the Church on the Hill
by D. Eric Williams
Pastor, Cottonwood Community Church
A discussion concerning the Christian Scripture must begin with a consideration of presuppositional reasoning. In today’s intellectual climate, a priori reasoning is judged as foolish and unsophisticated. However, everyone has a place from which they begin an argument whether they care to admit it or not. It is impossible to do otherwise. As G. K. Chesterton said; “Only a man who knows nothing of reason talks of reasoning without strong, undisputed first principles.” In regards to the Bible, one either begins with a belief in the Bible as the word of God or one begins with a belief in the Bible as myth and fairytale. There is no middle ground. To suggest that it is possible to remain neutral concerning the validity of the Christian Scripture reveals a lack of understanding about the claims of the Bible.
The Bible’s statements are absolute; it is God-breathed and it cannot be broken. To put it another way, the Bible is the expression of God’s character and being and it is without error. If Jones is to say that he wishes to remain neutral on the subject of the Bible, then he is saying that, until proven otherwise (to his satisfaction), he will believe that the Bible is myth and not believe that the Bible is God-breathed revelation. Clearly this is negation not neutrality. Jones must either believe the Bible is God’s inerrant word or he must reject it as such.
Critics insist that a priori reasoning is not sensible and thus proof of the Christian’s irrational acceptance of the Bible as God’s word. Yet, Jones cannot logically claim Smith’s acceptance of the Bible is less reasonable than his rejection. What irrefutable proof can Jones muster to support his position? There is none. Jones is simply arguing from his underlying assumptions.
Unfortunately many Christians have been conditioned by the world’s wisdom and are embarrassed by the a priori method. They have been led to believe that a legitimate discussion concerning the Bible must begin at a neutral point. Opponents of the Bible and the Christian faith will claim they have either set aside their presuppositions or that they do not have any in the first place. Thus our opponents claim that skepticism is a healthy launching point for a discussion. We cannot be fooled by this attempt to rig the argument. Instead we must work to discover the presuppositions of those who oppose the Bible and force them to first defend their already determined beliefs.
The Bible itself claims to be inerrant in so far as it is the word of a perfect God who is not capable of error or falsehood. All throughout the Old Testament, for instance, we see a record of what is called the word of God. As such it reflects the perfect character of its Author.
By the time of Christ, the Old Testament canon was well established and Jesus considered the (Old Testament), Scripture to be reliable as is shown in His frequent use of the Bible to bolster His own claims (Matt. 19:4f, 22:29, Luke 18:31, 22:37, 24:27, 44 and many more). The Apostle Paul described the (Old Testament), Scriptures as the “oracles of God” and as “God breathed” (Rom. 3:2, 2 Tim 3:16). He also recognized the words of Jesus as Scripture (1 Tim. 5:18). Moreover, Paul’s understood his own ministry as an appointment from God, impelled by direct revelation (Rom. 1:1, 1 Cor. 1:1, Gal. 1:1, 12). He comprehended that, along with the inspired prophets of the Old Covenant era, the Apostles of Jesus Christ were controlled by the Holy Spirit and their work was of equal importance (Eph. 2:20, 3:5).
The early Church recognized the inspiration of the apostolic writings also. The synoptic Gospels and the letters of Paul were immediately accepted as inspired Scripture (cf.2 Peter 3:16, 1Ttim. 5:18), and circulated as a “New Testament” of sorts as early as AD 85. Over the next few centuries a New Testament canon corresponding to our own was established with a list provided by Athanasius in AD 367 and confirmed in AD 397 at the Council of Carthage.
More Next Week.