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Does the Church Produce the Bible or Does the Bible Produce the Church?

by Ryan Thomas

Perhaps one of the biggest misconceptions regarding the Bible is that it is a product of the church. Many reject the Bible as our sole source of religious authority and instruction and belittle us for believing in the “Bible alone theory.” Thus, there is a great need to discuss the relationship between the Bible and the church. As always, we will appeal to the scripture as our only source of authority and not our own wisdom (I Corinthians 2:6-7).

For one to understand that the Bible is our only standard for all religious faith and practice, one must understand the church is the result of the Bible and depends on it for everything it preaches and practices. In other words, the Bible produces the church, not the other way around. We are told by some that since the “church is the pillar and ground of the truth” (I Timothy 3:15), the church itself establishes what truth is. On the contrary, truth emanates only from God (Psalms 86:11; John 1:17; 17:17) and the church is limited to preaching, practicing and upholding that truth (Matthew 28:20). Or as Paul put it in Ephesians 3:10, “To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in the heavenly places might be made known by the church the manifold wisdom of God.” The church, just like individuals, must appeal to the Bible as the only source of authority for it alone contains the manifold wisdom of God (I Corinthians 2:9-13; Ephesians 3:3-5). Just as Moses was admonished to “make all things according to the pattern” (Hebrews 8:5); we must use the Bible alone to insure we are following God’s revealed pattern for His church. Thus, we must speak where the Bible speaks, remain silent where the Bible is silent, do Bible things in Bible ways, and call Bible things by Bible names (I Peter 4:11).

We read in Acts 16:5 that the “churches were established in the faith.” We would like to emphasize very kindly, yet very firmly, that the one true church is established in the faith,it does not establish the faith. The faith which is spoken of in Acts 16:5 is simply the revealed truth of the gospel which was “once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3) by the end of the first century. As beings created with the rights of freedom and choice, why would anyone bind themselves to the decrees, councils and conventions of men? “God forbid: yea, let God be true and every man a liar” (Romans 3:4).