Tuesday, February 22, 2011

In Defense of Biblical Authority

As a Christian apologist, I am often asked if my job is to defend what Christians believe. Actually, not so. This is because there is no single set of beliefs that all 2 billion Christians share. My task is to affirm, as the starting point, the Bible that we have today, as primary authority for the life of the Church. 

But before I can even do that, I have to acknowledge that the Christian traditions around the world use slightly different collections of books to mean the 'Bible.' They range from 66 to 84 canonical books. 

Since the Protestant Bible is the smallest collection (66), it is the only complete collection that every Christian tradition agrees with. This is why ACT's Project Timothy focusses on the Protestant Biblical canon of 66 books. 

I am tasked with explaining what these 66 books mean in its original contexts and what they may mean to us today. Then and only then can we begin to speak of defending the authority of the Bible. By this I mean that we consider the geohistorical, literary, philosophical and scientific influences of each writing with integrity to more responsibly understand what each writer meant when they wrote the books. 

Today, with great advances in learning, especially in the fields of geology, history, philosophy, literature, and the natural sciences, every Christian bears the responsibility to proclaim God's Word with clarity and integrity. 

We are not to hide behind dogma or feel threatened by fresh insights that expose any of our misinformed understanding. Instead, we should delight in the gifts of God for each new generation of thinkers who can help us understand more and preachers who can teach with conviction and passion.

This is apologetics at its best - the passionate commitment to a convictional confession of faith.

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