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What to Believe? Whom to Believe?

Rev’d Elijah White

What to Believe? Whom to Believe?

Dear Fellow Students of the Bible and the Faith,

Many who take the Christian Faith seriously often ask a very serious question: How are we to know just what basic Christian doctrine and teaching is? Who has the authority to say so?

If one has no objective reason to accept the authority of any particular group of sinners rather than that of any other group of sinners –
for instance, to accept Thomas Aquinas or the Pope of the moment rather than some Germans in the 1530 Augsburg Confession or the 1580 Book of Concord – or some French-Swiss in Calvin’s Institutes of 1539-1560 – or some English-Scots in the 1647-48 Westminster Confession – or whoever had the most votes at the most recent Episcopalian General Convention or Church of England General Synod –
then how can a believer know whom, and therefore what, to believe? A personal relationship with Jesus Christ is quite literally crucial, but does not in itself tell us what to think about the Trinity, the Holy Communion, the doctrine and practices of the Church, or other matters of teaching and faith.

Below is a summary of the Vincentian Canon, the ancient standard for determining authentic Christian Faith.

Think, pray, enjoy, revel and delight in the Faith always, and may God guide, guard, direct, defend and Bless us all, Lige

The Vincentian Canon

‘Canon’ in this usage means ‘measuring stick’ – a canonical book of the Bible means one which has been determined by the competent authority of the undivided* Church to ‘measure up’ to the standard of godly inspiration for inclusion in ‘the canon’ of Holy Scripture.

Saint Vincent of Lérins (died before A.D.450) summarized in his Commonitorium study of the Christian Faith what came to be known at The Vincentian Canon setting the measure for authentic orthodox biblical apostolic and patristic teaching:

Quod ubique,
quod semper,
quod ab omnibus
creditum est.

That which has been believed everywhere, always, by a