The Reformation principle of sola Scriptura is not only about the authority of God’s Word; it also affirms the inerrancy, perspicuity, and sufficiency of Scripture. Those are essential features of the Bible’s authority. They are principles that cannot be over-stressed because all of them go against the drift of today’s stylish neo-evangelicalism.
For more than a century, religious leaders captivated by skepticism have relentlessly caviled at the inerrancy of Scripture. More recently, the perspicuity of Scripture has been questioned and attacked by people enthralled with the postmodern notion that meaning is always elusive.
But perhaps the most subtle and sinister attack on the Bible has been the casual denial of Scripture’s sufficiency—by modernists and postmodernists alike. Even some ostensibly conservative evangelicals no longer seem truly confident that the Bible alone is a fully sufficient resource for knowing God, glorifying Him, and pursuing His will.
We see this trend, for example, in the widespread belief that secular psychology offers a remedy for human woes that is more comprehensive, more potent, and more reliable than Scripture. The same attitude is evident in the way managers, entrepreneurs, comedians, and showmen are seen as more effective models for church leadership than the pastor who faithfully preaches the Word. It is especially manifest in the quest for fresh revelations, personal prophecies, and other charismatic novelties that supersede and supplant the authority of Scripture.
Vast numbers of people who profess faith in Christ today do not really believe the truth contained in Scripture is sufficient to meet all our spiritual needs. That failure to affirm and defend the sufficiency of Scripture is a recipe for apostasy.
To deny the Bible’s sufficiency is to subvert its authority while opening the door for all kinds of alternative opinions and phony revelations. That in turn breeds confusion and chaos—precisely the kind of spiritual and doctrinal commotion that currently dominates the broad evangelical movement.
All Scripture is God-breathed; thus, it is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16–17). There is no need “to go beyond what is written” (1 Cor. 4:6). Scripture is perfect, sure, right, pure, clean, true, and righteous altogether—adequate for every spiritual need we face, from the conversion of the soul to our perfection in glory (Ps. 19:7–9).
We must get back to the principle of sola Scriptura and reaffirm the historic Protestant belief in the Bible’s sufficiency. Until that happens, the church will continue in its backslidden, directionless, and weakened state of disarray.