Doctrinal Statements - Inspiration
I normally wouldn't post a blog that resulted from an academic paper (especially since these statements go far deeper than I normally would want to in casual conversation), but Natalie read my doctrinal statement concerning the inspiration of the Bible and recommended that I consider posting all of my doctrinal statements as I write them out over the next two semesters. Of course, an abbreviated version of these statements is available for those that find these a bit much to read, but for those that are interested in a more in-depth version, please feel free to read through them as I post them.
If you find yourself questioning some of the document or if you find yourself with questions of your own, please feel free to reach out--I'd love to help if I can. Keep in mind, this was written for a class with very specific requirements in terms of formatting and content (in other words, some of it might seem oddly formatted or odd in content).
The Doctrine of Inspiration
Terms · Scripture: defined as the 66 canonical books of the Old and New Testaments—not including any apocryphal writings or pseudonymous writings. · Inspiration: the idea of God supernaturally guiding the biblical authors into writing what he had purposed to say. · Verbal: the idea that every word in the autographa is in Scripture on purpose and intentionally. · Plenary: the condition of being complete and fully authoritative. · Inerrancy: the belief that the Bible in its original manuscripts is completely without error.
Significant Quotations · “In vain were the authority of Scripture fortified by argument, or supported by the consent of the church, or confirmed by any other helps, if unaccompanied by an assurance higher and strong than human judgment can give. Till this better foundation has been laid, the authority of Scripture remains in suspense.” (Calvin, 36)
· “The Bible’s claims should not be understood as arguing in a circle or by circular reasoning. The testimony of reliable witnesses—particularly of Jesus, but also of others such as Moses, Joshua David, Daniel, and Nehemiah in the Old Testament, and John and Paul in the New Testament—affirmed the authority and verbal inspiration of the Holy Scriptures.” (Enns, 158)
· “Being wholly and verbally God-given, Scripture is without error or fault in all its teaching, no less in what it states about God’s acts in creation, about the events of world history, and about its own literary origins under God, than in its witness to God’s saving grace in individual lives.” (Boice, 13)
Doctrinal Statement · I believe that God gives us revelation in two primary methods—general and special revelation. General revelation being the revealing of God that is apparent in creation and special revelation being the revealing of God when God specifically reveals himself to us. I believe that special revelation today is limited to God utilizing the Scriptures to speak to us and teach us—in other words, I do not believe that people hear from God the same way today as was previously experienced (Heb. 1:1-2).
· I believe in the inspiration of the 66 canonical books of the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments and I reject any non-canonical books such as the apocryphal or pseudonymous writings including those held by the Eastern Orthodox Church or the Roman Catholic Church, but not the majority of evangelical Christianity.
· I believe that Scripture was inspired or “God-breathed” (2 Tim. 3:16) in a verbal plenary method of inspiration. Verbal plenary means that God superintended the writing of Scripture while giving room for the human agents’ own personal writing style and terminology. Since God superintended the writing of Scripture, his means that the Bible in its original form was written by God and is thus inerrant.
· Because I believe that Scripture is inspired in its autographa, I do not hold to any specific English translation because the doctrine of preservation regards the originals, not the copies (cf. Matt. 5:18; let alone the translations of copies of copies). This means that any English translation that accurately portrays what is the Word of God is a legitimate translation of the Word of God and can be profitable for use. Thus, I am not KJV-only nor am I an “only-ist” concerning other Bible translations (such as the ESV, Message, NASB, etc.).
· I believe that the inerrancy of Scripture is a fundamental doctrine because it places the authority of the preacher, teacher, pastor, and Christian solely on the Bible and thus God. Inerrancy does not demand a rigidity of style and takes into account approximations, free quotations, and different accounts of the same event.
· I believe that since the Bible is God-breathed and entirely unique in comparison to other writings, it requires the help of God in order to understand. (Luke 24:44-45). However, I also believe that the Word of God is written in a manner that any person can understand it with the help of the Holy Spirit.
· I believe that in interpreting the Bible, there are a series of principles necessary to interpreting the Bible correctly. Full understanding of Scripture requires understanding the original author and the original message intended for the original audience—only then can someone apply Scripture to their own lives. In order to properly understand the original author’s intended message for the original audience, the modern-day reader must take a literal, historical-grammatical approach towards Scripture. This means that the modern-day student of Scripture must take into account the normal meaning of the passage while considering the grammar, historical context, and literary context before attempting to apply any particular passage to their modern-day situation.
Key Passages for Consideration · Isaiah 40:7-8— “The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.”
· Matthew 5:18— “For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”
· Romans 15:4—"For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
· 2 Timothy 3:16— “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
· 2 Peter 1:21— “For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
Bibliography Boice, Does Inerrancy Matter?, 13; Calvin, 36-46; Enns, 157-187; Grudem, 47-140; NAC; TNTC