Our Belief Regarding the Bible
SUMMARY OF OUR BELIEF CONCERNING THE BIBLE
At MacArthur Blvd Baptist Church we believe that every word of the Bible was written by men divinely inspired, resulting in God’s word exactly as He intended it. As a result of divine inspiration, we affirm that the Bible is both infallible and inerrant in its original manuscripts, when it is properly interpreted, to the degree of precision intended by the author’s purpose, in all matters relating to God and His creation. We believe the Bible is the supreme authority for doctrine, ministry, and morality, and is the standard by which all other sources of truth should be tested. We believe the Bible sufficiently contains all the words of God we need for salvation, for trusting and obeying Him perfectly. The Bible is complete and is the only source of truth that is perfectly reliable. Christians are dependent upon the illumination of the Holy Spirit to understand what it means, how it should be applied, and for the power to obey it. All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation.
EXTENDED EXPLANATION OF OUR BELIEF CONCERNING THE BIBLE
At MacArthur Blvd we believe that the Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God’s revelation of Himself to man. By “inspired” we mean the Holy Spirit controlled the process by which every word of the Bible’s original manuscripts were written, resulting in the word of God exactly as He intended it. This is typically referred to as the “verbal-plenary” view of inspiration.
Luke 1:1-3; 2 Tim. 3:16; Heb. 1:1; 2 Pet. 1:20-21
As a result of divine inspiration, we believe the Bible is both infallible and inerrant. By “infallible” we mean the Bible is incapable of failing to accomplish its purpose and is therefore completely trustworthy. By “inerrant” we mean that when all the facts are known, the Bible (in its original manuscripts), properly interpreted in light of the culture and the means of communication that had developed by the time of its composition, is completely true in all it affirms, to the degree of precision intended by the author’s purpose, in all matters relating to God and His creation.
Num. 23:19; 2 Sam. 7:28; Psalm 119:160; Prov. 30:5; John 17:17
As a result of divine inspiration, we also believe the Bible is the supreme authority for doctrine, ministry, and morality. While we acknowledge that other sources of truth are important and play a role in knowing God (e.g. perceived words from God, personal experience, tradition, human reason, and science), we believe that the Bible supersedes them all as the only inspired means by which God has revealed Himself to man. Therefore, all other sources of truth must be judged by the standard of the Bible and not vice versa.
Matt. 4:4, 5:17-18; John 16:13-15; Rom. 16:25-26; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 1 Peter 1:24-25; 2 Peter 1:19-21
Finally, as a result of divine inspiration, we believe the Bible is sufficient. By “sufficient” we mean that Scripture has always contained all the words of God He intended His people to have at each stage of redemptive history, and it now contains all the words of God we need for salvation, for trusting and obeying Him perfectly. Sufficiency does not mean the Bible is exhaustive, containing all truth man can know. Neither does sufficiency mean that God does not speak to Christians today by means of His Holy Spirit (though in a manner categorically different than the way He inspired the biblical authors), impressing upon their heart to do or say something apart from a direct verse or passage in the Bible. Sufficiency does affirm that the Bible is complete and is the only source of truth that is perfectly reliable. Christians are dependent upon the illumination of the Holy Spirit to understand what it means, how it should be applied, and for the power to obey it.
Psalm 19:7-10, 119:9-11, 105; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 1 Cor. 2:12-16; 1 Peter 1:24-25
How It Shapes Our Ministry
Our high view of God’s word leads us to engage in text-driven preaching, teaching, and ministry. Our method of preaching, which primarily walks through books of the Bible verse-by-verse, allowing the text of Scripture to drive the substance, structure, and spirit of the sermon, flows out of our belief that the Bible is the inspired, infallible, inerrant, authoritative, and sufficient word of God. It is because of our high view of God’s word that we strive to allow the Bible to drive our theology and ministry as a church.
Furthermore, our high view of God’s word leads us to engage in biblical counseling. We believe: (1) that God’s word should be our counseling authority, (2) counseling is a part of the basic spiritual development ministry of the local church, and (3) God’s people can and should be trained to counsel effectively. These convictions are grounded in our belief concerning the authority and sufficiency of God’s word.
A Word Concerning Modern Bible Versions
While we believe that God’s word has been reliably preserved since the time of its writing to the present day, we also acknowledge that not all modern versions of the Bible reflect the original writings to the same degree of precision. Christians should educate themselves on the philosophy and purpose of the version of the Bible they choose and should utilize that version accordingly. Thus, paraphrases such as The Message should be treated not as a translation of the Bible but rather as one author’s interpretation of the Bible since it is the author’s purpose to paraphrase the Bible’s content in his own words rather than to translate it. This is not to say that these types of paraphrases cannot be valuable, if one understands what it is and what it is not.
At MacArthur Blvd we recommend Christians use a formal equivalent translation of the Bible such as the English Standard Version (ESV) or the New American Standard Version (NASB) for Bible study. The goal of these types of translations is to reflect the original Greek and Hebrew text as accurately as possible while making it understandable to English readers.
We do not recommend modern versions of the Bible that aim to utilize inclusive language by translating masculine words into language that is gender neutral (e.g. translating the Hebrew word for “man” as “human” when it is referring to mankind collectively). This method of translation ignores the purpose for which masculine language was originally used to describe male and female. We believe there is theological significance in the masculine language used to describe both God and mankind, and that Bible translations should reflect the original language used by the biblical authors. Modern versions that utilize inclusive language include Today’s New International Version (TNIV), New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), and the New Living Translation (NLT).