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Biblical Authority: The Critical Issue for the Body of Christ Paperback – July 1, 2001

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About the Author

James T. Draper, Jr. served as president of LifeWay Christian Resources from 1991 until 2006 and is also a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention. His previous books include Biblical Authority and Preaching with Passion. Dr. Draper and his wife, Carol Ann, now live in Colleyville, Texas.



Ken Keathley currently serves as Dean of Graduate Studies and Professor of Theology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC. Ken graduated from Southeastern with a Master of Divinity and a Ph.D. in Theology. A native Missourian who came to Christ at the age of 17, he has served as Youth Pastor, Interim Pastor, or Senior Pastor of churches in Missouri, the Carolinas and Louisiana. Ken and his wife, Penny, live in Rolesville, NC. They have two grown children, Matt and Allison.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: B&H Books; Revised and Updated ed. edition (July 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805424539
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805424539
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #341,739 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Daniel King on May 18, 2016
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The main thesis of the book is that “The Scriptures must be the final ground for guidance in all areas of life” (p. X). The authors argue that revealed Scripture should be the foundational authority for all knowledge about God and life. The authors point out that one of the key tenets of Reformation was sola scriptura, “Scripture only as our final, ultimate base of authority and truth” (p. 9).
The first chapter deals with epistemology, how one knows what one knows. Three possible sources for knowledge are examined. The first possible source of authority is human reason. Human reason can be broken down into rationalism, empiricism, and mysticism. Rationalism and empiricism are the favorite methods of gathering knowledge of the modern day scientist. If reason is the final arbiter of knowledge, it makes the human mind the final source of authority. The second possible source of authority is ecclesiastical authority. Some people (particularly Roman Catholics) believe that their church is the final authority. Since the Church collected and preserved the Scriptures, it seems they should have some say in interpreting them. The third source of authority is divine revelation. Divine revelation can come from general revelation (seeing God in creation) or special revelation (seeing God in His written word). The authors soundly reject the Charismatic belief that God continues special revelation today by speaking to modern day believers.
In chapter two, the authors examine four reasons why Scriptural authority has been challenged. These are the emergence of the historical-critical approach to Scripture. The second is existential philosophy. The third is the rise of naturalistic-uniformitarian science. The fourth is the study of comparative religions.
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Format: Paperback
This was required reading for my Theology I class with Dr. Keathley. Required reading is generally something you want to pass on, but this book is clear and packed with information. The following is an outline of the entire book.

1. A Tragic Step That Can Lead to Spiritual Disaster
There has been a shift in matters pertaining to Biblical authority, from the local pulpit to the seminary professor. The shift magnified what people accepted as the source of truth. The core doctrines of the Christian faith were embraced, but the foundation from which these doctrines arose was being denied. It was argued the primary debate resided around the source of truth. When this is embraced, the door opens to any doctrine and lifestyle.

2. The Dramatic Shift Away from Biblical Authority
The shift away from Biblical authority was traced throughout history to the current date. The shift was evaluated from the historical-critical approach, existential and postmodern thought, naturalistic, uniformitarian science and comparative religions. These shifts were argued to have placed the church in its current state of elevating reason over revelation.

3. The Church's Historical Position on Biblical Authority
The authority of Scripture and Biblical inerrancy were traced from Clement of Rome to Jonathan Edwards. The historical outline was provided, demonstrating that through history the church has embraced the Scriptural authority.

4. Baptists' Historical Position on Biblical Authority
Historical Baptist stance on the authority of Scripture was traced from "first Baptist church to be the one established in Amsterdam in 1609" to W. T. Conner. An overview of the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message criterion loophole regarding interpretation being by Jesus was evaluated.
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If you are a southern Baptist you need to meditate on the message of this book in light of the BIBLE!
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Format: Paperback
In Biblical Authority: The Critical Issue For The Body Of Christ, James Draper (president of LifeWay Christian Resources) and Kenneth Keathley (Dean f Students and Assistant Professor of Theology and Philosophy, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary) effectively collaborate to present key issues confronting the Christian church as it relates to the authority and message of the Bible. The issues covered including how the abandonment of biblical authority in decision making and standards of conduct lead to spiritual disaster for the community of faith, the Church's historical position on biblical authority, the nature and meaning of biblical authority, and relationship of the Southern Baptist Convention and Authority to the community church. Biblical Authority is strongly recommended reading, especially for those within the Baptist community.
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This book is very informative and easy to understand. Theres not too much theological lingo.
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