Peter BeckPeter serves as assistant professor of religion at Charleston Southern University where he teaches church history and theology. While serving as senior pastor in Louisville, Ky., he completed his PhD in historic theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His dissertation, The Voice of Faith: Jonathan Edwards's Theology of Prayer, is soon to be published. He, his wife Melanie, and their two kids, Alex (12) and Karis (7), live near Charleston, SC. Peter's goal for his teaching and writing ministries is "love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith" (1 Tim 1:5).
- 2009 Jan 29
Modern man at once rejects ultimate authority and seeks it in nearly every area of his life. He loathes the necessity of obedience to one external to himself and yet longs for the sanity offered by a stable government and a standardized way of life. Oddly, this dichotomy does not strike him as incoherent or inexplicable. He is the way he is and that’s all that he is.
Christians are much the same. We want to be autonomous in our churches and in our faith. We cry for the freedom of the local church and the priesthood of all believers in one breath and decry the behavior of others with the another. Likewise, we claim that the Bible is our authority for matters of the faith. Yet, we turn to the Christian gurus of our age for advice in all areas of the faith. We, too, fail to see the inconsistency of our confession and our actions.
Periodically, we must return to think again on the great doctrines of the faith, those things revealed in the Bible and revisited in history. It is time for the church to once again relinquish our prideful control of self and submit to the final authority of the Bible.
Southern Baptists began this process in the 80s and 90s as they battled for the denomination and lifted up the banner of the Bible. Unfortunately, even those who were willing to die on the hill called “inerrancy” have hedged their bets. They’ve raised one hand in allegiance to the Bible and kept the other on the books of men who profess to possess the secrets of church growth and spiritual happiness.
I write here not to downplay the value of many good books that line the shelves of the church. I write here to lift up the Good Book. It is time we seriously reconsider and rededicate ourselves to that great Reformation doctrine of sola scriptura.
At the most basic level, sola scriptura claims that Christians have no greater authority than the Bible alone. This authority is not shared with man or his institutions. It resides in the revealed word of God, the final word on all matters of faith and practice.
As such the Bible is not only inerrant, reflecting the perfect character of God, it is infallible and authoritative. Moreover, it is also sufficient for the church and all its needs.
The Bible is sufficient to accomplish God’s will – Isaiah 55:10-11.
The Bible is sufficient for evangelism – 1 Peter 1:23.
The Bible is sufficient for sanctification – Psalm 119:11.
The Bible is sufficient for guidance – Romans 12:2.
The Bible is sufficient for all areas of Christian living – 2 Timothy 3:16-17.
The church should praise God for the many gifted men and women he has graciously provided to guide and inspire us. However, we must never allow ourselves to blindly follow the word of men while we ignore the word of God. May he forgive us for doing so in the past. May he keep us from doing so again.