Book review: The Sufficiency of Scripture
The Sufficiency of Scripture.
Banner of Truth, 1988, Hardcover, 310 pages.
I was delighted when Dr Noel Weeks book came into my hands. Weeks believes that the debate about the Bible has shifted its centre of gravity in recent years. The tendency has been to restrict biblical infallibility to religious questions only, by saying that the Bible is not a textbook of science or history. Weeks maintains that the ‘older distinctions between fundamentalist and modernist, evangelical and liberal, have become obsolete as more subtle distinctions have emerged.’ He maintains that ‘The person who feels free to question the infallibility of the Bible in matters of science or history, or even of ethics, might still desire to be called an evangelical. He may claim a concern to bring men to see their need of Christ as Saviour and Lord.’
I wholeheartedly agree with Weeks’ evaluation. I believe he is dealing with probably the most important controversy in Christianity today. Does the Christian accept the whole Scripture in toto, as a ‘package deal’, or reject bits of it? On this depends his understanding of the Gospel (was there death before Adam sinned, as theistic evolutionists maintain, or not, as Paul states? Weeks quotes Romans 5:12 and other passages in confirmation of the latter view). On the Christian’s understanding of the sufficiency of Scripture also depend such practical matters as his view on homosexuality or the role of women in the Church.
The book is divided into two parts:
Part Two is concerned with the creation account, slavery, homosexuality, divorce, love, dealing with a heretic, the Church and State, and much more. Part Two is valuable for reference. The section on women in the Church, for example, is first-class. As Weeks points out, you can maintain that Paul was biased by his local culture, or what you will, but ultimately his views (under the Holy Spirit) are founded on the creation account of the birth of Eve. You have to take it or leave it.
In the section on basic issues (Part One), Weeks shows that the Bible claims to be the Christian, indeed the universal, authority, able to furnish man for ‘every good work’ (II Timothy 3:17). But how can it be authoritative if it leaves much out? If there is even the possibility that it might be in error in scientific or historical matters, how can we be sure that it is trustworthy in religious/historical matters such as Christ’s Virgin Birth or his Resurrection? Or, again, why should we follow its teaching on, say, divorce? Dr Weeks counters this frequently advanced argument by maintaining that while the Bible is authoritative, it is not exhaustive. To be exhaustive it would be so voluminous as to be impossible to print. It would have to contain all knowledge, applicable to all possible events in all cultures.
Scripture does not attempt to give all scientific/historical/moral/ethical answers. But it does address these and other topics sufficiently for the will of God for man to be discerned.
This book has a message which is important and highly relevant to our time. It holds the key to what Schaeffer called ‘The Great Evangelical Disaster’, the departure from reliance on the Word of God. It deserves to be widely read.