April 29, 2007 Commentary:
"Christ's View of Scripture"
Many of us grew up with versions of the New Testament that had the words of Jesus in red letters. It's easy to gain the impression that the words in red have more authority. Yet it's those sentences in red that tell us that everything else is qualitatively and quantitatively on the same level. Even Jesus submits himself to holy Scripture, fending off the devil's temptation with the reply, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" He tells us that he came to fulfill the Scriptures, not to set them aside. Jesus, in all those red words confirms the authority of Scripture, all of it in black. Especially in the modern era, many Christians think that you can have a high view of Christ without necessarily having a high view of the Bible. But as true as it is that we worship a person and not a book, it is the person Jesus Christ who tells us how we should view the Bible. "Christ's View of Scripture" is our topic in this program.
April 22, 2007 Commentary:
"Does God Speak Outside the Bible?"
We're continuing our series this year, "A Time for Truth," and we're looking at sola Scriptura, or "Scripture alone" and as we do that, we are focusing in this particular broadcast on the question, "Does God speak outside of the Bible?" This is a very controversial question, particularly in our day, but really in every day of church history.
The Reformation, in fact, faced two questions according to John Calvin. On one hand, he said, there was Rome with its claim that the Spirit who inspired the Scriptures also continues to speak today through the tradition and magisterium of the church, especially the pope. On the other hand, there were the radical Protestants whom the reformers dubbed "enthusiasts" because they considered themselves and especially their charismatic leaders as new apostles and prophets who received continuing revelation. Calvin said that these two sects (as he called them), for all of their differences were united at least on this one point, namely in their belief that God speaks today not only through the Scriptures as they are proclaimed, taught, and read by the faithful, but through the new revelations alongside the Bible.
Well, as you know, today we face a similar situation. We recall the false prophets of Jeremiah's day: "They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord," says God. "They keep saying to those who despise the word of the Lord, 'It shall be well with you.' And to all who stubbornly follow their own stubborn heart, they say 'No calamity will come upon you,' but I didn't send these prophets, but they ran. I did not speak to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in my counsel, then they would have proclaimed my words to my people, and they would have turned them from their evil way. I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in my name, saying 'I had a vision! I had a vision!' How long? Will the hearts of the prophets ever turn back? Those who prophesy lies and who prophesy the deceit of their own hearts, let the prophet tell his dreams. But let the one who has my word speak my word faithfully." That comes from Jeremiah 23.
But has the age of visions and new revelations ceased? Does God still speak to us today, not only through his Word but in other ways? That's our subject in this edition of the White Horse Inn.
April 15, 2007 Commentary:
"The Character of Scripture"
The Apostle Paul tells us that all Scripture is inspired, and therefore profitable for correction, teaching, and instruction in righteousness so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. In fact, the verb that Paul uses there for "inspired" is theoneusthas, which literally means "God-breathed." Similarly, Peter declares that we didn't follow cleverly-devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we have been eyewitnesses of his majesty. So we have the prophetic message more fully confirmed. First of all, you must understand this, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation because no prophecy ever came by human will, but men, moved by the Holy Spirit, spoke from God. The doctrine of the inspiration of holy Scripture has been repeated challenged in the modern era, of course, and continues to be questioned today, sometimes even in evangelical circles.
We have no trouble, really, with the idea of inspiration in general-Hallmark makes inspiring greeting cards, we can be inspired by a moving human interest story on TV, or by the experience of a friend who overcame tremendous odds. Inspiration in this sense can be understood as therapeutic, an extraordinary take on life. That's not what we mean, however, when we speak of the inspiration of Scripture.
First of all, we're not talking about mere uplift or encouragement. Second, we're not even talking about the biblical writers themselves being inspired. Scripture itself tells us not that the writers were inspired, but that the writing is inspired. In other words, the inspiration of Scripture is objectively located in the product, rather than in its human communicators. Scripture is inspired because it is exhaled by God's breath. When Scripture speaks, God speaks. That's the remarkable claim that Scripture makes concerning the Bible. It's not the record of merely human reflection on religious experience, nor simply the witness to God's revelation. It is nothing less than the word of God written.
Of course, this claim provokes a host of important questions: Is the Bible the only final and sufficient authority on faith and practice? Is the Bible itself clear? Can its main themes be understood on its own terms, or is it so complicated, contradictory, and obscure as to require an equally authoritative church or community of scholars to make sense of it? What's the relationship between its divine and human authorship? Well, we can't delve too deeply into all these questions, but they're some of the questions that we'll be taking up in this program of The White Horse Inn.
April 8, 2007 Commentary:
"Is What We Know of Jesus Wrong?"
An Interview with Ben Witherington
Mike Horton: What do you think accounts for the number of radical thinkers like Bishop Spong, Elaine Pagels, or even a fiction writer like Dan Brown, who seem to want to reinvent the classical Christian story in striking ways that don't have a lot of resemblance to the Gospels?
Ben Witherington: Here's the interesting thing: It does appear that most people in our culture still want to have some kind of understanding or connection with Jesus. I mean, Jesus is a household word everywhere in the country, and Jesus is a swear word in fifty states. Everybody knows who Jesus is, and most people would like an approachable Jesus, so one of the things that is going on with Spong and others is that they're trying to whittle off the hard edges of things that they can't accept about Jesus to whittle Jesus down to a size that's palatable and acceptable to them. And that's part of what's going on, beyond any doubt. They're trying to refashion Jesus in their own image or at least in an image that they find acceptable, and that's part of the psychological dynamic. What that tells you is, we're still a western culture. Jesus is still the cultural icon, and we still like to have an approachable Jesus. The problem we have, of course, is that the Bible doesn't have the authority it had in the past, and ancient history is not a subject that most modern persons are all that interested in. So, they feel free to reinvent Jesus in their own image, or in the image of the latest theory that comes down the pike. And part of that, too, has to do with our cultural dynamic. Just take a look at the way the news works: the newest is the truest, and the latest is the greatest.
For the rest of the interview, listen to this week's broadcast!
April 1, 2007 Commentary:
Right now we're talking about Scripture, and in this program, biblical ignorance. We need to establish, first of all, the problem that we're trying to address, and biblical ignorance certainly is a problem that a lot of people have pointed to from across the theological spectrum. This is not a difficult point to establish—you look at Gallup polls, Gallup polls, a whole host of surveys--across the board you have a common recognition that people being raised in "Bible-believing evangelical churches" do not know what they believe or why they believe it, don't know even the basic plotline of Scripture, the names of the apostles, the Ten Commandments...