Response to "The Insufficiency of Scripture"

Michael S. Horton
Wednesday, July 30th 2008
Jan/Feb 2002

Posted July 30, 2008

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

Contrary to Dr. MacArthur's characterization of this article, ProfessorGordon was not denying the sufficiency of Scripture. In fact, he wassuggesting that the sufficiency of God's inerrant Word is being underminedin our day even in conservative circles when it is transformed into the ideathat Scripture answers questions it does not see fit to address. "AllScripture is breathed out by God," says Paul, "and profitable for teaching,for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the manof 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 thespectacles through which we interpret all of life, and in many cases quitespecific imperatives, Scripture does not even teach us everything we need toknow about parenting, running a business, or being a good friend. Goddirects us to use godly common sense, to learn even from secular sources,where his common grace endows believers and unbelievers with wisdom inthings earthly. The center of Scripture is Christ and while it illuminatesevery aspect of life, it does not address every question in life. When thechurch transforms the Bible into a manual for every practical issue, itsreal 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'sargument, further misunderstanding of such an important truth will beaverted.

"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

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Michael S. Horton
Michael Horton is editor-in-chief of Modern Reformation and the J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics at Westminster Seminary California in Escondido.
Wednesday, July 30th 2008

“Modern Reformation has championed confessional Reformation theology in an anti-confessional and anti-theological age.”

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