Archives For inerrancy

In an interview with Richard Gaffin and Peter Lillback, editors of the newly published book, Thy Word Is Still Truth, the last question they were asked addressed the perceived errors in Scripture claimed by contemporaries, including some Evangelicals, which make the doctrine of inerrancy problematic. Additionally, they were asked how this volume can be an important resource in responding to these supposed errors.

A basic error remains the historical-critical method of interpreting the Bible in which, at least for its most self-aware and consistent practitioners, “critical” is understood in terms of the interpreter’s autonomy and obligation to stand above Scripture and judge whether its truth claims are in fact true. Sometimes evangelical roots are left behind for this approach—with its decided rejection of divine authorship—by those who had the impression the Bible was “dropped straight down from heaven” and have eventually been awakened to the undeniable human authorship and historically situated origins of the biblical documents.

A crucial challenge for sound biblical interpretation is to adequately honor the divine authorship of the text in a way that does justice to the human author. The umbrella-like statement that opens Hebrews shows us the way: its nuclear assertion is “God has spoken” and this divine speech has taken place “by the prophets” and “at many times and in various ways.” God’s saving self-revelation is a historical process, a process marked by multiple human authors and different genres. Further, this history, of which Scripture’s own production is a part, has reached its “last days,” its final consummation, “in his Son.” The fruitful task for exposition and preaching that’s true to Scripture is to explore the redemptive-historical unity of the Bible and its macro-coherence in Christ. Thy Word Is Still Truth provides many resources that will be an invaluable aid for that task.

Evangelicalism, Inerrancy, and ETS

Greg Strand – November 18, 2013 Leave a comment

As a follow up to the last post on inerrancy, the theme of the Evangelical Theology Society’s annual meeting (November 19-21) is “Evangelicalism, Inerrancy, and ETS.” Thomas Schriener, the ETS Program Chair, and James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, writes the following in his opening welcome to attendees:

The theme for this year’s conference (“Evangelicalism, Inerrancy, and the Evangelical Theological Society: Retrospect and Prospect”) takes us back to the founders of the Evangelical Theological Society and to the reason the society was established. As evangelicals, who stand in the stream of the Reformation, we believe Scripture is the final and ultimate norm, so that the Scriptures are our final authority. Scripture stands over reason, tradition, and our own sensibilities and feelings as the authoritative Word of God. Hence, the Scriptures are infallible and inerrant. Such a view of Scripture’s authority and truthfulness represents the teaching of the church throughout history. The founders of the Evangelical Theological Society were not innovators; they stand in the stream of the orthodox church, learning from the saints of previous generations. Still, we are particularly grateful for the founders of the Evangelical Theological Society since they blazed the trail for us as a society in their unswerving devotion to the Scriptures.

The truthfulness of Scripture is contested in every generation, though the guise in which that rejection appears changes. Today there are new challenges and questions to Scripture’s authority, and thus we are called upon to proclaim the truth of the Word of God afresh, “to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3), and to teach that “the law of the LORD is perfect” (Ps. 19:7).

Three plenary lectures are scheduled focusing on different aspects of inerrancy:

Plenary Session 1: John M. Frame, “Inerrancy in Christian Perspective”

Plenary Session 2: D. A. Carson, “An Evaluation of Some Recent Discussions on the Doctrine of Scripture”

Plenary Session 3: Ben Witherington III, “The Truth Will Out: An Historian’s Perspective on the Inerrancy Controversy”

In addition to these plenary lectures, there will be hundreds of papers addressing the theme of inerrancy and other biblical, theological, historical and pastoral issues that affect and are affected by the doctrine of the inerrancy of the Scriptures.

This is a timely topic and it should be an excellent conference!

Thy Word Is Still Truth

Greg Strand – November 15, 2013 Leave a comment

In every generation, the Word of God will be questioned. The age-old question asked by the deceiver at the beginning of time is the question asked afresh in and by every generation: Did God really say (Gen. 3:1b)? And the temptation of every generation is, like Adam and Eve, to believe the lie over against God and His Word.

Contrary to the words of the deceiver are the words of the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ who stated “Thy word is truth” (Jn. 17:17). This is the foundation to the unified voice of all Christians everywhere and the church across time that has been that God and His Word are true. Christians in every generation must affirm and reaffirm the doctrine of the inerrancy and authority of the Scriptures, and live by its truth.

One of the works that does that has just been published: Peter A. Lillback and Richard B. Gaffin Jr., Thy Word Is Still Truth: Essential Writings on the Doctrine of Scripture from the Reformation To Today (Phillipsburg: P & R, 2013). This is a great resource in which the editors have compiled major and significant statements, creeds, and beliefs of the Christian church on the doctrine of the Scriptures since the time of the Reformation.

D. A. Carson, Research Professor of New Testament , TEDS, writes that this volume is a strong statement affirming God’s Word, which is the view of the church and not a nineteenth century invention.

Against those who think a ‘high’ view of Scripture was the creation of nineteenth-century Princetonians, and against those who think such a view of Scripture amounts to a defensive posture devoid of profound theological reflection, this excellent volume is a much-needed resource. It stands as a bulwark against every form of the question, ‘Did God really say?’ The excerpts and essays drawn from Martin Luther to the present represent an immense reservoir of diverse reflections – from Calvin’s Institutes to Monod’s Farewell, from Owen, Turretin, Gaussen, and Edwards to Spurgeon, Hengstenberg, and Machen, from Reformed confessions to the advent of contemporary biblical theology. . . . its strength is not its coverage of the last half-century but its ample demonstration that today’s Reformed Christians find themselves, on this subject, within a heritage rich in theological reflection and powerful synthesis. To lose sight of this heritage or to stand aloof from it is to impoverish our souls and to distance ourselves from the God who ‘looks’ to those who are contrite and humble in spirit and who tremble at his Word.

Robert W. Yarbrough, Professor of New Testament, Covenant Theological Seminary, and former professor at TEDS, speaks highly of this text and includes those who ought to be required to have their own copy

Can the church in the West find its bearings and return to God? Only if it finds the grace to dethrone the Zeitgeist and re-enthrone the Lord and Holy Scripture, which reveals him. This volume is a manual for that enterprise. It is a sourcebook, history review, theology course, and exegesis guide all rolled into one. It should be required for seminary students, acquired by all pastors, and desired by anyone seeking to walk in the steps of the One who modeled and taught reverence for what we call the Bible as the foundation for valid knowledge as well as saving faith (John 17:17; I John 2:6).

The book consists of sixty-four chapters and 1300 pages. It is chronologically arranged and includes some of the most important writings on the truth of God’s Word over the years. It focuses on those in the Reformed tradition. This work primarily serves as a statement of the truthfulness of God’s Word as affirmed in one tradition of the Christian church and as a historical theology reference. This serves an invaluable purpose, but it is limited in its scope. There is, however, much those outside this tradition will gain from it as many in this stream of the Christian church have been giants in defending the inerrancy and authority of the Scriptures.

You will not read of contemporary responses to those who deny inerrancy. You will have to read elsewhere to find that. This gives me an opportunity to mention a forthcoming work that will do just that. D. A. Carson has compiled an international list of authors to write 17 essays that will be published in a 2 volume work entitled, The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, forthcoming). I eagerly await their publication. These volumes will be an excellent resource and will, Lord willing, serve this generation with a strong affirmation of the inerrancy and authority of the Scriptures, along with a secondary reason, that of responding to objectors and objections of those who deny it.

In conclusion, though it is not likely you would read Thy Word Is Still Truth from cover to cover, it would serve as an invaluable resource to consult regarding the doctrine of Scripture that affirms its inspiration, inerrancy, authority and sufficiency from the time of the Reformation until now. And though these are affirmations made by one family in the Christian church, that family’s commitment is reflective of the Church’s belief in and commitment to the Scriptures. This is also true of the family of which we are a part, the EFCA, a family that also whole-heartedly affirms and to which we are committed to the inspiration, inerrancy, authority and sufficiency of the Scriptures, and we do so in lips and life.

Biblical Theology

Greg Strand – November 13, 2013 Leave a comment

Credo Magazine, a relatively new on-line magazine, is an excellent resource. The most recent issue has been published with the theme “What’s the Big Idea Story?: Why Biblical Theology Should Matter to Every Bible-Believing Christian.”

It is introduced in the following way:

When the sixteenth-century Reformation erupted, one of the alarming dangers that became blatantly obvious to reformers like Martin Luther was the pervasiveness of biblical illiteracy among the laity. It may be tempting to think that this problem has been solved almost five hundred years later. However, in our own day biblical illiteracy in the pew continues to present a challenge. Many Christians in our post-Christian context simply are not acquainted with the storyline of the Bible and God’s actions in redemptive history from Adam to the second Adam.

With this concern in mind, the current issue of Credo Magazine strives to take a step forward, in the right direction, by emphasizing the importance of “biblical theology.” Therefore, we have brought together some of the best and brightest minds to explain what biblical theology is, why it is so important, and how each and every Christian can become a biblical theologian. Our hope in doing so is that every Christian will return to the text of Scripture with an unquenchable appetite to not only read the Bible, but comprehend God’s unfolding plan of salvation.

Since you are committed to the inerrancy and authority of the Bible, you also ought to be interested in biblical theology. This will be an excellent resource to aid in your understanding of “what biblical theology is, why it is so important, and how each and every Christian can become a biblical theologian.”


The Importance of Expository Preaching

Greg Strand – November 12, 2013 Leave a comment

In the EFCA we affirm the inerrancy and authority of the Scriptures. From this foundation we affirm strongly and robustly expository preaching.

A number of years ago D. A. Carson wrote a brief article on “6 Reasons Not to Abandon Expository Preaching.” Carson notes “Our aim is to take the sacred text, explain what it means, tie it to other scriptures so people can see the whole a little better, and apply it to life so it bites and heals, instructs, and edifies. What better way to accomplish this end than through expository preaching?”

Some use the expression “expository preaching” to refer to all preaching that is done. However, Carson specifically explains that in order to be expository the “sermon must be controlled by a Scripture text or texts. Expository preaching emerges directly and demonstrably from a passage or passages of Scripture.”

What are the reasons why expository preaching ought to be one’s primary method of proclaiming the Word of God? I list Carson’s six reasons (and exclude the brief explanation, though it is worthwhile for you to read):

1. It is the method least likely to stray from Scripture.
2. It teaches people how to read their Bibles.
3. It gives confidence to the preacher and authorizes the sermon.
4. It meets the need for relevance without letting the clamor for relevance dictate the message.
5. It forces the preacher to handle the tough questions.
6. It enables the preacher to expound systematically the whole counsel of God.

What other strengths can you list of expository preaching? What are possible weaknesses?

What is your primary method of preaching and why? What are its strengths and weaknesses?

I have posted previously Carson’s definition of preaching, generally, and expository preaching, specifically.