Volume 15, Number 2 (Fall 2004)
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An Issue Devoted to the Subject of The Christian Scriptures
by William D. Barrick
Scripture is necessary because God willed to provide it and because mankind’s condition required it. The image of God in man requires communication between God and human beings. God’s incomprehensibility is another reason for the necessity of Scripture. Natural revelation’s insufficiency to teach the nature of God makes Scripture indispensable. The complexity of divine truth would have eventually required a written revelation even for Adam had he remained in his unfallen state. The fall of man made comprehension of divine truth in an oral form impossible, because corrupt mankind is always prone to distort what is oral. God’s special revelation had to be in written form. The work of God also makes written Scripture a necessity, since Scripture is the means that God has chosen to do His work in human lives. Without Scripture much would be left undone. There can be no question that Scripture is necessary.
by John F. MacArthur
God’s Word is sufficient to meet every need of the human soul as David verifies frequently in his psalms. Psalm 19:7-14 is the most comprehensive statement regarding the sufficiency of Scripture. It is an inspired statement about Scripture as a qualified guide for every situation. Scripture is comprehensive, containing everything necessary for one’s spiritual life. Scripture is surer than a human experience that one may look to in proving God’s power and presence. Scripture contains divine principles that are the best guide for character and conduct. Scripture is lucid rather than mystifying so that it enlightens the eyes. Scripture is void of any flaws and therefore lasts forever. Scripture is true regarding all things that matter, making it capable of producing comprehensive righteousness. Because it meets every need in life, Scripture is infinitely more precious than anything this world has to offer.
by Robert L. Thomas
The purity of Scripture includes, among other things, a freedom from irrationality. Biblical logic is rational and is distinguishable from secular logic. Examples of evangelical abuses of biblical rationality include charismatic irrationality and apocalyptic irrationality. Secular reasoning would call biblical logic irrational because it allows no room for God’s plan and omnipotence. Scripture is connected with sin only when sinful man imposes his own opinions on the text instead of allowing the Bible to express its own meaning. Common practice among contemporary evangelicals imposes an interpreter’s preunderstanding on a text at the beginning of the interpretive process, thus depriving the text of its own meaning. Each text is meaningful in its own right and deserves to be heard through an objective hermeneutical approach. Scripture is reliable because of its precision, evidenced frequently throughout Scripture itself. Its precision requires an appropriately precise response from those who submit themselves to it (see 2 Tim 2:14-26). Unfortunately, recent evangelical scholarship has not acknowledged the Bible’s precision, which extends to the very words that Jesus spoke. Earlier evangelicals, however, did specifically support the verbal inspiration of Scripture.
by Larry D. Pettegrew
The perspicuity or clarity of Scripture in its relation to almost all areas of systematic theology is affected by postmodern hermeneutics that fail to respect the authority of Scripture. The doctrine raises a number of questions difficult to answer in a brief span, but two very basic issues are the meaning of the doctrine of perspicuity and the long-range historical context in which the doctrine has arisen. The basic doctrine means that the Bible can be understood by people through the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit and that people need to search the Scripture and judge for themselves what it means. Scripture itself attests its own perspicuity, but not to the point that it cannot be misunderstood or is in every point equally simple and clear. The doctrine does not rule out the need for interpretation, explanation, and exposition of the Bible by qualified leaders. The doctrine does mean that Scripture is clear enough for the simplest person, deep enough for highly qualified readers, clear in its essential matters, obscure in some places to people because of their sinfulness, understandable through ordinary means, understandable by an unsaved person on an external level, understandable in its significance by a saved person through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, and available to every believer whose faith must rest on the Scriptures. Historically, debates about perspicuity have related to Marcion’s attack on the OT, the fathers’ denial of OT perspicuity, covenant theology’s subordination of the OT to the NT, and the medieval church’s attack on biblical perspicuity. The Reformers, the Protestant scholastics, and theGerman pietists supported the doctrine which is of primary importance for the practice of contemporary Christians.
by Richard L. Mayhue
After a brief look at the general concept of “authority,” this essay continues with an introductory discussion concerning the authority of God. It is developed in terms of (1) the declarations of Scripture; (2) the displays in God’s names, nature, and prerogatives; and (3) Satan’s denial. Then, God’s authority is discussed as it is invested in Scripture in the sense that the Bible is the voice of God and therefore speaks with His full authority. God’s authority in Scripture can thus be described as original, unalterable, exclusive, permanent, ultimate, obligatory, and consequential. Scripture is to be authoritatively preached and submissively obeyed since the Author of and the authority within will reward righteous obedience and condemn those who disregard and disobey His authority in Scripture.
by Dennis M. Swanson