The Insufficiency of Scripture

by John Yoder on June 9, 2016

In last Sunday’s message, “The Use of Wisdom,” I said something that may have surprised a few people.  I mentioned that the Bible is not sufficient for many things in life, including politics.  While it touches on everything in our lives because of its religious purpose, it does not contain all information of every kind.  So it does not answer all our questions, as Pastor Tom Lyon once commented, “It answers the questions that God wants us to ask and what we must know.”

This thought provoking article on “The Insufficiency of Scripture” by T. David Gordon will help you to understand this truth better.  (It first appeared in Modern Reformation, Vol. 11, No. 1 (Jan./Feb., 2002), pp. 18-23.)

If someone had asked me a decade ago about the sufficiency of scripture, I would have given a zealous defense of the historic Reformed position.  I would do the same today; I still affirm the historic Reformed view of the sufficiency of scripture, with almost no variation from its expression in the Westminster Confession’s first chapter:  

The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men.  Nevertheless, we acknowledge…that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed. (WCF 1:6, italics added)

I would clarify, however, that “faith and life” must be taken in its religious sense.  I would also clarify that the entire thing would have been better expressed had the divines articulated a more-manifestly covenantal statement, indicating that the scriptures are a sufficient guide to the various covenants God has made with his various covenant people through the centuries, and that the entire canon, taken in its entirety, is sufficient therefore to govern the members of the New Covenant made in Christ.  I would clarify that the divines intended by “faith and life,” what one is to believe, and what one is to do, as a member of the New Covenant community.

To read the rest of the article on “The Insufficiency of Scripture” go here.

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