I recently gave a devotional to the AiG-US staff on proclaiming the authority of the Bible from the very first verse. In preparation, I read portions of a wonderful book entitled Authority, by the late Welsh theologian, pastor, and writer Dr D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Authority was written in the 1950s, a few years before the groundbreaking research of creation scientists in the 1960s, especially with the release of the book The Genesis Flood by Drs Whitcomb and Morris.
I found it exciting to know that even though Dr Lloyd-Jones did not have access to many materials (like The Genesis Flood) on the authority of Genesis, he nevertheless stood firm on Biblical authority. He absolutely refused to compromise the clear teachings of the Bible with so-called “modern” science.
With the permission of the publishers, The Banner of Truth Trust, we have excerpted portions of Authority.
It is not surprising that the authority of the Scriptures has been from time to time a matter of dispute and debate. It is important to remember, however, that, until the eighteenth century, it was more or less accepted universally by the whole Church…until you come to about the middle of the 18th century.
It started in terms of certain other presuppositions, naturalistic presuppositions, concerning man’s reason, knowledge and science. The attack on the authority of the Scriptures began at that point…. Man’s knowledge and man’s understanding [became] the final arbiters and the final court of appeal.
Our grandfathers … were over-anxious about the statements of biology and geology. Many of them, therefore, took great pains to reconcile the Bible with this “new learning.” I detect, I fear, a tendency among certain conservative evangelicals to do this same thing today. There is a fear of what is called “Science.” Science has become the supreme authority; and in a spirit of fear, men are ready to make concessions which in my opinion should never be made at all.
Let us remember that so many of their assertions are mere suppositions and theories which cannot be proved, and which may very well be disproved, as so many have been disproved during the past hundred years.
There is nothing that really explains the whole world situation, as it is today, except the Bible. Take even the question of the origin of the world, and the very nature and character of the world itself … . The authority of the Scriptures is not a matter to be defended, so much as to be asserted. I address this remark primarily to Conservative Evangelicals.
We must emphasize … the importance of holding on to the authority of Scripture and believing these doctrines because Scripture teaches them, rather than to change our position constantly as the world and the superficial condition of man seem to change.
Why must we contend for the whole of the Bible, the entirety of Scripture, and not merely certain portions of it? My first reason is … the Bible comes to us as a whole. Second, revelation in the Scripture is often in terms of history and through history … . Third, and still more important, certain biblical doctrines which are absolutely vital to the whole question of salvation are dependent upon the historical facts.
Let us take as an example of this last point, a crucial passage which raises the whole question of the relationship between Scripture and modern science in an acute form, the argument of the apostle Paul in Romans 5:12-21. In these verses he is unfolding the glorious doctrine of our union with Christ. But you will notice that he develops it in terms of our former union with Adam. “As in Adam…so in Christ.” You cannot possibly believe the New Testament doctrine of the atonement and redemption in Christ unless you accept its teaching with regard to the fall, and with regard to sin. And that puts you directly face to face with the question of history. Man was either created, as Genesis tells us, perfect, and then fell; or else man has been slowly developing from the animal and has never been perfect at all. It is either one or the other.
Our Lord himself … believed in the Bible’s teaching about the beginning of man. He believed in the sacrificial teaching of the Old Testament. He believed that all these were but types and shadows pointing up to him … .The choice for us today is really as simple as it was for those first Christians in the early days. We either accept this authority or else we accept the authority of “modern knowledge,” modern science, human understanding, human ability.
For us, for the reasons I have tried to give, there is no real choice. On the one hand, trusting human ability and understanding, everything is flux and change, uncertain and insecure, ever liable to collapse. On the other … is “the impregnable Rock of Holy Scripture.” The Lord of the church has declared: “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.”
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