J. P. Moreland is a respected evangelical scholar and Christian apologist. Now he has roiled the Christian world by a paper he delivered at the recent Evangelical Theological Society conference entitled How Evangelicals Became Over-Committed to the Bible and What Can Be Done About It.
Dr. Moreland affirms the inerrancy and the authority of Scripture, but he is decrying the way conservative Protestants tend to make the Bible the ONLY source of spiritual and moral knowledge. He thinks Christians should also consider, for example, the natural law known by reason as being a legitimate source of truth; also extra-biblical evidence for demons; also other possible sources of revelation, such as dreams, visions, prophecies, and “words of knowledge.”
I know the kind of narrowness Dr. Moreland is referring to, but I deny that the problem is being “over-committed” to the Bible. I have found that the Bible opens up my mind–even blows my mind–rather than constricting it.
As a Lutheran Christian, I do believe in natural law, the proper use of reason, the authority of our confessional heritage, but I do so BECAUSE I believe them to be Biblical. As a Lutheran Christian, though, I deny that dream, visions, prophecies, and “words of knowledge” can be thought of as authoritative revelations from God. This is what our confessions condemn as “enthusiasm,” the source of every false religion.
As for the charge of “bibliolatry” that Dr. Moreland warns of, I am almost willing to admit to the charge. The Bible can never be honored enough. Do I worship a book? Well, I worship the God who is located in the book, so you might say that. The pagan believes that his deity is localized in his graven image. I believe that the true God is localized in His Word, namely, the incarnate Son of God. That same Word is manifest in human language, written down in ink and paper on the pages of the Bible and proclaimed in sound waves that travel through the air. I hold not to an image but to the Word, not to a word that I hear inside my head but to a Word outside myself.
The Word of God is God’s voice, His communication of Himself. The Word cannot be separated from Christ, the Incarnate Word, from the Father, who inspired it, and the Holy Spirit whom it conveys. The Word is sacramental, a physical, aural thing–no less physical than water, bread, and wine–that God employs to reach us and in which He is living and active.
Perhaps the source of some of the narrowness that Dr. Moreland complains about is that Christians today often neglect the sense in which the Word is a means of grace and not just a record of facts. But the problem is surely not being committed to the Bible nearly ENOUGH.
Read Dr. Moreland’s paper and tell me what you think.