Scriptural authority, gift of salvation ‘inextricable,’ Mohler says

Communications Staff — January 29, 2014

The authority and inerrancy of Scripture is necessary to understand the gift of salvation, said The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president R. Albert Mohler Jr. during the spring 2014 convocation address, Jan. 28.

In his address, “‘If You Do Not Believe His Writings, How Will You Believe My Words?’ — The Authority of Scripture and the Gift of Salvation,” Mohler said the inerrancy of Scripture is inseparable from the gift of salvation, and to believe otherwise is dangerous because without the first, the second is impossible.

“Scriptural authority and the gift of salvation are inextricable,” Mohler said. “We cannot have one without the other. We cannot be a gospel people without also being a Bible people.”

In John 5:39-47, Jesus confronts the Pharisees who seek to understand the Scriptures, yet do not believe Moses’ words in the Old Testament, so they do not see Christ or truly believe the Word of God, Mohler noted.

“[The Pharisees are] not denying the truth of the Word; they’re simply refusing to see what is there,” Mohler said. “They are missing the point. They are diligently studying the Scriptures because they think that in them they have eternal life. But they’re missing the fact every single word of Scripture, specific here to the Old Testament, bears witness to Christ.”

And, he said, if all of Scripture bears witness to Christ, the result is an inability for Christians to have faith in Christ without confidence in the Scriptures and its authority in their lives. Instead of being solely New Testament Christians, Mohler said, they need to be whole Bible Christians.

Jesus’ question, “If you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?” formed Mohler’s argument. If the Bible contains errors, according to Mohler, then the gospel’s trustworthiness is questioned.

“You can’t have faith in Christ without confidence in Scripture,” Mohler said. “We have no access to the gospel without the revelation of God.”

Mohler briefly reviewed the history of the debate about the authority of Scripture, beginning with the Enlightenment and its turn from the authority of Scripture to the rationality of the mind. From the Enlightenment he talked about the rise of Protestant liberalism in the 20th century, mentioning Southern Seminary’s turn from liberalism in the 1970s and 80s to its commitment to the inerrancy of Scripture.

Mohler said that, despite the victories won in the battle for inerrancy, “How can so much be gained so quickly to be lost?” noting today’s generation as the most confused about this doctrine.

But, it isn’t just confusion, Mohler said, but an agenda of trying to find a new way to discuss Scripture’s authority to make it more “cool.” Today’s evangelicals, he said, want a new understanding of the gift of salvation without the authority of Scripture that doesn’t necessitate such a specific definition of biblical inerrancy.

Still, said Mohler, the primary issue is reading the Bible to see Christ.

Mohler said he hoped students would never miss the point of their study of Scripture: “Christ, and the point of the text is the gospel, who Christ is,” he said.

“Our affirmation of the Scriptures can be no less than our affirmation of the gospel because we have no knowledge of the gospel, we have no power of the gospel, we have no concept of the gospel, we have no message by which to teach and preach and share the gospel if it is not the direct, trustworthy, true revelation of God in the Scriptures,” Mohler said.

Audio and video from Mohler’s address are available at sbts.edu/resources.

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