Quest. 12: What is meant by the “inerrancy” of Scripture?
Ans: The “inerrancy” of Scripture means that the Scriptures are free from error and wholly true in every respect.
Jn. 17:17. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
Also see: 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:20–21.
Because the Bible is the inspired and authoritative Word of God, it is infallible and inerrant. The term “inerrancy” [without and incapable of error] dates from the nineteenth century when the trustworthiness of the Scriptures in historical and scientific matters was questioned. This term was added to the term “infallibility” as a further test of orthodoxy.
Some have tried to satisfy the charges of rationalistic biblical criticism and modern science and at the same time seem orthodox by attempting to hold to a “salvific” inerrancy [that the Scriptures are only true and trustworthy as they pertain to the truth of salvation, while alleging that they do contain historical and scientific errors]. This view is nothing more than a relativistic view of Scripture—a subtle accommodation to unbelief—and is in itself an inherent denial of inerrancy. If the Scriptures contained any error, such would be a reflection upon the veracity of God. He either could not or would not give us his Word without error.
Quest. 11: What is meant by the “infallibility” of Scripture?
Ans: The “infallibility” of Scripture means that Scripture as the very Word of God is incapable of error and therefore fully trustworthy and free from deception.
Jn. 17:17. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
Lk. 24:44. And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.
See also: Tit. 1:2; Heb. 6:13–18.
Infallibility means incapable of error and free from deception. Because the Scripture is the very Word of God, it is necessarily infallible. Infallibility necessarily follows from Divine inspiration. The Word of God reflects the attributes of its Divine Author as to its veracity or trustworthiness.
The term “infallibility” also means “unfailing” or “certain.” The Word of God is infallible in the sense that everything revealed or predicted in Scripture will certainly come to pass in the eternal purpose of God (Isa. 46:9–11; Eph. 1:3–11; Phil. 2:9–11; 2 Pet. 3:7–13). Further, God’s Word sent forth will not return void of result, but will accomplish the Divine purpose (Isa. 55:10–11). The infallibility of Scripture is foundational to every promise and prophecy God has given.
The Eastern or Greek Orthodox Church holds that infallibility rests in the Councils of the Church. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that infallibility rests with the Pope [papal infallibility in matters of faith]. Biblical Christianity holds that infallibility rests with the Scriptures alone [sola scriptura]. One can easily see how closely the authority and infallibility of Scripture are related. Do we hold to the infallibility of Scripture in a practical sense? Do we trust God’s promises? Do we heed his warnings?
Quest. 10: What is meant by the “authority” of Scripture?
Ans: The “authority” of Scripture is the rule or government the Bible is to have over our total lives as the very Word of God.
Matt. 4:4. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
2 Tim. 3:16–17. 16All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
See also: 2 Cor. 10:4–5; Heb. 1:1–2; 1 Pet. 3:15; 2 Pet. 1:20–21.
The term “authority” derives from the Latin auctor, “originator” or “author.” The authority of Scripture derives from the self–disclosing or self–revealing triune God of Scripture. The Bible is the authoritative Word of God because it is just that—the very Word of God inscripturated. Man as the image–bearer of God is Divinely and instinctively preconditioned to receive authoritative Divine revelation both in creation [natural revelation] and in God’s Word [special revelation] (Psa. 19:1–6; Jn. 14:6; Rom. 1:18–20; Col. 2:3; 1 Thess. 2:13; 2 Tim. 3:16–17; 2 Pet. 1:20–21). Both are sufficient to hold him inexcusable (Rom. 1:18–20; 2:11–16; 2 Pet. 3:3–5). The Scriptures are self–authenticating or self–attesting, i.e., they witness to themselves by virtue of their coherency [non–contradictory nature], the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ, the witness and power of the Holy Spirit and their power to transform lives. See Questions 14 and 136.
The authority of Scripture is necessary. Man needs special revelation [a direct and authoritative word from God] to lead him to truly and rightly know God, be reconciled to him and live in the context of his revealed will. The authority of Scripture is comprehensive. It encompasses the whole of life and reality. The authority of Scripture is executive. The Word of God comes to us as mandate or command—his “Law–Word”—not merely suggestion or information—we must read, study, submit and conform to it as such. The authority of Scripture is legislative. It is to be our rule of both faith and practice. The authority of Scripture is judicial. It is the ultimate and absolute standard of what is right or wrong, revealing the moral self–consistency of God. The authority of Scripture is perpetual. It is never “old fashioned” to believe and obey the Bible. “It is written” means “It stands written with full and undiminishing authority.” See Question 1. The authority of Scripture is ultimate. Because the Scriptures derive from God himself, there is no other criterion or authority to which they can be subjected or by which they may be judged. Thus, using the facts of history, science or various arguments to credential Scripture is inherently to give such evidence more authority than the Scripture itself. See Question 136.
There is an essential and primary matter which ought to be addressed concerning biblical authority. In a meaningful exchange [an intelligent conversation at the presuppositional level, i.e., a conversation in which one speaks from his basic assumptions, expressing his faith and world–and–life view. See Questions 120 and 136] when the believer is asked by an unbeliever why he believes and holds the Bible to be the very Word of God, he answers, “Because the Bible declares itself to be the Word of God, and this assertion is evidenced by the witness of Scripture to itself.” To this, his respondent may retort, “That is ‘circular reasoning,’ and thus, it is invalid! Circular reasoning is a logical fallacy. It is begging the question!” [petitio principii. This occurs when one assumes in his premises what he is attempting to prove in his conclusion]. But when speaking or arguing in the context of ultimate issues, all human reasoning is broadly circular or presuppositional, and is necessarily faith–based.
In other words, all facts are interpreted by one’s presuppositions. This holds true for the Christian who acknowledges his faith–based presuppositions, and also for the non–believer who may deny this, and claims to rest in the alleged “neutrality of scientific facts.” All facts are created facts. There are no “brute” or “neutral” facts, and the unbeliever himself necessarily, though unadmittedly or unknowingly, assumes Christian Theistic principles and laws or he cannot argue “scientifically”! Indeed, unless one assumes an ordered universe established by given laws, no coherence is possible on which to ground any science. The laws presupposed by science are God’s laws. The question is, are one’s arguments consistent with his professed system. In this respect, the believer is consistent [non–contradictory or coherent] and the non–believer proves inconsistent. See Question 136. Is God’s Word authoritative in your life?
Quest. 9: What is meant by the “inspiration” of Scripture?
Ans: “Inspiration” is the work of God upon the hearts, minds and hands of men to give us the very Word of God in written form.
2 Tim. 3:16. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.
2 Pet. 1:20–21. 20Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
See also: Isa. 8:20; 1 Cor. 2:9–14; Heb. 1:1–3.
The term inspiration derives from the Lat. inspiro, “to breathe into,” referring to the human authors. The actual issue, however, is that the Scriptures themselves are “God–spirated,” i.e., God–breathed [theopneustos] (2 Tim. 3:16).
The great truth of Divine revelation is that God has spoken to men (Heb. 1:1–3). He has not only spoken to men, but he has spoken in understandable terms. The great truth of inspiration is that this revelation is preserved and protected as the very Word of God inscripturated. Inspiration is the supernatural influence exerted on the sacred writers by the Spirit of God, by virtue of which their writings are the very Word of God. Thus, Divine inspiration extends to the very writings themselves. Any view of Divine inspiration which does not pertain to the very text itself as inspired, is both inadequate and defective. Inspiration is thus both verbal [extending to the very words, and therefore to the nuances of grammar and syntax in the original languages] and plenary [full or equal throughout].
There is a distinct difference between a translation and a version. The plethora of modern versions makes this discussion necessary. A strict translation begins with the original language and, while expressing itself in another language, keeps as closely as possible to the text in the original language with its grammatical intricacies, syntax and idioms—even to the sacrifice of style. A version differs from a translation in that it is a version of a previous translation in a second language, uses the grammar, syntax and idioms of that second language and makes much greater allowances for smoothness of reading and expression of thought. In short, a translation holds more closely the original language while a version holds more closely to the second language. To the extent that a given translation or version expresses the thought and truth of the original language, such a translation or version is the authoritative Word of God. This necessarily takes into consideration the idiomatic expressions of a language, the incapacity of some secondary languages to express the fullness of the original, and a determined faithfulness to the grammar, syntax, context and theology of the text.
Many modern “versions” are wholly inadequate, as they are not based on any given text, but are in reality paraphrases, and some have actually changed the meaning of the text and so altered its doctrinal teaching. There is no substitute for a knowledge and study of the original languages.
The Divine inspiration of Scripture is the primary presupposition of Christianity. It is Divinely revealed religion and thus stands unique among the religions of the world. The Scriptures are then the pou sto [Lit: “a place where I may stand”] or point–of–reference for the Christian. Biblical Christianity is Christian Theism, i.e., the truth of the triune, self–disclosing God of Scripture. All subsequent faith [what is to be believed] and practice [how we are to live] derive from this truth. The Scriptures are thus our only rule of both faith and practice. How vitally important it is then both to know them and to correctly interpret them. Is Scripture your rule of faith and practice?
Quest. 8: What are the important terms concerning the Bible as the written Word of God?
Ans: The important terms concerning the Bible as the written Word of God are “inspiration,” “authority,” “infallibility,” “inerrancy,” “sufficiency,” “canonicity” and “illumination.”
If the Bible is the very Word of God preserved in written form [inscripturated]—and it is—then there are certain things that are necessarily true: The Bible is the inspired Word of God, not merely the work or words of men. Because the Bible is the very Word of God, it is authoritative—the very highest authority. As the very Word of God inscripturated, it is infallible—incapable of error and without deceit. As the inspired, authoritative, infallible Word of God inscripturated, it is necessarily inerrant or without error and wholly true in every respect. Because the Bible is the very Word of God and completely trustworthy in every respect, it is sufficient as our only rule of both faith [what we are to believe] and practice [how we are to live]. God has seen fit to authenticate and preserve certain books and no others. Together these form the canon or body of Divine truth we call “the Bible” or “the Scriptures.” The process by which only these certain books were duly recognized is called the canonization of Scripture.
The very nature of Divine inspiration, authority, infallibility and inerrancy necessarily determines the preservation of the Scriptures throughout the ages in the original languages as the very Word of God.
There are three further, important terms with which one ought to be familiar: exegesis, hermeneutics and application. Exegesis [to bring out the significance of the text (word meaning, grammar and syntax) in the original language] pertains to the reading of the text, i.e., it answers the question, “What does the text say?” Hermeneutics is the science of interpretation. It answers the question, “What does the text mean?” (Lk. 10:26). Application refers to the text of Scripture as it may be applied to a given situation: “How does or can this passage legitimately be applied to our modern era and situation?” Application derives from interpretation. A necessary distinction must be made between interpretation and application. If these are confused, then one may believe that the application is the interpretation, and thus be removed from truly understanding a given passage. Some preaching violates this principle and leads to misunderstanding and confusion.
The doctrinal study of the Scriptures is termed “Bibliology,” from the Gk. biblos, “book,” which is the first word in the Greek New Testament. In this day, when the Scriptures are assailed as to their Divine inspiration and authority, it must be understood that the Bible is our only objective truth; everything else is subjective and subject to misunderstanding or change.
Quest. 7: What is the Bible?
Ans: The Bible is the special revelation of God to man in written form.
2 Tim. 3:16–17. 16All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. 17That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
See also: Ex. 17:14; 24:12; 31:18; Lk. 24:25–27, 45–47; Jn. 5:45–47; Heb. 1:1–3; 2 Pet. 1:20–21; 3:15–16.
The word “Bible” derives from the Gk. word for “book.” It occurs as the first word of the Greek New Testament: “The book [biblos] of the generation of Jesus Christ...” (Matt. 1:1). It is from this occurrence that we have our English word “Bible,” which now refers to all of the written Word of God. The Bible is both a book and a library of sixty–six books which comprise the canon of Scripture. The Scriptures form a unified, non–contradictory [coherent] whole as the very Word of the living God inscripturated [preserved in written form].
The Bible is also known as “Scripture,” or “The Scriptures.” The word means “writings” [Gk. graphai] and refers especially to the Word of God in written form—the Word of God inscripturated and preserved for us. The formula found seventy–one times in the New Testament, “It is written,” means that it stands written with full and undiminishing authority.
The Christian life is comprised of two aspects, objective and subjective. The objective is revealed in the truth of Scripture as the standard of belief and conduct; the subjective aspect is our personal experience, which ought to derive from and reflect the objective aspect. Apart from Scripture, we would be left entirely with the subjective aspect. All would necessarily become relativistic (no final, authoritative word, except the strength of individual experience), empirical (all judgment would be based on experience alone), existential (completely subjective and tending toward irrationalism or emotionalism) and pragmatic (whatever seemed to work best would be right). Thus, the most emotional or mystical would be the most spiritual, and the strongest or most persistent personalities would determine the direction of Christianity. The only safeguard for such deviations is the inscripturated Word of God rightly understood and correctly interpreted (Psa. 119:105; Isa. 8:20; Jn. 17:17; 2 Tim. 2:15).
The end of all Bible study is doctrinal truth. One simply does not know the Scriptures until he consistently arrives at their doctrinal teaching, and conversely, no one knows Christian Doctrine as he should, unless he understands it biblically. It is the doctrinal teaching of Scripture that is to govern our thinking, guide our lives and rule over our emotions.
Some might object to an “intellectual” Christianity, preferring a more simplistic or “devotional” approach, not realizing that the devotional—if legitimate at all—must derive from the doctrinal, and the doctrinal from the hermeneutical, and the hermeneutical from the exegetical [exact reading of the text]. Many seem to want a “heart” and not a “head” religion, which often becomes a misplaced zeal without adequate knowledge. Irrationality is not spirituality, nor is feeling the proper basis for faith or practice. We must understand that ignorance of Divine truth, religious irrationalism, and an aversion to doctrine, serious study and learning, are neither Christian virtues nor characteristics to be emulated.
As God made man with both a heart and a brain, and made him upright with his brain above his heart, we prefer a necessary balance as reflecting the Divine design. Emotions are to be responsive to Divine truth, never causative. Did not the Apostle Paul write to one of his most beloved churches, “And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all discernment, in order that ye may approve on examination things which differ…” (Phil. 1:9–10) And to another assembly: “I….cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him…” (Eph. 1:15–17). And did not the Apostle Peter close his last epistle with the words, “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…” (2 Pet. 3:18)?
Why study the Bible? The following are the main correct reasons: to glorify God, to commune with Christ, to know the will of God, to be obedient to God, to grow toward spiritual maturity, to further our sanctification, to prepare for the ministry of the Word, to understand the purpose and retain the purity of the church, to edify others, to evangelize the unconverted, to intelligently defend the faith and to prepare for eternity. Are you a lover and student of the Bible?
Quest. 6: What is the importance of the Scriptures?
Ans: The Scriptures are necessary to truly know, serve, enjoy, and glorify God.
2 Tim. 3:16–17. 16All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
Matt. 4:4. But he [Jesus] answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
See also: Psa. 1:1–3; 19:7–14; 1 Cor. 10:31; 2 Tim. 3:15–17; 1 Jn. 5:13.
Apart from the Scriptures, our knowledge of God, ourselves and the world about us would be seriously, even fatally defective. Natural intuition, speculation and reason prove both insufficient and misleading because of the noetic effects of sin and natural disinclination toward God (Rom. 1:18–32; 8:7; 1 Cor. 2:14; Eph. 4:17–19). Religious experience, no matter how fervent or emotional, would be without a necessary stabilizing foundation in Divine revelation. We both need and have a direct, intelligent and sufficient word from God.
The opening statement of Scripture, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen. 1:1) is determining for all which follows throughout Divine, inscripturated revelation. This statement is presuppositional concerning the existence of God, his absolute sovereignty, the eternal Creator–creature relation and distinction, and the truth that every fact is a created fact, i.e., there are no “brute” [undefined or uncreated] facts in the universe. See Question 30.
Because man is made in the image and likeness of God, he can only truly know himself by beginning with a study of God. God can only truly and adequately be known as he has been pleased to reveal himself in his inscripturated Word. Thus, the Scriptures reveal to us who God is, who we are, what occurred in the Fall, how we are to be reconciled to him, live for him and anticipate being forever with him. The Scriptures reveal all that is necessary for us to live godly in this life and to prepare for eternity. Thus, Scripture is to be our sole rule of both faith [what we believe] and practice [how we are to live]. From the Word of God we are to find and implement a Christian Theistic world–and–life view or biblical and comprehensive philosophy of life which is godly and consistent. See Questions 120–123. Are you reconciled to the God who has revealed himself in his Word? Do you seek to align your life to His truth?
Quest. 5: What are the two types of Divine revelation that God has given to us that we may know him?
Quest. 5: What are the two types of Divine revelation that God has given to us that we may know him?
Ans: God has given to us both general revelation and special revelation.
Matt. 4:4. But he [Jesus] answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
Gen. 2:16–17. 16And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
See also: Gen. 1:28–29; Psa. 19:1–14; Rom. 1:18–20; Heb. 1:1–3.
General revelation includes the light of nature, creation and the works of providence. Special revelation is spoken directly from God for us to understand. Man was neither meant to live apart from nor has ever been without a direct and understandable Word from God. Even unfallen Adam in the Garden of Eden had a direct Word from God to govern his life and actions (Gen. 2:15–17). No one can simply and fully understand the truth of God from nature (Rom. 1:18–20) or from his own thinking or feelings. Natural revelation is insufficient of itself, although it is sufficient to leave man inexcusable as to the reality and power of God. Philosophy begins with man and his search for the ultimate; Scripture is a direct revelation from God. Conscience alone is not a safe or infallible guide, as man is a sinful, fallen being (Acts 26:9; Rom. 1:18–32). The conscience must be subject to the Word and Spirit of God (Rom. 9:1). See Question 10.
Man was created “to think God’s thoughts after him,” i.e., to give the same meaning to everything which God had given to it. This was necessary because man was a creature and was placed in a world which had already been created and defined by God. Man was created and continues as a creature of faith because the source of truth and knowledge remains external to himself. Even those who do not acknowledge God or his Word are creatures of faith; this is unavoidable. Man by nature must believe. He must believe in someone or something. At the very root of his being, every person is a creature of faith, and presupposes or assumes such when he seeks to interpret any fact or to reason about any issue. Behind rationalism, empiricism [the modern scientific method] or intuition, man still posits his approach by faith in something or someone. He remains by nature a presuppositionalist.
The Word that God has given to man is intelligent, comprehensible and perpetual. God gave his Word to be understood and obeyed. His Word stands forever—it never diminishes in its authority. Although God gave his Word thousands of years ago, it is as full and authoritative as though he has just spoken it. Note the words, “It is written,” when the New Testament refers to the Old Testament Scriptures. The inscripturated Word of God stands forever with full authority. Do you know God through both natural and special revelation?
Quest. 4: How may we know God?
Ans: We may know God only as he has been pleased to reveal himself to us.
Job 11:7. Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection?
Psa. 19:1–3. 1The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. 2Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. 3There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.
Acts 17:27–28. 27That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: 28For in him we live, and move, and have our being...
See also: Gen. 1:1; Jn. 1:9, 18; Rom. 1:18–25; 2:14–16; Col. 2: 9; 1 Tim. 3:16; Heb.1:1–3.
God is our Creator; we are his creatures. The Scriptures are careful to maintain this Creator–creature distinction and relation. Therefore we can only know him as he is pleased to reveal himself to us. He is infinite; we are finite. He is absolute [self–existent and without any external limitations]; we are relative [dependent upon God and outward circumstances for our existence and meaning]. We are not only limited by our creatureliness, but also by the intellectual consequences [noetic effects] of sin (Rom. 1:18–25; 1 Cor. 2:14).
God has revealed himself to us in various ways. These ways are progressive in nature and history: first, God has revealed himself to us through the light of nature. Man is the image–bearer of God, and possesses an instinct for the Divine. The noetic effects of sin have dulled and distorted this. Man by nature is incurably religious, but lacks both the ability and motivation to seek God aright (Acts 17:22–31). He is “epistemologically bankrupt,” i.e., sinfully futile in his incapacitated reasoning and suppresses what truth he does know, as his inner being is “darkened” (Rom. 1:18–25; Eph. 4:17–19). Second, God has revealed himself in and through his creation to the extent that fallen man is inexcusable, although he suppresses this witness (Rom. 1:18–20). See Question 10. Third, God has revealed himself through his providential dealings in history, but man interprets such superstitiously from his own presuppositions in terms of chance, fate or luck, not giving glory to God (Rom. 1:21–25; 2 Pet. 3:3–6). See Question 35. Fourth, God has revealed himself through his Word. This revelation has been inscripturated and preserved (Jn. 17:17; 1 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:20–21). It remains for all time as a witness to God’s nature, character, purpose and veracity. In the Scriptures alone is the message of salvation and reconciliation. Finally, God has revealed himself in and through the Lord Jesus Christ, his eternal Son and the only Redeemer (Jn. 1:14, 18; Phil. 2:5–11; 1 Tim. 3:16; Heb. 1:1–4). See Questions 25, 70–75.
It is through the Scriptures that we may know God, ourselves, understand the world about us, and have a definite and authoritative revelation concerning salvation from sin, righteous living, human history and our own destiny. Do you know him? Do you know him and yourself as revealed in his Word? Do you know him savingly in the Lord Jesus?
Quest. 3: Who is the one great Object of our knowledge, worship and enjoyment?
Ans: The one great Object of our knowledge, worship and enjoyment is the triune, self–revealing God of Scripture.
Psa 29:2. Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.
Psa. 73:25–26. 25Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. 26My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.
Psa. 96:9. O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth.
Prov. 1:7. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Prov. 9:10. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.
Jn. 17:3. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
1 Cor. 10:31. Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
See also: Rom. 1:18–32; 11:33–36; Acts 17:27; Eph. 4:17–19.
There are various approaches to the belief or disbelief in God. No belief–system is simply neutral; each carries with it necessary theological, moral and ethical implications. These implications have been and are seen throughout the history of mankind and in its various cultures and societies. Every religion, therefore, has a corresponding world–and–life view.
Theism is the belief in a god or gods. Atheism is the disbelief in God or gods. Atheism, as held by modern, secularized man, presupposes evolution, chance and fate. Deism is the rationalistic idea that God is an absolute personal being and creator of the universe, but that he has neither revealed himself nor is involved in the events of nature, history or the human drama. Thus, man need not fear God or retribution. Polytheism is the belief in many gods. Polytheism cannot bring all the Divine characteristics into one being. Skepticism, denying Divine revelation, believes that reason cannot prove the existence of God. Pantheism holds that God is identical with creation. It is the denial of the personality of God, and thus of any accountability to God. Panentheism provides a philosophical basis for open theism or Process Theology. God is identified with the universe, but he is more than the universe. He is the eternal mind of which the universe is the body, as it were. Both God and the universe are in the process of expanding; the future is unknown. Religious Pluralism, characteristic of postmodern philosophy, is the idea that all religions have some good, and men may have a meaningful relationship with God through various religious paths. These various views all lack a definitive, revealed source, a self–attesting Divine revelation—and thus a sufficient epistemological base [source of truth and knowledge].
Biblical Christianity is not merely theistic, i.e., it does not simply believe in the existence of a God. Biblical Christianity holds to Christian Theism, which necessarily means the triune, self–disclosing God who has revealed himself in creation, providence, history, his inscripturated Word and in the Lord Jesus Christ. Only Christian Theism possesses the sufficient basis, as revealed religion, to provide a coherent system of truth, theology, creation, history, morality and ethics—an inclusive world–and–life view. See Questions 120–123. Christian Theism as a belief–system holds that the triune God has revealed himself, that he is the one Great Object of knowledge, and that having a right relationship to him through the Person and work of his Son leads to the highest meaning and fulfillment.
The triune, self–disclosing God of Scripture is the source of all true knowledge. Man, as a created being, must find the source of truth and knowledge outside himself. Thus, man is by necessity a creature of faith. Although modern man would fain consider himself to be scientific and empirical in his epistemology [science of knowledge and truth–claims], he is necessarily brought to a principle of faith, and therefore a presuppositional stance for what he considers to be true and truth. As the image–bearer of God, man must find meaning—truth and knowledge—in his Creator. See Questions 31, 120 and 121. For man to truly know himself, he must, as the image–bearer of God, begin with God.
God is the Creator, Sustainer and Governor of the created universe, and his laws reign in every sphere—spiritual, moral and physical (Rom. 11:36). To know God is to possess true knowledge; to suppress the knowledge of God is to deny the possibility of truth, knowledge and reality. To have a right relationship with God in the context of his Law–Word, i.e., to be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ by faith, is to truly know him and thus to possess the only correct and consistent basis for truly understanding anything or all things. To have a right relationship to God through the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ is to find forgiveness, reconciliation, peace and communion—and thus communion with and enjoyment in God (Rom. 3:21–26; 5:1–2; 1 Jn. 1:3–7).
For believers, the inscripturated Word of God constitutes our sole rule of both faith and practice. Under the sovereign Lordship of Jesus Christ (Matt. 28:18; Acts 2:36), this Word is to govern every sphere of life—the spiritual, religious, moral, ethical, social, political and physical realms. Jesus Christ is the sovereign Lord of this universe and his Word is the believer’s law. The totalitarian claims of Christ Jesus as sovereign Lord must be believed, loved, joyfully obeyed, declared and defended in every sphere of human existence.
As The Lord God is Creator, Possessor and Sovereign Ruler of heaven and earth, as every fact is a created fact and as we are to do all for the glory of God, there is nothing which is secular; all is ultimately sacred. Thus, everything in our thinking, speaking and acting is ultimately a form of worship—or ought to be. Formal worship, either private or public, must reflect the character of God; it is to be holy, righteous, reverent, joyful and God–honoring i.e., worship must be theocentric [God–centered] and not anthropocentric [man–centered]. True worship is to be regulated by the Word of God, not the innovation of man. Worship and entertainment are mutually exclusive. Much of contemporary “worship” is neither worthy of the name nor glorifying to the God of Scripture. See Questions 144 and 151.
True spirituality is essentially intellectual, as one must apprehend and come to terms with the inscripturated truth of God in order to comply with the gospel and consistently apply this truth to the life and experience. There is no place for an irrational religion. An intelligent faith, which is grounded in Scripture, gives the proper and sufficient basis to feeling. Truth and the emotions are inherently related. The former is to serve as the basis for the latter or religion would become irrational and inconsistent. See Question 7. Do you know God? Do you enjoy him as he has revealed himself to you in his Word? Is your worship God–honoring? Does it reflect his holy, righteous character?
By Dr. W.R. Downing