We need an “intellectual conversion” concerning the truthfulness of scripture

July 11, 2015

wright_resurrectionJust yesterday, I was telling a friend about what I describe as my “re-conversion” experience—an evangelical re-conversion—that took place some time between my commissioning as a “probationary elder” in the United Methodist Church in 2007—when I was a theological liberal—and my ordination three years later.

I say “evangelical” because I became convicted once again about the complete truthfulness of the Bible. Over time, I came to believe in the infallibility of scripture. Today, I don’t even mind identifying as an inerrantist, since I don’t believe that God’s Word, when rightly interpreted in its context, contains errors.

One thing is for sure: this re-conversion began around the time I started this blog in 2009.

One of several formative events in my re-conversion was reading, in 2009, N.T. Wright’s dense academic work, The Resurrection of the Son of God, which loudly affirms, on historical, linguistic, and theological grounds, the bodily resurrection of Jesus. One question I asked myself at the time was this: If the Bible can be fully trusted in this most important matter, then why shouldn’t it be trusted in other matters?


Given my personal history, I was convicted by the following words from Christian apologist and Oxford mathematician John Lennox on last week’s Unbelievable? podcast. He was giving a lecture about his new book, Against the Flow: The Inspiration of Daniel in an Age of Relativism. I especially resonate with his words about being “intellectually converted” concerning scripture’s truthfulness—because this happened to me! These are not “nice little stories” detached from the “real stuff of life.”

We’re playing religion, ladies and gentlemen, if we think that five minutes looking at scripture is going to get us through life when we’re spending hours and hours developing a professional career. I know there are times of pressure at different times in life, but I do believe we have to wake up and be serious. You cannot influence the world if you’re not inwardly convinced of the truth of these things. And the only offensive weapon we’ve got is the Word of God that we don’t know it; we can’t use it.

And I think we really need, some of us, to be—and I mean this seriously—intellectually converted. Because we have scripture and it’s over here. Nice little stories: Daniel in the Lion’s Den. That’s not the real stuff of life.

And so many Christians… have marginalized scripture and marginalized a daily relationship with God. I mean, can we be utterly blunt? Many people in this audience are probably involved in one kind of Christian work or another. And I start talking to them, and things aren’t too good, and I discover that husbands are not praying and reading with their wives—haven’t done it for years. And if there’s no reality of God in our family life, how can we expect to be attractive to the world? We can’t!

8 Responses to “We need an “intellectual conversion” concerning the truthfulness of scripture”

  1. Grant Essex Says:

    Wow! Wow! and Wow!

    “Re-conversion” and “intellectual conversion”.

    That’s what happened to me about 13 years ago,
    (and it hasn’t slowed down one bit!).

    Suddenly I couldn’t get enough of the word of God. I couldn’t read, or hear, too many commentaries. I started attending national and regional conferences offered to the public by some of today’s great teachers. R.C. Sproul, John MacArthur, John Piper, and others. The presentations ran for days, and the discussion periods were so rich and deep. And, there are more in their archives; J.I. Packer, James Montgomery Boice, Martin Lloyd Jones. You can even go back and listen to radio sermons by A. D. Tozer!

    Now that I can’t travel so well, I find that many conferences are offered as live streaming, often for free.

    One of the big truths of the Bible, for me, has been learning that people of great learning and intellect can disagree on some very major theological issues. They aren’t going to change each other’s minds, but they are still willing to participate in a full discussion of their differences. That has helped me greatly. If these giants can disagree firmly, but with civility, so then should I be able to do so.

    I love the links you provide in this blog.

    • brentwhite Says:

      If two people, each in love with Jesus, each committed to the truthfulness and authority of scripture, disagree in good faith, then that’s fine with me. If, on the other hand, the presupposition of one of those people is that the Bible isn’t necessarily truthful, then that’s when I have a problem. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Grant Essex Says:

    No, not that. It’s more like disagreements on infant baptism, or even that big one: “Who are ‘the elect’ and ‘predestined’, and how are they saved? I don’t think that all Arminians have to be right, or all Calvinists have to be wrong, when they go to the Bible for authority. Or, vice versa. 🙂

    • brentwhite Says:

      I agree.

      • Grant Essex Says:

        I find so much richness in the passion for both of those views. Somehow, they are both right.

      • brentwhite Says:

        As Tom Harkins and I frequently discuss, the New Testament seems to want to hold in tension two things: utter confidence in God’s desire, power, and intention to save us (the P of “TULIP”) and the need for us who are already saved, or “being saved,” not to risk coming up short and losing our salvation (see, as one small example 1 Corinthians 9:24-27). The NT emphasizes God’s sovereignty and human responsibility. I think this is one sense in which they’re “both right.”

  3. Grant Essex Says:

    Yes! Yes! Again.

    Tension. Such a perfect word.

    There is tension between Grace and Truth. Love and Suffering. Free Will and Sovereign Authority.

    If you don’t feel the tension, I’m not sure you are experiencing the sanctifying work of the Spirit.

  4. […] White shares his testimony of his conversion to being a strong conviction about the truthfulness of the […]

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