Wednesday, May 10, 2023

The Battle for Sola Scriptura

If you're like me, you enjoy reading church signs while driving. Perhaps "enjoy" is the wrong word. Most signs I see are absolutely inane and completely worthless. This morning I drove past a large church that had a very expensive electronic church marquee. It had these words prominently displayed:

69 Degrees

Well golly. I had no idea. Thank you so very much for telling me that. 

I'm being facetious of course. Yet how many times have I seen a church sign that had two items of information on it -- the time of day, and the current temperature. As if neither of these facts are staring me in the face every time I get into my automobile.

However, today I saw a church sign that I thought was fabulous. I liked it so much I stopped to take a picture of it. 

Isn't that great? God cannot lie. Therefore, what he says in his word must be true. No questions asked. There is no other attitude we can adopt toward the Scriptures if we are going to be true to the Bible. I emphasize that because other voices are stating otherwise today. I recently watched a debate over sola Scriptura. The evangelical Protestant was adamant -- the Bible, and the Bible alone, is the only final and authoritative source of divine truth. The Roman Catholic debater insisted otherwise, even going so far as to insist that the word theopneustos in 2 Tim. 3:16 -- which is normally translated either "inspired by God" or "God-breathed" -- should actually be rendered "life-giving." Say what? By the way, the Protestant debater, a man named Gavin Ortlund, is an absolute genius. Both speakers had relevant points, but Ortlund was in a class by himself -- respectful, warm, engaging, willing to learn from his debate partner, but also firm is his belief (and mine as well) that Scripture is the only infallible rule of the church's faith and practice. 

When I was a youth, I sang in the choir during Billy Graham's crusade in Honolulu. The one thing I remember more than anything else about Graham's preaching was his oft-repeated:

The Bible says ...

The Bible says ...

The Bible says ...

That's one reason I feel so strongly that THE watershed issue today is the acceptance or rejection of biblical inerrancy. The attitude we have toward the trustworthiness of the Bible will determine not only our faith but also our practice. Move away from that -- give up an authoritative, dependable, trustworthy, and infallible Bible -- and you will eventually surrender the right to be called a biblical, orthodox Christian.

I have a pastor friend who reminds me of Billy Graham. He has been to Ethiopia with Becky and me many times. He is a co-elder at a large Bible teaching church. And though he does perhaps 90 percent of the Sunday preaching, he has never deigned to use a title for himself that is reserved for Jesus Christ (1 Pet. 5:4).

I have heard this man speak many times. In fact, he spoke at my wife's funeral. I have never heard him say, "The Bible says." Nevertheless, his messages are Bible-saturated. He makes no bones about it. He makes it known in every possible way that orthodox believers have a responsibility to uphold the inspiration and authority of God's word at any cost. Why? Because the Bible alone is inerrant. My word isn't inerrant. My preacher friend's word isn't inerrant. When all has been said and done, the only true and dependable source for Christianity is the book we call the Bible. 

That church marquee got it right. God is truth. He cannot lie. Know something else that can't lie? Your weight scale. You might not like what it says, but if it's telling you that you are overweight, then you are overweight. Don't argue with it. For crying out loud, do something about it. Likewise, truth will always be on the scaffold, and error on the throne, as long as we are willing to surrender an unsullied adherence to God's word for the pottage of cultural acceptability. I urge you to contend earnestly for the faith wherever you are, whatever denomination you belong to. I urge especially people in the pews to hold their leaders accountable and, if necessary, to call them back to fidelity to the Bible. The fact is, you cannot stop at a simple surrender of inerrancy without making even more dreadful concessions. We have a responsibility for those who come after us in successive generations to see that this does not happen.