“For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong,” once said H. L. Mencken. I do not believe this question is as simple as it looks. Of course, I could offer a simple answer to this question without wholly believing in it, but I do not believe that would be ethical. Beyond that, I have the challenge to answer this tough question in only 600-625 words, so do not expect my text to be exhaustive or complete in the sense that I premeditated all possible rejoinders.
To answer this question, the theologian has to face at least two questions: (1) if the Bible is merely the record of God’s self-revelation, then were is the rest of it? Can we trust natural revelation to tell us about God, in the same way we trust Scripture? If God has not ended his revelation, where is he revealing himself now? Other writers? How do we know if we can trust them since they seem to say different things about God? And he has to answer (2) if the Bible is the revelation of God, how do we answer questions regarding deeds that the Word of God performed on earth that are not recorded? Were they revelation as well? If the Apostle’s miracles recorded in Scripture are revelation, why are the other miracles they performed not? If the Bible is the revelation of God, scientific data recorded in Scripture ought to be interpreted as literal? Again, I must stress that this is not my opinion, but questions that must be answered before developing an elucidation of this issue. I will restrain myself from answering these questions given the space that I have to answer the main question.
Orthodox Protestant Evangelicals will argue that Scripture is the Revelation of God, even though sometimes their interpretation of it will not rightly reflect God’s character. I include myself in this category. The reason why I believe the Bible is the revelation of God is because of (1) His intention with it, (2) the revelation found in the world is only accurately understood if we have Scripture, (3) the Scripture answers this question saying that revelation is completed, and (4) because is the only reliable source we have to know God.
- God intended to reveal himself in Scripture so that we could understand him and know Him in all matters he wanted to reveal.
- Natural revelation is only understood correctly through passages like Romans 1:20. If Jesus is the creator of the world (John 1:1-14; Colossians 1:16-19; Hebrews 1:1-3), creation must tell us something about Jesus. However, with no special revelation from God I doubt someone would look at the moon and think, “I believe Jesus Christ was born of a virgin to fulfill Jewish Scripture.”
- Jude 1:3 asserts that faith, or doctrine if you will, was “once for all delivered to the saints.” I take his words as speaking about Jesus Christ, the Living Word of God the Father. Jesus delivered the revelation to the writers once for all, and the word once (ἅπαξ) incites that no other faith will be delivered. How that applies to the cannon, is another story.
- Jude 1:8 also addresses this by saying that dreams are not reliable. Contrasting with Scripture that was once for all delivered to the saints (v. 3) it becomes clear that written revelation is reliable and experiences are doubtful.