NEW HARVEST’S POSITION ON THE AUTHORITY OF SCRIPTURE
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When discussing religious/spiritual matters it’s important to be able to determine the basis on which religious/spiritual experiences or beliefs are judged to be normative. Without such an external, authoritative basis it becomes impossible to assess personal experiences or religious statements as being valid or true, as each person would be establishing their own norms based on their own experiences or favourite spiritual leader. We at New Harvest give that authority to the Bible for the following reasons:
- The Bible gives us insight into the way many people have experienced God over a period of thousands of years. There is no other book available which does that.
- The Bible cross references itself. The authors of different books in the Bible quote and refer to earlier biblical books, treating them as normative and authoritative.
- In the gospels we find Jesus quoting passages from the Old Testament and handling them as the basis for the message He was proclaiming. He treated scripture in a way which indicates that He accepted the divine inspiration and authority of the Bible.
- The writers of the gospels regularly refer to Jesus as being the fulfilment of prophesies in the Old Testament, indicating that for them these scriptures are authoritative.
- We have found that our own spiritual experiences are echoes of the experiences of the people in the New Testament, which enables us to trust their insights into the nature of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and to take seriously their teaching on the Christian lifestyle.
- The Bible has stood the test of time. Over the centuries people have tried to eradicate it, edit it, or in one way or another invalidate it. But it’s still here, all 66 books, being used by Christians throughout the world as the basis for establishing a true understanding of the nature of God, His Kingdom, the way of salvation and the Christian lifestyle.
We are fully aware that the authority of Scripture is challenged by secular society. People find it hard to give authority to a Book whose historical, archaeological, scientific and supernatural content they question. We ourselves have come to give the Bible authority, not because all these issues have been conclusively resolved for us, but because we have encountered the resurrected Jesus. Out of our faith experience we have returned to a Book perhaps once ignored and found truth revealed. For this reason we believe that the authority of Scripture cannot be established through debate or scientific method, but comes to us through revelation.
Thus, in handling non-Christians we need to be sensitive to their questions but focus on leading them into a spiritual encounter rather than on attempting to resolve all their intellectual objections. These days many folk don’t know what’s in the Bible – even the gospel stories we take for granted – and we will need to inform them of it’s content, but we should not expect to convince them of it’s authority. We should seek rather to introduce them to the resurrected Jesus, and trust that their growing relationship with Him will lead them to a personal conviction of the authority of Scripture.