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  • Writer's picturePaige Patterson

Ahaz and the Sufficiency of God’s Word

The discussion among some evangelicals has developed from questions about the inerrancy of the Scriptures to deliberation concerning the sufficiency of Scripture. Even if “inerrancy” is affirmed by some definition, the question remains: “Are the Scriptures sufficient to meet all contemporary needs?” What is intended by this affirmation?

Chayil, my 95-lb black Labrador Retriever encountered a small medical problem the other day. The Bible had no comment, so we could not say that the text of Scripture was “sufficient” in that case. We, like everyone else who faced such a dilemma, were left to the authority of our veterinarian. We make no claim for the sufficiency of Scripture in a thousand questions that nowhere are clearly expressed. The claim for the sufficiency of the Bible is limited to that which the Bible “declares.” This fact is true for all such declarations, though not of phenomenological language, such as “the sun rises in the east,” where the Scriptures follow general language use.

Consider a case in point from 2 Chronicles 28:22-27 and the tragic end of King Ahaz of Judah. Ahaz was in grave difficulty with the Syrian authorities in Damascus. Essentially succumbing to them, Ahaz went so far as to sacrifice to the gods of Damascus, intoning “because…they may help me” (2 Chron 28:23). But God’s judgment was that they were the ruin of Ahaz and all Israel.

This declaration was not an issue of the inerrancy of God’s Word. Insofar as is possible to make such a judgement, Ahaz may well have believed that to be true. What Ahaz clearly did not believe was that God’s Word was sufficient. So, contrary to God’s Word, Ahaz attempted to placate the gods of Damascus based on the fatuous assumption that mollified Damascus gods would be kindly disposed toward him and the nation of Judah. Such a conclusion, however, was a mockery of every Old Testament prophet of God. God’s judgment was inevitable.

Contemporary evangelicals, particularly Southern Baptists, are faced with a similar situation. The doctrine of inerrancy does not concern them greatly, but the question about the sufficiency of Scripture seems to disturb them tremendously. For example, in our contemporary era, how can anyone invoke the prospect that in some way a husband is the head of the household and his wife has an obligation to submit to him in some fashion (Eph 5:22-33)? How could anyone in his right mind maintain that some form of physical discipline is best for children (Prov 13:24)?

Or again, how can women with the gift of administration be expected to operate within the circumference of the congregation without being in authority over or directing men authoritatively (1 Tim 2:12)? How could someone conclude that the trusted insights of B. F. Skinner and Sigmund Freud should be jettisoned by the counseling services of a local church? Or precisely how can one reject Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality with its Marxist genesis as informative principles for our social order?

Some seminary professors support the teaching of Critical Race Theory while others clearly reject it. But the issue is more profound. Is it right to import such secular theory, especially when it is contrary to the approach of Scripture? Studying that theory or any other is one thing. Suggesting its use in the church of Jesus, the Christ, even for evaluative purposes violates the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture.

This position is not a subject for expressions of anger. People, after all, are free to believe as they see fit. If contemporaries want to follow Ahaz and come to God’s judgment, they may do so. However, if our convention of churches wishes to return to the doctrines of the inerrancy as well as the sufficiency of Scripture, then grass-roots Southern Baptists must plan to make their will clear in the 2021 annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention! Denominations can self-destruct. On every hand they have abandoned what God blessed just as Ahaz did. But we do not have to die! A glorious future awaits, if we seize the day.


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