by Dennis D. Frey
Arguably, the most critical contemporary issue facing the church, especially for those who fill her pulpits, is the matter of biblical authority. However, the issue is hardly modern. Hear the prophet Jeremiah's complaint: "I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me. Whenever I speak, I cry out proclaiming violence and destruction. So the word of the Lord has brought me insult and reproach all day long. But if I say, "I will not mention him or speak any more in his name," his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot" (Jer. 20:7b-9 niv).
The present day attack upon the veracity of God's Word is not new. It is as old as Eden, where the attack was first postulated in the question, "Yea, hath God said?" (Gen. 3:1). It is no amazing thing that Jeremiah should be discouraged, and even a bit embarrassed by the uncompromising message of God's Word. It would not be an amazing thing if someone reading this article had faced this very test. Indeed, it would be amazing (even tragic) if many had not!
John Wesley faced it issue in his day. In the 1700s, while a student at Oxford, Wesley. along with his brother Charles and others, resolved to take the Bible as "their whole and sole rule," their one desire and design to be "downright Bible-Christians." Later, Wesley wrote that he was resolved to be "a man of one Book." "Yes, I am a Bible bigot. I follow it in all things, both great and small. If there be one falsehood in that Book, it did not come from the God of Truth." For this he was labeled a radical.
Robert Coleman, while serving as director of the Billy Graham Institute of Evangelism, wrote of Wesley: "Some have said that his biblicism was because he lived in the pre-critical age. But this was not the case. News questioning biblical integrity was beginning to circulate in Europe in the latter part of the 18th century. Wesley simply had no use for these allegations. He gave no credence to scholars who stood in judgment upon the "oracles of God."
Nor should we! Our pulpits ought not to be inclined to teach the apostate thinking of German and British philosophers. We ought to be purposed to teach the thinking of Almighty God through such men as Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Matthew, Luke, John, Peter and Paul. The ultimate goal of every Christian, especially those who teach others, ought to be that we are nothing if we are not men and women of the Word of God-that we be "downright Bible Christians". Yes, we ought to be "Bible bigots"!
Within that awful volume lies
The mystery of mysteries
Happiest they of human race
To whom their God has given grace
To read, to fear, to hope, to pray
To lift the latch, and force the way;
And better had they ne'er been born
Who read to doubt, or read to scorn.
-Sir Walter Scott
Meditating upon the fire in Jeremiah's bones (Jer. 20:9), one preacher wrote in his pulpit Bible, "Oh God! I ask not for fuel to fire my preaching. Rather, I ask for that fire by which my preaching may be fueled!"
Oh, the power of the irrepressible fire! Oh, that every person who fills a pulpit might be possessed of the fire that refuses suppression! That as men and women of the Word of God we be found to have fire in our bones!
"The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the Word of our God shall stand for ever" (Isa. 40:8 NIV).
Dr. Frey is president of Master's International School of Divinity.