Like my previous post titled 5 Questions A Biblicist Should Ponder which I defined what is a Biblicist, we need to clarify what is a Bible only folks for this article. “Bible only” proponents believes that they only need the Bible in the Christian life. This is not espousing the position of Sola Scriptura but Solo Scriptura. Of course they believe in the Bible alone as authority however other sources specially books are not needed. Some (but not all) fundamental or Bible Baptist folks hold on this. I don’t consider this as a major teaching but primary an argument against using resources other than the Scriptures.
Also I want to clarify that this article doesn’t set aside Sola Scriptura in favor of other resources. I uphold Sola Scriptura and reject Solo Scriptura. Though not as equal as the Bible on authority, I believe God uses books and other resources to help Christians in understanding God. However to have a biased view on these materials is advocating anti-intellectualism and unbiblical.
And with that lets jump in to the 5 questions a “Bible only” folks should ask:
Do I use hymnal books, Sunday school hand outs, church by laws, VBS curriculum, dictionaries or seminary textbooks at church?
Why use those resources when you have already a Bible? After all its “Bible only” right? You might response that you don’t view these resources at par with the authority of the Bible. Then again, this and the following two points are influential in your perspective and you shouldn’t deny it.
Am I benefiting on the Bible’s built in features like cross reference, introduction to the books of the Bible, maps, appendixes, indexes, and also the divisions and numberings of chapters and verses?
Let’s push it further. One should also consider if he is a “Bible only” Christians, are those built in tools found in his Bible. They’re found in the Bible however they are not part of the Bible. The text itself is the Bible. You might find it too much but if you want to be a purist in the “Bible only” sense, you should consider this question. Nevertheless, you are succumbing to a man made tool place in your Bible.
Are my educational background (theological or secular), denominational tradition or church culture and values; in any way influence my being ‘Bible only’?
I think we should not limit the “Bible only” position on tangible resources mentioned above. How about the things that shaped us as a Christian either from a Christian or secular influence. This is an inescapable truth that we are formed by these elements, wont you agree? still believe in your position is impossible. The reality is, the mere fact you believe in “Bible only” position is a compelling evidence that these influence are truly “controlling” you to sway to such belief.
Now for something personal….
Am I intimidated by individuals who reads lots of books?
We should also look at this angle which can be a bit personal. After all this maybe a valid reason why you hold on this so called position. Do you feel intimidated by believers who enjoy reading Christian books, talking about it and sharing it? Lets tweak the question a bit more: Do you feel left out in the conversation when people starts talking about the books or author they follow?
Another question I want to ask (and I’m risking to be too personal): Are you threaten by smart individuals at church? Do you feel you might lose authority or relevance to these people who are smarter than you? In this case, this not an issue of whether you stand on this impossible position, its a matter pride.
Am I just plain lazy to study?
Maybe this is another reason why you say you’re “Bible only”. Rather than be honest that you don’t know or don’t want to learn something you settle for this excuse. If you’re a pastor or preacher you should know better. You owe your church or ministry that you should be equip first by rooting on Scriptures and then getting excellent resources. Times are changing, culture is shifting and people need answers. It wont hurt to learn something that will eventually benefit the church. Not all of what you need to know has been taught to you in seminary. You might need to update, expand and level up.