EXPOSITION OF ECWA ARTICLES OF FAITH AND PRACTICE
“And God spoke all these words, saying: I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.” Exo.20:1-2.
“ Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven.” Ps.119:89.
“Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, The LORD of hosts; I am the First and the Last. Besides Me, there is no God.” Isa.44:6.
“Then the LORD put forth His hand touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me; Behold, I have put My words in your mouth.” Jer.1:9.
“ Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” 2 Tim.1:20-21.
The battle for the authority of the Scriptures is a battle of the ages. It goes all the way back to the book of Genesis when the Devil cast a doubt on the word of God, and soon after called God a liar. Joseph Ezeigbo.
The following is ECWA’s position on the Scriptures.
“The sixty-six books of both Old and New Testaments are the inspired word of God, without error, in the words of the original writings, the complete revelation of God’s will for the salvation of men and the divine final authority for all Christian faith and practice( 2 Tim.3:16; 2 Pet.1:21;1 Cor.2:13).
This letter would be only a summary. Two previous pastoral letters had addressed the “Authority of Scriptures.”(July and September,2021.) The three words inspiration, inerrancy and infallibility are inseparable when discussing the authority of the Scriptures. The Scripture would lack its authority without these words. Although The three words speak of the authority of the Scriptures, they are not its source of authority. Scripture derives its authority from its origin-God. Over three thousand times are the phrases,” And God said “Thus saith the LORD.” “And God spoke.” repeated in the Old Testament.
The first demonstrated recognition of the authority of the Scriptures is recorded in Exodus 20:18-19. “Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off. Then they said to Moses, you speak with us and we will hear; but let not God speak with us lest we die.” The apostle Peter echoes a similar voice when he writes, “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” 2 Pet.1:20-21. Whether in oral or written transmission, the Scripture carries the same authority just as the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments were first spoken by God, before He told Moses to come up to the mountain to receive them on stone tablets. Exo.20:1-17; 24:12; 31:18. The concept of written revelation seems to have originated from this. Both in the Old Testament and the New Testament, the spoken, or the written revelation of the prophets and the apostles has always been recognized as divinely authoritative. Jer.26:1-2;12-19;Hab.2:1-3;1 Thess.2:13;4:1-8.
JESUS AND THE AUTHORITY OF THE SCRIPTURES
During His earthly ministry, Jesus never at any time concealed His recognition and reverence for the Scriptures.Matt.5:17-19. He affirmed that “the Scripture cannot be broken.” Jn.10:35. He believed in the divine origin of the Scriptures as proclaimed by the prophets. Lk.24:25-27. Jesus not only endorsed the authority of the Old Testament in its entirety, but also its entire historical accuracy. Lk.4:16-21;Matt 5:17-19; 10:15;11:23-24;12:3-4;17:11-12 24:27-29; Lk.4:25-27;11:51; Jesus put His words on a par with the Law.Matt. 5:18;24:35;Mk.13:31;Lu.16:17;21:33.
The prophets spoke for God and to reject their word tantamount to rejecting divine commandment.2 Chron. 36:11-13; 15-16; Jer.7:25; 25:3-4; 26:5; 29:19; 32:33; 35:15. Likewise, Jesus equated His doctrines as having the same revelatory proclamations of the prophets. Matt.7:24-27; Jn.7:17;12:47-50. Both in the New Old and New testament God transmitted His word through men who either verbally proclaimed them or put them in writing. 2 Thess.4:1-8;2 Tim.3:15-16;2 Pet.1:16-21.
THE APOSTLES AND THE AUTHORITY OF THE SCRIPTURES
The apostles never wavered or indicated any ambivalence in their conviction that the Old Testament Scriptures had a divine origin. They confidently referred to them in their preaching and teaching. The Old testament indeed served as the authority for their preaching and conduct. Acts 1:15-22;1 Pet.2:4-8;2 Pet.1:19-21. Peter began his sermon on the Pentecost by declaring that the descent of the Holy Spirit was a fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel.Acts 2:14-21. He further punctuated that sermon with references to the Old Testament.V.25-28,34-35. In like manner, in his subsequent sermon,he explained that the crucifixion and the resurrection of Christ and the miracles that occurred in the hands of the apostles were all foretold by the prophets. Acts 3:12-26. When the apostles were threatened by the hostile religious authority, they bolstered their faith in prayer by referring to the Old testament. Acts 4:23-30.
Paul declared that the Gospel is constituted of the death and resurrection of Christ as foretold in the Old Testament. 1Cor.15:1-4. He later stated that the Scripture is not only the means of salvation, but that in its entirety has a divine origin. 2 Tim.3:15-16.
THE REFORMERS AND THE AUTHORITY OF THE SCRIPTURES
The battle cry of the reformers was Sola Scriptura( Scripture Alone) Surrounded by the hostile and intimidating audience at the Diet Worms in 1521, Martin Luther undauntedly declared,”My conscience is held captive by the word of God….It is neither right nor safe to go contrary to the word of God.”Although the main contention between the reformers and the Medieval Roman Catholic Church was not over the authority of the Scriptures,for the Roman Catholic Church also acclaimed Scriptures authority. However, the latter, unlike the former, acknowledged other sources of authority in addition to the Scriptures. The counter-reformation Council of Trent in 1546 added tradition alongside Scripture as authoritative. In actuality, the Roman catholic Church recognizes three sources of Church authority which are often regarded as “the three pillars of the Church.” These are, Scripture, Tradition, and the Magisterium. Tradition is their understanding of how things began with the apostles and have been handed down to succeeding generations. And the Magisterium is the teaching authority of the Church as established by the Pope and bishoprics.
THE REJECTION OF BIBLICAL AUTHORITY
The first salvo towards the casting of doubt and ultimate rejection of Biblical authority was likely fired by the English philosopher statesman, Francis Bacon 1561-1626.The publication of his monumental work, Novum Organum(New Method) in 1620 opened a new vista of reasoning about science and learning in general. Following on the heels of this audacious challenge and rejection of the traditional Aristotelian method, the emergence of the Age of Reason and Enlightenment of the 17th and 18th completed the assault .During this period, some biblical scholars began to question the authorship of the books of the Bible, the historicity of biblical names such as Adam, Noah, Abraham and even the accuracy of some of the biblical records. Some even had the hubris to attribute ignorance to Jesus for nodding yes to the stories of the Old Testament due to the limitation of his humanity. Gradually, this audacious skepticism gave birth to a new method of studying and questioning biblical authority known as the Historical-Critical approach. Germany became the hotbed of this new approach .
THE 20TH CENTURY FUNDAMENTALIST – MODERNIST CONTROVERSY
The wind of the Age of Reason and Enlightenment encircled most of Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, but it was at the turn of the twentieth century that the jolt hit the shores of America. In America, it became known as the Fundamentalist-Modernist Controversy. It began with the introduction of higher biblical criticism, basically a new garb for what had begun in Europe more than a century earlier. This led to a division and split in many of America’s Ivy League theological institutions and the founding of new ones.
THE CULTURAL INFLUENCE
The outcome of this rejection of biblical authority has subtly been demonstrated in so many unrecognizable ways. It has appeared as a seemingly honest intellectual inquiry as the so -called Quest for the historical Jesus Seminars whether in modern times or centuries before. The Monkey Scopes trial of 1925, the politicization of abortion and the depreciating of human life. The desecration of marriage and the promotion of alternative life-styles and biological gender issues. These are issues of which the Bible speaks without ambiguity.
Sadly, this letter is bent to conclude on a melancholic note. In his classic book,World Aflame, Billy Graham stated, “When people lose their way, their purpose,their will, and their goal, as well as their faith, like the ancient Israelites, they go “a whoring”. Beginning in the garden of Eden, consequences have followed the questioning and ultimate rejection of God’s specific commandment. The avalanche and the uncontrollable rate of crime, moral perversion, unrest, and the worldwide anxiety about the future of human existence can all be attributable to the rejection of Biblical authority.
“There is no peace,”says the LORD,”for the wicked.” Isa.48:22