Originally Posted by Newman
But surely during the time of the Jerusalem Council, the visible church consisted of myriad and varied members, some of whom were not even regenerated. No? So, I’m not sure I get your point. confused

The point is that the visible church is not infallible because it is composed of both regenerate & unregenerate members. As such, the councils of the visible church are not infallible either. The Jerusalem Council is different (& irrelevant) because it had apostolic authority which no council since has possessed.

Well, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I think your answer is the same one the Judaizers gave is it not? When they advocated for Gentiles to observe the law in order to become Christian, they were appealing to God’s inspired, infallible, inerrant written word. As it turned out though, the final arbitrator was the church, ie. the council, guided by the Holy Spirit.

First, we don't live in an era of ongoing revelation. New revelation from God ceased with the close of the apostolic age, so the Bible, Old & New Testaments together, is our only source for God's revelation. Second, at the Jerusalem Council, the church was in infancy & much what was new was still being revealed by the Spirit as the new covenant administration overtook the old covenant (Mosaic) administration. If you read in Acts 15, you'll see that Peter, Paul, & Barnabas testified of the outpouring of the Spirit on uncircumcised Gentiles, with the conclusion that God was saving these Gentiles by faith apart from circumcision and all other works of the law. Third, even the ultimate decision of the Jerusalem Council was not without reference to Scripture, as we see in Acts 15:13-18:

And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Brethren, hearken unto me: Symeon hath rehearsed how first God visited the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After these things I will return, And I will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen; And I will build again the ruins thereof, And I will set it up: That the residue of men may seek after the Lord, And all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, Saith the Lord, who maketh these things known from of old.

Are you telling me that had the Jerusalem Council decided upon whether homosexuals and women are qualified to serve, it would be relevant, but since they decided upon some other issue it is not relevant? Also, in the New Testament, Elders and Presbyters are the same thing and already existed by this time, as did bishops, so that seems to be more irrelevant to the subject at hand than the council.

What Pilgrim is saying is that the Jerusalem Council was unique. It is not repeatable & not a clear paradigm for the resolution of disputes regarding doctrine & practice in the post-apostolic era. The elders/presbyters/bishops, which are the office ordained perpetually in the church for the preaching, teaching, & maintaining true doctrine in the post-apostolic era, are to do so according to the teachings of the apostles contained in Scripture, since the apostles are no longer with us.

Yeah, I certainly get all that, but how do you know they’re wrong? Its interp vs. interp. To put it another way, how do you know their interpretation of scripture is wrong while yours is right? Is your interpretation infallible? I'm guessing you wouldn't claim that, so how then do you know your interpretation about what is essential and non-essential is the correct one?

All you do is push the question back another step. No mere man is infallible, & no council of mere men is infallible. Only God is infallible, & His Spirit speaks through Scripture. We must read the Scripture, compare Scripture to Scripture where things are unclear, & seek the aid & illumination of the Holy Spirit for understanding. This is not a guarantee that we will get everything correct; but the IMPORTANT & NECESSARY things are not obscure.


I tell you, this man went down to his house justified.