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Sixth and Final Report of the SBC Funding Study
The Fifth and Final Report of the SBC
Stand For Marriage
Final Report of Ad Hoc CP Committee
Final Report of Ad Hoc CP Committee (Appendices)
Cooperative Program Advance Plan
Fourth Report of the SBC Funding Study Committee
Review of NOBTS's Sole Membership Charter Amend.
Response to reservations about sole membership
Reservations Concerning a Charter Amendment Prop.
Sole Membership - A Florida Laymanís Perspecti
A Letter to Dr. Denton Lotz
Letter from Albert W. Wardin
The Relation of the SBC to its Entities
SBC Funding Study - State of Giving
What is Sole Membership?
Sole Membership
Letter to Missouri Churches
Questions and Answers
Behind the Scenes at the SBC
Response by Morris H. Chapman to the BGCT
Does It Matter What Missionaries Believe?
Letter to the Baptist Standard
On Facts and Fallacies
Letter by SBC EC President to Dr. James L. Hill
A View from the Other Side
Carter's rift with SBC not a new development
SBTS Response to BGCT Seminary Study Committee
Response to BGCT Seminary Study Committee Report
SBTS Response to BGCT Seminary Study Committee
Exec. Comm. Interacts with BGCT Funding Proposal
The Pastor's Point of View on the BGCT
Feasibility Study for Name Change
Report of the SBC Peace Committee
Doctrine, Cooperation, and Association
Report to the Fellowship of Deacons
Too High a View of Scripture?
The Truth about the SBC and Texas
Christ, The Bible, and Human Experience
Bibliolatry ó A Fraudulent Accusation
BFM - Still Thoroughly Baptist!
Texas First, Texas Only - Not the Spirit
Anti-SBC Leaders Threaten Cooperative Program
Southern Baptists and Women Pastors
The Root of the SBC Controversy
Your Church Reaching the World for Christ
Together We're Carrying Out the Great Commission
Doctrinal integrity paramount for Serminary
Have Baptists replaced Jesus with a book?
Why theology matters for the Great Commission task
A survey of the 2000 BFM
Baptists, the Bible and confessions
Southern Seminary and the Abstract of Principles
An Open Letter to Southern Baptists
A Statement About the Baptist Faith & Message
An Example of the Need to Change The BFM
Incredible Vanishing Corporations
Committee on Cooperation - Report and Findings
An Open Letter from Dr. Allen to Dr. Wade
Why Cooperate?
The Southern Baptist Convention is Alive and Well
Letter by SBCEC President to TX Church Leaders
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"There should be an 'Abstract of Principles', or careful statement of theological belief, which every professor in such an institution must sign when inaugurated, so as to guard against the rise of erroneous and injurious instruction in such a seat of sacred learning."

James P. Boyce
from "Three Changes in
Theological Institutions"
- summarized by John Broadus, 1856



Too High a View of Scripture?
by Ray Van Neste

In recent days the charge of 'bibliolatry' has often been hurled at the drafters and supporters of the revised BF&M.  The falsity of the claim that the formulation here exalts Scripture over Christ has been handily exposed elsewhere.  My concern here is with this general charge which comes up from time to time: that inerrantists in general have too high a view of Scripture, i.e. that we are guilty of bibliolatry.

The first question that always comes to my mind (which I always pose to those who bring this charge to me in person), is 'Have you ever really encountered an actual pastoral problem where the people had too high a view of Scripture?'  I certainly have not.  Never in my pastoral experience have I been burdened with the need to go into the pulpit and admonish my people to calm down in their affection for the Bible, to pull back from so much study of it, or to stop talking about it so much, lest perhaps people think we worshipped it.  Of course not!  Rather the problem I have seen in the pastorate is precisely the opposite- people failing to take seriously the teaching of Scripture when it cuts across their plans or current cultural norms, failing to esteem the Scripture enough to read it daily, etc.  Where then is this menacing ogre of bibliolatry which threatens to damage the churches?  Is he real or simply a 'boogey man' invented to scare people?  I must confess to doubting his existence as I have yet to see him.

Of course there have always been some people who do strange things with the Scriptures but the problem in those cases is not having too high a view of Scripture but in failing to understand it properly.  A high view of Scripture doesn't negate the need to interpret it properly as some suggest.  Rather, if one esteems and prizes something, one will study with all the more zeal and care.  We who have a high view of Scriptures often are and should be the ones giving the most diligence to Bible Study because we believe these are the very words of God and therefore we want to know what they mean.

Allow me to ask another question.  Why then are we guilty of having too high a view of Scripture?  Is it because we speak in lofty terms of Scripture, even speaking of loving, delighting in, devotedly adhering to the Scriptures?  If you define that as bibliolatry then count me in.  Fix a label for me and plant it firmly on my back.  I love the Bible, delight in it, rejoice in it, cling to it, and esteem it.  And all of this is entirely right as it is the words of God Himself given as a gift to his beloved people and as such is the only reliable witness to him we have and is the foundation for our contact with Him.  Is it not right for the beloved to cherish a gift from the Lover?  It is in this book that we see the image of Christ.  To fail to esteem and cherish the Bible then would be a slap in God's face.

In esteeming the Scripture this way we simply follow in the path of the saints of old, indeed of the Scripture writers themselves.  Many historical examples could be cited, but the most important example is the testimony of Scripture itself. Take Psalm 119.  In this psalm the psalmist rhapsodizes about his delight in (vv.16, 24, 35, 47, 70, 77, 92, 143, 174) and love for (vv. 47, 48, 97, 113, 119, 127, 159, 163, 167) God's word.  He rejoices in God's word (v.162) because they are the joy of his heart (v.111) and because he loves them 'exceedingly' (v.167).  Indeed he stands in awe of God's word (v.161).   Charles Bridges, the great 19th century English pastor whose exposition of Psalm 119 went through 24 editions before his death, commented on this awe of Scripture in Psalm 119:61 saying that the spirit of adoption produces an awe of God.  'And this awe of God will naturally extend to his word; so that we shall be more tenderly afraid of disregarding its dictates, than the most faithful subject of breaking the law of his beloved Sovereign.' He goes on to say, 'But what must be the state of that heart, where the word of the great God- the Creator and Judge of the earth- commands no reverence!'  Then Bridges urges:

    'that we receive it with silent awe, bow before it with the most unlimited subjection, and yield ourselves entirely to its influence.  But if it does not stand infinitely higher in our estimation than all- even the best- books of man, we have no just perception of its value, nor can we expect any communication of its treasures to our hearts.  The holiness of God is stamped upon its every sentence.  Let us then cherish an awe of his word- "receiving it"- not as a common book, "not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God" (1 Thess. ii. 13).'

His pastoral exhortation is timely for Southern Baptists.

The psalmist then uses lofty terms in his admiration of Scripture, similar to how he elsewhere speaks of his response to God. Perhaps the strongest statement comes in verse 48 where the psalmist writes:

    'And I shall lift up my hands to Thy commandments, Which I love; And I will meditate on Thy statutes.'

This lifting of the hands is a common expression for worship in the Old Testament, and here scholars basically agree it refers to either intense longing or deep reverent regard.  I wonder how the detractors of the new BF&M would respond to this statement- especially if someone simply stated it without making it clear it was a quote from Scripture.

Does the psalmist have too high a view of Scripture?  As for me, I will gladly side with the psalmist and the testimony of Scripture to itself against any who would claim to know better.

Ray Van Neste is an ordained Southern Baptist minister currently working on a Ph.D in New Testament at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.

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