“I am not ashamed of the Scriptures. I honor them as God’s word given to the church to lead us into salvation. I am not ashamed of them, but I am chastened by them. I am sobered by them. I am convicted by them. I’m grateful for them,” so declared Dr. David Watson as he addressed the 2018 Global Gathering of the Wesleyan Covenant Association on November 3. Dr. Watson, Academic Dean, Professor of New Testament, and Vice President of Academic Affairs at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio, addressed the more than 2,500 people in attendance at the live venue and 105 simulcast sites boldly affirming his commitment to the authority of Scripture.
Noting that John Wesley was known as a man of one book, Watson observed, “Wesley read all kinds of books, but there is only one book he said that can teach us how to be saved because there is one book through which God has revealed the story of salvation.” Watson countered the contention advanced down through the ages by some that the Scriptures need to be made relevant to the times, “I do not define the nature of existence. God does. I do not define the nature of the universe. God does. I do not define the mystery of human life. God does. I am not subject to the tyranny of human intellect. God has revealed who I am, who we are and what creation is in the pages of Scripture.”
Observing that we live in a time when the culture increasingly is at odds with the teachings of the Scriptures, Watson noted, “We have come to accept the fact that we are out of the mainstream of Western thought. The church now has two choices – to capitulate and be co-opted, or be a righteous counterculture. . . . The church must function as a righteous counterculture in the midst of a world that has been overtaken by radicalized individualism.”
Rejecting the notion that parts of the Bible can be ignored in our generation, Watson emphasized that Jesus and the first-century church both regarded the Old Testament as authoritative for a life pleasing to God. Watson proclaimed, “It is a good thing Jesus [and James] did not unhitch from the Old Testament.” In fact, Watson declared, “The idea that there are parts of the Bible we need to disregard or get rid of is nothing new. It is a theme we see again and again and again in church history. Every single time it has been a mistake.”
Watson celebrated the correcting and guiding nature of Scripture. “The very reason we need a canon is we are prone to go astray and we need the revelation of God to guide us,” Watson said. “When we give our lives to Christ, we become part of a new story – the story given to us in Scripture. . . . When Jesus is Lord of our lives, we come to understand that the biblical story is our story too. And the whole story matters from the first verse to the last. There is no part of this great narrative of salvation through which God cannot teach us. When we start to peel off the parts of the Bible we don’t like or understand, we diminish the inspired story God’s given to the church.”
You can watch and download the entirety of Watson’s message by clicking on the play button below. You can also watch and download other messages from the 2018 Global Gathering here. Additional messages from this year’s Global Gathering will be released in the coming days.