Recently the sufficiency of Scripture has become a great area of interest for me. What does it mean for Scripture to be sufficient?
Sufficient is defined in the dictionary as, “adequate for the purpose; enough” (dictionary.com) and “being as much as is needed” (American Heritage Dictionary).
A good theological place to start is the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary “Abstract of Principles”. To define Scripture it says, “[t]he Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were given by inspiration of God, and are the only sufficient, certain and authoritative rule of all saving knowledge, faith and obedience”.
The Westminister Confession of Faith states about Scripture in Chapter 1, section 6:
6. The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men.a Nevertheless we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word;b and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.c
With these as a starting post, I’d like to proceed with a few questions:
- How is the Scripture “as much as is needed”?
- With those things that Scripture addresses (“saving knowledge, faith and obedience” or “[God's] own glory, man’s salvation, faith, and life”), how are we taught to determine them?
- How are we to understand “all” or “all things” in “all saving knowledge…” and “all thing necessary for [God's] own glory…”?
- When Scripture seems vague about a subject, especially in obedience/life, how are we to continue to pursue direction toward right action, by prayer that the Holy Spirit will directly impact our lives or by His direction through further Scripture study?
My next entry will begin to explore the Scripture passages referenced in the Westminster Confession. I also hope to review several articles and sermons on the subject. Hopefully this will give us more than enough to answer the above questions.