Thursday, January 19, 2006

I Only Need the Bible

In my studies of Scripture and theology, I occasionally run across someone who sees me reading a systematic theology or something of that sort who says to me, “I don’t need all those other books I only need the Bible.” This statement is frustrating because in one sense it is arrogant, though the one who says it may not mean it that way.

The statement in another sense is true. If we did not have access to any other books but only had the Bible that would be enough, but in our time the Lord has given us many books that help us to understand His word.

Wayne Grudem in his systematic theology says, “And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers (1Cor. 12:28). We should allow those gifts of teaching to help us understand Scripture.” To think that somehow we do not need the God ordained teachers or that none of the books they have written could be any help to us gives way too much credit to our own abilities.

I do realize that some neglect the scriptures for all these other books and that is wrong, but we should utilize what the Lord has given us through men and women who have been given the gift of teaching.

And of course there is Spurgeon who said…

The man who never reads will never be read; he who never quotes will never be quoted. He who will not use the thoughts of other men's brains, proves that he has no brains of his own.”


At Thursday, January 19, 2006 11:42:00 AM, Blogger Cameron Cloud said...

Good thoughts! Our understanding of the Scriptures comes by "standing on the shoulders" of others.

At Thursday, January 19, 2006 12:10:00 PM, Blogger Kim from Hiraeth said...

Hi Doug,

THis dovetails well with some thoughts I posted on Bible Memorization. Update that post with a quote from you? I Promise to link back to your blog and the post! :)

At Thursday, January 19, 2006 12:24:00 PM, Blogger Joshua Ritchie said...

Yeah, that seems to be an arrogant and ridiculous thought.

Good Christian books are simply Christians discipling other Christians through the vehicle of the printing press (or web, etc).

And that great discipling can live on well after one is dead.

At Thursday, January 19, 2006 12:25:00 PM, Blogger Reformed Centurion said...

Very good post.

At Thursday, January 19, 2006 12:30:00 PM, Blogger Kim from Hiraeth said...

Hi again, Doug

I have added the links.

Thanks for the comments you left at the blog. It's nice getting to know another like-minded person. . .

At Thursday, January 19, 2006 4:30:00 PM, Anonymous Puritan Belief said...

Yes that is right on.

You definitely inspire us to go and get out those big volumes from those grounded in the faith and gleam as much as we can.

You are reading The Death of Death by John Owen... Wohhh

At Thursday, January 19, 2006 4:46:00 PM, Blogger Doug E. said...


I started Owen but have not finished it. At this point I've had to put it down but plan on picking it back up soon. My professors gave me a big list to read for this semester.

Thanks for the encouragement and I enjoy your blog.

At Friday, January 20, 2006 3:45:00 AM, Blogger no_average_girl said...

i'm with you...i think God has provided a way for us to learn through books, teachers, other's wisdom, and so on. there are so many resources where we could be getting wisdom, but we're so "religious" we can't learn anything but from the bible.

the bible is a guideline, and if someone's advice doesn't fall in step with the bible, then something's not right about the given advice being the best. but, in order to know that we must know the bible.

At Friday, January 20, 2006 5:05:00 AM, Blogger bluecollar said...

I too am reading through Grudem's Systematic Theology. Like one of your commenters said, these books are christians trying to disciple other christians. I am glad to have these resources available. Good post brother.


At Friday, January 20, 2006 8:06:00 AM, Blogger Gordon Cloud said...

I don't want to judge, but I think the mentality that you have described in this post is often just an excuse for a person not being motivated enough to read and analyze the thoughts of someone else. Or could it possibly be that they are to insecure in their own belief to have it challenged?

At Friday, January 20, 2006 9:18:00 AM, Blogger Doug E. said...

No Average Girl,

You made a great point when you said that we have to judge all these books by the Bible.

In studying the scripture it must be held as the authority over the others. And we are not to judge Scripture by these books.

When a teacher (book) enlightens us to something we did not understand before, it is not imposing something new onto the Bible it is merely drawing out what was already there. The way we check this is by holding it up to the Light (Word of God), just like we do with the rest of scripture. We interpret scripture with scripture.

Great point, thanks for bringing it up.


At Friday, January 20, 2006 9:20:00 AM, Blogger Doug E. said...


What do you think of Gudem's systematic? I've just begun and the professor has given us five weeks to get through it, so I'll be moving fast.


At Friday, January 20, 2006 9:22:00 AM, Blogger Doug E. said...


I agree, many times that is the case. A lot of times the ones who say it don't even read the Bible.


At Friday, January 20, 2006 4:05:00 PM, Blogger Daniel said...

Grudem is excellent.

Good thoughts on systematic theology. However, we must remember that the Bible isn't just a systematic theology textbook. It needs to understand as any other book of literature. We need to take the genre, the historical situation, and stuff like that into consideration. That's why I'm a big fan of biblical theology as opposed to systematic or historic theology.

At Friday, January 20, 2006 4:11:00 PM, Blogger Doug E. said...


I agree Biblical theology comes first, then we can systemtize the truths found in scriputure.

Good point,


At Friday, January 20, 2006 7:27:00 PM, Blogger T.B. Vick said...

Good thoughts, Doug.

There is so much rich history in Christianity, and it is through this history that we understand the Bible so much better - especially the languages in which the books of the Bible were written.

Most people do not realize that just 500 to 700 years ago, the manusripts we had for the texts of Scripture were very few and not widely circulated, and now there are literaly over 5500 extant manuscripts of the books of the Bible and these manuscripts have given us some of the best translations of the Bible that we read today (e.g. ESV).

Without those men/scholars to pour through the texts, and without their insight and theology just of the texts alone, we would not be reading the quality of translations of the Bible we freely read.

So to read only the Bible and disregard over 2000 years of history is not very well balanced.

At Saturday, January 21, 2006 3:08:00 AM, Blogger Fundamentally Reformed said...

Good post. I came across another post making a similar point a while back and blogged about it here. I too appreciate Grudem's Systematic Theology.

At Sunday, January 22, 2006 9:45:00 AM, Blogger Corbin J. Stilwell said...

I hate how sometimes we do neglect the Bible itself. It's very frustrating for me because I'm a big John Piper fan and his stuff is great... But only scripture is Gods pure revealed will. So there is a balance we have to find of STUDYING the bible and then getting the outside sources that help exogete everything. God has given a gift to many theologins to write for a reason. Context is so important. Particularily historical context. The bible doesn't always talk about that stuff so to have a deeper understanding of it's meaning we must understand the things going on outside the bible as well. Once again, our main efforts should be focused on STUDYING the Bible.

At Monday, January 23, 2006 10:59:00 AM, Blogger Doug E. said...


I neglect it sometimes myself. That is why I have set a goal to spend at least a half hour a day in reading the scriptures. Regardless of how much reading I've done or have to do. Not that I do it perfectly everyday, but setting that time apart helps me do it more frequently.



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