The Reformed Defense Of Christian Liberty In 1530

When, therefore, we saw very evidently that the chief men in the Church Beyond the authority of Scripture assumed this authority so to enjoin fasts as to bind men’s consciences, We allowed consciences to be freed from these snares, but by the Scriptures, And especially Paul’s writings, which with singular earnestness remove these rudiments of the world from the next of Christians. For the saying of Paul ought not to have light weight with us: “let no man, therefore, judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days.” And again: “Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though the world, are ye subject to ordinances?” For if St. Paul (than whom no man at anytime taught Christ more certainly) maintains that through Christ we have obtained such liberty in external things that he not only allows no creature the right to burden those who believe in Christ, even with those ceremonies and observances which God himself appointed, And wished in their own time to be profitable, but also denounces as having fallen away from Christ, and that Christ is of no effect to those who suffer suffer themselves to be made servant there to, what verdict do we think should be passed on those Commandments which men have devised of themselves, not only without any oracle but also without any example worthy of being followed, and which, therefore, are unto most not only beggarly and weak, but also hurtful; not elements—i.e. rudiments of holy discipline—but impediments of true godliness? How much more unjust will it be for anyone to assume to himself this power over the inheritance of Christ, so as to oppress it with such bondage, and how far shall it remove us from Christ if we submit ourselves to these things! For who does not see that the glory of Christ (to whom we ought wholly to live, as he has wholly redeemed us to himself and delivered us, and that, too, by his blood) Is more obscured if without his authority we bind our conscience to such laws are the inventions of men, than to those which have God as their author, even though they were once in their own time to be observed? Certainly, it is less fault to play the Jew then the heathen. But it is the custom of the heathen to receive laws for the worship of God which have originated without God’s advice, and from man’s invention only. Wherefore, if ever elsewhere, the saying of Paul is in place:”Ye are bought with a price; being not ye the servants of men.”

Tetrapolitan Confession (1530) in Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries in English Translation: vol. 1, 1523–1552. Ed. James T. Dennison, Jr. (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2008), 148–49.

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  1. I’ve heard people use that Col 2 passage to argue against the Sabbatarian position. How would you respond? I could also see someone arguing that the RPW is a means of binding the conscience; is this not so because it’s an argument laid out in Scripture?

  2. Creation is one thing, Marriage is another, and Christ and our rest in Him and marriage to Him is the substance of these portrayals.

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