Do Christians need Additional Scripture?

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By BibleAsk Team


The question of whether Christians need additional scripture is a significant one, especially in light of claims by groups like the Mormons, who justify their unique doctrines with texts beyond the traditional Christian canon. This essay will examine the biblical stance on the sufficiency of Scripture, the role of additional revelations, and how the Bible addresses these issues.

The Sufficiency of Scripture

The Bible’s Testimony About Itself

The Bible affirms its completeness and sufficiency for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness.

  • 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NKJV): “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 complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

This passage underscores that Scripture is divinely inspired and sufficient to equip believers for every aspect of their spiritual lives.

The Finality of Revelation in Christ

The New Testament presents Jesus Christ as the ultimate and final revelation of God, superseding previous revelations.

  • Hebrews 1:1-2 (NKJV): “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds.”

This indicates that God’s ultimate revelation came through Jesus Christ, suggesting that no further revelation is necessary beyond what He has given.

The Canon of Scripture

The early church recognized a closed canon of Scripture, which includes the Old and New Testaments. This canon was affirmed by various church councils and has remained consistent in mainstream Christianity.

  • Revelation 22:18-19 (NKJV): “For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”

While this specific warning pertains to the Book of Revelation, it reflects a broader principle against adding to or subtracting from God’s revealed Word.

Claims of Additional Scripture

The Mormon Perspective

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) asserts that additional scriptures, such as the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price, are divinely inspired and complement the Bible. However, the Book of Mormon contains numerous passages that contradict what the Bible says. For more on that, check the following link: https://bibleask.org/does-the-book-of-mormon-contradict-the-bible/

Evaluating New Revelations

The Bible provides criteria for evaluating claims of new revelations and prophets.

  • 1 John 4:1 (NKJV): “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

Christians are urged to test any new revelations against the established truths of Scripture.

The Role of Tradition and Apostolic Teaching

Apostolic Tradition

The teachings of the apostles, recorded in the New Testament, are foundational for Christian faith and practice.

  • Ephesians 2:19-20 (NKJV): “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone.”

This passage emphasizes the foundational role of the apostles and prophets, with Christ as the cornerstone, suggesting that the foundation has already been laid.

Warnings Against Departing from Apostolic Teaching

The New Testament warns against deviating from the apostolic teachings.

  • Galatians 1:8-9 (NKJV): “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.”

Paul’s strong warning highlights the danger of accepting teachings that diverge from the gospel he and the other apostles proclaimed.

The Role of the Holy Spirit

The Spirit’s Guidance

The Holy Spirit plays a crucial role in guiding believers into all truth, illuminating their understanding of Scripture.

  • John 16:13 (NKJV): “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.”

The Spirit’s role is to guide and remind believers of what Jesus has taught, not to introduce new doctrines that contradict Scripture. The night before Jesus’ crucifixion, Jesus promised His apostles that after His departure, the Spirit would come and guide them “into all truth” (John 16:13, NKJV), teaching them “all things,” and bringing to their remembrance “all things” that Jesus taught them (John 14:26, NKJV).

And after His crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus then commanded these same disciples to “Go therefore and make disciples … teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen” (Matthew 28:19-20, NKJV). The fact is, “the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” in the first century (Jude 3, NKJV), so since that time Christians have had “all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). Since then, “the man of God” has been “complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17, NKJV).

Continuity with Scripture

The Holy Spirit’s guidance will always be consistent with the teachings of Scripture.

  • 1 Corinthians 2:12-13 (NKJV): “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.”

The Spirit helps believers understand and apply the truths already revealed in Scripture.

Challenges of Additional Scriptures

Contradictions with the Bible

One major concern with additional scriptures is their potential to contradict the established teachings of the Bible.

Doctrinal Consistency

The consistency of doctrine is a hallmark of truth. Additional scriptures that introduce doctrines not found in the Bible or that contradict biblical teachings should be viewed with suspicion.

  • 2 Peter 1:20-21 (NKJV): “knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”

True prophecy and scripture come from God and align with His revealed Word.

The Impact of Additional Scriptures on Christian Unity

Unity in the Body of Christ

The introduction of additional scriptures can lead to division within the body of Christ, as different groups adhere to different sources of authority.

  • Ephesians 4:4-6 (NKJV): “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”

Unity in the faith is crucial, and additional scriptures can disrupt this unity by introducing divergent beliefs.

Historical Continuity

The Christian faith has historically been based on the Bible as the sole authoritative scripture. Introducing new scriptures breaks with this historical continuity and creates theological fragmentation.

To those who seek a new scripture, Paul warns saying,

  • Galatians 1:6-9 (NKJV): “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.”

Conclusion

The Bible presents itself as a complete and sufficient revelation from God. The scriptural guidelines warn against adding to or subtracting from this revelation and emphasize the sufficiency of the teachings of Jesus and the apostles. While the Holy Spirit continues to guide and illuminate believers, this guidance is always consistent with the truths already revealed in Scripture.

Claims of additional scriptures, such as those by the Mormons, must be tested against the Bible’s established teachings. Any new revelation that contradicts or adds to the biblical message should be approached with caution and discernment. Ultimately, the unity and consistency of Christian doctrine depend on adhering to the Bible as the final and complete authority on matters of faith and practice.

Check out our Bible Answers page for more information on a variety of topics.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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