Post-Modern Biblical Authority: Letting Scripture Define Our Terms


Lord’s Library contributor Nate Myers calls for post-modern Biblical authority and letting Scripture define our terms, while also making the case for sufficiency. Check out Nathaniel’s YouTube channel and podcast called Fortitude in Truth. Lord’s Library’s Ministry Leaders Series is a collection of contributed articles written by ministry leaders on key Christian topics.

Ministry Leaders Series BadgeThe 21st century has seen the rise of the post-modern movement, and with it, the idea of “subjective truth.” This stands in direct contrast to the objective truths of Scripture. There are many ways, and in fact, many works have been seen to address this issue in some fashion or another. The focus here is on the terms we use. Very often Christians are faced with the dilemma of using the same words as whomever they are talking to (whether Christian or not) but the words they use are not defined the same way.

I am not speaking of theological jargon or academic speech, but rather plain and simple words that should be easy to define (e.g., love) but often are the source of debate and confusion. What stands to reason, is that as Christians we should let God, via His revealed Word, define our terms (e.g. we do not get to define what love means, but God through Scripture gets to define what love means).

The immediate response of some is likely, why? Why does God get to define terms? The answer, in short, is that God is the sovereign creator.

The Gospel

Post-Modern Biblical Authority: Letting Scripture Define Our Terms

Now, the Creator could have chosen to create and “leave well enough alone” and not have revealed Himself to His creation. However, because of who He is, this was simply not the case. While God may have had the right to not exercise dominion and authority, He chose to. He chose to have a relationship with His creation. Consequently though, as His creation, we ought to be bound to He who created us.

Consider the words of Paul in Romans 9:20-21: “Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?”

Two things are evident in this inspired passage. The first is that Paul is drawing on the Old Testament, and furthering the point that our role in relation to God is submissive. The second is that, in the context of this passage, the highly debated chapter of Romans 9, just a few verses prior, in verse 18 states: “Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.”

While mercy and hardening are not fully defined in this passage, it is clear that God gets to decide not only what He does, but what He means (the terms) by what He does.

The simple fact that God the creator, really that God is God, is reason alone to let Him define the terms that we use. But for the sake of argument, let me provide one more, that is, the clear authority that is given to His Word. See 2 Timothy 3:16 -17: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”

I could spend the remainder of this article exegeting this passage, but that is not the point. The point is that not only does Scripture come from God, but Paul tells Timothy that it is useful. It is useful for a great many things, and “defining terms” is not explicitly mentioned. Doctrine could be one way to view “terms.” Scripture is useful for defining what we believe (doctrine), much of what doctrine can be summed up in words that must be properly defined. Where does their proper definition come from? Scripture.

“Instruction in righteousness” also does not directly mean “defining terms.” Scripture does, along with the Spirit, conform us to the likeness of the Son. Part of making us like Christ is that we begin to further understand how God defines things, both in definition and in practice. God defines all His terms perfectly. Scripture lays out who God is and how he defines His terms. The issue lies in our fallen nature that sometimes clouds our vision and we define terms how we think they should be defined. The sanctification process continues to reform our definitions to fit God’s definitions of His terms.

As Christians, we are all growing together under Christ and in His likeness. We each must continue to strive to let God via Scripture define His terms. It is even more important that we live by them. When dealing with the unsaved, or the askew when it comes to a particular term, it is important to stick to His Word. Our own definitions (saved or not) are fickle and often subjective and are in need of the objective truth of God to shine a light on them.

God has created us. He has chosen to have a relationship with us, even though that relationship demanded the ultimate sacrifice of His Son to pay for our redemption. He gave us His revealed Word along with His Spirit to guide us on our journeys. Part of that guidance is a continual call to let God define the terms we use, both what we mean and what we do in response to them. The call is upward and further into His presence and His likeness.

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Nate Myers
Nate Myers

Nate Myers

Nathaniel is an ordained minister, currently serving in a lay capacity at his local Church. He received his Master of Divinity from Liberty University in 2023 and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Bible Exposition from the same university. He has a passion for teaching, preaching, and writing. Nathaniel is also the co-host of the “Fortitude in Truth” which is a podcast aimed to teach and promote the strength and sufficiency of Scripture.

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