So, where do we start in our work at The Baptist Courier? When we begin a new pursuit, it’s not always easy to know where to start, but for those who have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, it’s not difficult: We start with God’s Word. We start there, we end there, we stay there — because, as the great apologist Francis Schaeffer well put it, God is there, and He has spoken.
In the 1970s and well into the 1990s, Southern Baptists waged an intense warfare for the Bible. The questions were first order, the answers separated orthodoxy from heterodoxy: Is the Bible inspired by God? Is it inerrant? Is it sufficient? Is it authoritative? Is Jesus the criterion for Bible interpretation, and what does that mean?
Baptist newspapers were important infantrymen on the frontlines of this war for the SBC’s soul, with some contending for historic orthodoxy on the Bible and others angling away from it.
For example, Albert Mohler, then editor of Georgia’s Christian Index, defended the full inspiration, sufficiency, authority, and sufficiency of Scripture — contrary to the views of his predecessor, Jack Harwell. In the June 8, 1989, Index, Mohler wrote in his inaugural editorial, “The need of the hour is for a renewed denominational vision rooted in the Renaissance of our theological heritage.” That theological heritage is built upon the doctrine of sola Scriptura (“by Scripture alone”): Scripture alone is our supreme and only rule of faith and life, not human tradition and reasoning — as recovered and articulated in the Protestant Reformation.
Moderate newspapers argued to the contrary, articulating a vision of Baptist identity built around liberty of conscience (what Baptist historian Tom Nettles rightly calls the “soul liberty party”) over against a confessional Baptist identity rooted in the core doctrines of Scripture.
As editor and president of The Courier, I fully intend that every piece of our work, every news article, every podcast, every article for pastors or laypeople, every feature, every event in which we take part, every book we publish — all our work — will be done with faithfulness and submission to the teaching of God’s Word. In the confused and confusing age in which we live, there’s no place in the church for retreat from standing firm upon God’s truth.
Why Scripture? There are many reasons, but let’s start with five fundamentals:
1. BECAUSE OF THE LOST
God has invested Scripture with His power to save sinners. Paul wrote in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the power of God for everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”
Scripture unveils our problem: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Scripture unleashes the solution: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, so that whosoever believes in Him might have everlasting life.” I don’t even need to give you the reference for that eternally explosive sentence.
2. BECAUSE OF THE FOUND
God has invested His power in the gospel to mature, sanctify, and transform His people. God’s people need the gospel daily for growth in grace and godliness. It is an ongoing means of grace in the life of believers. Christians need to be clear on what the gospel is and able to preach it to themselves daily.
In Colossians 1:25-29, Paul touts his primary calling as a stewardship from God “to make the word of God fully known.” How? “Him (Christ) we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.” Paul exhausts himself in this pursuit: “For this I toil, struggling with all His energy that He powerfully works within me.”
Part of The Courier’s task is to be a means of maturation for God’s people. For that to happen, we must build both the foundation and the structure of our work on the Word of God. All other ground is sinking sand.
3. BECAUSE IT IS THE ONLY WAY WE TRULY KNOW GOD
In Romans 2, Paul speaks of God’s natural or general revelation, how he has revealed himself in the created order. That revelation is enough to make all people accountable to God, but it’s not enough to bring them to a true knowledge of God. For that, we need God’s special revelation, and He has revealed Himself in the pages of sacred Scripture. The only way for us to know Him accurately is to hear from Him directly.
As the great Charles Spurgeon wrote, “This volume is the writing of the living God; each letter was penned with an Almighty finger; each word in it dropped from the everlasting lips; each sentence was dictated by the Holy Spirit …. This Bible is a book of authority; it is an authorized book, for God has written it.”
4. BECAUSE SCRIPTURE IS OUR REGULATIVE PRINCIPLE IN LIFE AND WORSHIP
How do we know how to live? How does God teach us who He is and how to walk with Him? How does God expect us to worship Him? God’s story of redemption reveals all this and much more.
5. BECAUSE BAPTISTS ARE A PEOPLE OF THE BOOK
Baptists have always sought to build their lives, ministries, and churches upon God’s Word as witnessed in our confessions of faith. Baptists are a confessional people, and our best and fullest historic articles of faith begin with Scripture.
The Second London Confession of 1869 opens with an article on Scripture that includes 10 sections teasing out the doctrine in full. The New Hampshire Confession of 1833 begins with a pithy but stout affirmation of the historic orthodox doctrine of Scripture.
The BF&M 2000, an heir of the Second London and first cousin to the New Hampshire, expresses it beautifully: The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God’s revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried. All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation.
GOD’S WORD NOW AND FOREVER
Scripture is where we start, where we end, and where we stay. May God give us grace to do just that for South Carolina Baptists and beyond.