Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Authority of Scripture

We are now, and have been for the past two decades, living in what has been accurately called a post-Christian, postmodern world. The modern era was defined by the belief in and search for the truth. The postmodern era leaves that belief behind and no longer recognizes absolute standards of morality or truth. Whatever feels right and does not "harm" others is considered acceptable behavior, and truth is what you feel it is. There are many reasons why we are where we are. One, I believe, is how the church has handled the Bible. Not only has the world attacked the sufficiency and authority of the Bible but so has "so called" Christians. There are many Christians who do not believe "every Word" of the Bible and that undermines its very authority.

I recently returned from a trip to West Harrison, Indiana where I attended a Creation Conference with Answers in Genesis. I was shocked to learn how many popular evangelical leaders do not believe God created the world in six 24 hour days but rather believe in evolution which says it took billions of years. James Dobson, of Focus on the Family, was asked if he supported the "Big Bang" Theory (the belief that the universe is the product of an immense explosion). He responds:

"Yes. And I see nothing in Scripture that indicates that God did not 'speak' the universe into existence by this method. Nor do I understand why it is so threatening to my fellow believers. The Big Bang, if it did in fact occur, was the 'creation event,' described in Genesis 1, 'In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.' For those who say such a notion contradicts Scripture, I hope they will point out the specific verses that concern them because I haven't seen them" (A response from Tessa Camp, Focus on the Family Correspondence Dept. Nov.11, 1997).

Dr. Dobson does not see that his view of the creation account actually attacks the Bible because it says evolution had something to do with it. Other leaders, like Dr. James Montgomery Boice, wrote in his commentary on Genesis:

"We have to admit here that the exegetical basis of the creationists is strong...In spite of the careful biblical and scientific research that has accumulated in support of the creationists’ view, there are problems that make the theory wrong to most (including many evangelical) scientists...Data from various disciplines point to a very old earth and an even older universe" (Genesis, An Expositional Commentary, Vol.1, pp.57-62).

I decided to write Boice’s ministry about this and they responded by saying:

"The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals does not take a position on matters of creation, nor on many other important and controversial topics of discussion. We try to limit the positions we take as an organization to those things which directly relate to the five ‘solas’ of the Reformation. Among our Council members there is a wide array of opinion on exactly how God created the earth. For exegetical reasons, some of the men on our Council do not believe that Genesis 1 and 2 were given to God’s people to explain the ‘how’ of creation, but rather the ‘why’ of creation. Other men on our Council do believe that Genesis 1 and 2 is meant to teach BOTH the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of creation. Both camps hold to the infallibility and inerrancy of Scripture, but they have different interpretations of Genesis 1 and 2 and other passages in Scripture which talk about the creation. Each of our Council members has a ministry or job that is unrelated to the Alliance. Things they do and say there are their own to defend. Dr. Boice was no exception. His commentaries and other books represented his personal views, which are not necessarily the views of the Alliance. The only views of any of our Council members that can be called the position of the Alliance are those documents that we draw up which relate to some aspect of the five solas" (Eric Landry, Managing Editor, Modern Reformation Magazine).

I replied to his letter by stating that taking a position on what Genesis teaches about the creation is in harmony with "sola scriptura." I also wrote RC Sproul’s ministry and am happy to hear that "RC currently holds to the literal 6 day, 24 hour understanding of the creation account." Ken Ham had made reference to RC holding to an old earth view but his ministry says he was "probably quoting from an old source." Well as you can see there is a battle for the truth. To say that the creation took billions of years is an attack on what Genesis 1 says that God created the world in six 24 hour days. John MacArthur make a very important point when referring to the creation account by saying: "Everything Scripture says about our salvation through Jesus Christ hinges on the literal truth of what Genesis 1-3 teaches about Adam’s creation and fall. There is no more pivotal passage of Scripture" (The Battle for the Beginning, inside cover). He further writes: "Many in the church are too intimidated or too embarrassed to affirm the literal truth of the biblical account of creation...They insist they believe the Bible is inerrant and authoritative. But they are willing to reinterpret Genesis to accommodate evolutionary theory" (Ibid., inside cover).

I want to affirm to you today and for the rest of my life here on this earth that the Bible is the Word of God! And we are fallible men and woman who must submit to its authority. We don’t turn to scientist to explain the virgin birth, the deity of Christ or the resurrection of Jesus but we do when it comes to matters such as the creation? Romans 3:4 says, "...Let God be true but every man a liar." I choose to believe what God has written. Charles Spurgeon said, "This volume is the writing of the Living God: each letter was penned with an Almighty finger; each word in it dropped from the everlasting lips; each sentence was dictated by the Holy Spirit" (Spurgeon’s Sermons, Vol.1, p.26). This is the Word of God and each writer of Scripture affirmed it as such:

  • Paul verifies Luke - 1 Tim.5:18 (taken from Lk.10:7 and Deut.25:4)
  • Peter verifies Paul - 2 Pet.3:14-16
  • Jude verifies Peter - Jude 1:17-19 (cf. 2 Pet.2)

D. James Kennedy says: "We know the Bible is God’s Word because God Himself says so. Beginning with Moses and the Ten commandments, He spoke to all the Old Testament prophets and commanded them to write down His words. ‘Thus saith the Lord’ or ‘God spake these words’ appears over two thousand times in the Old Testament. In the book of Exodus, with forty chapters, ‘God spake all these words’ appears 160 times" (What If the Bible Had Never Been Written, p.211). If we’re going to point people to Jesus Christ then we must believe that every word in the Bible is God’s. If we’re going to see people’s lives changed for the glory of God, it’s going to happen because we believe that the Bible is God’s Word! My prayer for you today is that you will affirm in your life "The Authority of Scripture" by affirming "every word."


SteveJ said...

"We know the Bible is God’s Word because God Himself says so."

This doesn't follow. First of all, it's circular reasoning: The Bible is God's Word because God (who speaks through His Word, the Bible) says so.

Second, even if Peter says Paul's letters are Scripture, what about James, Jude, Hebrews, Revelation, Mark? The New Testament is an anthology of ancient works. Therefore, a claim made about one of the writings doesn't extend to them all.

Changed By Grace said...

When Peter referred to "all of his epistles," referring to Paul's in 2 Peter 3:16 that accounts for 13 New Testament letters. When Jude says to "remember the words which were spoken by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ" that accounts for the letters of Peter, John, Matthew. When Paul quotes Luke in 1 Timothy 5:18, he puts it on the same level as Deuteronomy which he calls "Scripture." Since that is the case then all of Luke's writing is considered Scripture which would include the Gospel of Luke and Acts. The final nail in the coffin is 2 Timothy 3:16 which says, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God."

It's clear that the Bible is God's Word because "God Himself says so."