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Response to "The Insufficiency of Scripture"

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Posted July 30, 2008

Dr. John MacArthur is a well-known pastor, author, and speaker who has done much good for the cause of Christ in our generation. Therefore, we were surprised when, on two occasions known to us, he publicly criticized an article in Modern Reformation (January/February 2002) by distinguished theologian and PCA minister T. David Gordon, titled, "The Insufficiency of Scripture?" Given the repeated mischaracterization of this article, we thought it useful to re-publish Professor Gordon's article here, along with his original response to the Dr. MacArthur's critique. And as the editor-in-chief of Modern Reformation, I wanted to add my own comments.

Contrary to Dr. MacArthur's characterization of this article, Professor Gordon was not denying the sufficiency of Scripture. In fact, he was suggesting that the sufficiency of God's inerrant Word is being undermined in our day even in conservative circles when it is transformed into the idea that Scripture answers questions it does not see fit to address. "All Scripture is breathed out by God," says Paul, "and 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). Scripture is sufficient as the infallible rule for doctrine and practice.

Whatever the Scriptures address on any topic is relevant and authoritative, but Scripture does not tell us everything we need to know about accounting, politics, cooking, or automotive repair. Although it provides the spectacles through which we interpret all of life, and in many cases quite specific imperatives, Scripture does not even teach us everything we need to know about parenting, running a business, or being a good friend. God directs us to use godly common sense, to learn even from secular sources, where his common grace endows believers and unbelievers with wisdom in things earthly. The center of Scripture is Christ and while it illuminates every aspect of life, it does not address every question in life. When the church transforms the Bible into a manual for every practical issue, its real content--which cannot be found anywhere else--is easily marginalized, as we see all around us today.

Hopefully, by offering the public another chance to see Professor Gordon's argument, further misunderstanding of such an important truth will be averted.

"The Insufficiency of Scripture" by T. David Gordon. At the end of this article we have inserted an interview with Dr. Gordon that appeared in the May/June 2002 issue of Modern Reformation

In Christ,
Mike Horton

Michael Horton is the J. Gresham Machen professor of apologetics and systematic theology at Westminster Seminary California (Escondido, California), host of the White Horse Inn, national radio broadcast, and editor-in-chief of Modern Reformation magazine. He is author of many books, including The Gospel-Driven Life, Christless Christianity, People and Place, Putting Amazing Back Into Grace, The Christian Faith, and For Calvinism.

Issue: "Modern Reformation Turns Ten" Jan./Feb. 2002 Vol. 11 No. 1 Page number(s):

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