The Consistent Core: The Authority of Scripture

The B-I-B-L-E, yes that’s the book for me.  I stand alone, on the Word of God, the B-I-B-L-E.  Know that song?  I learned it as a kid in Sunday School, or Bible School, or Church Camp, or somewhere in the redundant system of childhood theological education.  It is not a complicated song.  And it is not a complicated concept.  In short, the Bible isn’t just a book.  It isn’t just a significant work of literature because of its historical influence.  It isn’t just a book full of wise and sage (but outdated) teaching.  It is the living, breathing, voice of God.  It is truth, it is revelation of the God who is there, who speaks to his people and makes himself known.  This is a simple belief.

We as a church believe in the Authority of Scripture.  We believe the Bible is a trustworthy revelation of God and his plan of salvation.  We believe that Adam and Eve were real historical people.  They were really created morally pure, but of their own free will fell into sin, passing on a twisted fallen nature to all of their progeny.  We really believe that God parted the Red Sea and healed lepers and appeared in pillars of cloud and fire and all the other amazing, miraculous things the Old Testament says he did.  We really believe that Jesus was born of a virgin, walked on water, fed five thousand people with a little bit of bread and fish, was raised bodily from the dead and ascended into heaven.

I remember when I was preparing for ordination. I was asked by an incredulous skeptic of traditional biblical authority if I really believed what I said in my statement of faith, that Jesus was sinless.  How could I believe that a human being was sinless?  I offered what I thought a perfectly adequate response “Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:21 that ‘he made him who knew no sin to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in him.'” “So just because the Bible says it you believe it?” he asked, with a dubious smirk.  “Yes, I do.”  The Bible says it, so I believe it.

Some would dismiss that kind of faith in the Bible as blind, irrational credulity.  A foolish acceptance of a book that reasonable people “know to be full of contradictions.”  I am skeptical of the skeptics, however. I love to challenge those who assert contradictions to show me one.  They can’t.  They haven’t read the Bible.  They heard someone, sometime, somewhere say that the Bible is full of contradictions (maybe someone from Princeton or Harvard) and assume that it must be so.  Those who try to demonstrate such flaws will point to non-contradictions that are easily explainable when context, or genre, or text criticism is considered.  The fact of the matter is the Bible is completely reliable.  The manuscript evidence for the text as we have it is solid, the Bible we read accurately reflects the way in which the original authors wrote it. The early church was diligent to assure that the New Testament documents were written by the apostles or their close associates under their supervision.  Spurious documents were rejected.  These documents have proven to be historically reliable, any way in which they can be verified they have been.  Often secular historians have dismissed elements of New Testament history only to be later forced to recant their dismissals: No evidence of Pontius Pilate!, (only to discover bricks with his name, Woops!), No governorship of Quirinius when Herod was king! (Yep, two governorships for Quirinius, Woops!).  The list goes on and on, and for the Old Testament as well (Yes, Virginia, there is a Hittite!).

Accepting the Bible as God’s Word is a reasonable thing to do.  Contra the skeptics, I wouldn’t be a Christian if it were unreasonable to do so. I’m not interested in an irrational God, believing in God is an eminently rational thing to do.  It is atheism that is in conflict with reason.  Trusting in the Bible is a reasonable thing to do.  The evidence drives us towards its acceptance.

We love the law of God.  We recognize the Bible to be a wonderful repository of Truth, a revelation of God’s character and nature.  A revelation of the plan of salvation which is centered on the person and work of the only Son of God, Jesus Christ.  There is much more that can be said, but perhaps it would be best to simply say it this way: The B-I-B-L-E, yes that’s the book for me!