Search for the Consensus
God calls us to consult faithful pastors, both dead and alive, because Jesus gave the church shepherds and teachers to teach the church correct doctrine so that the saints might be stable in their faith (Eph 4:11–14). It is biblical to consult tradition, and it is unbiblical to reject tradition. Pastors are our friends, and growing in our faith must entail more than “me and my Bible.”
We should use tradition to determine where Christians have spoken in consensus. When we find this agreement, we should hold to it, for it is unwise “to move the ancient landmark that your fathers have set” (Prov 22:28). Take, for instance, the doctrine of the Bible’s authority. Historically, what have Christians believed about this doctrine? One scholar writes,
The early church, the church in the Middle Ages, and the divided church at the time of the Reformation were all united in their belief in the full truthfulness of Scripture. This remarkable consensus, strongly held for over a millennium and a half, began to unravel at the beginning of the seventeenth century.
Belief in the full authority of the Word of God is not a new belief but an ancient one. It is what Christians have always believed regarding the Bible, and so we should believe it, too.
Ultimately, our faith is determined by the Word of God, but the consensus of the church helps us know what the Bible teaches. If you have a question about doctrine, search for the consensus view. It’s a trustworthy one.