Tuesday, July 31, 2012
By Pastor Mark Christopher
One of my favorite secular quotes is from George Orwell who said, “In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act.” Orwell certainly was ahead of his time. We now live in an age and culture where simple disagreement with politically-correct dogma warrants a trip to the dog box while receiving a public name-and-shame lashing.
The truth of Orwell’s statement was duly illustrated only two weeks ago, when I came across the local headline “Church blasted over anti-gay billboard”. It seems as if a Pretoria-based ministry featured a billboard with a picture of an unclad male torso with various labels like “drug abuse”, ‘’promiscuity”, “alcoholism”, “porn”, “sex”, and, yes, “homosexuality”, positioned around the torso. Then read the caption “Whom the Son sets free, is free indeed.”
It all seems harmless enough, so what was this church’s crime? By including the label of “homosexuality” on the billboard, it implied that one’s “sexual orientation” could be changed, or “cured”. This, it is alleged, amounts to “hate” and incites “violence” against the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) community. Immediately the Advertising Standards Authority swung into action to investigate the billboard for the allusion that homosexuality is deemed a sin. Two days later, Light of The Nations Church retreated and replaced the offending billboard with a replacement sign that was entitled, “What the Church can learn from homosexuals”.
Incidents like this have become all too common place in our relativistic culture, illustrating the uncharted waters upon which the Church of Jesus Christ now finds itself. Whether we like it or not, homosexuality, and the whole LGBT complex, has become an issue that Bible-believing churches cannot afford to ignore. So as we think and pray about our role and response of being both salt and light to the LGBT community, what are some lessons the church should consider from incidents like the one above? I originally jotted down seven lessons when I read through the associated article, but, due to space, I will only share the first lesson with which one should be familiar:
Note the philosophical presuppositions behind all the pro-gay advocacy: To understand the headlines related to this defining issue, it is helpful to know what drives pro-gay thinking. In short, pro-gay dogma is rooted in philosophical and moral relativism. Based on this, morality is neither timeless nor universal. Binding moral absolutes simply do not exist (a self-contradictory statement in itself). Therefore, morality and ethics are fluid and in a state of perennial change, being subjectively determined by the prevailing culture of the day. After all, democracy rules, or so it is thought.
The practical outcome of moral relativism has produced what I call moral transvaluationism. A moral transvaluation is illustrated well by Isaiah 5:20 where it says Israel was guilty of calling “good evil and evil good”. Another way of saying this is that deviancy is defined down and normalized. Correspondingly, generally accepted morals are morphed into the new deviancy, being redefined as the new abnormal. This explains why Bible-believing Christians are now in the cross-hairs of today’s new thought police.
It should not surprise anyone to learn that relativistically derived transvaluations find their tap root in German existential thinking. One can almost smell the after-shave of Nietzsche and his nihilistic disciples as many of their philosophical meanderings are now employed, and given legs, by those, like the pro-gay lobby. I doubt seriously that most of the evangelists of same-sex orthodoxy are even aware of the subterranean thinking that governs their worldview. But for those who scratch beneath the surface of the popular slogans and clichés, the cognitive dissonance looms large and serves as the thermostat to the rhetoric and agenda associated with the pro-gay movement.
One of the outcomes of such a relativistic worldview is that pro-gay promoters invoke a number of logical fallacies when arguing their cause. Such is unavoidable when one’s script is subjectively derived and situated in experience. While the fallacies employed are many, the following three fallacies deserve honorable mention, given the frequency with which they used:
· The first weapon of choice in the pro-gay arsenal is arguing ad hominem. Reasoning ad hominem relies on emotionally charged salvos which are meant to vilify and demonize one’s detractors, by tarring them with character assassinations and calling their credibility into question. It is like walking up to a guy who is married and saying, “Are you still beating your wife?” It puts one on the immediate defensive, which is why it is effective. So the flurry of pro-gay ad hominem invectives, like “homophobe”, “bigot”, “heterosexist”, and “intolerant” are used to great effect without ever having to debate the substance of the issue itself. As Paul Nathanson, himself a homosexual, writes, “This argument (ad hominem) amounts to verbal terrorism … It is easy to trivialize arguments by attacking the personal integrity of those who make them. That way, you need not deal with the argument itself.”[i] Yet, with the right line of inquiry, the ad hominem bomb can be effectively diffused.
Let it not be said of Christians that ad hominem arguments are our weapon of choice.
· Arguing non-sequitur is another common pro-gay fallacy. A non-sequitur argument is simply a response that does not follow the premise of a former statement, there is no logical connection between the former and the later statements. The “then” statement does not mesh with the “If” statement. Pro-gay reasoning well illustrates this fallacy whenever they conclude that moral disagreement over the legitimacy of homosexuality is the equivalent of “hatred” and “discrimination”.
Since when does debate equal hate? Quite frankly this is absurd. But such absurdity didn’t stop one gay-rights crusader from concluding that the billboard, cited above, continued to perpetuate “The stigma attached to homosexuality” and “contributed to the killing of homosexuals in SA and in Africa”. Really? What empirical proof is there for such an serious allegation? How does one diagnostically substantiate such a specious claim? Just because one says it does not make it so. No amount of wishful thinking will ever authenticate the claim.
If the above statement were true, then it would logically, and necessarily, follow that a pastor’s preaching against adultery, incest, fornication, and polygamy is equally responsible for inciting “hatred” and “violence” against adulterers, violators of incest, those who engage in pre-marital sex, and polygamists. One could even go so far as to maintain that preaching against polygamy is inviting the assassination of the South African president, since he is a polygamist. Does teaching against murder and theft encourage vigilantism and kangaroo courts? To maintain the affirmative is non-sequitur logic, and is, therefore, fallacious. No doubt there are those who do harbor hatred toward the gay community, but it simply does not follow that proclaiming the biblical position on gender distinction, marriage, and sexual morality is tantamount to hatred. It is as unreasonable as it is illogical to insist otherwise.
The most over-used non-sequitur script of pro-gay forces is their use (actually abuse) of the term “sexual orientation”, which is a loaded label, filled with numerous assumptions that are never defined nor adequately explained. Above all else, the use of this undefined terminology is meant to imply that there is a proven biological/genetic link to homosexuality. Therefore, homosexuality is as immutable and involuntary as skin color, or an uncorrectable disability. It is for this reason many wish to accord civil rights status to the whole of the LGBT movement. Thus, disagreement with the same is equal to “racism”, “hatred”, and “bigotry”.
The trouble is, upon examination, this genetic aspect of the “sexual orientation” assumption remains unproven. The “science” surrounding same-sex desire has not determined any certain genetic link. The science is all inconclusive. Most of the studies are filled with sample bias, flawed statistics, most can’t be duplicated, and many studies are often conducted by homosexuals themselves, who are hardly dispassionate in their research. There currently exists no truly objective means for determining whether a person is inherently and congenitally homosexual — there is not one diagnostic test to validate the claim. Even if a genetic link could be definitively established, this would in no way negate one’s moral responsibility, any more than a genetic link to grand-theft auto would excuse a car thief for hot-wiring and stealing your car.
Same-sex desires and same-sex orientation find their source in the broken and disordered sexuality that is a direct result of original sin and the innate sin nature we all share (Matthew 15:17-20; Mark 7:18-23). The mere presence of same-sex desire does not justify the act. Otherwise adulterers, pedophiles, the incestuous, and zoophiles could all justify and legitimize their particular deviancies based on their subjective desires and urges. To be inclined toward homosexuality is not the equivalent of being consigned to it. To insist otherwise is a grand demonstration of non-sequitur thought. That the unexamined orthodoxy of same-sex “sexual orientation” is just assumed by most, cannot be attributed to empirical evidence. Rather, it is a result of shrewd application of the old adage that if you repeat something often enough, loud enough, and long enough then people will believe it. But that doesn’t make it so.
Pro-gay use of non-sequitur thought is a classic example of transvalued logic, which ignores the obvious while arguing the ridiculous. Under honest scrutiny such logic is exposed for what it is and ultimately fails.
· The liar’s paradox is another glaring fallacy that fuels pro-gay thinking. The gist of the liar’s paradox is summed up in the statement “The truth is that there is no truth.” This is a self-contradictory declaration that finally negates itself. This is at the heart of postmodern thinking, which is strongly reflected in pro-gay thinking. As one pro-gay advocate told me, “There are no moral absolutes.” So in an effort to subjectively rationalize his sin, this chap fell into the jaws of the liar’s paradox with his self-contradictory statement. The inference here is that the only moral absolute is that there are none. Such is a self-defeating assertion that nullifies itself under the sheer weight of its own absurdity. As Francis Schaeffer would say, "They have escaped from reason."
So what is the point of this exercise? Why explore the philosophical assumptions of pro-gay logic? The answer is simple, the above evaluation is needed to inform fellow believers about the philosophical framework that supports the same-sex fallacies we hear ad nauseam. In becoming more familiar with the pro-gay presuppositions, it is hoped that those who encounter such logic will be better prepared to speak the truth in the love (Ephesians 4:15), as they seek to proclaim the life transforming gospel of Christ to those mired in sins of this nature. To be forewarned is to be forearmed when deliberating with one in the LGBT community. So speak the truth each one you to your neighbor (Ephesians 4:25), but remember that doing so in a culture of colossal deception often will be misconstrued as a revolutionary act!
Thursday, May 10, 2012
“Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled: for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.”
Yesterday US President Barack Obama finally stumbled out of the same-sex marriage closet he has been hiding in the last four years. This is hardly a surprise to those of us who studied candidate Obama’s position on the issue four years ago. To be blunt, Obama has been blowing pink smoke since his inauguration.
In the last two years Obama has indicated on more than one occasion that his views on the matter were “evolving”. Well, yesterday, in a grand moment of punctuated equilibrium, Obama transmutated and came of age! Of course he has tacitly endorsed the gay agenda, to include gay marriage, all along, as his actions well attest. By repealing the military’s policy of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell , and openly refusing to enforce the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), indicate he has been waving the rainbow flag all along. Apparently, President Obama believes he is imperiously above enforcing the laws of the land while simultaneously immune from the law of God.
Obama claims he came to this “new” found enlightenment gradually, subsequent to discussions with family, friends, advisors, and gay Americans. In other words, his emergence from the closet is predicated upon an amalgam of both human opinion and experience, as if these serve as the gold standard for truth and morality.
It goes without saying that Obama invoked the Bible, crediting the “Golden Rule” (It is too bad he doesn’t invoke the Golden Rule where partial birth abortion is concerned!) for his transvalued take on marriage. But given Obama’s anemic and tortured use of Scripture on the subject (see excerpt from my book below), it is hard believe he really cares what the Bible says about anything, let alone same-sex marriage.
On the contrary, I am of the opinion the catalyst for Obama’s sudden about face, on this most acrimonious issue, has more to do with a combination of experience and political expedience, which is as subjective as it is relativistic. He is in serious trouble politically with his reelection bid imperiled. Some democratic-party faithful have been withholding campaign donations from Obama to force his exit from same-sex sequestration. Just coincidence?
Only November 6th, 2012 will reveal whether Obama, and his advisers, just committed political suicide, or not. That 31 states have overwhelmingly voted in favor of marriage amendments to their respective state constitutions, doesn’t bode well for an Obama second term. But I won’t hold my breath just yet, for as the saying goes, a day is a long time in politics.
In light of Obama’s renaissance moment, it must be asked if Obama’s view on marriage will continue to “evolve” into other “equitable” relational combinations, like polyamory (group marriage) and pedogamy (intergenerational marriage)? After all, if experience and expedience are the guideposts for morality and truth, why stop short at gay marriage?
*(Note: The portion below is from my book Same-Sex Marriage: Is It Really The Same? It was written nearly four years ago detailing, then candidate, Obama’s position of the same-sex issue. Also, see my post below on Jesus’ view of homosexuality to refute the absurd nonsense that Jesus promoted homosexuality via the Golden Rule):
9. What is Barack Obama’s (US President Elect) position on gay rights and same-sex marriage?
Given that during the US presidential campaign Barack Obama claimed he did not fully support same-sex marriage, what are we to make of his position on the issue? In short, his position on gay rights and SSM is as radical and far reaching as his views on abortion, which amount to infanticide[i]. The best way to answer the question is to use the words of Obama himself from a statement he issued to the gay community:
“Equality is a moral imperative. That’s why throughout my career, I have fought to eliminate discrimination against LGBT Americans. In Illinois, I co-sponsored a fully inclusive bill that prohibited discrimination on the basis of both sexual orientation and gender identity, extending protection to the workplace, housing, and places of public accommodation. In the U.S. Senate, I have co-sponsored bills that would equalize tax treatment for same-sex couples and provide benefits to domestic partners of federal employees. And as president, I will place the weight of my administration behind the enactment of the Matthew Shepard Act to outlaw hate crimes and
a fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act to outlaw workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.”[ii](Emphasis added)
a fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act to outlaw workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.”[ii](Emphasis added)
The first sentence says it all, “Equality is a moral imperative.” It is basically all downhill from there. Though he may have tried to distance himself from gay marriage during the campaign, it is evident that was only because it was politically expedient for Obama to do so. He has no moral convictions or ethical squabbles with homosexuality or its related issues. Essentially, he will try and promote comprehensive gay rights legislation that will irrevocably empower this tiny minority to enslave the many who deem homosexuality morally abhorrent.
Once this wide ranging list of gay friendly legislation is signed into law, Bible-believing Christians will be in the cross hairs of the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) and gay rights crusaders, who will tar and brand all who disagree as “right-wing bigots” and “homophobes”. We will see the professed “tolerance”, gay rights sympathizers preach quickly, morph into tyranny as these cultural transvaluationists begin applying hate crime laws and hate speech legislation to Christians and conservative congregations.
President elect Obama has also called for the complete repeal of the federal version of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Obama is on record saying, “…I believe we should get rid of that statute altogether. Federal law should not discriminate in any way against gay and lesbian couples, which is precisely what DOMA does. I have also called for us to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell …”[iii]
The federal DOMA was enacted by a Republican led congress in 1996 to regulate matters related to tax status, immigration, and social security as it relates to SSM. As the basis of the regulation, the DOMA defines marriage as between a man and a woman. In addition, this DOMA gives all 50 states the autonomy to reject the same-sex marriages from other states that performed them.[iv]
By completely repealing the DOMA, Obama will jeopardize every state DOMA in the country—most states have their own individual DOMAs. This will probably require one state with a DOMA to recognize another state’s same-sex marriage. For example, a state like Texas would be forced to then recognize the same-sex marriages of those who were married in the state of Massachusetts, should such couples relocate to Texas.
To further substantiate his extreme position on gay rights, it should not be surprising Obama uses Scripture to advance his gay rights panacea. In his book The Audacity of Hope, Obama maintains that he is not “willing to accept a reading of the Bible that considers an obscure line in Romans [about homosexual practice] to be more defining of Christianity than the Sermon on the Mount.”[v]
Only a thorough-going postmodern trained attorney (Harvard Law School) could make such an outrageous assertion regarding of the following passage:
Romans 1:24 “Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, that their bodies might be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper”.
There is absolutely nothing obtuse or opaque about Romans’ graphic portrayal of homosexuality. One must intentionally determine not to understand what Paul is saying, in order to be so dismissive of what is as plain as the nose on your face.
Obama’s ignorance regarding both the Romans account and the Sermon of the Mount is glaring given the subsequent considerations from the sermon:
· Where in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) is homosexuality ever promoted or approved even tacitly? Further, where in the Sermon on the Mount is Romans 1:24-28 ever contravened or questioned?
· In Matthew 5:17-18 Jesus said He did not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it. Jesus upheld even the lesser laws like those related to tithing, so it is unreasonable to think that Jesus abrogated the sexual ethics contained in OT Law.
· In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus used six antitheses to expand the dictates and demands of the Law by applying it to matters of the heart (mind, will, and emotions). The sum of these antitheses was to target the thoughts and motives of any would be follower of Christ. Two of the six antithesis relate directly to marriage and sexuality:
Matthew 5:27-28: "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery'; but I say to you, that everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.”
Matthew 5:31-32: "And it was said, 'Whoever sends his wife away, let him give her a certificate of divorce'; but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the cause of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”
These two passages cover the essential terrain of the seventh and tenth commandments (adultery and covetousness)[vi]. If anything, Jesus is actually increasing the demands of sexual laws to include one’s thought life. Not only is it a sin to adulterate, fornicate, commit incest, to rape, and to perform homosexual acts; it is a sin to even ponder such things in one’s thoughts.
· In these two antitheses, Jesus emphasizes the distinct priority of male-female union only afforded in heterosexual marriage. He never intimates any other arrangement is acceptable. Jesus also underscores that the nature of the heterosexual union is to be both a lifelong commitment and monogamous.
· It is true that the sermon addresses other themes like loving your enemies (5:43-48) and hypocritically judging others for small matters when much larger issues loom large in our own life (7:1-6). As Robert Gagnon concludes, “However, these themes provide no more support for homosexual unions than they do for loving, committed polyamorous or polygamous unions or for adult-consensual incestuous unions, both of which Jesus obviously opposed.”[vii]
· Given that Obama uses the Sermon on the Mount as support for his “moral imperative” for gay rights legislation, it is interesting he says nothing of the end of that sermon where Jesus sternly warned,
Matthew 7:15, 22-23: "Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves … Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.'”(Emphasis Added)
God’s will regarding sexual ethics is straightforward and obvious throughout Scripture. Jesus considers violation of the Genesis 2:22-24 mandate for marriage (Matthew 19:4-6; Mark 10:2-11) lawlessness, which includes homosexuality and SSM. Just because Barack Obama passes legislation favoring homosexuality, does not make it any less lawless in God’s eyes.In the end, Obama’s “moral imperative” amounts to moral impudence from Christ’s perspective.
Indeed, President Elect Obama needs much prayer regarding both his views on gay rights, and his eclipsed understanding of what Jesus really thinks about this issue.
[i] Barack Obama, as Illinois state senator, voted against the Born Free Act, which would allow babies born alive during abortion the chance to have access to medical care.
[ii] See http://my.barackobama.com/page/community/post/alexokrent/gGggJS, Accessed 11 November 2008.
[iii] Ibid, p.2.
[iv] The US Constitution has a “Full Faith and Credit Clause” which mandates that states must recognize the “acts, records, and judicial proceedings” of other states. In the case of the federal DOMA, this clause is suspended and not in force.
[vi] The Ten Commandments serve as paradigmatic law, which means these laws are more extensively explained and expounded in the rest of the law, where specific applications are given. For example, Leviticus 18 is an application of the both the seventh and tenth commands.
[vii] Robert Gagnon, “Barack Obama’s Disturbing Misreading of the Sermon on the Mount as Support for Homosexual Sex,” Online at: www.robgagnon.net , Accessed 11 November 2008, p.3. Also see Robert Gagnon, “Obama’s Coming War on Historic Christianity over Homosexual Practice and Abortion,” Online at: www.robgagnon.net , Accessed 11 November 2008.
Saturday, April 07, 2012
By Pastor Mark Christopher
I was recently asked by a friend to comment on the Bible as the only source of divine revelation for Christianity. Put another way, are there differing sources of revelation that Christians have myopically overlooked? Such a question is not uncommon in our postmodern age — an age which prides itself on the perceived virtues of “tolerance” and pluralism. The implication of the question itself often intimates that Christians should inclusively consider that other religious writings might have something to offer today’s postmodern Christian. Naturally, the converse is equally implied, that Christianity’s promotion of the Bible to the exclusion of other sacred writings, smacks of dreaded exclusivism.
So how should a Bible-believing Christian respond to the assertion that the Bible should not be deemed the sole source of authority for one’s faith and practice? While not an exhaustive treatment of the pluralist’s creed, the following six considerations serve as an introduction to the topic.
To begin responding appropriately to the dilemma presented by multiple sources of revelation, one must examine the following: the purpose of the Bible, the biblical warnings related to amending the word of God, Jesus’ own usage and emphasis of the OT Scriptures, the significance of biblical sufficiency, then one must assess the process that determined the canonicity of the various books of the Bible, and finally the utter uniqueness of the biblical message must be evaluated in light of other proposals.
1. The Bible’s Purpose: So what is the primary purpose of the Bible? It certainly isn’t to tell us all that we want to know, but, rather, it is meant to tell us what we need to know. In short, the Bible is God’s verbal self-discloser to a sinful humanity. Scripture progressively details and divulges the God of creation and redemption to a fallen race that otherwise would remain in the dark. Like a picture postcard from some exotic port of call, the Bible verbally and propositionally defines the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and ultimately the New Covenant.
Apart from God choosing to reveal Himself in written form, how would we learn of Him? How does a fallen, finite creature discover the indiscoverable and inscrutable God, unless He chooses to unveil Himself in some tangible and objective way? Psalm 19:1-14 bears testament to two ways in which God delights in disclosing His person to humanity — first, through the marvel of God’s sovereign work via creation itself, as the brilliance of God’s handiwork reflects something of the power and splendor of God (19:1-6), but creation is limited in what is disclosed; then, secondly, and more specifically, the word of God details the goodness and greatness of God (19:7-14), as the psalmist evaluates himself against this more detailed codified backdrop of divine revelation.
In keeping with God’s self-discloser to man, Hebrews 1:1-3 declares that God’s ultimate revelation to cursed creatures is Jesus Christ Himself (1:2-3), with the Old Testament paving the way for God’s pinnacle of revelation: “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets (i.e. Old Testament) in many portions and many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son …” (Hebrews 1:1-2a). There is no mention or allusion to any other written source serving as a record of God’s exposition to man, for there was no other ancient literature that could conceive of such a God giving such a gift! Doubtless, false prophets made extravagant claims about speaking on God’s behalf, but these claims were immediately measured by the written standard that was already in existence — the Old Testament.
Beyond the thoughtful reflection of the Bible’s purpose, one must further contemplate the warnings of the Bible not to amend what God has already disclosed.
2. The Bible’s Warnings: How does one reconcile proposed claims of additional sources of revelation with the biblical passages that strongly exhort against tampering with what was previously recorded? If, as those with postmodern proclivities assert, divine revelation is to be had from a number of cisterns, how does one safeguard the Scriptures when one is going beyond what has already been revealed?
In Deuteronomy 4:2 Moses warned ancient Israel “You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.” Other similar warnings are demarcated in Deuteronomy 12:32; Proverbs 30:5-6; Daniel 12:4 concerning the sealing up of Daniel’s prophecy; and Revelation 22:18-19. One thing is certain, God does not endorse any form biblical math-a-magics, which seeks to add, or subtract, amend, or append the revelation already recorded.
Here it must be duly noted that after every warning above, save Revelation 22:18 and 19, subsequent books were added to the biblical canon. But this subsequent revelation met the strict criteria surveyed under the fifth consideration of this essay — namely, these books all achieved the standards of biblical quality assurance, so do not in any way contravene the issued warnings.
If one entertains alternative springs of divine revelation, of whatever sort, there is no way to avoid altering the written word of God. Thus, it is then only a matter of time before the doctrine of God is rearranged to accommodate that altered word. The above passages exude an air of certainty and absoluteness about the biblical message. The nature of God’s discloser is fixed and not to be corrupted with competing claims of divine revelation. These passages serve as no trespassing signs to warn the would-be vandal to peddle his pluralism elsewhere, but not here.
This internal attestation to the Bible’s uniqueness is not to be fiddled with. As the no trespassing sign continues, after the initial warning, “Violators will be prosecuted”. In like manner, God’s word issues a similar caution.
3. The Bible and Jesus: Did Jesus reference any other texts beyond the Old Testament to validate His extraordinary claims, and authenticate His redemptive message?
On the contrary, Jesus, when He was tempted by the Devil after 40 days of fasting in the wilderness, combated the Devil’s cabal with recitations from the Old Testament (Matthew 4:1-11). When contesting with the Pharisees, Jesus informed them “You search the Scriptures (Old Testament) because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me” (John 5:39 cf. 5:46 & 47). The Old Testament serves as a herald of the coming king, from Genesis to Malachi. The overriding implication being that it is only in the Bible that one can receive this heaven sent revelation.
In a post-resurrection appearance to some of the disciples on the Emmaus road, Jesus expounded the significance of what had just happened with His crucifixion and resurrection, reasoning exclusively from the Old Testament: “Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained (exposited) to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures … Now when He said to them ‘These are my words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled’” (Luke 24:27 & 44).
It is no wonder, in John 10:35, Jesus said that “Scripture cannot be broken”. In other words, the Old Testament witness cannot be annulled, or repealed. The weight of this Old Testament authority cannot be invalidated from within or without. In this there is a clear suggestion of sufficient preservation of the Old Testament text, which was to serve as a lone beacon pointing to Christ.
Jesus’ strong and constant reliance on the Old Testament Scriptures signifies their unparalleled uniqueness and importance in paving the way for the Messiah. No other writings are accorded such pride of place.
When preparing His disciples for His departure, Jesus informs them that though He is leaving, yet, He will send another comforter (parakletos) who will guide them into all truth concerning Himself (John 15:26-16:11). Upon Christ’s ascension, the Holy Spirit guided the apostles in divinely recording what they remembered about Christ, as they penned the New Testament Scriptures under the influence of the Holy Spirit. There is not even the slightest inference that any other literature will be granted this level of divinely bestowed authority and fidelity.
The example that Christ established during His earthly ministry was that the word of God was and is completely reliable and authoritative. Jesus upheld the veracity of the Bible. Further, Christ promoted and conveyed absolute truths on a variety of subjects using the medium of human language to do so. Jesus obviously thought human language sufficient enough to convey God’s discloser of Himself. Thus, the testimony of Jesus Himself is unequivocal, God’s word, in both the testaments, is the sole arbiter of God’s written record concerning Himself. No rivals or viable alternatives are entertained.
4. The Bible’s Sufficiency: Does the Bible need to be supplemented? The query that seeks to promote multiple sourced revelation evidences a high degree of suspicion regarding the integrity of the biblical record, by implying the Scriptures need “complemented” from various streams of thought beyond Christianity. But the crux of this logic nullifies the complete sufficiency of God’s word. The doctrine of sufficiency maintains that the Bible is a finished and comprehensive revelation, and is entirely sufficient for its divinely intended purpose. Therefore, it requires no additional supplementation from other external informants.
For one to claim that other books, or literary extracts, are of equal value and import to the Bible is a tacit denial of biblical inspiration (God-breathed word), infallibility (indefectible authority), and inerrancy (accuracy). The whole issue of biblical authority is eroded by such an assumption, as this contention shifts the locus of divine authority from the Bible to various tributaries alien to Scripture.
In turn the burden of proof for demonstrating the existence of other reliable sources of revelation is on the multi-source advocates. Certainly Jesus put full faith and confidence in the Bible alone without even a hint of entertaining any other possibility. Jesus assuredly believed the Old Testament was entirely sufficient as a guidance system for pointing to Himself. Postmodern detractors would do well to emulate Jesus in this!
5. The Bible Test: What criteria was used to determine whether a book was canonical, or not? In other words, why was one book incorporated into the biblical corpus while another was omitted? This question must be asked for it addresses the contention that there might be various sources of divine revelation beyond the Bible. If true, do these other sources meet the same criteria used to govern the biblical text itself? If these proposed sources do not meet with the established criteria that decided the 66 biblical books, then the multi-sourced proposal comes short and falls flat.
So what was the litmus test the ancients used for deciding whether or not a book was to be included in the Bible? While this list is certainly not exhaustive, nor detailed in any way, it nevertheless represents the basic paradigm that was used to evaluate a book to ascertain if it should be included as Scripture:
5.1 Authorship: In the instance of the Old Testament the Jews asked whether a particular book was written by a verified prophet, or an established designated leader of ancient Israel. Hence, by 400 B.C. the Old Testament was well established and has never been in question. By the New Testament era, the early church first verified whether the human author of the book or epistle was an apostle or a close associate of an apostle — In the case of Luke, he was a bonafide colleague the apostle Paul. In like manner, Jude and James were both the half-brothers of Jesus, with established reputations amongst the early church. So human authorship was one of the preliminary requirements considered before a book was deemed canonical.
5.2 Universal Christian acceptance: Put another way, how did the early church view a specific piece of literature or letter from an apostle? Did they read it in public, or not? Did they later teach from it? All of which were indications that a book or epistle was inspired.
5.3 Test of inspiration: Was the book thought to be inspired, that is to say God-breathed? It is crucial to note that inspiration only extends to the writing itself, not to the human author. So how was the matter of inspiration settled? In the following way:
5.3.1 To verify if a specific book was inspired by God, the internal integrity of the writing was scrutinized and examined carefully, evaluating how a book presented both the person and work of Christ. The message about Christ had to be wholly unique in its portrayal of the Lord and His ministry. The book’s depiction of Christ and God had to be consistent with what was already recorded in the Bible. Much of what is written in both the Apocrypha and Pseudopigrapha, often presents Christ in a trite and shallow way, sometimes bordering on the sensational and mystical. Christ was not some side-show freak who put on a grand demonstration as a child for the neighbors by turning clay pigeons into the real thing.
5.3.2 Further, a book’s moral and spiritual effect was considered: Did the said book transform thought and aid in amended behavior on the part of the recipients? In contrast, many of the Christian books written today produce spurious responses that border on the novel and faddish, without lasting effect. The Prayer of Jabez is a good illustration. A whole industry sprung up around this book. It was the toast of the town, and on the lips of many believers. A few years later on and many have never even heard of the book. Such a book would not be considered for the biblical canon in antiquity because its effect was short lived.
Of course The Prayer of Jabez never claimed revelational status, but it does illustrate the point.
5.3.3 Finally, the inspiration of book was discerned through the historical testimony of the early church. As the early church weighed up all the various criteria, there had to be universal agreement that a New Testament book was Scripture, or not.
It is critical to understand that biblical canonicity was a process, not a single event. Through providential means God led the early church through the prolonged procedure of finalizing which books would comprise the New Testament, and which would be omitted.
Many books were thought unbiblical because of false teaching, like the sale of indulgences, or prayers for the dead. Other stories were viewed as extra-biblical because they were farfetched, more closely resembling ancient folklore and myth, like the Christ child bringing clay pigeons to life. Some teaching from the Apocrypha fell short of the established standards because it condoned lying in places, much like the Koran does today. This promotion of sub-biblical thought was a disqualification from the canon.
Thus, the canon is closed and has been for 2000 years, so no new Scripture is being added today (Revelation 22:18 & 19). We have all the special, divine revelation God is going to give us. The church’s problem is not that we don’t have enough revelation, but that we are not rightly dividing and passionately proclaiming the revelation we already have. What is needed is more Spirit-filled illumination (1 Corinthians 2:14-16), not more divine revelation. One wonders if those desiring multi-sourced revelation just aren’t satisfied with what God has graciously revealed to us in His word? Or maybe the multi-source proponents are embarrassed by the Bible and are seeking to distill the offending portions with additional revelation?
The contention that the church has been wrong for not sipping from other revelational streams for over 2000 years, insinuates that for two millennia the church has gotten it all wrong. This is a claim one would expect from Mormonism, or some other cult, but not from the redeemed. So even if the canon were not already closed, any claims of divine revelation from other quarters would have to be in accord with the established paradigm, as outlined above.
6. The Bible’s Message: If alternative forms of revelation exist, then that proposed revelation would have to conform to the inimitable and peerless message of the Bible. The Bible’s message is quite distinguished from any other plot-line known to man. Unlike any other piece of religious literature, the Bible exclusively portraits a very unflattering picture of the depth and extent of human depravity. A depravity so comprehensive in scope, that it renders man constitutionally incapable of meriting any favor with the aggrieved God. Man’s sinful estate is such that attempts at self-reformation are like a one trying to perform one’s own heart transplant without aid from a cardiologist and thoracic surgeon — this is as ill-advised as it is ill fated. Similarly, the word of God declares that, given man’s perverse plight and estrangement from God, the only remedy for sin is a salvation that is utterly by grace through faith alone!
In concert with the above thought, Ephesians 2:1-10 stencils the same scenario — one who is dead in their trespasses and sin cannot earn approval from God by self-righteous acts. On the contrary, Ephesians 2:8 & 9 records this supremely distinctive truth: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
The Bible chronicles what no other religion in the history of the world has, that one does not work for their salvation, rather, one works from their salvation (Ephesians 2:10), which is circumscribed entirely by grace. Indeed, Scripture affirms that there is only one Lord, one faith, one body, and one baptism. Further, it is only the Scriptures that mediate these truths accurately, clearly, and effectively. All multi-sourced proposals to the contrary are fallacious and fraudulent.
It was Jesus Himself who made exclusive claims regarding His work in John 14:6, which was/is predicated on His irrepressible person. In similar vein, Luke restricts the way of salvation to no other than Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12): “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” Hence, salvation is landlocked by a single Savior offering an exclusive sacrifice.
In final analysis, if faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:14), where does this leave the proposal of multi-sourced revelation? Simple, lodged on the shoals of faulty assumptions and wishful thinking. While other ancient literature often has valuable historical and informational value, it is not divinely revealed and, therefore, cannot address issues of eternity, the soul, and salvation with the precision Scripture demands.
Given the inimitable purpose of the Bible, the stern biblical admonitions against altering God’s written record, the undeniable reliance of Jesus on the Old Testament, the magnitude of biblical sufficiency, the established methodology for determining biblical canonicity, and the superlative uniqueness of the Bible’s message, the believer can confidently assert that the Bible is the supreme standard for Christianity. The Bible stands peerless and unrivaled in relation to the petition for multi-sourced revelation.
For this reason, like Jude of old, the believer should “earnestly contend for the faith (the revealed word of God), which was once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). The Christian’s call to arms is precisely in relationship to the warning to defend the objective faith — the written word of God — from any counter claims. As Maxwell Coder rightly explains Jude 3: “The faith set before us in the word of God was once delivered to the saints. Therefore any claim to further revelation in these last days is, in itself, an evidence of apostasy.” (Emphasis added)
The Christian’s posture regarding the Bible (the faith), according to Jude, is one in which the believer ardently strives to uphold, and tirelessly defend the word of God, and ultimately the God of the word, from the numerous assaults of apostates. All with the confident acknowledgement that (Isaiah 40:8), “The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever”!