One of the more disturbing trends I’ve seen recently is that people are more and more defining the church’s doctrine by what individuals within that church say or said.
Francis Turretin has a brilliant answer to this methodology. He is referring in this context to various accusations against the Reformed position on providence and the question of evil. The accusers were saying that the Reformed position makes God the author of sin. He says this about the accusers:
Hence they are accustomed to drawing nothing from public standards to prove their calumnies, but only from the writings of private divines from which they falsely weave consequences. (paragraph break, LK) Concerning the public and received opinion of any church, a judgment cannot and ought not to be formed from the writings of private persons…because we do not stand or fall with the judgment of each private divine, however illustrious (volume 1 of Institutes of Elenctic Theology, p. 529).
This gets at the difference so often noted by Scott Clark that confessions of the church differ from systematic theology. They are not the same genre, nor do they carry the same weight. Confessions of the church carry much more weight than an individual person’s opinion, even if they are not on the same level as Scripture.