One of the fundamental questions we must address as Christians is the issue of authority. Who gets to define right and wrong? What (or Who) do we allow to shape our worldview – our picture of what is ultimately true? Some would answer that they don’t have any authority, that they are their own authority. This statement in disingenuous, as we all rely upon authority. When we go to the mechanic, we trust his authority, that he (or she) knows more about vehicles than we do. When we travel, we depend upon the authority of the cartographer. When we go to the doctor, we trust their authority in making a correct diagnosis. This is true in nearly every area of life. We rarely have the background and knowledge to make valid and accurate decisions without consulting and depending upon some form of authority.
Ironically, when it comes to what many would see as the ‘big’ questions in life (where did we come from? where are we going? does God exist?, what is God like? how can we know Him?), we often wade in to deep water without even consulting any authority at all? I have often asked people what they thought God is like? After their response, whatever it is, I ask one question: on what basis do you believe that God is like what you’ve described? What is your authority? Often, their response comes down to “This is the way that I want God to be.” It is ironic that people who regularly consult authority for even minor life decisions (ever checked a weather report before going outside?) would make decisions about one of the fundamental questions of the universe without any authority at all.
For those of us who claim to be Christians, the issue of authority ought to be simple. Christian philosopher Ronald Nash said it well:
“Some people cannot understand why the Bible plays such a normative role in Christian thinking. Such people need to recognize that while humans are free to reject the authority of Scripture, they will only substitute some other authority in its place. Usually that authority is either their own opinions or those of other people. Christians believe that the Bible is God’s special revelation ‘inscripturated,’ or communicated in writing. People who think this way understandably prefer the authority of God to that of some fallen and fallible human being.”
Unfortunately, even many Christians miss the boat when it comes to the issue of authority. We may say we believe the Bible, but. When it comes to some issues, we hedge, ignore or even discredit what the Bible has to say. That is to say that in certain areas, we believe that our authority is more trustworthy than God’s. We may never be so bold to put it in these words, but we have all been guilty of valuing some other opinion over the word of God. Of this tendency, church father Augustine wrote “If you believe what you like in the Gospel, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the Gospel you believe, but yourself.”
My encouragement to you as you review HBC’s doctrinal statement on the Scriptures is to resolve to sit under the authority of God’s word. Take some time to look up the verses referenced (the list is not exhaustive) and see what God’s word says about itself. Then begin the lifelong process of seeing what God has to say in other areas of life. It may be difficult and it may take you to places you didn’t expect, but prepare for joyful journey.
We believe the Scriptures, both the Old and New Testaments, to be the verbally inspired Word of God, written by men in God’s control, inerrant and infallible in the original manuscripts, and the final authority in faith and life. We accept the grammatical-historical, literal system of interpretation of the Scriptures, and accept the historical record of the Bible as accurate and adequate (2 Tim. 3:15-17; 2 Pet. 1:20, 21; Ps. 19:7-9).