All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17, NASB)
Thus Saith God; Or, The Human Authors Of Scripture?
Often in discussions today e.g. with outlaw preachers like Jay Bakker—affirming that practicing homosexuality is not always sin—it’s becoming quite common to hear something along the lines as the following from postliberal theologian Dr. Walter Wink concerning, in this case, the first chapter of Romans:
Paul really thought that those whose behavior he condemned were “straight,” and that they were behaving in ways that were unnatural to them. Paul believed that everyone was straight. He had no concept of homosexual orientation. The idea was not available in his world… Paul believes that homosexual behavior is contrary to nature,…”
As you can see, the reasoning here is that “Paul” was writing thus and so; as if what is written there in the Bible would then simply be Paul’s ignorant, and uninformed, opinion. And this would be true if the Bible was a book containing writings of men who were only recounting their own subjective experiences with God. Or if the Bible was made up of people simply sharing their own opinions about issues relating to religion; but it is not.
Of our opening text above, Dr. Ralph Earle is dead-on-target when he says:
“All Scripture is God-breathed.” That is exactly what the Greek says. The adjective theopneustos (only here in the NT) is compounded of theos, “God,” and the verb pneo, “breathe.” This is one of the greatest texts in the NT on the inspiration of the Bible…
Another outstanding passage is 2 Peter 1:21, which indicates something of how the divine inspiration took place. Here in 2 Timothy we have the fact simply and plainly stated; the process of inspiration is not dealt with. (The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 11, 409)
We’ll get to 2 Peter 1:21 in a moment, but first consider that God the Holy Spirit, the Author of the Bible through human instruments of His choosing, also informs us — the word of God is living and active (Hebrews 4:12). And we should be able to see within 2 Timothy 3:16 that the Lord is telling us Holy Scripture is also one of His creative acts; in way quite similar to God breathing life into Adam, thereby bringing him to life.
Now we come to 2 Peter 1:20-21, which is critical when it comes to recognizing the drift away from Sola Scriptura within mainstream evangelicalism in favor of the highly subjective Spiritual Formation aka Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM) ala Living Spiritual Teacher and Quaker mystic Richard Foster and his spiritual twin Dallas Willard:
Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:20-21)
Bob DeWaay, pastor of Twin City Fellowship, recently conducted Faith at Risk IV: Sola Scriptura – The All Surpassing Authority of Scripture, which also featured Dr. Gary Gilley, pastor of Southern View Chapel. Below DeWaay shares his insight into these verses and how they relate to the crucial—and non-negotiable—difference between Protestantism and the Roman Catholic Church. Although the Reformation involved the heart of the Gospel itself it centered around the issue of authority.
Sadly, by its embrace of the egregiously ecumenical Emerging Church aka Emergent Church—currently morphing into Emergence Christianity—(EC), mainstream evangelicalism now finds itself back in the exact same battle concerning the authority of the Word of God—the Bible—as was faced by the Protestant Reformers:
Now the [Roman] Catholic Church said that means lay people—ordinary people—can’t possibly know what the Bible means so the teaching magisterium of the church has to do it for them. But that is not the point. The meaning of the Scripture is determined by the Holy Spirit inspired author. In other words, these writers were inspired by the Spirit, and so [what they wrote] didn’t come from their will, it came from the Holy Spirit Who spoke from God. So therefore the interpretation of the Scripture is to determine the meaning of the Holy Spirit inspired author.
Now your own interpretation would be the postmodern idea that reader determines the meaning. A private interpretation is “this means this to me.” Have you ever been to a Bible study where they do that? Everybody gets their Bible. “Read a verse.” And you read a verse. [Then someone asks], “What’s that mean to you?” [Looking around the room], “What’s that mean to you?
What’s that mean to you?” [And so on]. “Okay, next verse.” Well, what do you have but private interpretation? Somebody’s saying I’m going to infuse my meaning into the Scripture rather than finding out what the Holy Spirit said to me through the Holy Spirit-inspired author. (Faith at Risk 3 Conference, “How to Discern A True Work of the Spirit,” DVD Chapter 5, 12:38-13:57)
Spurious CSM Produces A False Sense Of Reality Which Then Cripples Biblical Faith
In closing this for now, we see from the Example of Christ Jesus our Lord that He Himself looked for what God the Holy Spirit had to say in Scripture — Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are gods’? If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and the Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:34-35). Here we can glean a few very important points. First Jesus of Nazareth, not only a Man but also the Lord God Almighty Himself in human flesh, just equated Scripture—your Law—with the Word of God.
Also secondly by quoting from the Book of Psalms, which begins the last group of writings in the Hebrew canon, the Master has now included the entire Bible within this teaching. Then thirdly, notice that Jesus calls these Hebrew writings Scripture; and finally, our Lord declares that this Word of God cannot be broken i.e. done away with because it is the final authority on the matter. In other words, completely consistent with our opening text—where Scripture speaks, it is God Himself speaking.
Today there’s a steadily growing number within mainstream evangelicalism—bolstered by erroneous teaching oozing out from warped and toxic EC circles—who would dare to call themselves Christians, when all the while, they’re attempting to cause people to doubt the verbal and plenary inspiration of the Bible. The following from Zach Lind is highly illustrative of just how far off-track the EC is getting. Lind is a friend of Rob Bell, whom he interviews below, and builds this review piece around a lengthy quote from New Age quasi-Buddhist Ken Wilbur.
Lind also quotes EC darling Peter Rollins, another friend of Bell’s, who even responds in the comments section of the post I cite below. Essentially what we’re going to see is an ode to unbelief. In a nutshell, what these people like Lind, Bell and Rollins are doing—because they are mystics—is attacking the final authority of the Bible in order to condition people to then trust their experience to reinterpret the text. But in the end, they are the ones held captive to their own very wrong artificial world-view, through which they then filter the Bible.
This is what these EC apostles of unbelief like Lind are talking about when they say things like:
What is so promising about these cracks continuing to form and widen, is that a new posture is emerging within Christianity where doubt and ambiguity are to be wrestled with, cherished, even. When one moves from mere belief to faith, the Biblical text has become not just a static, inerrant, literalist playground. It receives new life in ways that makes one’s daily life more enriched.
We leave behind the God who is in his black robe, angrily sitting on the bench ready to levy our deserved damnation and we awaken to a God who is in us yet all around us… Our religious life ceases to be defined strictly by a cold and rational system of doctrines. Instead, in faith, we attempt to embrace a love that includes and transcends reason. (Online source)
All mystics have to jettison reason in order to create their own synthetic version of reality; but the above is absolutely backward, and rooted in panentheism. This is not Christianity; it’s actually spiritual suicide. We’ve already seen, from the eyewitness deposition of the Apostle John, the incontrovertible evidence that Jesus Himself had what we would today often refer to as a “high view” of Scripture. Christ did not teach us to transcend [read: abandon] reason; in fact, quite the opposite.
Not only that, but from the perfect paradigm of Christ Jesus—the Author and Finisher of the Christian Faith—toward Holy Scripture we can see yet another Example of, as well as the actual Source for, the Reformation principle of Sola Scriptura. Indeed, it was the Master Teacher Who taught that all opinions in matters relating to God must be judged by the Bible—Scripture. And as foremost Christian apologist, the late Dr. Walter Martin, often stated: You have no right to call yourself a Christian and not have the same view of of Scripture as Jesus Christ.