D. A. Carson – How to Subtly Abandon Your Bible’s Authority

On the danger of appealing to selective evidence:

The most severe forms of this drift [appealing to selective evidence] are well exemplified in the teaching and preaching of the HWPG—the health, wealth, and prosperity gospel. Link together some verses about God sending prosperity to the land with others that reflect on the significance of being a child of the King, and the case is made—provided, of course, that we ignore the many passages about taking up our cross, about suffering with Christ so that we may reign with him, about rejoicing because we are privileged to suffer for the name, and much more. These breaches are so egregious that they are easy to spot. What I’m thinking of now is something subtler: the simple refusal to talk about disputed matters in order to sidestep controversy in the local church. For the sake of peace, we offer anodyne treatments of hot topics (poverty, racism, homosexual marriage, distinctions between men and women) in the forlorn hope that some of these topics will eventually go away. The sad reality is that if we do not try to shape our thinking on such topics under the authority of Scripture, the result is that many of us will simply pick up the culture’s thinking on them.

The best antidote is systematic expository preaching, for such preaching forces us to deal with texts as they come up. Topical preaching finds it easier to avoid the hard texts. Yet cultural blinders can easily afflict expositors, too.

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Lita Cosner – Is the Authority of Scripture only about Spiritual Things?

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Many Christians, especially those who want to reinterpret Genesis to allow for long ages and evolution, claim that the Bible only teaches about spiritual truth. They dismiss attempts to interpret science in light of Scripture as superfluous at best, and misguided or even harmful at worst. However, this ignores the historical focus of most of Scripture.

One of the most important differences between the Bible and the ‘holy books’ of other religions is that the Bible teaches about a God who acts in history. It even gives us a ‘timeline’ of events that place God’s actions in an identifiable time and place.1

And unlike other religious books which claim to do the same thing, the events in Scripture have been corroborated by archaeology, when archaeological evidence exists.

The Bible speaks about history

The majority of many biblical books are some form of historical narrative, which clearly intends to communicate that certain things happened at certain times. For instance, Genesis 7:11 says that the Flood started on a specific day of Noah’s life. Genesis claims that Abraham was a man who was born about 350 years after the Flood (derived from Genesis 11:10–31; 12:4), and that he was the ancestor of the Jewish people who feature prominently in the rest of Scripture. It claims that Abraham’s great-grandson Joseph was sold as a slave in Egypt, but rose to the level of prime minister there. These are primarily historical claims—these events happened at particular places and specific times. You really have to get to the prophetic books in the Old Testament and the epistles in the New Testament to get primarily spiritual teaching.

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Simon Turpin – The Enduring Authority of Scripture, Really?

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Introduction

Because of the attack on the authority of Scripture over the last few decades, a new 1,248-page book, The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures, edited by New Testament scholar D.A. Carson, was recently released with the aim of defending the authority of the Scriptures. While there are many positive aspects about the book, the chapter on Science and Scripture ironically undermines the very purpose of the book: defending the authority of Scripture.

The chapter on science was written by a theistic evolutionist, Dr. Kirsten Birkett. This article critiques several of the arguments used against young-earth creation as well as those used to establish Birkett’s own position that the consensus view of origins among scientists is compatible with the authority of Scripture.

Science and Scripture

Birkett opens her chapter by asking a good question:

What do we do with knowledge from outside of Scripture? How should we best understand the discoveries that Christians or non-Christians are making about the world around us?

This is an important question because we all need to consider what to make of scientific discoveries. However, over the last few centuries the discoveries that scientists find in nature have been primarily interpreted according to the framework of naturalism. As Christians, we must keep in mind that sin has affected how we view discoveries in nature (i.e., general revelation). Theologian Louis Berkhof states that “since the entrance of sin into the world, man can gather true knowledge about God from His general revelation only if he studies it in the light of Scripture” — that is, general revelation in light of special revelation. This does not mean that we can learn nothing from studying nature. Rather, our interpretations of the discoveries made in nature must be consistent with the special revelation found in Scripture.

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Leon Morris – The Authority of the Bible Today

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All Christians agree that their ultimate authority is God. But to the question, “How is this ultimate authority mediated to men?” various answers are given. Broadly speaking, these reduce to three according as most weight is given to the authority seen within the believer (the consecrated reason, or the believer’s experience of God), within the Church, or within the Bible. In practice we all give some allegiance to all three. Thus evangelicals who put their emphasis on the Bible come behind no man in their insistence on the full exercise of reason, on the necessity for a personal experience of Christ and His Spirit, and on the fact that the Bible must be read in the fellowship of the Church. Nevertheless, the distinction is a valid one. In the last resort what counts with the evangelical is the authority of the Bible, just as what counts with the liberal is the exercise of reason, and with the “catholic” the authority of the Church.

There cannot be the slightest doubt but that from the earliest times Christians have conceived of their authority as rooted in the Bible. The New Testament writers recognized that of themselves they were not sufficient, but they claimed that they had a sufficiency which came from God (II Cor. 3:5f.). Peter said they spoke “by the Holy Spirit” (I Peter 1:12). The claims they made were not exclusively for the spoken word, for Paul specifically referred to the things which he was writing as the command of the Lord (I Cor. 14:37), and II Peter 3:16 classes the Pauline writings as scripture. More could be cited. The men of the New Testament recognized that all that they did rested on the fact that in Jesus of Nazareth God Himself had become incarnate. The salvation He wrought was consequently God’s salvation. It was a salvation that God commanded to be proclaimed to men. And God Himself was in the proclaiming as in the accomplishing of this salvation. His Spirit superintended all that was done. Before the apostles were taken away He guided them as they wrote words which should be authoritative for all that came after.

Nobody recognizes this more clearly than the immediate successors of the apostles. “As if by some providential instinct, each one of those teachers who stood nearest to the writers of the New Testament contrasted his writings with theirs, and definitely placed himself on a lower level.” They see in the apostolic writings the authoritative deposit of truth, and they make their appeal to it. It is important to be clear on this. There never was a time when the Christian Church appealed to any other authority.

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Thomas Boston – The Divine Authority of the Scriptures

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2 Timothy 3:16 – All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof for correction, for instruction in righteousness.

THE next head which falls to be touched is the holy scripture, the rule which God has given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him. We are poor blind creatures, that know not our way, neither how we should glorify God, nor how we may come to the enjoyment of him. Therefore God hath given us the revelation of his mind in that great point. The connection between this and the preceding question is abundantly obvious; the one points out the end for which we were made, the other the rule to direct us how to attain to that end. And in this text we have two things.

1. The divine authority of the scriptures asserted. All scripture is given by is given by inspiration of God. The word scripture signifies writing in general; but here it is appropriated to the holy scripture. It principally here aims at the scriptures of the Old Testament, which were written by men of a prophetic spirit: but seeing the New Testament was written by such as mere endowed with the same Spirit for writing, upon that reason, what is applied to the Old belongs also to the New Testament. It is said to be of divine inspiration, because the writers were inspired by the Spirit, who guided their hearts and pens; he dictated, and they wrote; so that it is his word and not theirs; and that is extended to the whole scriptures.

2. The use and end of the scriptures: It is profitable for doctrine, &c. If ye desire to know the truths of religion, or what we believe, the scripture is profitable for doctrine, teaching us what we are to believe concerning God, Christ, and ourselves, and the great things that concern salvation. If ye want to refute the contrary errors, it is profitable for reproof to convince us of the nature and importance of divine truth and point out what errors we are to avoid. If ye desire to amend your life and practice, casting off sinful practices, it is profitable for correction, that is, for reformation of manners. If ye want to know what is duty, and what is sin, it is necessary for instruction and righteousness ; showing us how to lead a holy and righteous life before God and instructing us in the true righteousness, which is the foundation of our access to God, and acceptance with him, the righteousness of Christ. And what more is necessary for salvation for faith and obedience, for the whole of salvation ?

Two doctrines offer themselves from the words, viz.

Doct. I. ‘The scriptures of the Old and New Testament are the word of God.’

Doct. II. ‘The scriptures are the rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy God.’ I shall prosecute each doctrine in order.

Doct. I. “The scriptures of the Old and New Testament are the word of God.’ Here I shall shew,
I. What is meant by the Old and New Testament.
II. What are the scriptures of the Old and New Testament.
III. The necessity of the scriptures.
IV. That the scriptures of the Old and New Testament are the word of God.
V. Deduce some inferences.

I. I shall shew what is meant by the Old and New Testament. It is the covenant of grace which is called a testament and it is properly a testamentary covenant, without any proper conditions as to us, Heb. viii. 10. ” This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people. ” Christ is the testator; He made the testament, and confirmed it with his death. The spirit of Christ drew the testament, dictating it to the holy penman. This testament of Christ’s is one and the same as to substance, though sometimes more clearly revealed than at other times. The Old Testament is the more obscure draught of Christ’s will, and the New Testament is the more clear one. Thus they only differ in circumstances, while the substantials of both are one and the same; one Mediator and testator, one legacy or promise of remission of sin and eternal life, and one faith as the way of obtaining it”.

II. I proceed to shew what are the scriptures of the Old and New Testament. The scriptures of the Old Testament are those which begin with Genesis, and end with Malachi; and the scriptures of the New Testament are those which begin with Matthew, and end with the Revelation. And it is worthy of our special remark, how the Old Testament and the New, like the cherubims in the most holy place, stretch forth their wings touching one another; the Old Testament ending with the prophecy of sending Christ and John the Baptist Mal. iv, and the New beginning with the history of the coming of these two. The books of the Old Testament were divided by the Hebrews into three, the law, the Prophets, and Ketubim, written books. The law contains the five books of Moses, the Prophets are twofold, former and latter. The former are the historical books of the Old Testament, as Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings; and they were so called, because they told things already done. The latter related things before they were done; and are of two sorts; the greater, which are three, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel; the lesser twelve, viz. Hosea, Joel, &c. The written books were called so, because they were written by such as had the gift of the Holy Spirit, as the Hebrews speak, but not of prophecy. And of that sort are Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Canticles, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, and Daniel. The Hebrews ascribe this division of them to Ezra; and it seems our Lord Jesus Christ acknowledged the same, while he tells his disciples, Luke xxiv. 44. of the writings of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms.

The books of the New Testament are divided into three sorts, Histories, the Four Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, the Epistles, and the Revelation, which is prophetic.

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William Tyndale – Authority of the Scripture

William Tyndale

In his third book he proceedeth forth as before, to prove that the opinions which the popish teach without scripture are of equal authority with the scripture. He asketh, ‘What if there had never been scripture written?’ I answer, God careth for his elect; and therefore hath provided them of scripture, to try all things, and to defend them from all false prophets. And I say moreover, that if there had been no scripture written, that God, for his mercy and fatherly love and care towards his elect, must have provided, that there should never have been heresies, or, against all times when sects should arise, have stirred up preachers to confound the heresies with miracles. Take this example: the Greeks have the scripture, and serve God therein, much more diligently than we. Now let us give that there were no scripture, but that we received all our faith by the authority of our elders, and the Greeks by the authority of their elders. When I shall dispute with a Greek about the articles of the faith which my elders taught me, and his elders deny, as ear-confession, the holy pardons of the pope, and all his power that he hath above other bishops, and many other things beside the scripture, which we hold for articles of our faith, and they deny; if there be no other proof of either part than to say, ‘My elders, which cannot err, so affirm;’ and that he should answer, ‘His elders, which cannot err, so deny;’ what reason is it, that I should leave the authority of my elders, and go and believe his; or that he should leave the authority of his elders, and come and believe mine? None at all, verily. But the one party must shew a miracle, or else we must refer our causes unto authentic scripture, received in old time, and confirmed with miracles, and therewith try the controversy of our elders.

And when he asketh, ‘whether there were no true faith from Adam to Noe?’ I answer, that God partly wrote their faith in their sacrifices, and partly the patriarchs were full of miracles, as ye may see in the bible.

And when More, to utter his darkness and blind ignorance saith, that ‘they which were overwhelmed with Noe’s flood had a good faith,’ and bringeth for him Nicolas de Lyra [1]; I answer, that Nicolas de Lyra delirat. For it is impossible to have a faith to be saved by, except a man consent unto God’s law with all his heart and all his soul, that it is righteous, holy, good, and to be kept of all men, and thereupon repent that he hath broken it, and sorrow that his flesh moveth unto the contrary; and then come and believe that God for his mercy will forgive him all that he hath done against the law, and will help him to tame his flesh, and suffer his weakness in the mean season, till he be waxed stronger: which faith if they that perished in Noe’s flood had had, they could not but have mended their livings, and had not hardened their hearts through unbelief, and provoked the wrath of God, and waxed worse and worse an hundred and twenty years, which God gave them to repent; until God could no longer suffer them, but washed their filthiness away with the flood, (as he doth the pope’s shameful [2] abominations with like inundations of water,) and destroyed them utterly.

And when he asketh, ‘whether Abraham believed no more than was written for him?’ I ask him how he will prove that there was no writing in Abraham’s time, and that Abraham wrote not? And again, as for Abraham’s person, he received his faith of God; which to confirm unto others, miracles were shewed daily.

And when he feigneth forth, that ‘they believed only because they knew their elders could not err:’ how could they know that without miracles, or writing confirmed with miracles, more than the Turk knoweth that his elders, so many hundred years, in so great a multitude cannot err; and teach false doctrine, to damn the believers? And the contrary doth Master More see in all the bible, how after all was received in scripture, confirmed with miracles, and though miracles ceased not, but were shewed daily, yet the elders erred and fell to idolatry, an hundred for one that bode in the right way; and led the younger into error with them so sore, that God, to save the younger, was fain to destroy the elders, and to begin his testament afresh with the new generation.

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Nick Batzig – The Internal Witness of Scripture

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Many years ago, I was teaching through a section of Romans that contains particularly difficult theological truths. No sooner had I finished teaching that an individual–who had been a member of evangelical churches for many years–came up to me and said, “Well, that’s Paul; that’s not Jesus!” This person was emphatically intimating that what Paul wrote did not carry the same authority as that of Jesus. This not only revealed a willingness to deny the authority of Scripture–it revealed a willingness to deny the inerrancy of Scripture. After all, if Paul did not write the word of God under inspiration of the Spirit, then his writings are erroneous because he claimed to be writing God’s word for the church (e.g. 1 Thess. 2:3, 13; 4:8; Col. 1:25). Additionally, it would mean that what the Apostle Peter wrote was non-authoritative and erroneous because he also affirmed that Paul’s letters were on par with the authoritative and inerrant Scripture of the Old Testament (see 2 Peter 3:15-16). What has become a matter of increasing concern for me is that there are more than we wish to acknowledge, in the evangelical church, who are not sufficiently grounded in their doctrine of Scripture. If Andy Stanley’s confusing statement on the authority of Scripture and Pete Enns’ brazen denial of the inerrancy of Scripture are any indication of the state of things in broad evangelicalism, then we are not doing nearly as well as we might have hoped. The fallout over the LGBTQ culture war has only shown this to be true. So, how can we come to know whether the 66 books of the Bible are the authoritative and inerrant word of God? While any number of answers might be given, the most substantial is that which concerns “the self-attestation of Scripture.”

The internal witness of the Scripture to its own authority and inerrancy is one of the bedrock truths of historic Protestantism. In the opening chapter of the Westminster Confession of Faith, we read:

We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the Church to an high and reverent esteem of the Holy Scripture.And the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole (which is, to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man’s salvation, the many other incomparable excellencies, and the entire perfection thereof, are arguments whereby it does abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God: yet notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.

Note carefully the final statement: “Our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.” The only way anyone will ever be convinced of the inerrancy and authority of Scripture is by the internal testimony of the Scripture itself.

Prior to considering what the Scripture has to say about its own authority and inerrancy, we have to tackle an objection to the idea of self-attestation. Some have argued that it is absurd to accept the circular argument of going to the Scriptures to see if the Scriptures are, in fact, the authoritative and inerrant word of God. In his outstanding essay, “The Self-Attestation of the Scripture,” John Murray answered this objection when he wrote:

There is one sphere where self-testimony must be accepted as absolute and final. This is the sphere of our relation to God. God alone is adequate witness to himself. And our discussion with respect to the character of Scripture belongs to this category.

If the Scriptures are in fact the word of the true and living God then they will de facto bear His absolute authority and truthfulness throughout.

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Greg Haslam – The Authority of Scripture

The question of Authority has become an increasingly crucial issue to be faced today, since its absence, abandonment, or lack of clear basis, has thrown up huge intellectual and ethical problems both in the church and society in general. We live in an extremely anti¬authoritarian climate that has questioned the right and validity of all sorts of claims to truth and right to government over the lives and thoughts of free men. External authority is often refused recognition and obedience, in favour of accepting one’s own judgment as final.

We may define ‘authority’ simply in this way: Authority is a relational word. ‘It is the right to rule’, or more fully, ‘Authority is the right and power to command belief and/or action.’ Where it is accepted, authority is acknowledged by compliance and conformity. Without the right or permission to rule being granted, power becomes despotic and dangerous. Without the power to exercise it, authority becomes ineffectual and weak. Both power and authority are ultimately derived from God.

As Christians we believe that God has the right to determine what we are to believe and how we are to live and that furthermore, he has delegated both power and authority to men to enable them to operate in many spheres under his jurisdiction in order to bring about his will, the visible manifestation of his kingly rule. These areas would include such spheres as those that concern the authority of a husband in the home, of parents over their children, of the State over a nation, of teachers in a school and of the leaders in a church.

Governing the actions and conduct of all of these authoritative agents, working as they are by God’s appointment, direction and final control, should be the authority of God himself speaking in his Word. This is the Authority of Scripture. Without this, authority tends to become authoritarian. Authoritarianism appears when the submission demanded cannot be justified in terms of truth or morality. Scriptural truth alone warrants and sets proper limits to the exercise of legitimate authority – or as the apostles put it in a situation of tension involving the tyrannical governments of their day, ‘Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’ sight to obey you rather than God.’ (Acts 4:20)

But the matter of the Authority of Scripture itself arouses considerable contention and debate today. It would be no exaggeration to say that it is almost completely ignored in formerly Christian societies like America and Europe, largely because it has been significantly attacked and eroded within the Church itself in these nations.

For those of us in Newfrontiers, seen as both as local churches and as a movement, the conviction needs to be continually recovered and carefully maintained that Holy Spirit renewal and revival as well as Church reformation and restoration, cannot be long sustained without at the same time recovering and sustaining our belief in the Inspiration and Authority of Scripture, in the way that the Scriptures themselves define those terms. To us, it is plain that God does not primarily exercise authority in the direct fashion of speaking to us by his Spirit in prophecy and other leadings; he has supremely created for us a Book, the Bible. Because the Bible conveys his message, it carries the same weight God himself would command if he were speaking to us personally. It is where his voice is heard with the greatest clarity and the greatest authority. This can be said of nothing else, not even the gift of New Testament prophecy which is a mixed phenomenon of the human and the divine and requires testing in a way that the Holy Scriptures do not.

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