We continue our study of the doctrine known as Sola Scriptura. Sola Scriptura, from the Latin, simply means Scripture Alone. Sola Scriptura is a term derived from the 16th century Protestant Reformation and is the perspective that the Bible is the sole, supreme and final authority for not only individual believers but also the church in all spiritual matters.
We are examining the importance of the Old Testament and the suggestion by a few within the church that believers should detach themselves from the Old Testament Scriptures. It is my contention that this would be an incredibly misguided and sinful thing to do.
Let’s be accurate. Pastor Andy Stanley acknowledges that the Old Testament Scriptures are inspired. He’s not, according to some, a theological liberal. But he seems to think insisting upon the authority and infallibility of the Bible, specifically the Old Testament, could be a stumbling block to some people coming to faith.
Pastor Stanley states, “If you were raised on a version of Christianity that relied on the Bible as the foundation of faith, a version that was eventually dismantled by academia or the realities of life, maybe it’s time for you to change your mind about Jesus.”
He continues by saying that, “Maybe it’s time for you to consider the version of Christianity that relies on the event of the resurrection of Jesus as its foundation. If you gave up your faith because of something about or in the Bible, maybe you gave up unnecessarily.”
Pastor Stanley begins with a premise that the Bible could be a stumbling block to some people coming to faith. Several years ago, former Pastor Rob Bell began his book Love Wins with a similar premise regarding the doctrine of hell. Bell’s conclusion was to reject this particular biblical doctrine as offensive. Pastor Stanley’s contention seems to be to reject a particular biblical testament. Both of these two premises by these two men begin with a self-centric rather than a Theo-centric premise. Neither Stanley, or Bell, begin from the perspective of “Thus says the Lord.”
In his classic book, Christianity and Liberalism, Dr. J. Gresham Machen writes, “The fact itself is plain that Christianity during many centuries has consistently appealed for the truth of its claims, not merely and not even primarily to current experience, but to certain books the most recent of which was written some nineteen hundred years ago. It is no wonder that that appeal is being criticized today; for the writers of the books in question were no doubt men of their own age, whose outlook upon the material world, judged by modern standards, must have been the crudest and most elementary kind.”
Machen, in addressing the liberalism within the world and church nearly one hundred years ago and its attack against the inerrant Word of God, strikes a current and relevant chord regarding rising liberal thought within the contemporary culture and the church’s ministry within such a culture.
It is a troubling perspective when it is suggested that the authority and infallibility of God’s Word should be reduced or even eliminated because it may prove to be a stumbling block. Of course the Scriptures will be a stumbling block. The moment you allow that that the authority and the infallibility of the Bible is unnecessary, or a potential stumbling block for people coming to faith, you open the door to denying even the most basic of biblical doctrines.
How ironic that Pastor Stanley would not insist upon the relevance of the Old Testament, while at the same time proclaiming the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, which is good news based and grounded in the authority and infallibility of the Old Testament. You throw the baby out with the bathwater when you contend the Old Testament is not relevant or necessary.
The Scriptures say that the truth it proclaims will be a stumbling block. I Corinthians 1:18-31 says, ““For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
What we have witnessed within the church, say within the last 40 years, with the seeker sensitive movement, the culturally relevant movement and the emerging church movement etc. is an effort to make the gospel more palatable to the unconverted soul. That’s impossible. The gospel will always offend because of the truths contained in the gospel.
Today, the contention is to un-hitch the church from the Old Testament. Tomorrow it will be argued to un-hitch the church from the New Testament. Some churches and pastors have already done so. They do this at their peril and that of the congregations they pastor. How tragic.
We must continue to hold fast to the Scriptures, both the Old and New Testaments.
Soli deo Gloria!