2 Peter 1:3 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. (NIV, 1984 Edition)
Everything we need?
What shall we make of this passage? What, exactly, did Peter have in mind when he penned it? Would Peter say it applies to believers in 2012 as much as it applied to the audience to whom he was writing in the First Century?
As many like to use this passage to make various points, particularly about the sufficiency of the Bible to meet our needs, I thought it might be useful for some to read the list of questions it has prompted in my mind over time. The goal here is not to impart upon the reader my conclusions, but to lead the reader through a fairly comprehensive list of ideas and possibilities that are relevant to this particular passage. So without further adieu, here’s a lightly-edited version old post I put on a discussion forum some years ago. This might get your wheels turning a bit. I have some better ideas as to the explanations than I did then, and I would not ask all these same questions today, or I wouldn’t ask them in the same exact way, but I have left them more or less as they were a few years ago because the primary goal here is to think through the issues.
Here are a few questions, perhaps redundant, or at least related, and from different angles. My hope in putting all these questions together is to shotgun the issue that I’m pondering in hope that the questions will make better sense as a whole than they might make individually.
Is is self-evident that God has given us “everything we need” to know how to be Christians in this century?
Is it obvious that the scriptures are absolutely complete?
Is it inconceivable that there could be any inspired writings that didn’t make it into the Canon?
Is it a foregone conclusion that we simply don’t need to know whatever God didn’t choose to have included in the Bible?
Is it obvious that God directed the steps of the cannonizers? (This isn’t the same as asking whether you agree with their decisions, but whether God specifically directed their decisions.)
Is it a certainty that if it would help us, God had it put in the scriptures and saved for our generation?
Do we deserve to be told everything that is pertinent to our efforts to emulate or to restore anything about Christianity? Or, on the other side of the coin, is God bound by his perfect character to tell us everything we need to know or might like to know?
Is there any promise in scripture that everything that God ever inspired a man to write will remain extant in every generation?
Is it just obvious that God would never let any of the scriptures be lost for a time as they were in Josiah’s day? If not, why would it happen then, but not now?
Would it be unkind of God to leave us without some piece (or pieces) of important or crucial information?
Is it obvious that everything in the NT was inspired? Take Luke and the Acts, for instance. No one TELLS us they were inspired. In fact, Luke tells us his writings came about through careful investigation, and he makes no mention of inspiration. Yet, because it’s in “the Bible”, is it a must that we take it as inspired?
Can something be true and accurate without being inspired by God? Even an extrabiblical document?
Can any of the 2nd Century writings be as true and reliable as the NT writings?—even the ones that don’t come from someone that we know to have been inspired?
Why wouldn’t God leave us a clear job description for evangelist, along with a set of qualifications, and directions for how one is appointed, and by whom?
Why wouldn’t God leave us a similarly thorough list about teachers, elders, and deacons? (Yes, we have some things about about these roles, but it is still rather scant.)
Why wouldn’t God leave us a straightforward statement or two about what it is that the “church” ought to be doing with its time—and especially in its time in assembly? (The only real glimpse we get is so consumed with the exercise of the spiritual gifts that we can scarcely imagine what it would be like without the exercise of those gifts.)
Why wouldn’t God spell it out for a fact that (and when) all the miraculous gifts and healings were passing away?
Why wouldn’t God record in the Bible one iota about the events of 70 AD in Jerusalem and Judea (the destruction of the Temple and the slaughter of over a million Jews) and what, if anything, that was supposed to do to change Christianity in any way?
Why wouldn’t God close the chapter on the apostolic era by recording the completion of their work so that we can all see whether they had faithfully discharged the duties granted them and so meticulously recorded? That is, he meticulously recorded the beginning of the apostolic era–so why let the end of it go unrecorded?
Why wouldn’t God include a brief and concise passage, for the record, that details the exact “gospel message”? (Isn’t there a lot of disagreement about that amongst believers today?)
Why wouldn’t God come right out and say for the record, “no matter how much you believe and/or practice, unless you are baptized for the forgiveness of sins, you are going to the Lake of Fire”? Or why wouldn’t he come right out and say, “baptism was never intended to have anything to do with the forgiveness of sins”.
Why wouldn’t God prophesy (in the NT) about the coming of “denominations” and give us clear and concise direction on what to do and to think about them?
We all sit and ponder from within our various places in life as to how we ought to emulate or to”restore” Christianity (if at all) and to what extent it should be done. Yet it seems to me that we are missing a fair amount of rather crucial information. And I wonder why and how that could be.
I propose that the answer(s) to these questions should be incorporated into our hermeneutic to some extent….or at least that the questions themselves should be incorporated. I do not think we really understand just what “the Bible” really is. I do not see it addressed to us. Yet so many say it is “God’s love letter to us”, or other similar things. Or some say that while it wasn’t written to us, it was written for us—but even that is hard to support from the text. In fact, there is so little that can even be imagined to refer to us in there that this seems very shaky ground to me.
Indeed, if it were “for us”, wouldn’t it finish the story it began “for us”? “Oh, but we are the next chapter in Acts”, someone will surely suggest. “It’s an ongoing story”, they will continue. And to that I ask, “OK, who are the inspired ones who are charged with writing down the “Acts” for this century?” (And, by the way, where is the chapter for last century? I must have missed it.)
Something’s missing. Can’t figure it out yet. But something’s missing. Or else, for some reason, there’s an awful lot that I’d expect to be there that isn’t there. Perhaps it’s my problem—yet there are likely not many people on this planet who spend as much time trying to make sense out of this as Kay and I and the rest of you on this forum. Rarely do I pass by a “eunuch” in the break room, wondering aloud as he reads the scriptures!
If I busy myself with other things, perhaps these questions would fade a bit. But they are ever re-emerging, and the least bit of study or conversation brings them back to the surface.