I am sure many of you heard by now the comments Andy Stanley during the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission National Conference about what would he do if he was an "evangelical pope," which a title I am thankful is not up for grabs by anyone. Stanley responded by saying this, "I would ask preachers and pastors and student pastors in their communications to get the spotlight off the Bible and back on the resurrection." He says take the spotlight off the Bible. Why would he say such things?
What Stanley has been saying for a few years now that history should be the foundation of our faith and not the Bible. More of this came to light during his sermon this past Sunday at his church. This sermon was a more broad conversation (as he puts it) to what he said at the conference. He does not denounce Scripture but it does sound like he is denouncing its authority.
I could go on and on about what Stanley has said. I listened to his sermon and shook my head that a "pastor" would come out and say Scripture should be the foundation of our faith. Some of you might argue that Christians did not have the Bible until it was put together in the fourth century. Granted, we did not have what we call the Bible, yet we had the Old Testament, the Gospels, and the letters to the churches such as Galatians, Ephesians, and Colossians, which were considered Scripture (2 Peter 3:15-16).
Now comes the question, should Christians take the spotlight off the Bible? Absolutely Not. That would be very foolish. Why? First, if we take the spotlight off the Bible, Christians will be more prone to false teaching. Stanley said that there were eyewitnesses that told the people about the Resurrection, which is true, but they also wrote it down. Granted they did not do so until years after Jesus's Ascension because they believed Jesus was returning in their lifetime. The Holy Spirit inspired the writers of the Bible to record God's message to His people.
In the Bible, we see who God is, why Jesus came, and how to be saved. If we did not have the Bible, we would be filled with myths and false teaching because we could not check the pastor we hear preaching or the book we are reading. The Bereans in Acts 17 checked the Scriptures themselves to see if what the Apostle Paul was preaching was true.
Second, if we take the spotlight off the Bible, we could not be aware of sin. Imagine someone telling you they are a Christian yet they think it is okay to sleep their boyfriend or girlfriend. It does not make sense when the Bible sets the standard for believers when it comes to sexuality and marriage. Paul wrote, "Where there is no law there is no transgression" (Romans 4:16). The law (Torah) refers to the first five books of the Old Testament. Without those books, we would never know what sin is. We would not understand why Jesus came and died for our sins.
Third, taking the spotlight off the Bible means we do not take God at His Word. If we trust history rather than the Bible, we take the word of men over the Word of God. The reason history is important is because of eyewitnesses accounts whether its church or world history. Jesus even said to Thomas and the disciples, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed" (John 20:29). The Prophet Isaiah said, God's Word will "not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it" (Isaiah 55:11). If we cannot take God at His Word then all we have is man's word, which, going back to our first point, leave us open to heresy.
Some have argued that putting the spotlight on the Bible means that we can be saved by having the Bible. That is not true. Yes, having the Bible is important but having and reading the Bible does not give you eternal life. Rather, it points you to the One who has eternal life. Jesus said, the Scriptures testify about Him (John 5:39-40). However, that does not mean we dismiss the Bible. Josh Buice wrote:
No person can be saved by placing their faith in the Bible. However, it must be emphasized that no person will ever experience genuine faith in Jesus Christ apart from the knowledge of God that comes from the Bible. The Bible is God’s intended means of revelation to fallen sinners. All of the latest technological gadgets, websites, blogs, smart phones, tablets, and more can only serve as tools to communicate the good news of Jesus to broken sinners. The good news of Jesus is revealed to us in a book —the Bible.
There is no such thing as Bible-less Christianity. The earliest picture we have of the church immediately after the resurrection of Jesus is found in Acts. At the end of the second chapter, we see the early church gathered together under the apostle’s teaching (Acts 2:42). What were they teaching? Was it the resurrection of Jesus every sermon? The point is, the resurrection is essential and it’s the centerpiece of the entire Word of God, but every sermon can’t be about the resurrection of Jesus unless we want to build superficial churches.
The Bible points to faith. The Bible is the final authority for the believer in regards to faith and practice.