Attacks on the Authority of Scripture by Apostates

Paul Ferguson

The Bible is God’s infallible revelation of Himself to mankind. The Scripture makes it very clear that its every Word is essential. All of our doctrines, standards, convictions, and our practices are derived from the Scriptures. The doctrine of the Sufficiency of Scripture enables us to confidently appeal to these Words to determine all of our theological and doctrinal boundaries. God’s revelation is authoritative, sufficient, and clear—and ultimately necessary for our existence (Job 23:12; Prov 29:18; Isa 46:10; Amos 8:11; Matt 5:17–18; 16:1–4; John 10:35; Rom 1; 2 Tim 3:15; Titus 1:2; Heb 6:13). The whole system of God’s truth is set forth in the Holy Bible as God’s inerrant, infallible and plenary Word. Even Peter acknowledged the supremacy of Scripture over his wonderful experiences with Christ in 2 Peter 1:16–18. Commentator Samuel Cox wrote, “Peter knew a sounder basis for faith than that of signs and wonders. He had seen our Lord Jesus Christ receive honor and glory from God the Father in the holy mount; he had been dazzled and carried out of himself by visions and voices from heaven; but, nevertheless, even when his memory and heart are throbbing with recollections of that sublime scene, he says, ‘we have something surer still in the prophetic word.’ … It was not the miracles of Christ by which he came to know Jesus, but the word of Christ as interpreted by the spirit of Christ.”

Rationalistic Modernism

Today, many a compromising church have accommodated themselves to rationalistic modernism to the point that they no longer hold absolute positions, save perhaps for religious pluralism and the Golden Rule. However, the advent of relativism especially in the textual issue is an insidious adversary, for it rejects the real possibility of absolute truth, even if it promotes infinite forms of meaning. One apologist once described this pattern as the “treason of the intellectuals.”

Since the Word of God is our only effective offensive weapon, it would be wholly inconsistent with the character of God to send us out into battle with a sword that is not dependable and uncertain. The Word attests to Christ, and Christ attests to the Word—in fact Christ was the Word made flesh! All of Scripture was inspired by the Holy Spirit to set forth God’s unique system of truth and thus the system of truth is self-attesting. Robert Reymond shows how absolutely vital the Scriptures are, “We must not forget thatthe only reliable source of knowledge that we have of Christ is the Holy Scripture. If the Scripture is erroneous anywhere, then we have no assurance that it is inerrantly truthful in what it teaches about him. And if we have no reliable information about him, then it is precarious indeed to worship the Christ of Scripture, since we may be entertaining an erroneous representation of Christ and thus may be committing idolatry. The only way to avoid this conclusion is to keep the Christ of Scripture and the Scripture itself in vital union with each other—the former the Giver of the latter—and to affirm that the latter is true because it was inspired by the former who is Truth itself (John 14:6).”

Theologian John Murray makes it clear the desperate state of mankind without the Scriptures, “Without Scripture we are excluded completely from the knowledge, faith, and fellowship of him who is the effulgence of the Father’s glory and the transcript of his being, as destitute of the Word of life as the disciples would have been if Jesus had not disclosed himself through his spoken word.… Our dependence upon Scripture is total. Without it we are bereft of revelatory Word from God, from the counsel of God ‘respecting all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life.’… It is because we have not esteemed and prized the perfection of Scripture and its finality, that we have resorted to other techniques, expedients, and methods of dealing with the dilemma that confronts us all if we are alive to the needs of this hour … let us also know that it is not the tradition of the past, not a precious heritage, and not the labours of the fathers, that are to serve this generation and this hour, but the Word of the living and abiding God deposited for us in Holy Scripture.”

False Worldviews

As a consequence of the Fall man is estranged from the God of Scripture, giving rise to the many false worldviews that have arisen throughout history. Man’s ability to think logically has been impaired but not erased by the Fall. The consequence of this is that often man’s reasoning is flawed, and can even be logically valid but from the wrong premises. Therefore, it is foolish to make Holy Scripture subordinate or equal to human reasoning.

Throughout the Scriptures, we see perennial attacks by the devil and rebellious mankind on God’s authority. The very first textual critical attack on God’s Words came in Genesis when we are told a serpent who “was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made” cast doubt by posing the question, “Yea, hath God said?” Satan’s strategy deals in doubt and cultivates it by attacking the certainty of God’s Word by changing the truth, which is seen in his temptation of Eve (Gen 3) and of the Lord Jesus (Matt 4). It should be also noted that Eve also was a critic by adding to the Words of God. Like our modern textual critics, Satan and Eve did what they wanted to do with God’s Words.

The Bible is very clear that the Devil hates the Word of God. He utilized Rome to burn some copies, but his main attack was on the text itself. We are told that Satan questioned it, misquoted it, took it out of context, and attempted to get someone to doubt God’s promises (Gen 3, Matt 4, and all of Job). The Apostle Paul warns of those who “changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator” as heading towards apostasy (Rom 1:25).

As a consequence, today most professing Christians lack a coherent Biblical worldview. Many set up a buffer zone between the parts of the Bible they accept and the parts they reject. The reality of objective truth is denied as the Postmodern Church turn to feelings and experiences in replacement for truth, and exchange worldviews as quickly as they try on new clothes. It is increasingly difficult to defend the true faith to a world and a Church that is unwilling to make any judgment concerning truth. We must, however, assert the infallibility of Scripture over the fallibility of human science and we must never allow the latter to drive our interpretation of the Biblical text. In other words, we are not integrationists who accept such as synthesis. We cannot don God-denying glasses with the unbeliever and then try to point God out using them. As Douglas Wilson eloquently put it, “The Bible meets no standard; the Bible is the standard. Conservative defenders of the Word too often act like the Bible is an exceptionally bright student, always acing every test we might devise for it. But the tests we devise are always skewed, and the very idea of testing here is deeply problematic. We have the whole classroom turned around. Our propeller heads in the back row – the scientists – were not enrolled in order to grade the teacher. And those in the second row – the textual critics – need to quit passing notes and listen some more. … The Bible is not a grab bag of infallible truths, thoughtfully provided by God so that we could have an axiomatic starting point for our subsequently autonomous reasoning. The Scriptures are authoritative. We are men, with our breath in our nostrils. We are creatures with little pointy heads. Further, to complicate matters further, we are sinful creatures. We must be under a complete authority, full authority, exhaustive authority. The charge will of course be that we have embraced obscurantism. We are opposed to science, or health, or worse yet, to good food, wholesome air and bright sunshine. But we should remain content, whether the slander sticks or not. As creatures, we cannot function without an ultimate court of appeal. This is true of every man, believing or unbelieving, and the only choice we have is whether or not that ultimate court will be the Scriptures. But surely it should be considered odd when Christians deny that ultimate place to what God has told us.”

Our Only Defence

The great attack in the last days is on the existence of God by atheists, and the authority of Scripture by textual critics. There is a need to build a Biblical defence to these assaults using the Biblical presuppositional approach through the “spectacles of Scripture.” Our defence of the faith should have no different ultimate authority than our method of expounding the faith. The Lordship of Christ demands we articulate and practice a Christian apologetic, Bibliology, art, science, and music. In doing so, we need to honour God’s Words above the words of any man. We trust His promises and wisdom above that of any man.

Published in the True Life BPC's Weekly, Volume 6 Number 46.