Dr. Willard poses a question in Chapter 5 that deserves comment.
Do we need anything more than the Bible?
It seems he is reflecting the thought that some Christians have that the Bible and the church are all that God needs when it comes to communicating messages to man. Voices, dreams, visions, prophetic people and individual thoughts are no longer needed.
Where do people get the idea that a word from God is no longer needed?
The closed canon of the Bible is one means of support. Granted, scripture was canonized in 363 A.D. at the Council of Laodicea and most Christians accept the extant books of the Old Testament and New Testament as “the Bible”. It seems that this is enough for some. We don’t need personal guidance from the Holy Spirit. All we need is in the Bible.
Another argument is that Holy Spirit communication was good for the early church but it is not needed now. The people in the early church needed to have miracles and inspirational visions, voices and prophetic words. They were just beginning to believe in Jesus and without all those “helps” the church would never have started.
What are they saying?
Do we think we are solid in our beliefs now as a church in today’s world? How can we think this when a recent Pew Research poll shows a 5 million person drop in people who identify as “Christian?” The greatest shift in religious affiliation is the number who say they are not affiliated with any religion.
Maybe one way to bring people back to God today is have some God to man communication that is powerful.
Some would argue that we are much better than in more primitive times. I admit that I don’t have the statistics that would support the assertion that we are more “civilized” today than days of old. Maybe the violence we hear about today pales in comparison to the violence of earlier days. Maybe the public display of immoral behavior pales in comparison to the display of days gone by.
I am not a fan of people who wring their hands about the state of the world and say things like “the world is going to hell!” I am a person who will say I am not sure we have worked things out that well yet. We have more work to do and I need God to help me to make a positive statement through my life.
Maybe other people say, “we are doing all right. Thank you very much God. We don’t need you.”
What I am saying…I am not one of those.
Then Dr. Willard mentions the Bible deists. A deist is a person who believes a creator god does exist, but that after the motions of the universe were set in place He retreated, having no further interaction with the created universe or the beings within it.
This type of worldview has been around awhile. Dr. Willard points to the Sadducees in the time of Jesus who felt that God to man communication stopped after God spoke to Moses.
Deism picked up steam in the 18th Century when many philosophers such as the Englishman John Locke and the Frenchman Voltaire wrote powerful and popular works that influenced many thinkers in society.
As I return to the original question “Isn’t the Bible enough?” I question that it is.
Certainly the Bible is what we need to study as Christians. It is a Divine Work that deserves careful, thoughtful consideration as the Book of God. We need it. We should read it. We should let it be our guide, but we need more. It all goes back to the fact that we are “free, intelligent beings” who have lives to lead that are full of choices. We can think, we can choose, we can act and we need guidance.
We need a communicating God.
We need a Holy Spirit connection.
Dr. Willard says “Surely one of the most damaging things we can do to people’s spiritual prospects is to suggest that God will not deal with them specifically, personally, intelligibly and consciously or that they cannot count on Him to do what He knows best.”
We are supposed to be priests.
What does the expression “priesthood of all believers” mean?
Protestants believe that through Christ they have been given direct access to God, just like a priest; thus the doctrine is called the priesthood of all believers. God is equally accessible to all the faithful, and every Christian has equal potential to minister for God.
For me to be a priest, I need help.
Help from God.
The best way for me to receive that help is to hear from Him. I believe this communication happens. It happens to me.
I need it.