Does the Bible really claim to be that middle part?
I believe that the Bible is sufficient to lead a person into a relationship with God through Christ that will save from sin and bring meaning and purpose to a life that will be eternally blessed. I don’t know that I can tie that down to a single scripture, or even a concatenation of unrelated scriptures. Still, I believe it. It’s a “big picture” kind of belief.
But I don’t believe that the Bible is – or claims to be – the answer to every question about living for God that can come up in your life.
Is that heresy?
Some folks will quote John 16:13 and interpret that as meaning that He has revealed all truth, and there is no more truth. Does it say that?
But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.
Hmm. It’s a promise from Jesus to his closest friends – on His last night with them before being betrayed, tried, tortured and murdered – that the Spirit will “guide you into all truth.” He doesn’t say “reveal all truth to you.” He doesn’t say the Holy Spirit will “tell you everything that is yet to come.” He doesn’t promise them that the Spirit will reveal all of the answers to all of their questions about godly living, or church government, or acceptable worship. I don’t see it.
Peter’s opening praise to God in his second epistle (2 Peter 1:3) is sometimes excerpted to prove that New Testament scriptures provide us all things that pertain to life and godliness. Really?
His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
I don’t read anything about scripture there, nor above it, nor below it, to put the idea of “scripture” into the context of that verse. And while His divine power is revealed in scripture, it is not exclusively revealed there. It’s also made plain through His creation (I’ll proof-text right back with Romans 1:18-20). How else can you explain the exemplary behavior of so many people who have never heard of God, or who have never known enough about Him to believe? That’s Paul’s argument in his opening salvo to Rome: The proof of God’s goodness is all around us!
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
Now, I understand the appeal of sola scriptura. But I think we also need to admit the evidence that scripture introduces – God’s nature as revealed through the inherent goodness of His creation. Truth can be discovered outside of scripture, from the ways in which creation might have taken place – to the encryptive process of the human genome; from the reasons I don’t want to admit to myself that I hold certain beliefs/prejudices – to the depths of desperation felt by a person who loves God and his or her church family, but is starved with homosexual cravings.
Book, chapter and verse for those, anyone?
Folks might also quote 2 Timothy 3:16 as saying that scripture is all-sufficient in all matters.
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
First off, the scripture Paul is referrring to would have to be the Old Testament; Timothy wouldn’t have had the New (except, of course, the letter he was holding and maybe a couple of others), because he said Timothy had known it from his youth. So it’s a stretch to say that he’s referring to a canonized Bible. That aside, though – since when does the word “useful” or “profitable” mean “all-sufficient”?
Look, I’m not trying to be contentious here. I just don’t want to try to make scripture say more than it’s trying to say … or to make it more than it is.
It’s God’s word. He chooses what and how much He wants to say.
Once again, let’s be honest. Scripture leaves a lot of questions unanswered. Human logic can, in all good conscience, take the same passage and mean two very different things. But even human logic cannot defend the conclusion that because those things are different, one is automatically right and the other is automatically wrong.
Do we really have to dig into that thing about eating meats, especially if sacrificed to idols?
That was a question of conscience. The council at Jerusalem tried legislating it. As nearly as I can tell, legislating didn’t work. In the end, it turned out to be something you could do in good conscience (it helped if you were a Gentile), but might have real difficulty doing with a clear conscience if you were a Jew.
Was the scripture available in century one all-sufficient to answer that question?
No; the situation required some spiritual guidance and some new scripture to be written. And in the end, Christians really just had to use the guidelines provided and sort it out for themselves.
They were forced to think about it, meditate on it, study existing scripture about it, do a logic-check on it, do a heart-check on it, pray about it, discuss it with each other and decide whether their own freedom of conscience – or tenderness of conscience – was restricting someone else’s in an un-Christlike way. They were tempted to either insist on their own way as right, or they were inspired to accept others as different on the issue but still siblings in Christ.
You won’t find that part of the story spelled out in scripture, will you?
It has to be a lot closer to the whole truth. You know it is.
Because now you’re forced to think about it, meditate on it, study existing scripture about it, do a logic-check on it, do a heart-check on it, pray about it, discuss it with each other and decide.
Does the Bible claim to be all-sufficient when it comes to truth?
Is it possible that God shares His Spirit with us to guide us into all truth today because He intentionally left some blanks unfilled next to the test questions of our lives? (Just like He did for Job?) That some of those answers we need to work out together? That working them out together will bless us far more than insisting on the certainty of our positions?
I believe it’s vitally important to all of us to know the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
So help us, God.