Back in the early 1970’s a fairly weak hurricane swept through the Florida Keys. It appeared at first that the Keys escaped serious damage. But inspectors soon found that one of the bridges was damaged beyond repair. The sea currents created by the storm had eroded all the support around the pilings so that the bridge was being held up only by its structure. The supports of the bridge were “floating,” making no contact with the bedrock where they were originally anchored. Traffic continued over the bridge for a time because it appeared that everything was all right. But engineers knew that the bridge would eventually collapse with likely disastrous results.
In deciding on the basic beliefs that would guide The Salvation Army, the founders concluded that the first doctrine should be the cornerstone upon which all the rest of the beliefs and practices should be built. Do you remember it? "We believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were given by inspiration of God and that they only constitute the divine rule of Christian faith and practice." Progressing through the remaining 10 doctrines, it is apparent that without this one in the forefront, the others simply cannot stand.
The term used for the standard to which books were included in the Bible is canon, which literally means a measuring stick. The early church fathers had to have some means to decide which writings, out of the hundreds available to them, were truly inspired by God and as such accurately conveyed His will to mankind. The result was our present day Bible. Efforts to improve upon it, whether with later so-called inspired writings” that proposed to correct or add to the Bible have only led to error. The measuring stick of the Word is what guides us into the truth that God would have us know through His own revealing. We have enough on our hands to understand and apply the truths of what He has revealed in the 66 books of the Bible without more being added.
Of greater concern than those who would add to the Scriptures are those who, applying standards of their own creation, decide what is or is not inspired. Starting first by nibbling around the edges, they move more to the center until finally we have groups like the Jesus Project, which has decided that only one or two sayings recorded in the Bible were actually ever spoken by Jesus. Amazing. Men sit around twenty centuries after an event and with a sense of their own importance and an overdose of arrogance claim that they can decipher what the rest of the world has known as true for centuries.
For those who may doubt the need to accept the truth and authority of the Bible as necessary to the vitality of the Faith, I would invite them to examine history. Those denominations that have moved away from accepting the inspiration and accuracy of the Bible have not blossomed. In fact, they are dying. Could this be coincidental?
There has been no great moving of the Spirit of God in revival without a return to the Scriptures. And any generation that thinks it can substitute praise music, staging, marketing techniques, or Hollywood pizzazz, in the place of honoring the Word of God will find that it is as passé as the terms “groovy” and "out of sight.” Nor can spiritual power be found when the Bible receives less attention than is devoted to media icons. All these may be well and good as far as they go, but they have the insidious tendency to fill our time and attention while leaving our souls barren. Our meat must be the Bread of Life. If not, we may have the appearance of strength but in fact be ruined.
Back to that bridge in the Keys. The answer of the engineers to the problem of spanning the water was not to tear down the old bridge but to build a new one next to it, more firmly anchored in the bedrock below the ocean floor. The old bridge still stands, abandoned to the traffic for which it was built, a relic that is no longer useful because it lost contact with its bedrock. The Salvation Army will see for itself the same fate, bypassed and left to rust in the sun, if it fails to remember its foundation.