Orthodox evangelicals believe in something called a "closed cannon." In other words, we believe the Bible as it is presently constructed-39 books in the Old Testament and 27 books in the New Testament-are the complete, written, inspired, inerrant Word of God. This matters for lots of reasons, but two big ones: a) we have all we need for faith and practice (2 Peter 1:3; 2 Timothy 3:16) and b) there is no new revelation, no new Scripture. The latter point takes seriously Revelation 22:19 in that we feel it dishonors the Word to add to it.
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In practice, most conservative evangelicals believe this. It's in our statements of faith, its part of our creeds, and we will not be ashamed to say we believe this. But in practice, we often say something different. We can do this in a variety of ways, but one big one for conservative, inerrantists is this: We often add lists, rules, and ideas to the Bible that just aren't there. This is a very subtle, yet dangerous thing to do, in my view. And I think it hurts the people we pastors are called to serve. Let me explain:
I've often had people approach me, as a pastor, and ask me, "Why don't you tell us what entertainment we should enjoy in our homes?" They want a list, the sanctified, sanitized, pastor-blessed list of acceptable movies and okay music. But I can't do this with integrity. I can't get up in the pulpit and say, "Thus saith the Lord . . ." when really the Lord has not spoken specifically on that subject. I can preach the broad ideas when it comes to entertainment. But mostly what I'm tasked with doing is simply preaching, clearly, the text of the Word of God, nothing more and nothing less. And I'm to trust the Holy Spirit who uses that Word to shape the hearts of my people.
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