Paul urged Timothy to "Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers" (1 Timothy 4:16). How does one do this without constant reference to what is written?
Second, in his earlier message, Pastor Stanley said that the problem with "the Bible says it, that settles it" approach to the faith is that, "if the Bible goes, so goes our faith."
Indeed, he stated, "If the Bible is the foundation of your faith, here's the problem: it is all or nothing. Christianity becomes a fragile, house of cards religion."
Unfortunately, he declares, "it is next to impossible to defend the entire Bible."
But that brings us full circle, since, regardless of what came first (meaning, whether you came to know Jesus as Savior and then realized the Bible was God's Word or whether you were taught God's Word as a result of which you came to know Jesus as Savior), we still find ourselves with the same dilemma, namely, if the Bible is not reliable in what it affirms to be true, then it is not reliable.
Surely Pastor Stanley recognizes the need for solid apologetics in this age of increasing attack on God's Word, and so in the end, if he and his team are unable to "defend the entire Bible," the faith of many will be lost.
Third, the contemporary attack on Scripture is not simply an attack on the scientific accuracy or historical veracity of the Bible. It is an attack on the character of God, an attack on His standards and His morals. If we fail to respond to these attacks with love and with truth, with grace and with conviction, we will not be able to make real disciples.
Instead, believers will continue to be moved by the moral relativism of today's society, judging the Scriptures by their opinions and feelings rather than judging their opinions and feelings by the Scriptures. I am, therefore, concerned with anything that might potentially undermine the authority of Scripture in the hearts and minds of God's people.
Fourth, writing in support of Pastor Stanley, Prof. McKnight states that, "Before the apostles, during the period of the apostles, and before there were written records, before the Gospels were written, during the time of the apostles writing and yet before there was anything like a canon or what we now call the New Testament … before this and during this … the gospel was alive and well, and the gospel was being preached and taught, and people were being saved. Salvation depends entirely on the truth of the gospel."
Now, Prof. McKnight is a brilliant scholar and will surely have a response to my concern here, but it's important to remember that the first disciples, all Jews, relied on the authority of the Scriptures (what we call the Old Testament today), with Peter stating that, although he and two of his colleagues saw the Lord transfigured, "we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts" (2 Peter 1:19).
These Jewish men knew that the creation accounts and the flood account and promises to the patriarchs were true because God acted in history in the exodus and spoke to the nation at Sinai, giving the nation the Torah and confirming what came before. All the prophets who came after this had to affirm what was written in the Torah, after which the Messiah came, pointing both to His miracles and to what was written. And so the Scriptures affirmed Him and He affirmed the Scriptures.
Also, within a short time of the Lord's death and resurrection, oral traditions were circulating that later became part of the Gospels, and so it is somewhat misleading to state that people were being saved and discipled without the Scriptures.
Fifth, and finally, the gospel remains the power of God to salvation (Romans 1:8), and as one missionary evangelist once stated, "the power is in the proclamation."
While I am all for looking for the best methods with which to accomplish the Great Commission — which is certainly Pastor Stanley's heart — I fear that we have lost faith in the power of the gospel message, proclaimed as truth rather than defended or even explained.
It is amazing to see how God saves and heals and delivers lost sinners around the world, people from every cultural and religious background, through the simple declaration of the gospel.
As Paul wrote, "For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God" (1 Corinthians 1:22-24).
May we never lose sight of this.
Let the discussion continue!