Deere’s Treatment of Scripture

This section begins the focus on Dr. Jack Deere’s treatment of Scripture in his book, “Surprised by the Voice of God.” We will begin with an overview and then look more closely at the authority of Scripture and how Deere treats these revelations.

Deere’s Treatment of Scripture

“The Bible is the sacred Christian book. The fate of Christianity turns on its supernatural origin, the factuality of its redemptive history, and the validity of its teachings.”[1] The central and pivotal doctrine of Scripture is the doctrine of inspiration, it states that all Scripture is God-breathed and has God as its source. Since it is “wholly and verbally God-given, Scripture is without error or fault in all of its teachings, no less than what it states about God’s acts in Creation, about the events of world history, about its own literary origins under God, and its witness to God’s saving grace in individual lives.”[2] As a result of being from God, the inspired Scriptures carry with it the doctrines of inerrancy, authority, canonicity and sufficiency. This means that the Scriptures that God breathed out through the work of the Spirit to give us these trustworthy words come with His authority and are worthy of preservation so that His people may be equipped for obedience.

But what happens when someone starts to elevate a different revelation to have the same authority as the inspired Scriptures. What happens when we replace the authority of Scripture with our own experiences? What happens to God’s Word in a person’s life when they no longer look to it for revelation, but look to oneself? What happens when one starts skewing the lines to make the Bible fit into one’s life and theology instead of having the Bible provide one’s theology? In the next few sections, Deere’s treatment of Scripture will be examined against the doctrines of authority, canonicity and sufficiency to show how Scripture is mis-treated and his experiences have replaced Scripture’s primary revelatory role.

Authority of Scripture

Scripture is authoritative because it comes from God; it has God as its source. Since it is from God it has His divine authority and thus it is to be obeyed. God breathed out His instructions so that all who believe in Him will be “wise for salvation” (2 Tim. 3:15, NIV). Recalling that “all Scripture is God-breathed” (2 Tim. 3:16, NIV) means that Scripture is completely inspired. All of it has the authority of God. Some concepts or themes may not have the same importance as they once did or apply to the culture today, but that does not mean it is any less authoritative. There are some themes in Scripture that are more timeless or more important than others. Propositional truth is linked to a context in time and space because it uses language that is expressed in time and space of that certain culture. Even though some truths are more timeless than others, the Bible is still entirely authoritative because it is from God.

Deere argues that we have varying degrees of authority in Scripture. In discussing the present forms of prophecy and ongoing propositional revelation, he believes that visions, impressions and dreams have divine authority, but they do not have the same authority as Scripture. In making this statement, Deere suggests that all things that come from God have a varying degree of authority. Deere argues, “Nor am I saying that experience and Scripture are equal standards of authority for us.”[3] In his system, he is claiming that there are certain divine revelations that are more authoritative than others. This allows him to affirm that not only does Scripture have authority, but the experiences have authority as well. The issue is that if they are both from God, they should both have the same divine authority. God cannot be separated and neither can His authority.

In speaking of one’s obligation to obey spiritual promptings, Deere makes a contrast between the Bible having absolute authority over all believers and “divine personal guidance” having authority only over the person that it was given to.[4] In contrasting these two messages, he is stating that Scripture has one level of unique authority that applies to “all believers, everywhere, at all times.”[5] However, the divine messages have another level of authority because it applies to a limited time and place. Deere’s view of authority is significantly different from the view that sees all of Scripture having the authority of God. The commands in the Bible are not expressing God’s rules for all people, everywhere and in every time. There are some commands which are bound by time and others bound by culture. The Bible needs to be interpreted because some of it is relevant and applies to us today, while some of it does not, however it is all true and authoritative. The basis for his argument is that these visions, dreams and impressions have a different authority than the Bible.

Deere believes that the Bible is true but it does not help in interpreting the voices from God. “But probably more often than not, a naïve commitment to tradition often drowns his [God’s] voice in a sea of confidence in human methods and rules.”[6] What he is alluding to is that the extra-biblical voice of God is more reliable than the biblical voice of God. Deere is arguing that those who have incorporated a traditional form of Bible study are actually using a deficient method, while commending those who are supposedly interpreting the truth correctly because they are using the “voice” to know what Scripture is actually teaching.

In a warning about elevating interpretation above Scripture, Pinnock says, “The intent of the text is secondary to the needs of the interpreter. The Bible no longer rules us; we rule it!”[7] As believers, we can never allow our own interpretation or knowledge to have primary authority in our lives. While Scripture needs to be interpreted, it is Scripture that is authoritative.

[1] Carl F. H. Henry, “The Authority and Inspiration of the Bible,” in The Expositor’s Bible

Commentary, vol. 1 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1979), 3.

[2] “The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy,” in Inerrancy, ed. Norman Geisler (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1980), 493.

[3] Ibid, 127.

[4] Ibid, 284.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid, 249.

[7] Clark H. Pinnock, Biblical Revelation – the Foundation of Christian Theology, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1971), 223.

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