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We are sometimes told that the final authority for us as Christians should be Christ and not the Scriptures. It is suggested that Christ would only have us accept the portions of Scripture that comport with his life and teaching, that certain aspects of biblical history, chronology, and cosmology need not bother us because Christ would not have us be bothered by them. The idea put forward by many liberal Christians and not a few self-proclaimed evangelicals is that if we are to worship Christ and not the Scriptures, we must let Christ stand apart from Scripture and above it.

“But who is this Christ, the Judge of Scripture?” Packer asks. “Not the Christ of the New Testament and of history. That Christ does not judge Scripture; He obeys it and fulfils it. By word and deed He endorses the authority of the whole of it.”[1]

Those with a high view of Scripture may be charged with idolatry for so deeply reverencing the word of God. But the accusation is laid at the wrong feet. “A Christ who permits His followers to set Him up as the Judge of Scripture, One by whom its authority must be confirmed before it becomes binding and by whose adverse sentence it is in places annulled, is a Christ of human imagination, made in the theologian’s own image, One whose attitude to Scripture is the opposite of that of the Christ of history. If the construction of such a Christ is not a breach of the second commandment, it is hard to see what is.”[2]

Jesus may have seen himself as the focal point of Scripture, but never as a judge of it. The only Jesus who stands above Scripture is the Jesus of our own invention.

[1] Packer, “Fundamentalism” and the Word of God, 61.

[2] Ibid., 61-62.

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5 thoughts on “The Idolatry of a Low View of Scripture”

  1. LWesterlund says:

    Thank you for this. Today the attack on the authority of Scripture is far more subtle. Since J. I. Packer wrote his excellent book, postmodern assumptions about language have triumphed. The root of meaning–our sensory experience of the world that God created and gave us, has been severed. That literal meaning, which our common senses enable all of us to know, is the only source of meaning in metaphor we use to talk about God. Today, subjectivity and worldview determine the meaning of the text, and we become the judge of the Scriptures and, ever so subtly, the judge of the Christ who is the Word, who is our Judge, unless, mercifully, He is our Savior.

  2. L.W. Dickel says:

    “Be nailed to a tree an beaten to death as a human sacrifice for your sins!? May I asketh, who in the goddamn hell came up with this Neanderthal bullshit!!??

    What are we, a bunch of fucking Cro-Magnon lunatics!!!???”

    ——Jesus H. Christ, the lost Gospel of Sanity

  3. Gabe says:

    Well put, and very timely. Many of us aren’t very good at putting words to our general dis-ease with the direction theology has taken. My favorite part:

    “Those with a high view of Scripture may be charged with idolatry for so deeply reverencing the word of God. But the accusation is laid at the wrong feet.”

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Kevin DeYoung

Kevin DeYoung is the senior pastor at Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, North Carolina. He is chairman of the board of The Gospel Coalition, assistant professor of systematic theology at Reformed Theological Seminary (Charlotte), and a PhD candidate at the University of Leicester. Kevin and his wife, Trisha, have seven children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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