Via the Heidelblog, an extremely interesting article on sola scriptura by Michael Horton.

One juicy excerpt:


“There is a basically “fundamentalist” approach to sola scriptura that can be reduced to the bumper sticker, “God said it. I believe it. That settles it.” In this expression, there is no sense that the content of what God said in any way constitutes its authority. A Muslim might say the same of the Qur’an or a Mormon of the Book of Mormon.

However, a genuinely evangelical approach maintains that Scripture is sufficient, not just because it alone is divinely inspired (though that is true) but because these sixty-six books that form our Christian canon provide everything God has deemed sufficient for revealing his law and his gospel. Speculation will not help us find God, but will only lead us to some idol we have created in our own image. We may feel more secure in our autonomy (self-rule) when we pretend that our own inner voice of reason, spirituality, or experience is the voice of the Spirit. We may be excited about a new program for transforming our nation, our families, and our own lives, but there is no power of God unto salvation in our own agendas and efforts. We can find all sorts of practical advice for our daily lives outside of the Bible. The evangelical view of sola scriptura does not mean that we do not need anything but the Bible for math, science, the arts, politics, or even daily principles for a host of decisions we make in our callings. What an evangelical (i.e., Reformational as opposed to fundamentalist) view does mean by sola scriptura is that everything we need for salvation and true worship is found in the Scriptures. The church has authority only to pass on what it has heard; it is the servant, not the Lord, of the covenant of grace.

The sufficiency of Scripture recognizes that we have everything we need for salvation and life in the canonical Word. “Salvation is of the LORD” (Jon. 2:9). It does not come from within us but to us from heaven, as the rescue operation of the triune God. And the form in which this gospel comes normatively to us here and now is Scripture. Even preaching is the Word of God only insofar as it proclaims the commands and promises issued by these sacred texts. The Bible is not the product of spiritual geniuses, sensitive gurus, and religious sages who can help us find God; it is the revelation from the God who seeks and saves the lost even while they are running from him.”


Read the whole thing.

3 thoughts on “sufficiency

  1. If you must have that bumper sticker, the last two sentences should be reversed: “God said it. That settles it. I believe it.” As is, it implies that we are the final arbiters of the Word of God – which is part of the point Horton makes.


  2. And while i’m in the business of just linking to other people without going to the effort of writing things out myself, here’s something short and sweet by Green Baggins on sola scriptura (perspicuity department) :-

    if natural revelation is acknowledged to be of divine origin and authority without the support of the church, then why shouldn’t special revelation also be acknowledged to have divine origin and authority without the support of the church, especially since the latter is much clearer than the former, and is given by God a higher priority and authority than natural revelation?

    Perspicuity, or simply self-evidencing authority, can’t decide which.


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