Archive for February 2nd, 2021

Authority of Scripture


Written by Timothy Keller, a contemporary pastor, speaker, and author. This is excerpted from his article “Authority.”

The root idea of modernity is the overturning of all authority outside of the self. In the 18th century European ‘Enlightenment’ thinkers insisted that the modern person must question all tradition, revelation, and external authority by subjecting them to the supreme court of his or her own reason and intuition. We are our own moral authority.  In spite of this tectonic philosophical shift, modern society nonetheless continued to be dominated by relatively stable institutions for a long time. People still were able to root their identities to a great degree in family and clan, in local civic communities, and in their work or vocation. All that seems now to be passing because of the ‘acid’ of the modern principle, namely that individual happiness must come before anything else. Marriage and family, workplace and career, neighborhood and civic community—none of these institutions now remain stable long enough for individuals to depend on them. …
 Many years ago as a young Christian my attention was arrested by an article on ‘Authority’ by John Stott. Stott asked, “Why should people believe that the Bible is God’s Word written, inspired by his Spirit and authoritative over their lives?” This was a big question for me. Stott answered that we do not believe it simply because we want to be dogmatic and certain about our own beliefs, nor because the church has consistently taught this (though it has), nor because we just ‘feel’ the Bible is true as we read it. “No. The overriding reason for accepting the divine inspiration and authority of Scripture is plain loyalty to Jesus…Our understanding of everything is conditioned by what Jesus taught. And that includes his teaching about the Bible. We have no liberty to exclude anything from Jesus’ teaching and say, ‘I believe what he taught about this but not what he taught about that.’ What possible right do we have to be selective?”   Stott’s question is like a hammer blow to our contemporary way of life. We feel strongly that we have the right, even the obligation to select what parts of Jesus teaching we can accept and what parts we cannot. But that makes no sense. Why should you trust in him as Savior if you are wiser and smarter than he is? Either he is who he said he is, and his views judge our views, or he was lying or deluded about being the Son of God. So Jesus’ authority and the absolute authority of the Bible stand or fall together.


From the Mozarabic Rite, developed during the Visigoth rule of the Iberian peninsula in the 500s.

Let the light of your face shine on us, O Lord,

that your Word may go forth

and give light and understanding

to nourish the hearts of the simple.

Set our desires on your commandments,

so that we may receive with open heart

the Spirit of wisdom and understanding.

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