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John Eck. Enchiridion of Commonplaces.

Objections of the Heretics.

1. The authority of Scripture is greater than that of the Church. For the Church ought to be ruled according to Scripture. For the Word of God yields to no one.

2. It is not lawful for either the Church or any man to go against Scripture.

3. One does not say that what the Pope with the Cardinals and the bishops determine has been determined by the Church, because the Church is the congregation of all believers and the connection in true faith by which the just man lives.

4. The Church of God is in the Spirit alone, because she is believed, and thus hidden.


Disposal of Objections.

1. Christ did not write any book, nor did He bid the disciples or apostles to write one, yet He gave many precepts concerning the Church; hence when about to send apostles out to plant the Church, He did not say, “Go write“, but “Go into the whole world and preach the Gospel to every creature” [Mt. 24:14]. Therefore the law was written on tablets of stone, but the Gospel on hearts. “Since you are a letter of Christ, sent out by us, and written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not in tablets of stone, but in the physical tablets of the heart” [2 Cor 3:3]. Jeremiah agrees: “Behold, the day is coming, says the Lord, and I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant I made with your fathers, etc., but this will be one which I shall make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord; I shall give the law in their inward parts, and in their heart I shall write it, and I will be their God and they will be my people” [Jer. 31:31-33]. Jerome: Why is it necessary to take into one’s hand what the Church does not receive?

2. The Church is older than Scripture, for when the Apostles began to preach, there was no written Gospel, no letter of Paul, and yet there was the Church dedicated by Christ’s blood.

Thus the apostles without the Scripture of the New Testament chose Matthias [Acts 1:22ff], ordained seven deacons [Acts 6:3]; Peter caused Ananias and Sapphira to die [Acts 5:1ff]. Even tough the apostles were very diligent in sowing the Word of God, yet very few things are found written by them. It follows logically that they taught many more things than they wrote; the things taught have equal authority with the things written.

3. Scripture is not authentic without the Church’s authority: for the canonical writers are members of the Church. Hence against a heretic wishing to contend against the Church’s constitution and custom one objects with the very weapons wereby he wishes to contend against the Church. He is going to quote the canonical Scriptures or the four Gospels, and the Pauline Epistles. Let the objection immediately be raised against him: how does he know that these Scriptures are canonical except from the Church, for why does he believe the Gospel of Mark, who did not see Christ, to be canonical, and not the Gospel of Nicodemus, who saw and heard Christ, as John testifies [Jn. 3:1ff]? So why has the Gospel of Luke the disciple been received, and the Gospel of Bartholomew the apostle been rejected, unless we humbly confess the authority of the Church with the Blessed Augustine, something Luther sometimes taught, that the Church could judge concerning the Scriptures.

Therefore it thus is clear that the Church is older than Scripture, and Scripture would not be authentic without the Church’s authority. Hence, Augustine, Agains the Epistle Called Fundamental, 5.6 [PL. 42.176]: “I would not have believed the Gospel unless the authority of the Church had moved me to do so“. (…)

i. Scripture teaches: “Remember to hallow the Sabbath day; six days shall you labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath day of the Lord your God“, etc. Yet the Church has changed the Sabbath into Sunday on its own authority, on which you have no Scripture.

ii. Christ said to His disciples on the mountain: “I have not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it” [Mt. 5:17]. And yet the Church of the apostles in council boldly made pronouncement on the cessation of legal matters.


We confess the Church to be the congregation of all the faithful who are of the body of Christ, and when primates and leaders of any province decide anything, the whole province is said to have decided it. Thus the prelates of the Church are called “the Church”, because they represent it and its subjects. Otherwise the Church could never be gathered. “But if he does not hear you… tell the Church; but if he does not hear the Church, let him be to you as a Gentile and publican” [Mt. 16:16ff]. According to Luther’s view, if anyone wanted to tell the Church, he would have to traverse the whole earth.


“And when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension against them, the brethren decided that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to the apostles and presbyters in Jerusalem about this question” [Acts 15:2]. See how the Deuteronomy c. 17 passage was fulfilled. And what was the Church? Not the whole congregation, but they went up to the apostles and presbyters who represented the Church.

4. If the Church is hidden, how did Christ enjoin telling it to the Church, and if He did not hear the Church, etc. But if it were hidden, what could be said to it, or how would it hear? Likewise the Church is the body of Christ, and the Christians are its members [Rom. 12:5; 1 Cor 10:17; 12:12; Eph. 1:23; 5:30; Col. 1:24]. Let Luther say wether they were hidden and only mathematically the Church, when Paul said: “Now you are the body of Christ, and members each in his part” [1 Cor 12:27].

It is the way of heretics to have caverns and caves and lurking places: the Church puts the lamp upon a lampstand [Lk. 8:16]. The Church is shown to you in councils, in the Apostolic See, in bishops and leaders of individual Churches. For it the Church were only mathematical, the brother of Paul (Timothy) would not have praise through all the Churches [2 Cor 1:1]. David would not have said: “With you is my praise in the great church” [Ps. 21:26], “and in the seat of the elders let them praise him” [Ps. 106:32].


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