A Letter Defending the Christian Worldview

For those of you who are still checking out my blog I appreciate your patience.  I’ve been very busy teaching classes, pastoring the church, leading the worship, and trying to be a god honoring husband and father.  I also have not had much time to write, nor have I had much about which to right.  I guess I’ve experienced a kind of brain drain.  What I have today grew out of past  online conversations, many that I can recall from years gone by , and others that I’ve only read.  I hope you find this useful.4.3.ArticulateChristianWorldview_316358693

My Dearest Friend,

It is encouraging to me that you have chosen to engage me in this conversation concerning my beliefs as a Christian.  The reason being is that I believe it simply reaffirms what God has revealed in Scripture; that it is He who has placed a desire to understand life and seek out our purpose (Ecclesiastes 3:11), and also He who moves in a person to cause him to seek Him (John 6:44).  I realize that you are not to the point where you can accept this point of view, yet.  But I am hopeful.

I have thought much about our last discussion, and would like to address a theme or two with you based on it.  First, I’d like to return to your view of what constitutes what is right, and what is wrong.  If, as you say, there is no God, what, then, is your basis for even attempting to differentiate between right and wrong?  If there is no one higher than man himself, then wouldn’t that mean that man is the final arbiter of right and wrong?  If that is the case, then which man is the final final arbiter of right and wrong?  It seems to me that the buck must stop somewhere, and if it were left up to a single individual wouldn’t that mean that somewhere there is a worldwide dictator?  By the way, God has warned that a final world dictator will come on the scene eventually, and it is not going to be pretty (see the book of Revelation for an explanation of that). We actually have a historical illustration of the harm that comes when a nation allows one man to be the final arbiter of right and wrong.  Germany bought into Hitler’s ideals, which not only led to World War II and the deaths of many millions of soldiers from multiple nations, but also to the deaths of six million Jews, and many millions of civilians from various countries. The reason for this is that a man is not a reliable source of absolute authority.  As in the case of Hitler, he was a man whose ideals were based not on facts, but on his own biases, misunderstandings, and hate.  Reality demonstrates time and time again that, when allowed, men will manipulate circumstances in such a way as to suit their own personal likes and dislikes.  And what happens when those personal preferences change?  Once again Hitler’s treatment of his own right hand man, Ernst Roehm, the founder and original leader of Hitler’s Storm Troopers, gives a great illustration of the, shall we say evil, things that can result.  My point is that if you believe that man in general makes the decisions concerning right and wrong, then the definition is left to a finite being incapable of infinite knowledge and thus incapable of establishing a universal ethical code.  You would also be subject to the changing ethical “tastes” of a finite being whose own requirements, or standards for determining right and wrong may change. The resultant consequences would be devastating.  God has warned us that the human heart (the innermost part of man) is sick, and desperately wicked; it cannot be trusted (Jeremiah 17:9).  In truth, in His grace, God has built-in some protection against this sort of situation in that He has created each of us with an innate knowledge of right and wrong.  But I’ll come back to that.

If, then, there is no one man who is the final authority, does that mean that there is a group, or conglomeration of men and woman who make that decision?  That would ultimately end in a totalitarian government of sorts, would it not?  Once again history has provide for us multiple accounts of what happens when such a situation occurs.  The communist regimes of Russia, and China have killed, and imprisoned untold millions of their own people based upon the government’s idea of what constitutes right and wrong; right being whatever they said at the moment, and wrong being whatever they decide on the basis of what is best for the collective.  Any dissenting view is met with harsh retribution.  Is that the solution for determining ethical standards?  Can an authoritarian government establish universal ethical standards?  The answer is no.

Another alternative, if there is no God, is to allow each individual to establish his or her own standards of ethical behavior.  However, this is not realistic.  If I determine my own ethical standards, and the next guy establishes his own ethical standards, and we each have differing views of what constitutes theft, then how can I keep him from taking my stuff if he believes its okay to do so?  At that point we must turn to the courts, which have established their own standards that go against both of ours and determine that everything that was taken from me is actually theirs.  You can see the predicament that such a situation would put the world in; there would be mass chaos.

Behind all of this discussion is another question.  Perhaps it is where we should have begun our discussion.  That question is, why should anyone be concerned about right and wrong to begin with?  I mean, if there is no God, and we are simply the product of random chance and time, evolution, then what difference does it make what one bag of protoplasm does to another anyway?  If I answer only to myself, why should I be concerned about anyone but myself, and maybe my immediate family?  Why would anyone care about anyone else at all?

Yet that is not what we see around us is it?  No.  We see that people and societies in one part of the world have ethical standards that are identical to people, and societies in every other part of the world.  We know that people in Thailand, or China, or England do not want anyone stealing their possessions, committing adultery with their spouses, killing them or their families, etc. in the same way that we don’t want any of those things to happen in our own lives here in the United States.  My point is very simply that there are universal standards of right and wrong behavior that transcend the boundaries of countries, ethnic groups, communities, and even religious sects.  How does a worldview (remember a worldview is, in the simplest of terms, the entire system, no matter how loosely organized, that every individual uses to understand, and interpret the world around them) that believes that the God of the Bible does not exist account for such universal ethical standards?  If you will allow me to answer, such a worldview cannot account for such ethical standards, nor can it justify their existence at all.  I will restate the question I asked earlier in the form of a statement: It doesn’t matter what one bag of evolved/evolving protoplasm does to another, whether good or bad, assuming there really is such things as good and bad.  In a world that is the product of random chance evolution there is no room for right or wrong.  There just IS.  Survival of the fittest is the rule of the day.

Now, within the Christian worldview we have answers for the questions that surround the concept of ethics.  We believe in the One God of Christian Scriptures who has revealed Himself in His creation, His Son, who has explained the unseen God to us (John 1:18), and through the Christian Scriptures, which He superintended in such a way that all that was written is correct, without error, and exactly what He wanted us to know.  He revealed that in the beginning He created all that exists out of nothing (Genesis 1 & 2).  He explained that He created man in His image, thus insuring that mankind both knows Him, and right and wrong (Genesis 1:26-31).  His creation was without flaw, but Adam rebelled against God by refusing to abstain from eating from the only tree that God forbade him from eating (Genesis 3), and at that point, sin entered the world that God had created.  For our purposes we can say that at that point in history the contrast between right and wrong was presented to the created order.

Adam’s sin, or rebellion, brought devastation upon the created universe to the extent that all of creation was placed under the curse of God’s impending judgment.  However, God was not content to leave things in such a state, but put in motion His plan to repair the breach culminating in the entrance of His own Son into the world.  He took on humanity, lived a sinless, perfect life among His creation, died to pay the penalty of man’s rebellion, rose again on the third day to be seated at His Father’s right hand where He now awaits His return to judge the world.  I tell you all of this to demonstrate first that the God of the Bible created all things.  Therefore, as the Creator He has the absolute authority, right, and responsibility to establish the universal ethical standards, which He has done.  These standards reflect His character and reflect who He is.  He has revealed His standards in the Scriptures, and He has put those same standards within the operating system of every man.  The apostle Paul explained this in his letter to the Romans: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them…and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them” (Romans 1:18-19, 32).  Mankind, on the basis of being created in the image of their Creator, knows right from wrong because they know Him.  They cannot escape the testimony within themselves, nor can they escape the testimony found in the rest of creation.

My friend, the Christian worldview is the only worldview that can explain both the existence of the universal ethical standards, and their origin.  Only the Christian worldview, with its belief in and dependence upon the God of Christian Scriptures, offers the truthful explanation of the universal ethical standards that actually exist in reality.  Only the Christian worldview can explain the existence of evil, and why certain things are right, and why certain things are wrong.  Only the Christian worldview has a remedy for the evil that exists in the world.  In the end God will reconcile with evil, and all who have not turned to Him for forgiveness will endure His judgment.

The good news is that He has provided a way for our bad to be erased.  His own Son, Jesus Christ, became a man and lived among His creation.  His death on a cross paid the penalty of our sin, and made it possible for us to be forgiven for our wrong.  God will judge the wrong, or evil of the world, but those who have accepted the forgiveness purchased by the death of Christ will escape that judgment.  It is my prayer for you that you will come to know the God that you know by faith in His Son Jesus Christ.

I pray that you will find His saving grace.

Forever your friend,

 

Steve

A Response to an Old College Friend on Facebook

A pastor whom I knew back in my college days recently linked with this article on his Facebook page (Michele Bachmann: proof that end-times theology will poison your worldview).  I think that the article typifies at least a portion of what is wrong in the Church today.  Let it be known at the outset that I am one of the dangerous ones that he discusses since I hold to the dispensational view of Scripture.

What follows is the message that I sent to my college friend.  His name is removed in order to not upset anyone, or get sued, or something along those lines.

I am saddened that you would place your stamp of agreement on that article.  I am not here to argue.  Instead I would like to simply direct our attention back to what Scripture teaches since it is the standard of truth, and doctrine.

2 Peter 3:3-4, 7, 10-11, “Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming?  For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation…But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men…But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.  Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!”

I could continue with Peter’s words, but simply notice what he said that the practical outcome of understanding the severity of “day of the Lord” and the coming judgment/destruction of the present earth should be – it is to have a purifying effect on God’s people – “what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness…”  1 John 2:28-3:3 gives the same basic message that the imminent return of the Lord should cause His people to live pure lives.

1 Peter 4:7, “The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit of the purpose of prayer.”

Peter claimed that in his day the end had already drawn near.  This verb, “is near” is in the perfect active indicative meaning that it is a “completed action with a resulting state of being…with the emphasis on the resulting state of being.”  In other words we are living at the end of all things, and if the end of all things had already drawn near at Peter’s time, logically it is even closer now.

Just as he had done in the previous passage, Peter describes what this knowledge should produce in the life of the Christian; 1.) sound judgment, 2.) sobriety in spirit (in control of one’s thought process  so as not to think irrationally) 3.) in order that we are able to pray in a focused manner.  All-in-all Peter again is teaching that knowing that we are living in the last days, that Christ may return at any time, is to have the effect of causing us to live in obedience to the word of God.

1 Peter 4:17, “For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?”

I’m sure that I’ve acted like a Pharisee even more times than I am aware, but this is not one of them.  Peter said that we are living in the time he called the end of all things, and here he says that judgment is beginning first in God’s own household, meaning us.  Our brothers and sisters around the world are being put to the test in ways we cannot imagine.  It very well may come to us also.  However, a much more severe judgment is reserved for those “who do not obey the gospel of God.”  Those who refuse to trust in Jesus Christ alone will face God’s judgment.  Revelation 20:11-15 is painfully clear;

“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it…And I saw the dead, the great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book…which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds…And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”

Any Dispenstionalist, of which I am one, who is worth his salt takes all of this together and realizes that we aren’t to be hunkering down in our bunkers, but we are to be sharing the gospel of salvation in Christ alone with those who need to know before they must stand before the Righteous Judge.  I don’t condemn anyone to hell.  It is not up to me.  God will be the one who hands down final judgment.  I’m just the one waving a flag warning the drivers to stop because the bridge ahead is out.

I’m not sure that you want to be in agreement with a man who is a scoffer concerning the end times – especially since they were specifically called out by Peter.  I would encourage you to look again at what the Word says.  It is the standard by which we are to judge any teaching.  Contrary to what the author of the article wrote, Paul told Titus that the grace of God has appeared and instructs us how to live “in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:11-13) – grammatically Paul identifies the appearing of the Lord as our blessed hope.  We should be looking for it, longing for it.  Yet, the brother who wrote the article says that it is a dangerous doctrine.  Paul told Timothy that “there is laid up for me (Paul) the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day (day of the Lord); and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Tim. 2:8).  I want that crown, and believe that I will get it because I am looking for and will love the coming of our Lord.

I pray that you will too.

The Sufficiency of Scripture: Is God’s Word Enough, Part 4

To all who have read these recent posts I will remind that the documentation of quotes has been lost.  Therefore, many of the quotes are not properly attributed to those who made them.

I recently began a series of articles dealing with the sufficiency of Scripture.  I began by giving a definition and description of sufficiency.  By way of introduction and reminder, the following is our definition: Sufficiency means that something is enough to meet the needs of a situation or a proposed end.  It refers to something being what is necessary or desirable for a specified need.  Simply put, if something is sufficient it is just what the doctor ordered.

In the last post we examined the move toward a proper hermeneutic that was directly attributable to the great Reformers including Luther and Calvin.  We also briefly discussed the fact that even they did not consistently utilize the proper procedures in their interpretation and exegesis.

As a result of the Renaissance and the Reformation, both Churchmen and philosophers discovered a renewed interest in the world around them and how to interpret man’s existence in light of their surroundings.  That is not to say that such things were not being pondered before these two events, but in the wake of them their was a noticeable expansion of such explorations.  The consequences were not always positive.

From Revelation to Reason –

Shortly after the Reformation, there was a move toward what is termed Rationalism. In other words the authority and sufficiency of the human mind, reason, and the religion of humanism replaced the authority and sufficiency of Scripture.

Although not the first to push the idea of rationalism, Rene’ Descartes (1596-1650) is seen by some to have begun the era of rationalism and many see him as the father of modern philosophy. In his system of philosophy, “human wisdom replaced divine revelation in trying to understand God…his philosophic thinking impressed many others to do the same.”

8-blaise-pascalFollowing Descartes was Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) respected French scientist, and Christian apologist. Despite his belief in fulfilled prophecy, miracles, the witness of Christianity throughout history, and Scripture’s testimony concerning itself, “he opened the door to move away from the Bible by his belief that the evidence in the heart is the strongest proof about God.” Once again, Scripture is place in a subservient position to the interpreter instead of Scripture being in authority over the interpreter. The interpreter’s reason is sufficient to guide him, not Scripture.

From Rationalism to Idealism –

As influential as these two men were Francis Schaeffer believed that there were four other men who were more crucial in directing the mindset of philosophical thinking, which in turn filtered over into the overall view of the sufficiency of Scripture. They were Jean-Jaques Rousseau, Immanuel Kant, George Wilhelm Hegel, and SÆ ren Kierkegaard. For the purpose of this study the focus will be upon Kant, Hegel and Kierkegaard, with the edition of Friedrich Schleiermacher, the father of liberalism.

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804). By the time Kant came on the seen in the 18th century the train of philosophical thought was undergoing a shift in attitude. As Schaeffer explains:

Immanuel Kant

“the older philosophic views were optimistic, for they assumed that people would be able through reason alone to establish a unified and true knowledge of what reality is and that when this happened they would have satisfying explanations for everything encountered in the universe and for all that people are and think.”

The shift that was taking place that Kant helped to perpetuate was a move from that former optimistic view to a pessimistic view of life. In their minds, and in truth, the humanistic ideal had failed. Philosophers gave up hope of a unifying answer to all of life’s questions. Therefore life itself was divided into two “stories”. The upper story, which was above and beyond mere human reason, and the lower story, the realm of human thought, understanding, and the physical world. As others before him, Kant could not find the key to unifying these two stories – In truth, a feat only possible in the pages of Scripture for only it is sufficient to answer life’s question and provide that unifying principle – and the philosophers were coming to the horrifying truth; “There was no way beginning from man alone to bring the (two stories) together.”

Yet Kant refused to return to the Christian view of reality. He reacted against both “mystical and pietistic Christianity, thinking it was too superstitious and spiritual…(and) the scholasticism that dominated Lutheranism…(arguing that) such rational proofs of God violated the limits of reason and had little to do with faith.”

Kant’s conclusions served to move the Christian Church farther from the sufficiency of Scripture and towards mysticism and liberalism.

George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831). Hegel was one of Kant’s followers and went a step further in chipping away at the sufficiency of Scripture. In Hegel is found the foundation for all relativistic thought and the perfect example of Paul’s statement, “Professing to be wise, they became fools” (Rom. 1:22), for in Hegel’s system opposing propositions can both be true and must be synthesized into one new truth. This was his dialectical system. The result of Hegel’ s conclusions was a move further away from the traditional understanding that the propositional truth claims of Scripture were sufficient to answer all of life’s fundamental questions and guide mankind in every area of life, and a move further into the realm of mystical, even occult thought. For Hegel man was the consciousness of the universe, and all is ever evolving in this dialectical system.

Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834). As previously mentioned, Schleiermacher is often seen as the father of liberalism. In Schleiermacher it seems that many of the elements of liberalism merge into one; German rationalism, higher criticism, enlightenment thought, etc., all merge at Schleiermacher. He rejected most of the orthodox Christian beliefs and did not trust any form of authority. Yet, he seemed to understand the damage that his beliefs would cause mankind, therefore, “he did not want to reject Christianity, recognizing that mankind needs religion.” To Schleiermacher, Christianity was a necessary evil. He rejected Scripture’s inspiration, therefore also rejecting its inerrancy and authority, which necessarily meant that Scripture is not sufficient to answer life’s question. Yet, he somehow believed that keeping the shell of Christianity in public life would be necessary – this is nonsense since the very root of Christian life resides in the sufficient, authoritative pages of Scripture.

Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855). In this author’s estimation, Kierkegaard was the bridge between the damaging shift in philosophical thought and soren-kierkegaardthe shift away from the sufficiency of Scripture in the realm of theology. Kierkegaard was both a philosopher and theologian. Kierkegaard’s view of the two stories of reality can be seen in the following:

NONREASON = FAITH/OPTIMISM

REASON = PESSIMISM

Thus in Kierkegaard’s system the Bible is not only insufficient in governing faith and life because it is not trustworthy.  Human reason must be relied upon to answer all questions in the realm of everyday life, and spirituality is brought to the point of a mere leap of faith into something that can never be known.

In this one man we can see both sides of today’s low view of the sufficiency of Scripture. On the one hand the Scripture is insufficient and human reason must be the answer. On the other hand Scripture is insufficient and some existential or ecstatic experience must be the basis for men’s faith.

Around the same time that Kierkegaard was building a bridge between the fields of pessimistic philosophy and theology, Julius Wellhausen (1844-1918) began the direct assault on Scripture. Wellhausen rejected the inspiration of Scripture – in itself a repudiation of the sufficiency of Scripture – and began the application of the Hegelian dialectical principles to the study of the Bible. This led to the damaging practice of Biblical “higher criticism”.

karl-barth_with-pipeThe destruction brought by the higher critics resulted in an equally damaging response by those who are now labeled as Neo-Orthodox. The first influential theologian of this school of thought was Karl Barth (1886-1968). This movement is also known as “crisis theology” (due to its focus on God’s judgment), or “Barthianism” (after Barth himself). Barth sought to rescue the Bible from the liberal theologians, yet Kierkegaard’s influence can be seen in Barth’s theological product. Enns explains: “Karl Barth followed Kierkegaard in acknowledging a transcendent God and emphasizing a religion of experience. Barth taught that God could not be known objectively because He is transcendent; He must be known subjectively through experience.” In Barth’s conclusion we once again see the effects of Hegel’s dialectical system, in that Barth “denied the possibility of stating propositional truths.” Since God could not be known objectively through the propositional truth claims of the Bible then the words of Scripture must become the word of God in some subjective way. Once again, the sufficiency of Scripture was rejected and replaced by personal experiences throwing wide open the door to the mystical, occult experiences that have entered the Church today.

Whether meant as attacks or sincere attempts at interpreting and teaching Scripture, the cumulative effect of all of these movements can be seen in the resulting destruction of the view that Scripture alone is sufficient for every aspect of faith and conduct. On one side stands dinosaur-like view of the humanist that man’s reason is all that there ever was, is now, or ever will be needed to answer all of life’s questions and guide man through life, yet ultimately leads to despair. On the other side stands the new kid on the block; those who hold that reason must be set aside and the mystical subjective experience must be embraced, this view also leading to despair.

To be continued…

The Sufficiency of Scripture: Is God’s Word Enough? Part 3

sola scripturaI recently began a series of articles dealing with the sufficiency of Scripture.  I began by giving a definition and description of sufficiency.  By way of introduction and reminder, the following is our definition: Sufficiency means that something is enough to meet the needs of a situation or a proposed end.  It refers to something being what is necessary or desirable for a specified need.  Simply put, if something is sufficient it is just what the doctor ordered.

Our last discussion ended with the historical development of the Roman Catholic standard form of hermeneutic, an allegorical method of interpreting Scripture.  A major concern with this approach is that Scripture becomes putty in the hands of the interpreter who is free to mold its “meaning” into anything that suits his/her fancy.  Added to this method is the practice of the Pope making proclamations ex cathedra regardless of whether the proclamation is in harmony with previous proclamations or not, or whether it harmonizes with the real teachings of Scripture or not.  At least one of the results prior to the Reformation was rampant superstition, which is a glaring display of the abandonment of the sufficiency of Scripture.

Reformation Hermeneutics –

By the time the Reformation came about the damage was so ingrained that even the Reformers never quite returned completely to sound biblical interpretation. Granted the hermeneutical principles established by the two most influential Reformers, Luther (1483-1546) and Calvin (1509-1564), were sound and good; in practice they did not always follow their own rules.

Luther rejected the allegorical method completely. As he said, “When I was a monk, I was an expert in allegories. I allegorized everything. But after lecturing on the Epistles of the Romans I came to have knowledge of Christ. For therein I saw that Christ is no allegory and I learned to know what Christ is.” Because of his turn from allegorical method Luther developed a form of literal, grammatical hermeneutics. Briefly, his principles were as follows:

  1. The psychological principle. Luther believed that the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit was of absolute necessity.
  2. The authority principle. Scripture is the final and supreme authority above all church authority.
  3. The literal principle. Literal (normal) interpretation is key.
  4. The sufficiency principle. Luther held to the perspicuity (clarity) of Scripture and therefore believed that any devout Christian is capable of understanding them apart from the church’s authority.
  5. The Christological principle. Luther believed that the function of all of interpretation is to find Christ.
  6. The Law-Gospel principle. Luther believed that there must be a careful distinction held between Law and Gospel.

John Calvin also established sound hermeneutical practices. “Calvin stressed the Christological nature of Scripture, the grammatical, historical method, exegesis rather than eisegesis…the illuminating ministry of the Holy Spirit, and a balanced approach to typology.” (Quote attribution lost)

The problem that existed with both of these great scholars, and men of God, was that they each continued to hold to allegorical/spiritual interpretation when it concerned the Church, Israel, and end times prophecy propagating the Catholic Church’s teaching of amillennialism and that the Church is the Kingdom of God. Therefore, despite the great success and blessing from God that the Reformation was, its success was incomplete leaving the door open for building good doctrine on top of bad.

Regardless of the progress towards sound hermeneutic principles of the Reformers the issue remained; through all the years prior to and following the Reformation the sufficiency of Scripture was (and is) challenged.  This challenge has often been by interpreters seeking to help make Scripture plain, or by the Roman Catholic Church seeking to centralize the power of Christendom.  It may be safe to say that the situation has worsened with the addition of numerous sects and cults, and the failure of conservative churches to teach the sufficiency of Scripture.  The result can be seen in the current drift back to superstition, which includes the current tide of continually seeking new direct revelation from God for everyday guidance instead of simply living in obedience to His revealed word.

To be continued…

The Sufficiency of Scripture: Is God’s Word Enough? Part 1

ImageWhat follows is a portion of a presentation that I made several years ago.  The topic is a “life and death” issue, figuratively speaking, for the Church today.  Unfortunately, some of my documentation has been lost and some quotes are not attributed to the original authors.  Some may criticize for moving forward with publishing it for that reason, but I believe that what I wrote years ago is still fresh for today and needs to be reviewed by others.  For those whom I quote and have lost the proper notations, please forgive me.

I have played the great game of basketball from the time I was in the fifth grade all the way through my college years. One thing that all teams, leagues, conferences and divisions had in common was a single book; the official rulebook of basketball. During any game the rules written in that book governed the competition and were binding for everyone involved whether it is the coaches, players, scorekeepers, or referees. No one involved would dare question that book for it is the final authority for all things basketball. It is also sufficient to answer any question, settle any dispute, and completely govern the game.

In each game there were at least two men, sometimes three, who were to oversee each contest to make sure the rules of the rulebook, were understood and obeyed. These were the referees. Anytime there was any question concerning error or infraction concerning the rulebook these men would have the final say in deciding the answer, because these men had the rulebook memorized (theoretically and ideally). In my recollection of the years I spent playing basketball there is not one time that I can point to when my opinion was allowed to make the final decision when there was a violation of the rulebook. That is because the rulebook had already decided the outcome, and the referees would simple make a declaration of the rules already established. Even some 20 years after I played my last college game it is still that rulebook that governs the game of basketball. Not much has changed.

For thousands of years there has been one thing that was the final authority on all things, period; “Then God said…” (Gen. 1:3). Yet, seemingly no sooner had those words been uttered that another voice was heard casting doubt on the authority of the word of God; “Indeed, has God said?”(Gen. 3:1) Or in other words, “Is what He said really accurate?” And so the battle over the authority of God’s word began.

Such a battle has raged since that first question in the Garden with various waves of victory and loss of ground for those who would hold to the authority of Scripture. Along with that battle over authority must necessarily be included the question of sufficiency, for sufficiency is inextricably linked to authority. If the word of God is THE authority, then it must also be sufficient. This has been the orthodox understanding of Scripture in both the Old and New Testaments as well as in both the religion of the Jews and of the Christian Church. It is the purpose of this paper to discuss various aspects of the sufficiency of Scripture, and will do so with the presupposition that Scripture is the inspired, infallible, authoritative word spoken by God to man.

I will attempt to offer a simple definition of sufficiency, a brief description of the millennia long battle over the authority and sufficiency of the word of God, the recent developments in the battle and its effects upon the Church, and will close with an overview of what Scripture has to say concerning its status as sufficient providing the answer to the question; “Is God’s Word enough?” It is not within the scope of this article to delve into every deep crevasse that such a battle creates. However, it is my desire to discuss the issue as thoroughly as time and space allow.

Definition and Description of Sufficiency

Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (Eleventh Edition) defines the word “sufficient” by the following: “1.a: enough to meet the needs of a situation or a proposed end…b: being a sufficient condition.  2….being what is necessary or desirable.”  Thus, we may picture the word “sufficient” with the following simple illustration: the two-inch round peg is sufficient to fill the two-inch round hole.  To use another phrase, the round peg is just what the doctor ordered; it is exactly what is needed to meet the need at hand.  Some synonyms given are, “enough, adequate, competent.”

Dr. James T. Draper has offered a simple, yet adequate definition and description of the sufficiency as it relates to Scripture. He states:

“The ability of the Word of God to address every area of human existence is called the sufficiency of the Scriptures…An inerrant Bible is an authoritative Bible. Just as the doctrine of the inerrancy of Scripture logically leads to belief in its authority, even so the doctrine of the authority of the Bible necessitates the confidence that the Scriptures are sufficient. Christians did not arrive at the doctrine of the sufficiency of the Bible simply by way of logical reasoning; we believe that the Bible is the road map for living because it is what the Bible claims about itself.”  Added to this, another definition offered by John MacArthur; “the Bible is an adequate guide for all matters of faith and conduct. Scripture gives us every truth we need for life and godliness.”

Based on the preceding discussion I will begin this study by stating that it is my belief, as well as that of orthodox Christianity at least since the Reformation, that Scripture is sufficient, totally adequate, and competent to meet the needs of every individual Christian in every circumstance of life (see 2 Peter 1:2-3).  Nothing else is needed to guide us in our everyday living.  These definitions along with their corresponding descriptions will serve as our standard for the understanding and study of this most important subject.

To be continued.

Are You Epistemologically Self-Conscious? | Jason Lisle’s Blog

Jason Lisle does an excellent job of presenting some fundamental facts about Christian Epistemology, how we know anything.  Christians would be well served if we would take the time to learn the foundational principles of logic and knowing in order to better present and defend the Christian/Biblical worldview.

Do yourself a favor and read this article.

Are You Epistemologically Self-Conscious? | Jason Lisle’s Blog.

The Words of the Gospel of Eternal Life | 1024project.com

The Words of the Gospel of Eternal Life | 1024project.com.

I would like to introduce you to the 1024project.com if you have not yet discovered it on your own.  I am one of the founding members and would like to invite you to sample some of the sites work.  The above article is by one of the other founding members, Dr. Mike Stallard.  I hope you enjoy reading it.

Below is a brief description of the 1024project:

1024projectlogo

What is the 1024 Project?

The 1024 Project is a collaboration of Christian leaders, based on Hebrews 10:24 – “and let us consider ways to stimulate one another to love and good deeds.” One way we can accomplish this mandate is by working together to provide encouraging and edifying resources on issues that arise in the lives of individual believers and in corporate church life. The 1024 Project is a clearinghouse of teaching, resources and information from likeminded leaders of Biblical churches, who are committed to Two Key Distinctives:

First, the Bible (the Hebrew Bible and Greek New Testament) is the inspired, inerrant (in the original manuscripts), revealed word of God, and is authoritative and sufficient for the equipping of saints for every good work.

Second, the Bible provides the model for its own interpretation, and should be understood in its natural (literal grammatical-historical) sense, considering context and the progress of revelation. The 1024 Project and its members are committed to the consistent application of the literal grammatical-historical method for understanding the entire Bible.

These Two Key Distinctives have some obvious implications. One implication worth noting here is that the 1024 Project means by “considering context and the progress of revelation” that the earlier Biblical texts provide grounding and definition for later Biblical texts, and not the other way around (the OT is not to be reinterpreted by the NT, rather the NT is to be understood in light of the OT). Consequently, hermeneutic models that advocate NT primacy, like the canonical or complementary approaches, do not consider context and progress of revelation in keeping with the literal grammatical-historical hermeneutic.