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.