God Always Tells the Truth

by Greg Tidwell

Jay has asked for clarification, writing:

Greg has published articles in which he lists certain doctrinal errors that damn (cause apostasy, cause one to fall away). I’m sure these aren’t intended as complete lists. And I’m not asking Greg to provide such a list. I just want to know: do these still reflect Greg’s beliefs?

Thus, in this post I want to reiterate that I believe a rejection of the authority of Scripture leads to apostasy and places ones soul in jeopardy.

Since Jay has placed on the table “God’s Holy Fire, a book published by ACU Press, which has a section disputing inerrancy,” I feel it is appropriate to observe that the Progressive movement among churches of Christ is hostile to the doctrine of Inerrancy.

What the church is going through today mirrors the crisis faced by the church in the middle of the nineteenth century. In those days, the philosophical theories of Emanuel Kant were applied to religious studies, especially by German theologians such as Friedrich Schleiermacher. Their approach was to adapt religious thought to secular academic fads.

After the American Civil War these new theories came to America, popularized by the universities of the Northeast and Midwest. Every major religious group was affected but none as much nor as quickly as the Disciples of Christ.

David Lipscomb described this situation writing in the Gospel Advocate:

Nothing indicates the wide departure from the landmarks of truth more clearly, that is taking place among those who started out to restore the ancient order, than the loose views put forth by some of the accredited teachers among them in reference to the authority of God. These show that the old standards have been set aside and new ones adopted. (January 23, 1884, p. 49)

What happened in academia in the 1800s is happening in colleges affiliated with churches of Christ today. This change is a crisis, because once you change your view of Scripture, you change the very essence of Christian faith.

What has been taught in colleges has entered congregations. Many church leaders, sadly, have changed their convictions about the truthfulness of Scripture, the authority of Scripture, and the significance of the Bible for the church.

The Truth of Scripture

The doctrine of Inerrancy is easy to state. If the Bible is the word of God, it is free from error because God does not lie, neither does God make mistakes. It is just that simple.

What you believe about the integrity of Scripture speaks volumes about your faith in God’s honesty and in God’s ability. Those Christians who continue to uphold the complete truthfulness of Scripture have kept their faith in God who has spoken through Scripture. Those who have abandoned their faith in Scripture are in the process of abandoning their faith in the God of Scripture.

Since Jay has an affinity for the clear definitions of checklists, I wonder, would he be willing to tell us how much of the word of God he feels is in error and how much he feels to be true?

The Authority of Scripture

Your belief in the divine origin of the Bible leads you to accept the Bible as your authority in religion. If God has spoken, it makes all the difference in the world.

The authority of Scripture is the practical application of the Lordship of Christ. Jesus frames the question simply, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46, ESV)

Those holding fast to their faith will submit to the authority of Scripture. Those who are embracing a different religion will introduce other sources of authority to justify the changes they put forward in the church.

Without a common view of the inspiration and authority of Scripture, there can be no unity in the Lord’s church. For a hundred years, from the late nineteenth through the late twentieth centuries, our congregations were remarkably united in faith and practice because of a shared view of Scripture. When church leaders changed their view of the Bible, they were changing their religion.

The Significance of the Bible for the Church

Two areas where the new religion shows its changed view of the Bible is in its view of the sufficiency of Scripture, and in its view of the accessibility of Scripture. Changes in both of these areas distance God’s word from God’s people. Often, even before full-scale disbelief appears, the Bible will be marginalized by leaders wanting to introduce nonbiblical elements into the church.

Remaining faithful to the Lord requires that you follow the Bible as the only authority for God’s people. Drawing from a wide range of secular disciplines, alien ideas continually enter the Lord’s church. Rather than following the New Testament pattern for the church, these secular ideas fit the church to the pattern of the world. This dilution of biblical authority with secular additions often produces an apostasy of attrition.

In a similar vein, church leaders who want to change the fundamental nature of our religion try to limit the accessibility of Scripture. They remove the Bible’s authority in the church by undermining confidence that most Christians can read and understand the Bible. If reading and interpreting Scripture is reserved for an academic elite, members of this elite are free to make over the church of Christ into a religion that suits their fancy.

What is at Stake

Our existence as a religious movement rests on a faith in God who speaks to us through Scripture. If we lose this conviction, we will have lost everything. Without confidence in the truth and authority of the Bible, our faith will collapse into a false and self-serving religion of our own creation. We will no longer be the church of Christ. We will be the church of the world.

Explore posts in the same categories: Apostasy

10 Comments on “God Always Tells the Truth”


  1. Gregory,
    Thanks for your post and efforts. We know how you feel about Scripture. Could you please tell us if you continue to hold the same views you espouse in your writings? As a reader following this discussion, I am very interested in reading the answers you give to the things Jay has listed. These are your writings and I am interested in knowing if you still hold these views.

  2. Alan Says:

    We can learn a lot about how to use the scriptures by noting how Jesus used them. He said not a letter, not a stroke of the pen would pass from the law until everything is accomplished. So he clearly thought every word was authoritative. The scriptures he had in mind were probably 1500 years old when Jesus said that, and he didn’t even hint that they were culturally limited or outdated. Jesus didn’t quarrel about the accuracy (or not) of the Septuagint translation of the original Hebrew. He didn’t quarrel about who wrote the books of the Law, or the prophets. He quoted the scripture as the final word to settle any argument. And he promised that the Holy Spirit would lead the apostles into all truth, that they would be his messengers to all the world, and that they would speak with his authority.

    So that’s how I, as one “progressive” voice, believe we should use the scriptures today.

  3. Bob Brandon Says:

    “Since Jay has an affinity for the clear definitions of checklists, I wonder, would he be willing to tell us how much of the word of God he feels is in error and how much he feels to be true?”

    Tidwell, if you’re going to be snarky…


    • This is a problem with discussions such as this. Gregory has apparently chosen not to stand behind what he has written. Instead he brings in another argument to muddy the water and divert the pressure away from his writings. I would like to know, “Gregory do you still stand behind what you have written earlier?”

  4. Darin Says:

    This idea of scripture is one that I have recently discussed on my blog.

    I think this goes to the heart of the problem with the discussion as I related in part to Todd Deaver in an email.

    I will be interested to hear a response though from the way the discussion has been portrayed, one side who honors scripture and one that doesn’t, I’m not sure anything productive will come of it.

    I think the first key to honoring the inspired word would be to use the text for what they were intended for. One can not use the text of scripture for what they were not intended for and claim to be honoring God or the Word. You can’t be faithful to something if God did not inspire the writing for that purpose or ask someone to be faithful to it.

    So one side portrays itself has honoring the Word when they use scripture for something that wasn’t intended and points back at the other side and says if you don’t agree with us you don’t honor the Word. Then we bring out any number of groups that have went astray all the while ignoring many groups who have the same practices and yet remain conservative and Christ-centered.

    For further clarification it might help to read the thoughts on my blog as they relate to the development of the early church.

    (P.S. I have no real idea about this issue as it relates to God’s Holy Fire. I don’t know what point it makes that causes such a stir.)

  5. Terry Says:

    I agree that the acceptance of biblical inerrancy is essential. I hope I’m not in the minority on this issue, but we need to trust what God has inspired. We need to trust his honesty and knowledge. It goes to the character of the God who inspired the Scriptures.


  6. I would have to say that the assertion that the progressive movement is hostile to the doctrine of inerrancy is a generalization and pretty hard to pin down. Are there folks who describe themselves as part of a progressive movement, or have they been labeled that by folks who disagree with some of what they believe?

    Is a person hostile to the doctrine of inerrancy who does not see all scripture as literal, but still true?

    Is a person hostile to the doctrine of inerrancy who does not see all scripture as law and commandment, but still true?

    Is a person hostile to the doctrine of inerrancy who does not see all of God’s specific instructions to individual people in certain eras and circumstances as God’s instructions generally for all people throughout all generations?

    Is any of this relevant to the questions Jay asked in good faith, or simply an attempt to derail them by indirectly asserting that Jay, as one whom Gregory terms “progressive”, would not accept the answers because hedoes not accept scripture?

    If that’s the case, why not just say so?


    • Kieth, I hope I am wrong but I tend to believe this assertion made by Gregory is just an attempt to muddy the water. The questions posed by Jay concerning the things Gregory has previously written need to be addressed. This is the problem with discussions such as this. It is hard to pin someone down on what they actually believe. Either one stands behind the things he has written or he doesn’t.

  7. Todd Collier Says:

    Why this long discussion of Biblical inerrancy? It is not relevant to the questions this forum was intended to address. Though I am sure there are indeed members of our movement who doubt the inerrancy of God’s Word, few of them are watching the proceedings here.

    I am a “progressive” who is such a strict literalist that I demand book, chapter and verse for every command that is to be bound on a believer. In the absence of a direct book, chapter and verse reference – and I mean a very clear statement of God’s intent – I believe that we are debating man’s reasoned conclusions, not God’s law.

    My concern is that there is much (IM/acappella, one cup or many, institutionalism, versions of the Bible, even the regulative principle itself) which is passed off by the Church as being found in God’s word where direct commands by God are sorely lacking. While enforcing our reasoned conclusions as to God’s commands we choose to ignore or minimize other, rather more direct commands, examples and inferences (house church vs building, ladies wearing head coverings, female deacons) by claiming cultural change or expediency.

    It was my impression that the whole purpose of this discussion is to find out “why?” we have fallen into this pattern, how we reconcile discrepancies, and how we decide who is in fellowship with us and who is not.

  8. K. Rex Butts Says:

    Greg writes,

    “Remaining faithful to the Lord requires that you follow the Bible as the only authority for God’s people. Drawing from a wide range of secular disciplines, alien ideas continually enter the Lord’s church. Rather than following the New Testament pattern for the church, these secular ideas fit the church to the pattern of the world. This dilution of biblical authority with secular additions often produces an apostasy of attrition.”

    I understand the concern about mixing scripture with a variety of secular resources (philosophies). Surely this is being done today BUT the entire traditional Restoration approach to scripture borrowed from a variety secular philosophies as well. Wrong or right, I don’t think this can be avoided by any generation. In leiu of that, what we need is a recognition of those philosophical approaches that have influence on our reading of scripture with an awareness of both their qualitative points as well as their dangers. And to be clear, all of the secular philosophies (those employed by the traditionalist and those by the progressive) have both good and bad.

    Your brother in Christ,

    Rex


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