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Tuesday, November 16, 2004 

The Necessity of Biblical Authority

There is an old cliche about what happens when you ASSUME. Well, for far too long now we have been a country of donkeys. It seems evident that most people have no authority in their lives other than their own mind. Some, however, are followers of the media or celebrities or presidential candidates or Michael Moore, which may be even more problematic. Regardless of one's ideals, they come from someplace. Where they originate will determine what type of person he or she will become.

So, from where should we obtain truth? Many today obviously claim that science will ultimately determine all truth. Others say that philosophy or New Age religions will guide us. But let someone claim that truth comes only from the Word of God and you will see a flurry of rolled eyes and hear a conglomeration of elongated sighs. Yet this is the very place from which we must gather objective truth. It must be our standard of measurement, our rule of thumb in all situations. Without the Bible, we would be disconnected from the very source of life -- God.

Let's actually think for a minute. First, get past the delusion that Darwinism is in any way correct. It takes as much faith, if not more, to believe that something came from nothing as it does to believe that something temporal came from something eternal. We proved spontaneous combustion to be a hoax years ago, so why are there still scientists who believe in the Big Bang Theory? Second, realize that if a God created all of this world that we know of and gave to humans the ability to think and reason in such a way as to understand that He created us, then why would He not also give us an instruction book so as to be able to navigate through the treacherous waters we call "life"? And if He did give us such an instruction book, wouldn't it be able to survive the test of time, be authenticated by phenomena such as miracles, and be consistent, reasoned, livable, and ultimately lead us to a deeper understanding of Him? Third, think about what resource could be categorized by all of the above and also promote the best life for all of mankind. The answer is the Bible.

Now, Christians know that the Bible is the answer. What is disturbing is that a large group of Christians still do not take it seriously. They either say that it has errors and is unreliable or that it must be supplemented with psychology or sociology in such a way that it becomes completely irrelevant. And if Christians do not take the Bible seriously, how will we ever convince a lost and dying world to do so.

What we need in this country most right now is a consensus of authority. There is only one answer -- the Bible. Let us call our brethren to serious contemplation of the Scriptures and to living out a life that is consistent with what God has taught us through His Word. God has given us a great gift, a sword we must wield correctly in a world fraught with danger and deception. May we all understand the necessity of Biblical authority.

Soli Deo Gloria,
D.R.

Right on!!!

You see, friend, this is part of the problem with some of our more conservative types: They're worshipping a false god.

They say that there is only one answer: The Bible. While the bible itself says there's only one answer: Jesus.

The Bible is very valuable in teaching me Truths about God, but Jesus is the answer, not the Bible.

When you start worshipping the written word and not the Living Word, then you have people wanting to erect graven images honoring the Ten Commandments that directly says not to worship graven images.

I'm not at all suggesting the Bible is unimportant. I'm just saying, tread lightly.

Dan,

First, how can you say that conservatives worship a false God when they believe that the words of the Bible reveal the true character of God and are a record of the words of God? If you really believed that wouldn't you hold that text sacred as well? No one actually prays to the text, puts their faith in the text apart from Christ, or places the text in opposition to Christ.

Dan this is a circular argument you are getting yourself into. The Bible says Christ is the answer. How do we know that Christ is the answer? The Bible. What does the Bible say? The answer is Christ. That makes the Bible necessary in order to understand the message that Christ is the answer. Again if that is true why is the text not sacred?

If the Bible can only teach some truths, then which ones? And how do we decide which ones it teaches and which ones it doesn't? It seems that you put your intellect over against the text and the text itself reveals that the heart is wicked above all else, who can understand it?

The text reveals that the Word of God is both Jesus Christ in the flesh and the spoken word of God. They are not set in opposition. Why then do you do so?

The ten commandments comment is a red herring. Simply because someone fights over this issue really has nothing to do with the issue at hand, which is that conservatives take the Bible as infallable and authoritative. It doesn't teach to defend the Ten Commandments in court, so those are personal convictions and have nothing to do with the text itself. Like I said, you committed the logical fallacy of using a red herring.

Either the Bible is of the utmost importance or it is not important at all. It never seems to suggest that one part is more important than another. Jesus Himself constantly quoted the text as authoritative, challenging people's interpretation, but not the text itself. Jesus's words are recorded in the Bible and He claims that the Holy Spirit would come and teach them more than what they could understand at the time -- that is where the apostles come in and the entire New Testament becomes important.

Finally, we can know nothing about God authoritatively without the Bible. It is God's grace to us to let us have His words. I think Peter sums us a theology of holding the Bible authoritatively best when he says,

16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased," 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit inspired the men who wrote the text of the Bible. We should quit trusting in ourselves and start putting our faith in God and embrace the grace that He has bestowed upon us through the Bible.

I pray that you will not see the Bible as containing a word about God, but understand it as the Word of God. For through it we can indeed know God.

The Bible is indeed the Word of God. My point is that it is not god, which seems to be the case for some.

Would you accept the definition of a god as that on which we spend our money and energy and time? Then tell me, how much time, energy and money do we spend on the bible and how much TEM do we spend on living out God's teachings?

This is nothing I've researched, don't know the answer, but I suspect that we'd find we spend more on bibles, bible aids, ten commandment legal defense funds, bible holders, etc than we do on aiding the poor and needy. You want to check?

And the 10c argument I made is not a red herring ("Something that draws attention away from the central issue") but a perfectly sound example of how some have elevated the bible to God status without realizing the content.

As to your question: How can I know Jesus or God without the Bible?

I know God when I walk in the forest and hear God's birds singing and feel the rainfall on my face. I know God through an awesome sunrise and a spectacular mountain view.

I know God in the love shown to one in need or in the love shown to me in grace.

In short, I can know - authoritively - about God and Jesus through God's creation and through the Spirit's love lived out by my brothers and sisters.

I do not disvalue the bible, it has wonderful teachings that we have such a hard time comprehending and living out. It has comfort and motivation and Jesus revealed in many glorious and bitter ways.

I'm glad that you're wanting to push logical outcomes of arguments and look forward to exploring with you God's word and self through our God-given reason.

dr said:
"how can you say that conservatives worship a false God when they believe that the words of the Bible reveal the true character of God and are a record of the words of God?"

Anyone, can worship a false god, even one they've constructed from the Bible. It's exactly what Jesus accused the pharisees of - of knowing the scriptures enough to tithe right down to the last morsel but neglecting the weightier truths of God.

The question is: what is the nature of God and does our god live up to the True God's nature?

Dan,

I will respond to your second post first,
you said:
"Anyone, can worship a false god, even one they've constructed from the Bible. It's exactly what Jesus accused the pharisees of - of knowing the scriptures enough to tithe right down to the last morsel but neglecting the weightier truths of God."

You are right anyone can constuct a false god even from the Bible. I think that is what open theists have done. However, that doesn't mean we reject our only objective source of understanding the one and true God. It just means we must be careful to weigh everything we believe by the whole counsel of God -- the entire Scriptures. But Jesus did not accuse the Pharisees of constructing a false god. In fact Jesus never accuses them of idol worship. He does accuse them of neglecting the weightier matters of the law however. In fact, Jesus never indicates that the Scriptures themselves are problematic, but only the interpretation of them and the hearts of those who twist them for their own gain.

"The question is: what is the nature of God and does our god live up to the True God's nature?"

I agree here. The question that this one begs however, is "How do we know the true God." My answer is the same as Paul's and Peter's, which is through the Bible by means of the Holy Spirit. We can't trust our own selves and our own understanding. We must wholly lean on "the faith once handed down from the saints" which is revealed to us through the Scriptures.

Now to respond to your first post,

you say,
"Would you accept the definition of a god as that on which we spend our money and energy and time? Then tell me, how much time, energy and money do we spend on the bible and how much TEM do we spend on living out God's teachings?"
1) not to be disagreeable, but no I wouldn't accept that definition. I don't think that defines what is god to us. I think that shows us where are hearts are, but we don't necessarily worship what we spend the most time with. If you take that to a logical conclusion we could say we worship sleep most because we spend a lot of money on our houses, bedrooms, and beds and we spend most of our time on that in particular. Or our jobs, which God has called us to. So, I don't think that is necessarily a good measuring stick.
2) I think you create a false dichotomy when you pit studying God's word with living out God's teachings. Studying God's word is part of the command we have from God to know Him and to seek Him. Paul even calls teaching a gift. How can you teach if you do not spend a great deal of your time studying? The apostles themselves in Acts would be accused by your argument of worshipping a false god when they appointed deacons to serve the poor while they spent their time in prayer, study, teaching. So God calls us to different means of service and one of those is studying God's word. And preaching it is key to evangelism.

"This is nothing I've researched, don't know the answer, but I suspect that we'd find we spend more on bibles, bible aids, ten commandment legal defense funds, bible holders, etc than we do on aiding the poor and needy. You want to check?"
I don't know about that. Americans alone sent 22 billion dollars of aid to Africa last year. That doesn't include our tax dollars that went there. I would say that the average American Christian gives more in tithe (some of which goes to feeding the poor) than they do in buying Bibles and the other things you pointed out. But I wouldn't put the legal defense stuff in there. Not all of us think that the 10 commandments thing is a spiritual exercise.

"And the 10c argument I made is not a red herring ("Something that draws attention away from the central issue") but a perfectly sound example of how some have elevated the bible to God status without realizing the content."
It was a red herring in the way you used it because your argument assumed that 1) people who defend the 10c in the public square are worshipping the Bible and 2) worshipping the Bible leads to defending the 10c. You cannot prove that defense of the 10c monuments stems from bibliolotry and only confounds the issue by pointing to extraneous acts by a group of Christians many of whom see it not as a religious issue, but as a freedom issue. It is off subject because it doesn't prove your point which is that many conservatives worship a false god, the Bible.


"As to your question: How can I know Jesus or God without the Bible?
I know God when I walk in the forest and hear God's birds singing and feel the rainfall on my face. I know God through an awesome sunrise and a spectacular mountain view.
I know God in the love shown to one in need or in the love shown to me in grace.
In short, I can know - authoritively - about God and Jesus through God's creation and through the Spirit's love lived out by my brothers and sisters."
I don't disagree that you can't have experiences with God in these things, but they cannot define God. Those things are subjective to you. God is truth and as such is above our own experiences. In order to know God as Paul speaks about we must understand His character and His work throughout history. That history is recorded for us in the Bible. What He wants us to know about Himself is what He has revealed through the prophets, through Jesus, and through the apostles. Those things you mentioned can inform our understanding and can be informed by the Bible, but they cannot define the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and Jesus Christ. You didn't learn of Jesus through those things and you certainly didn't know of God's redemptive history through them. And they are incapable of saving you or in leading you to more holiness apart from being combined with God' revelation of Himself in the Bible.

"I do not disvalue the bible, it has wonderful teachings that we have such a hard time comprehending and living out. It has comfort and motivation and Jesus revealed in many glorious and bitter ways."
I disagree that you don't devalue the Bible when you put your experience on par with it. We cannot interpret the Bible through our experience, but rather our experience is interpreted through the Bible. Yes, the Bible is wonderous and myserious and comforting and motivating, but it is only so because it is indeed the Word of God.

"I'm glad that you're wanting to push logical outcomes of arguments and look forward to exploring with you God's word and self through our God-given reason."
I want you to know Dan that I do appreciate you stopping by and challenging me. Apparently you do perceive me in a good enough light that you are willing to spend this much time challenging my arguments. And I appreciate your honesty and straightforwardness. I am honored that you have chosen to work through these things with me. I hope you will continue and when things get less crazy in my life I will indeed email you.

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Paul was not interested merely in the ethical principles of religion or of ethics. On the contrary, he was interested in the redeeming work of Christ and its effect upon us. His primary interest was in Christian doctrine, and Christian doctrine not merely in its presuppositions but at its centre. -- J. Greshem Machen.

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