In a dark world, God has given us light to lead us safely home. How wonderful to read those beloved words of Psalm 119, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Ps. 119:105, ESV). We do not have to navigate these shadowlands on our own. God has spoken. We have His Word: His Word written, the Scriptures, the Holy Bible; and His Word Incarnate, Jesus Christ, to whom the Scriptures testify.
But how tragically unsurprising to read in the extremely liberal Baptist News Global’s lineup this opinion by Terry Austin, “Jesus, not the Bible, is ‘the Word of God.’”
One of the foundational elements of ‘Christian’ liberal theology is the effort to undermine the trustworthiness and authority of Scripture. The Scripture clearly teaches things that are at variance with their beliefs, but rather than conform their beliefs to Scripture, they put themselves above the Word of God; and, one of the simplest ways to do that, is to deny that the Bible is the Word of God.
Austin’s approach is particularly bizarre, and therefore more interesting than I expected. The Bible itself clearly shows a range of meanings to ‘God’s word’ or something similar: Jesus, Scripture, a particular prophetic revelation, and so on. Rather than ignore this and simply insist that only Jesus should be called the Word of God, Austin meets the Scriptures head-on, and suggests that every such reference should be reinterpreted as referring to Jesus.
His forthrightness in meeting the Scriptures that stand directly against his thesis (that only Jesus is the Word of God) should be commended. The way he meets the passages should not, inasmuch as it is absurd. Even the handful of references he cites show how problematic his approach becomes; with Luke 11:28, this way of mishandling Scripture ends up de-personalizing the Son of God, reducing Jesus to an ‘it.’
On such a flawed foundation, Austin builds his case against the authority of Scripture, to the conclusion (repeated variously), “Rather than being God’s Word to humans, the Bible is human words about God.” Now, if Austin really accepts the biblical testimony to Christ, then he admits some degree of revelation, but only a small portion of it. In any case, he has denied the fullness of God’s Word to this lost world.
The worldview conflict between Christianity and secular pluralism is, on one level, a dispute over the matter of revelation: has God revealed Himself? Has God spoken? If God has spoken, then we can know the truth and cut through the lies that threaten us.
God has spoken. We have been given the truth, God’s Word to light our way. We can know who God is (the Triune Lord of All), who we are (His creatures, made in His image), what’s wrong with the world (the Fall), the divine solution (the gospel of Jesus Christ), and where this is all headed (the last judgment). Revelation gives us the key to ourselves, our world, and our only hope. It illuminates both the abstruse contemplations of the philosophers (what is real?) and the simplest matters that a society in revolt against God somehow forgets (what’s the difference between boys and girls?).
If we reject the light, we will lose ourselves in the darkness. But more on that to come.
God has spoken. His Word lights our path.
Jesus is Lord.