Today, if you walk into any evangelical or pentecostal church, you are unlikely to find a pastor or church leader who will deny the authority of the Bible. The authority of the Bible has been a firmly held belief in Protestant churches since the 16th century, when Reformers such as Martin Luther and John Calvin reaffirmed the authority of the Bible over the teaching of the Pope and church traditions. They believed in “Sola Scriptura”, a Latin phrase that means “Scripture Alone.” The Bible alone is authoritative and sufficient for teaching and leading the Christian life.
Many people equate "Sola Scriptura" with the inerrancy and authority of the Bible. However, another important part of Sola Scriptura is the sufficiency of Scripture. Churches today may affirm the authority of the Bible, but if you look at the content of preaching in many places, the Bible is not front and center. Anecdotal stories, pop psychology, managerial techniques, tips for living, the latest prophecy or word of knowledge, or whatever good idea the preacher came up with on Saturday night is the main attraction. The Bible is only perfunctorily consulted and used to support main ideas that come from someplace else. For many preachers, the Bible serves as merely a source of inspiration and a launching pad to get started in preaching, but does not set the direction and content of what is preached. No one comes out and says it, but it is implicitly affirmed that just teaching the Bible isn’t really enough to help people grow in Christ and face the challenges of modern life. The unspoken message in many places is that the Bible may be sufficient for getting saved, but to really grow in the Christian life, what we need is….. [fill in latest trendy idea or technique here].
So is the Bible really sufficient? Is it enough? Or do we need to heavily supplement from elsewhere in order for God’s people to know God and know what he wants us to do?