. They hold that a man may do more than the law requires of him, and perform works of supererogation, and thus obtain more merit than is necessary for his own salvation and beatification. That this superfluous merit goes into the treasury of the Church, and may be dispensed for the benefit of others.
The Doctrine Contradicted By Facts The fourth argument is that the Romish doctrine of the infallibility of the Church is contradicted by undeniable historical facts. It therefore cannot be true. The Church has often erred, and therefore it is not infallible.
Rome, therefore, contends that the Church, as an external and visible society, consisting of those who profess the Christian religion, united in communion of the same sacraments and subjection to lawful pastors, and especially to the Pope of Rome, is divinely appointed to be the infallible teacher of men in all things pertaining to faith and practice.
We will now continue with our quotation of Chapter 3 of the Dogmatic Decrees of the Vatican Council of 1870.
Scripture is no book of formulated doctrines Scripture, although not a book of formulated doctrines, is, of course, the source of all doctrines. The Bible is not merely a revelation of a truth. Christianity, we understand, is not simply a religion or another religion. It is not true, of course, that Christ proclaimed truth, but that Confucius and Mohammed, etc., also proclaimed truth. The Bible is the revelation of the truth. It is the Lord’s own and only inspired revelation of Himself as the God of our salvation.
In our previous article we called attention to the fact that doctrines have a history because the Scripture is no book of formulated doctrines. We also asked and attempted to answer the question: What is Scripture? It is the historic-organic revelation of the God of our salvation in Christ Jesus. This revelation itself is progressive. And it is simply a fact that the Church of God does not see everything at once. The wonderful truths of God’s Word crystallize gradually in the believing consciousness of the Church.