Of General Councils, of their Power, Authority, and Causes of Their Convention
As we do not rashly damn that which godly men, assembled together in general councils, lawfully gathered, have proponed unto us; so without just examination dare we not receive whatsoever is obtruded unto men under the name of general councils. For plain it is, as they were men, so have some of them manifestly erred, and that in matters of great weight and importance. So far then as the council proves the determination and commandment that it gives by the plain word of God, so far do we reverence and embrace the same. But if men, under the name of a council, pretend to forge unto us new articles of our faith, or to make constitutions repugning to the word of God, then utterly we must refuse the same as the doctrine of devils, which draws our souls from the voice of our only God to follow the doctrines and constitutions of men.
The cause, then, why general councils convened, was neither to make any perpetual law (which God before had not made), nor yet to forge new articles of our belief, neither to give the word of God authority much less to make that to be his word, or yet the true interpretation of the same, which was not before by his holy will expressed in his word. But the cause of councils (we mean of such as merit the name of councils), was partly for confutation of heresies, and for giving public confession of their faith to the posterity following: which both they did by the authority of God’s written word, and not by any opinion or prerogative that they could not err, by reason of their general assembly. And this we judge to have been the chief cause of general councils. The other was for good policy and order to be constituted and observed in the kirk, in which (as in the house of God) it becomes all things to be done decently and into order.Not that we think that any policy, and one order in ceremonies can be appointed for all ages, times, and places: for as ceremonies (such as men have devised) are but temporal, so may and ought they to be changed, when they rather foster superstition than that they edify the kirk using the same.
15 But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.”
1 Corinthians 14:40
40 But all things should be done decently and in order.
11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. 13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”
18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.
20 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— 21 “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” 22 (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? 23 These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.
1 Timothy 3:15
15 if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.
1 Timothy 4:1–3
4 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, 3 who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.
2 who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God’s house.