By Corbin T. Volluz
The Bible teaches that it is the complete and final revelation of God to mankind.
In my response to Mr. La Coste’s first installment of this debate, I thought I had made my meaning so clear that a wayfaring man, though a fool, need not err therein (Isa. 35:8). Obviously I was mistaken. I have demonstrated as plainly as language permits that none of the three arguments advanced by Mr. La Coste in support of his proposition are valid. (In fact, Mr. La Coste now admits that his third argument dealt not with “finality” after all, but with “incorruptibility.” Incorruptibility, however, is not the issue here. Finality and completeness are.)
In spite of this, Mr, La Coste either refuses to acknowledge, or is incapable of understanding, why his arguments do not support his contention. Instead, he has decided to engage in a number of somewhat deceptive rhetorical techniques designed to cloud the issue for the unwary reader.
In his first paragraph, Mr. La Coste intimates that since he employed more passages of Scripture than I, he must be right. Is this the argument of a thinking man? Perhaps Mr. La Coste had forgotten that it is his task to prove that the Bible teaches it is the complete and final revelation of God. To do this, it is only natural he should quote from the Bible. My task, on the other hand, is to show that his arguments are unfounded. To do this requires no Scripture, but only a modicum of common sense.
In paragraph two, Mr. La Coste goes so far as to quote words I did not write and attributes ideas to me that are not mine. In responding to Mr. La Coste’s arguments, I used no “sugar-stick.” Mr. La Coste’s arguments concerning the Bible’s being complete and final aren’t valid simply because they are not valid. I need no “sugar-stick” to make that point. (Incidentally, I do not love the term non sequitur half so much as Mr. La Coste loves to use them in his arguments.)
In paragraph three, Mr. La Coste accuses me of using a non sequitur argument. He then challenges me to “produce from the Bible where God ever spoke to those in the garden” or “Abraham through prophets,” Apparently Mr. La Coste is not aware that a prophet is one to whom God reveals his will personally (Amos 3:7). Apparently Mr. La Coste is also not aware that God revealed his will personally to Adam in the garden and to Abraham (Gen. 2:16,17; 3:17; 12:1-3; 13:14-17). Therefore, Adam and Abraham were both prophets themselves, to whom and through whom God revealed his will. Instead of weakening my position that God has always spoken to his people through living prophets, Mr. La Coste’s challenge has served only to strengthen it.
It is interesting that later on in his response, in another context, Mr. La Coste quotes Hebrews 1:1,2 which specifically states that God did indeed “speak in times past unto the father by the prophets, “thus proving false his claim that “God has not always spoken through prophets.”
In all fairness to La Coste, though, it must be admitted that the Bible does speak of a group of people who, like himself, believed all the true prophets were dead, that God no longer speaks through living prophets, and that everything God ever said was written down and contained between the covers of a sacred book. Unfortunately for Mr. La Coste, however, that group of people who shared his beliefs was none other than the Pharisees. In fact, it was precisely because they “built the tombs of the [dead] prophets” but rejected the living bearers of God’s word that Christ excoriated them in Matthew 23.
So we see that not only does Mr. La Coste’s position put him out of step with every prophet of the Bible (Adam and Abraham included), it also lands Mr. La Coste squarely in the rank and file of the group primarily responsible for the crucifixion of the Savior.
Mr. La Coste next quotes Hebrews 1:1,2, to the effect that, since God spoke by prophets “in time past,” this must mean he ceased using that modus operandi once Jesus came in the flesh. Such a conclusion is not only unwarranted by the Scripture cited, it is also at complete variance with the words of Christ himself, who stated he would send prophets subsequent to his death (Matt. 23:34).
Now to the fourth paragraph of Mr. La Coste’s second installment. No, Mr. La Coste, you did not establish any of the three (not two, as you say) intermediary steps outlined in my first response, without which your arguments are non sequiturs. Nor do any of the nine Scriptures you quote establish them, as a cursory examination of each will reveal. And no, Mr. La Coste, it is not that I am “observing the passover” on your “strong” arguments. It is simply that one is under no obligation to seriously discuss nonsense. None of the Scriptures you have quoted in either of your two installments even begins to establish that (1) the leadership of the early church wrote all the truth they had down; (2) that all the books they wrote it all down in were compiled into the Bible; or (3) that for some reason God decided to suddenly change his pattern of revealing his will to men by ceasing to speak from heaven and letting an inanimate book do the work for him.
In fact, the very first of these elements of Mr. La Coste’s argument that he has failed to establish, that “the leadership of the early church wrote all the truth they had down,” is controverted by such passages as the following: John 16:12; “1 have yet many things to say unto you, but you cannot bear them now.” Acts 10:41: “Not unto all the people, but unto witness chosen.” Acts 15:28: “For it seemed good . . . to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things.” Clementine Recognitions 1, 21, in PG 1:1218: “Which things were plainly spoken but not plainly written.” Clementine Recognitions 1, 23, 52, in PG 1: 1236; 111, 1: “I [Peter] . . . endeavor to avoid publishing the chief knowledge concerning the Supreme Divinity to unworthy ears.” Innumberable passages on this head might be cited, but I most move on to other matters.
In his fifth paragraph, Mr. La Coste informs us, by means of two wrested verses and a scriptural railsplit, that the dead prophets are not really dead, but are alive and well due to the fact that they wrote books! This line of thought falls short of being persuasive, or even coherent for that matter. It is hard for me to believe that the members of Mr.La Coste’s congregation actually are willing to trust someone with so great a dearth of mental ability to lead them in the path of salvation. I wouldn’t trust him to mow my lawn. If Mr. La Coste’s arguments are considered logical, then I am led to exclaim with Shakespeare’s Marc Anthony, “O judgment, thou art fled to brutish beasts, and men have lost their reason.”
In his sixth paragraph, Mr. La Coste returns to harp on his non sequitur argument based on Jude 3. He clearly fails to understand why I don’t care what hapax means or how it is used in other Scriptures, even though I plainly stated my reasons in my first response. Look, Mr. La Coste, I’ll talk slow. Read my lips. Even if hapax means “one time for all time,” it doesn’t prove the Bible is the complete and final word of God. The only way it can be logically interpreted to mean what Mr. La Coste claims is if one makes the mistake of equating the “faith/gospel,” which was delivered “one time for all time,” with the Bible. But the gospel is not the Bible, contrary to what Mr. La Coste seems to believe. The Bible is a collection of sacred books. The gospel, on the other hand, is the “good news” of Christ’s resurrection and atonement, which was indeed delivered “one time for all time,” even as Jude declares. The only way Mr. La Coste can use this Scripture to support his position is by ignoring what it says.
Also, I argued in my first response that if we follow Mr. La Coste’s interpretation of Jude 3, then the epistle of Jude cannot be part of the Bible since it was written after the gospel had been “delivered.” Mr. La Coste attempts to weasel out of his predicament by saying, “Though the gospel had been orally preached in its fulness, inspired men as Jude were still writing it down,” Of course, Mr. La Coste’s excuse in no way explains why John the Beloved should be receiving a cartload of brand new revelation on Patmos many years after Jude wrote his epistle. I suppose this means that not only Jude, but also the Revelation cannot be part of the Bible, according to Mr. La Coste’s interpretation of Jude 3.
Mr. La Coste would have been wise to leave Jude alone. Mr. La Coste says, “Jude writes of the ‘common salvation. “‘ Is that a fact? And just where does Jude write about this important subject? You will not find it in the Bible, for Jude says he wrote about the “common salvation” in an epistle prior to the one we have in the Bible (Jude 3). Can the Bible really be complete without this important missing epistle of Jude? Obviously not. Later, Jude refers to a story about Moses not found anywhere in the Old Testament (Jude 9). Why is that? Because the book from which Jude quotes is call “The Assumption of Moses,” and is not contained in the Old Testament. Evidently Jude thought it good enough Scripture to quote in his epistle. So why is it not in the Bible? Because the Bible is not complete. Still later, Jude quotes from another ancient source, this one involving a prophecy of Enoch (Jude 14-16). This quote comes from the Book of Enoch. Both the Book of Enoch and the Assumption of Moses were clearly considered good Scripture by Jude, one of the original disciples. Being a disciple, we can only assume his missing epistle in which he talked about the “common salvation” was good Scripture as well. Since these books of Scripture are not in the Bible, it can mean only one thing: The Bible is not complete, and Mr. La Coste is wrong in contending that it is.
Nor are these three books alluded to by Jude the only books of Scripture mentioned in the Bible but not found in the Bible. Other such missing books of Scripture include the Book of the Covenant (Exod. 24:7); the Book of the Wars of the Lord (Num. 21:14); the Book of Jasher (Josh. 10:13; 2 Sam. 1:18); the Book of the Acts of Solomon (1 Kgs. 11:41); the book of Samuel the Seer (1 Chron. 29:29); the Book of Nathan the Prophet (2 Chron. 12:15); the Acts of Abijah in the Story of the Prophet Iddo (2 Chron. 13:22); the Book of Jehu (2 Chr. 20:34); the Sayings of the Seers (2 Chron. 33:19); another Epsitle to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 5:9); another Epistle to the Ephesians (Eph. 3:3); and an Epistle to the Church of Laodicea (Col. 4;16).
With no fewer than sixteen books of Scripture referred to by the Bible yet not included within its pages, thefact that the Bible is not complete becomes incontrovertible. Mr. La Coste is simply mistaken in his assertion that the Bible is the complete word of God, and his error by none other than the Bible itself.
Guardian of Truth XXXIV: 23, pp. 717-719
December 6, 1990