Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Sufficiency of God II

In highlighting the sufficiency of God, rather than that of the scriptures, I am addressing a shockingly erroneous viewpoint of Christianity that has folk endeavoring to live a life that looks nothing like that presented in the scriptures. These folk are always cessationists, and more often than not, Calvinists. For them, living a godly life is getting out a slide rule and compass, as it were, and applying them to the scriptures, trying to calculate how to do Christianity without exhibiting hardly any of the features that were practiced by the Apostles and the early church and recorded in scriptures. 

The Bible is all-sufficient to guide our faith--what we should believe, and sufficient to guide our practice--these are the kinds of things we should experience and these are the things to avoid, but it is meant to produce a life like it describes. That includes God speaking in real time, the Holy Spirit influencing direction and decision, and inspiring speech and deeds. To pursue some folks view of the sufficiency of scriptures, one, in effect, must white-out huge tracts of the word, all in the name of the word being sufficient. Sufficient for what, I might ask, producing life pretty similar to life without God? Honestly, the only motivation I can see for such action is unbelief!

The wrong view of sufficiency ends up with the believer treating God agnostically, as if he came, dropped off this book and then disappeared, unheard from ever since. The practical effect of such a view is that we are not brought up to the lap of God, through Christ, but stuck behind a curtain trying to figure out life by our best reckoning from the book. That seems to me an empty thing to attribute to the living God.

If we are holding up the word as sufficient in defining and directing Christianity, that sufficiency should entail producing a life that matches what the word describes and exhorts us to experience. Anything else, anything less is a disservice to the Word, not an homage to its sufficiency. When cessationists arrogantly cast aspersions on those endeavoring to walk in the promises of the word, while they staunchly cling to their lack of biblical experience, I must admit I get irritated. If all they offer in their view of the sufficiency of scripture is a "glass empty" vision of life with God actively removed, I think I'll gladly stay with the sufficiency of God.


Daniel Kropf said...

This is my first time commenting here. I enjoyed the post.

Personally I have always wondered how Calvinist cessationists handle Augustine's conversion, since he is one of their big heroes and yet it was in response to a voice saying, "Take up and read" that he picked up and read the Scripture and began to follow Christ.

If I were of their stamp what would my options be in that situation?
1. The canon is closed so I'll ignore the voice.
2. I'll try to forget the voice but read the Scriptures anyway since they are the way that God speaks.

The third and only logical option is reject cessationism and acknowledge that God spoke to Augustine (perhaps by angelic means since he thought it was a childs voice) and bore witness to His Word by His voice.

SLW said...

Hello Daniel, welcome to the Sound.

Perhaps a fourth option exists: the voice was actually that of a child next door, propitiously spoken and heard?

Regardless, your point is well-taken, particularly because Augustine was so instrumental in "closing" the canon. I would think this circumstance would prove an uncomfortable paradox to one holding a cessationist view of the sufficiency of scripture.

Steven said...

Thanks for you post. While I consider myself a cessationist from a "spiritual gift" perspective, I do not think that closes out from interaction in our life. Perhaps you mean something different that I when you say "cessationist", but I do not believe that God provides additional doctrinal revelation to people today.

I could say more, but perhaps you could explain what you mean before I comment further. Thanks again!

SLW said...

Welcome to the Sound.

I agree with you that doctrinally, God is finished speaking to us: "the faith is once delivered to the saints." (Jude 1:3) I am also glad to hear that you at least countenance further interaction with God, even if not the charismatica. Let me know if you need more clarification from me.