Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 11, 1966
NUMBER 14, PAGE 4-5a

How Final Is The Bible?


"Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that what is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or to be thought requisite or necessary to salvation." So reads the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church. The precise wording of this declaration (in more contemporary form) is found in the Methodist Discipline. "The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man's salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequences may be deduced from Scripture; unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men," is the strong language of the Westminster Confession of Faith which governs Presbyterian churches.

That last declaration seems a bit strong to us! Do they REALLY mean that nothing is to be added to the Bible, even though it should come "by new revelations of the Spirit?" Probably the framers of this Confession let their own exuberant enthusiasm lead them into this loose statement. The Standard Manual for Baptist Churches (Pendleton) declared that the "Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired, and is.... the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and opinions should be tried."

With such strong and unequivocal declarations of respect for and adherence to the Word of God, how comes it that all these churches practice things which are NOT authorized by the Scripture, and all of them omit things which are required by that authority? What is the basis, for example, on which Methodists and Presbyterians and Episcopalians practice infant sprinkling? Is such a practice either "expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence" deductible from the same? Only the most opinionated and ill informed Presbyterian or Methodist or Episcopalian would so contend. But they would declare that a "permissible" deduction (rather than a necessary one) might justify the practice; or, more likely, the entire subject would be dismissed as inconsequential and of trivial importance.

All of which brings us face to face with our question: just how "final" IS the Bible? We believe the explanation for nearly all the divisions in so-called Christendom can ultimately be traced to one significant factor --- men's attitude toward the Bible itself. Is it truly to be accepted and regarded as a perfect, all sufficient, infallible, authoritative revelation from God as to his will and desire for mankind? Or, on the other hand, is man free to modify, adjust, add to or delete from, and "adapt" Biblical teaching to the moods, customs, and changing standards of each succeeding generation? Herein lies the problem, and in this area must be sought the answer.

Just what is a "Christian" anyhow? How far does the word stretch? And who determines its bounds and limitations? Even the broad-minded ecumenical devotees, longing to embrace every shade and degree of belief (even Christian Atheism!) in the fold, are ill at ease and uncomfortable when they are asked concerning such off-brand sects as Christian Science and Mormonism. Both groups say they accept Jesus Christ as the Son of God. Does that make them "Christian" denominations?

We believe there is a simple and unequivocal answer as to who is, and who is not, a "Christian" in the Biblical usage of that word. A Christian is one who receives the Bible without question and without equivocation as an accurate, all sufficient revelation of God's will. We believe there are many baptized believers who are no longer entitled to wear the name "Christian." The trusting, obedient faith which filled their young hearts at the hour of baptism has eroded through the years, and has left them with more questions than answers, more doubts than beliefs, more negations than affirmations. While giving lip-service to the Bible, they can find a hundred different ways to justify and condone an ever increasing list of organizations, promotions, projects and programs which are NOT authorized in the Bible either "expressly" or by any "good and necessary deduction" from Bible statements.

Right now there is a tremendous emphasis being given to the "ecumenical movement" --- the effort to get all the churches to unite in one great super-church, thus eradicating the divisions and parties which have existed for centuries. By compromise, by "give-and-take", and by a great deal of tolerance and good-will for one another such a church may be formed. But what of it? It will NOT be the church of God, neither will its members be entitled to call themselves Christians. For the unity will be based, and the church will be builded, on something other than an absolute adherence to the Bible as God's infallible revelation of his will.

What about love as a basis for unity? Truly love is a noble and precious sentiment or emotion of the human spirit. But if ten thousand Mohammedans love ten thousand Christians with a deathless devotion, and the Christians reciprocate with the same degree of love toward the Mohammedans, that does not make one single Mohammedan a Christian, nor entitle him to fellowship in the congregation of the Christians.

Just how authoritative is the word of God in your life? Is it absolutely "final", or do you seek ways to justify yourself in some course which is not set forth in the divine revelation? Your eternal destiny not only may, it WILL, depend on your answer to this question.

F. Y. T.