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  • Writer's pictureJonathan Balmer

We Believe: In The Testimony of Prophets & Apostles

This is the first part of the series: "We Believe: Back To Basics" which is a series on our faith. It follows the articles of the New Hampshire Baptist Confession of 1833, which our church general holds to, recognizing and respecting the diversity of believers in our congregation.

You can find Live streams of the series sermons on the church center app.

We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of life. This one who is life itself was revealed to us, and we have seen him. And now we testify and proclaim to you that he is the one who is eternal life. He was with the Father, and then he was revealed to us. We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy. 1 John 1:1-4 (NLT)

A bit more than a decade ago a Humanities professor, Stanley Fish, wrote an opinion piece in The New York Times entitled: “Citing Chapter and Verse: Which Scripture Is the Right One?”

In it, he described several atheistic critics of religious persons suggesting that scientific inquiry and method have proven Christianity false and that religious people simply refused to listen to the evidence. The host of the cable news program asked these critics what simply doubted the sources of “the evidence” they preferred. Weren’t we all, in some sense, appealing to our own authorities?

Fish writes:

“It was at this point that Dawkins said something amazing, although neither he nor anyone else picked up on it. He said: in the arena of science you can invoke Professor So-and-So’s study published in 2008, ‘you can actually cite chapter and verse.’

Dr. Fish noted the irony of the phrase, as it echoes the practice of citing Scripture. But he uses this exchange to critique the idea that truth is simply self-evidently about recognizing the evidence. Dr. Fish is quick to point out that there is no independent authority which will convince everyone of THE truth, regardless of their starting point. In fact, our starting points are so often are our authority. He says this, adding:

“It is at bottom a question of original authority: with what conviction — basic orthodoxy — about where truth and illumination are to be found do you begin? Once that question is answered satisfactorily for you (by revelation, education or conversion), you cannot test the answer by bringing it before the bar of some independent arbiter, for your answer now is the arbiter (and measure) of everything that comes before you. Your answer delivers the world to you and delivers with it mechanisms for distinguishing good evidence from bad or beside-the-point evidence and good reasons from reasons that just don’t cut it. “

It might be a somewhat heady point, but it’s true: we bring a lot of assumptions to the table in all of our searches for truth. Much more humility is needed for the task than we often give it.

So the question is, for us, “Which Scripture is the right one?” Who will we trust?

We’re beginning a new series entitled “We Believe: Back to Basics.” It's all about what Christians in general, and we at First Baptist, believe. Does any of this make sense in a modern age?

We believe the testimony of Apostles and Prophets to the true word of God spoken in Jesus, very much has something to say to our time, and people of all times.

This series follows the organization of the New Hampshire Baptist Confession of Faith of 1833 (NHCF 1833). An old document that our church generally adheres to, (recognizing and respecting the diversity of believers).

We live in a time and place where the idea that the Bible might have something unique or true to say about God and ourselves is not taken for granted. So when we read a document like the NHCF1833 that says:

"The Bible in a Disenchanted Age" by R.W.L Moberly (Baker Academic, 2018)
“We believe that the Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired, and is a perfect treasure of heavenly instruction”

You might wonder “How can you be sure?” or “Is that even possible?” What makes The Bible different from any other ancient text? Is there, to use the title of R.W.L. Moberly’s helpful book, a place for the Bible in a disenchanted age?

Join us this Sunday as we talk about what it means for something to be “the word of God” and why Scripture might surprise us all over again. The testimony of Prophets and Apostles found in the pages of Scripture really might be “a lamp unto our feet” (Psalm 119:105) which guides us.

Join us as we experience how it all leads to “The Word [who] became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” (John 1:14a)

If it’s true, it’s good news.

If it’s true, these are more than just ancient inventions of clever people. They are the testimonies of those who can point us to God.

If it's true:

“We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14b NIV).

Reflection Questions:

  1. What is your experience with Scripture? What expectations do you bring to it? Has this changed over time and why?

  2. What makes the way you approach the Bible similar to, or different from, other texts? Have you ever thought about why you treat them similarly or differently?

  3. Read Luke 24:13-35. What does Jesus do with scripture that seems unique or unusual?


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