One surprising fact that I did not expect to find was that the heretics protested most loudly over the non-scriptural language of the orthodox creed. They pointed out that the phrases, “of one essence with the Father,” and “one substance with the Father” were not in the Bible. The heretics demanded “no creed but the Bible” precisely so that they could use biblical language to evade biblical truth. For example, they would happily call Christ “Son of God,” and then argue that, like all sons, he must have had a beginning. So to my surprise one form of the doctrine of the “sufficiency of Scripture” was used to undermine Scripture’s truth.So he says that there is a difference between the words of scripture and the truth of scripture. The creeds are there to make more clear the truth of scripture by using words that are not in scripture. But don't we have to know the words of the creed are true? If the phrase “one substance with the Father” expresses the truth of scripture then that is fine. But what if it does not. There were plenty saying it did not. He even quotes an incident in 1719 when some Arian pastors objected to Trinitarian language. Don't you need to be sure the creed is right before you can insist pastors affirm it?
What does this imply for the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture? That doctrine is based mainly on 2 Timothy 3:15-17 and Jude 1:3.
The sacred writings . . . are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. . . . Contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.In other words, the Scriptures are sufficient in the sense that they are the only (“once for all”) inspired and (therefore) inerrant words of God that we need, in order to know the way of salvation (“make you wise unto salvation”) and the way of obedience (“equipped for every good work”).
This is the classic hand waving proof of Sola Scriptura. It is full of logical and exegetical problems.The "alone" part of "scripture alone" is derived from Jude 1:3. That verse does not even mention scripture. Incredible! 2 Tim 3:15-17 is common protestants proof text on sola scriptura. The trouble is it does not say anything close to what sola scriptura says(see here). It is like if I talk about how wonderful my cell phone is that implies I don't need a car. Paul has high praise for scripture but that tells us exactly nothing about whether we need the church or sacred tradition.
The other distinction he glosses over is between inspired and inerrant. Catholics accept that the bible contains the only inspired revelation of God. But is it the only inerrant revelation? No. The words of the Council of Nicaea would be an example of inerrant words from God. But he equates these two without making any argument why that should be. So what about the creeds of the Council of Nicaea? He describes them as expressing scripture's truth. If they are not inerrant what are they? Error prone? True based on the personal authority of John Piper?
So it is with language in doctrinal disputes. Non-biblical language serves the Bible by ruling out some meanings and including others. The word “trinity” and the phrase “one substance with the Father” are extra-biblical terms. But they contain essential biblical truth. To affirm with extra-biblical language that God is “one essence in three persons” (=trinity) and that the Son is “one substance with the Father” is more biblical than to use biblical language to call Christ God’s creature. The sufficiency of Scripture does not dictate the language we use to interpret the Bible; rather it governs the meaning of the language we use. For that it is wholly sufficient.Again he assumes we know what "essential biblical truth" is. A doctrinal dispute is almost by definition a situation where we don't know that. So how can non-biblical language rule out some meanings? Only if the non-biblical words are trustworthy. If their source is more trustworthy than the process of me interpreting scripture on my own. Even that is not enough to completely rule things out. You need infallibility for that.
He smuggles infallibility in by simply asserting what scriptural truth is. He begs the question. If a creed expresses biblical truth then follow it. Never mind how you determine that. I give you an example where I declare this to be the case. Really he has assumed his own infallibility. He is not capable of asking whether Arius or Samuel Clark were right. Asking what, other than his own opinion, allows him to be sure they were wrong?