Andy Stanley claims to accept the inerrancy of Scripture in his article, Why “The Bible Says So” Is Not Enough Anymore, but he clearly indicates that he rejects its sufficiency. He contends that people with college or post-graduate educations require more sophisticated evidence in order to embrace Christianity. To make this point, he writes:
Appealing to post-Christian people on the basis of the authority of Scripture has essentially the same effect as a Muslim imam appealing to you on the basis of the authority of the Quran. You may or may not already know what it says. But it doesn’t matter. The Quran doesn’t carry any weight with you. You don’t view the Quran as authoritative.
Close to half our population does not view the Bible as authoritative either. If you’re trying to reach people with an undergraduate degree or greater, over half your target audience will not be moved by the Bible says, the Bible teaches, God’s Word is clear or anything along those lines. If that’s the approach to preaching and teaching you grew up with and are most comfortable with, you’re no doubt having a good ol’ throw-down debate with me in your head about now—a debate I’m sure you’re winning. But before you chapter and verse me against the wall and put me in a sovereignty-of-God headlock, would you stop and ask yourself: Why does this bother me so much? Why does this bother me so much—really?
Since when, I would ask Andy Stanley, do non-Christians determine whether or not Christians can appeal to the Bible? I agree that non-Christians regard the Bible as being on par with Islam’s Quran, but their false perceptions don’t negate the reality that God’s Word has inherent power that no other book (including the Quran) can rightfully claim.
As a young Christian, I learned that Scripture has power precisely because it’s God’s Word rather than a book written by fallible human beings. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the writer of Hebrews wrote:
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. ~~Hebrews 4:12 (ESV)
If the Word of God is really that powerful, how can the skepticism of non-Christians limit its power? Sure, without the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, non-Christians will reject the Bible’s authority, but that rejection doesn’t mean that God’s Word suffers from impotence. The truth of God’s Word merely exposes the lies of human reasoning (see Romans 3:4).
The rejection of God’s Word doesn’t mean, in other words, that God’s Word has failed. In the limitations of our human thinking we simply don’t know if the Holy Spirit wants to use Scripture to bring a person to faith, plant a seed that will result in conversations years down the line or confirm a unbeliever in judgment. But we can rest assured that the Lord never wastes His Word.
10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. ~~Isaiah 55:10-11 (ESV)
The denigration of God’s Word is not a postmodern phenomenon, and Christians don’t meed to supplement it any more in the 21st Century than they did in the First. Evangelism depends on God’s Spirit ministering through His Word, not on intellectual cleverness or pragmatism. We can quote the Bible with confidence, resting in its authority regardless of whether or not others accept that authority.