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2' The Authority of the Scriptures


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Title: 2' The Authority of the Scriptures

2. The Authority of the Scriptures
  • APTS-BIB528

2.1 History of the Idea
  • 2. 1 Hebrew Jewish Origins
  • 2.1.1 "Until the middle of the second century,
    Christianity was primarily an offshoot of
    Judaism, from which it originated. The Old
    Testament was authoritative. The principal
    interpretative task that early Christians faced
    was to demonstrate that the historical and
    literary types and figures used was to
    demonstrate that the historical and literary
    types and figures used in the Old Testament
    pointed to their fullfilment in Jesus Christ as
    the Messiah." Rogers McKim, The Authority and
    Interpretation of the Bible An Historical
    Approach, 3

2.1 History of the Idea
  • 2.1 Hebrew Jewish Origins
  • 2.1.2 "Neither the disciples of Jesus nor the
    first generation of Christians ever wanted a "New
    Testament." What the earliest Christians desired
    is clear enough they wanted the personal return
    of the risen Lord, the living voice of God among
    them and, at the same time, the full realization
    of the kingdom of God on earth as well as the end
    of this age. They had no need for a New Testament
    because the scripture they shared with Jews was
    accepted as sufficient,

2.1 History of the Idea
  • alongside the preached Gospel of Jesus Christ,
    recollections of the words of Jesus, and various
    oral and written testimonies to the apostolic
    tradition. . . . We in the modern period easily
    forget that the first reference to a group of
    books as a "New Testament" does not occur until
    about 150 A.D. and finds its first known advocate
    in Marcion, one of the earliest heretics of the
    Christian church." Sheppard, The Future of the
    Bible Beyond Liberalism and Literalism, 21-22

2.2 History of the Idea
  • 2.2 Influence of Greek Philosophical Thought
  • 2.2.1 Platonic Neo-Platonic "The Platonic
    school assumed that the knowledge of great
    truths, like God as Creator, was born in every
    person. Knowledge of particular things in this
    world was known by deduction from those general
    principles. When applied to theology, the
    Platonic method assumed that faith preceded and
    provided a framework to make possible right
    reasoning." Rogers, "The Church Doctrine of
    Biblical Authority," 18

2.2 History of the Idea
  • 2.2 Influence of Greek Philosophical Thought
  • 2.2.2 Aristotelian "The Aristotelian school took
    the opposite view. We are born with blank minds
    but a capacity for reasoning. All knowledge
    begins from sense experience of things in the
    world. We come to general principles by induction
    from a number of particulars. When applied to
    theology, the Aristotelian method assumed that
    reason, based on the evidence of senses must
    precede and would lead to faith." Rogers, "The
    Church Doctrine of Biblical Authority," 18

2.3 History of the Idea
  • 2.3 Biblical Authority in the Bible
  • 2.3.1 Introduction
  • "The Bible itself gives not systematic
    doctrine of its attributes, of the relationship
    in it of the divine and human. Its point of view
    is other than that of theology." Ridderbos,
    Studies in Scripture and its Authority, 20
  • "The importance of a written text might
    be traced back to the tablets Moses received at
    Mount Sinai those, however, were not a book and
    could hardly have

2.3 History of the Idea
  • played as comprehensively authoritative a role
    as the Bible has since achieved. Although an
    apparently normative "book of the Lord's law" is
    ascribed to the time of Jehoshaphat, who ruled
    over Judah in the ninth century (2 Chron 17.9),
    the authority of the written word emerges most
    clearly about two hundred years later with the
    discovery of a scroll during the reign of Judah's
    King Josiah." Greenspahn, "The Authority of
    Scripture," 10

2.3 History of the Idea
  • 2.3 Biblical Authority in the Bible
  • 2.3.2 Authority of the Bible in the N.T.
  • "The authority of the Scriptures is the
    great presupposition of the whole biblical
    preaching and doctrine. This appears most clearly
    in the way the NT speaks about the OT. That which
    appears in the OT is cited in the NT with
    formulas like "God says," "the Holy Spirit says,"
    and so on (cf., for instance, Acts 3.24, 25 2
    Cor 6.16 Acts 1.16). What "the Scriptures says"
    and what "God says" is the same thing."
    Ridderbos, 20

2.3 History of the Idea
  • 2.3 Biblical Authority in the Bible
  • 2.3.2 Authority of the Bible in the N.T.
  • "In the NT the apostolic writings are
    already placed on a par with those of the OT (2
    Pet 3.15, 16 Rev 1.3). Gegraptai is already used
    of the writings of the NT (John 20.31). And the
    NT concept of faith is in accord with that it is
    obedience to the apostolic witness (Rom 1.5
    16.26 10.3)." Ridderbos, 21

2.3 History of the Idea
  • 2.3 Biblical Authority in the Bible
  • 2.3.3 Infallibility
  • "Although, as far as I am aware, the
    equivalent of our word "infallibility" as
    attribute of the Scripture is not found in
    biblical terminology, yet in agreement with
    Scripture's divine origin and content, great
    emphasis is repeatedly placed on its
    trustworthiness. The prophetic word is sure
    (bebaios) (2 Pet 1.19). In the Pastoral Epistles
    Paul does not tire of assuring his readers that
    the word he has handed down is trustworthy
    (pistos) and worthy of full acceptance (1 Tim
    1.15 3.1 4.9 2 Tim 2.11 Titus 3.8). "
    Ridderbos, 21

2.3 History of the Idea
  • 2.3 Biblical Authority in the Bible
  • 2.3.4 Purpose of Scripture
  • "It is obvious that Scripture is given us
    for a definite purpose. Paul says that it "was
    written for our instruction, that by
    steadfastness and by the encouragement of the
    scriptures we might have hope" (Rom 15.4). The
    famous pronouncement in 2 Timothy 3.15-16 is to
    the same effect . . . ." Ridderbos, 21

2.4 History of the Idea
  • 2.4 Biblical Authority in the Patristic Period
  • 2.4.1 Origen
  • Origen exemplified the blending of
    Platonic philosophy and biblical thought.
  • ". . . for Origen, the very reason that
    human beings could know the revelation of God is
    that God had "condescended" and "accommodated"
    himself to our human ways of communicating and
    understanding." Rogers, "The Church Doctrine of
    Biblical Authority," 19

2.4 History of the Idea
  • "Scripture was the work of a single
    divine author who adjusted himself to human
    thought in order that his saving message might be
    understood." Rogers, "The Church Doctrine of
    Biblical Authority," 19-20

2.4 History of the Idea
  • 2.4 Biblical Authority in the Patristic Period
  • 2.4.2 Augustine
  • "The integration of biblical data and
    Platonic philosophy can be seen in the famous
    maxim of Augustine's method "I believe in order
    that I may understand." The biblical foundation
    came from the Septuagint translation of Isaiah
    7.9 "Unless you believe, you shall not
    understand." The philosophical foundation was the
    Platonic concept of innate first principles which
    enable us to make sense out of particulars."
    Rogers, 20

2.4 History of the Idea
  • "Augustine's understanding of the
    authority of the Bible flowed from his general
    method, "I believe in order to understand." No
    discordancy of any kind was permitted to exist.
    Augustine had several ways of handling apparent
    disharmonies. He claimed variously that the
    manuscript was faulty, that the translation was
    wrong, or that the reader had not properly
    understood. When none of these answers seemed
    appropriate, Augustine sometimes concluded that
    the Holy Spirit had "permitted" one of the
    Scripture writers to compose something at
    variance from what another biblical author had
    written." Rogers, 21

2.4 History of the Idea
  • "Variant readings were not an ultimate
    problem for Augustine because the truth of
    Scripture resided ultimately in the thought of
    the biblical writers and not in their individual
    words." Rogers, 21
  • "For Augustine, Scripture was not a
    textbook of science, or an academic tract, but
    the Book of life, written in the language of
    life." Rogers, 21

2.5 History of the Idea
  • 2.5 Biblical Authority in the Middle Ages
  • 2.5.0 "The Christianized Neoplatonism of the
    early church formulated by Augustine had
    dominated theology for eight hundred years. Now
    it was gradually replaced by a theological system
    built on Aristotle that was to become normative
    for both Roman Catholic and later Protestant
    scholasticism. The assumption of Aristotle's
    empirical philosophy that all knowledge begins in
    human sense impressions reversed the Augustinian
    priority of faith over reason. Reason now came
    first and was thought to lead to faith. The
    deductive method of Aristotle's logic determined
    the style by which theological conclusions were
    derived." Rogers McKim, 43

2.5 History of the Idea
  • 2.5 Biblical Authority in the Middle Ages
  • 2.5.1 John Scotus Erigena (d. 895) "Reason and
    authority come alike from the one source of
    divine wisdom, and cannot contradict each other.
    Reason is not to be overruled by authority but
    the reverse."
  • 2.5.2 Thomas Aquinas
  • "Partly in response to the intellectual,
    political, and military pressure on Europe from
    the Arabs, Thomas sought common ground with them
    by using Aristotle, whom the Arabs accepted, to
    create a comprehensive and systematic
    philosophical theology." Rogers, 22

2.5 History of the Idea
  • "For Thomas, following Aristotle, all
    knowledge came from the same source reason
    based on the data of our sense experience. "
    Rogers, 23
  • 2.5.3 William of Occam (d. 1349)
  • "John Dun Scotus and his pupil, William
    of Occam, turned away from Aristotle to the older
    Platonic Augustinian thought and criticized
    Thomism. . . . Since Occam had deep reservations
    about the authority of the corrupt papacy he
    observed, he proclaimed the revelation of God in
    the Bible as the authoritative basis for faith.
    The Scripture was true for Occam, because
    inspired by the Holy Spirit." Rogers, 23

2.5 History of the Idea
  • "For Occam, science and theology were
    separate realms, each with its own validations.
    Evidence was used to validate science, and faith
    was used to validate theology. Neither God's
    existence, nor unity, nor infinity could be
    rationally demonstrated. Faith, for Occam, did
    not supplement and perfect reason. The sphere of
    faith and reason were absolutely separate. The
    radical character of his approach was manifested
    in his assertion that reason could, on occasion,
    contradict faith. It was possible that something
    contradictory to certain dogmas might be
    demonstrated by reason. According to Occam, when
    that happened, the Christian was bound to follow
    faith even if it

2.5 History of the Idea
  • seemed to be irrational. In theology, faith was
    supreme and reason was irrelevant." Rogers
    McKim, 49
  • 2.5.4 Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) Monastic
    Mysticism "His motto was 'I believe in order
    that I may experience.' Reason was disdained and
    de-emphasized in religion. Experience, especially
    mystical experience, became the goal of
    theological endeavor. Bernard and his followers
    emphasized contemplation of Scripture's mystical
    and devotional significance." Rogers McKim, 51

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2.6 History of the Idea
  • 2.6 Luther
  • 2.6.1 ". . . A rejection of an Aristotelian-Schola
    stic method of understanding and interpreting the
    Bible during the Middle Ages. Luther reached back
    to the attitudes of the early church by regarding
    the Bible's purpose as salvation and guidance in
    the life of faith. He also accepted its
    accommodated, incarnational form by which God had
    lowered himself to speak in human language and
    patterns of thought. Thus, Luther reunited two
    elements of the early church theological
    tradition a Neoplatonic-Augustinian acceptance
    of the Bible in faith, and a scholarly and
    critical appraisal of the natural, grammatical
    sense of the biblical text in its historical
    context." Rogers McKim, 76

2.6 History of the Idea
  • 2.6 Luther
  • 2.6.2 Reason "For Isaiah vii makes reason
    subject to faith, when it says 'except ye
    believe, ye shall not have understanding or
    reason.' It does not say, 'Except you have reason
    ye shall not believe.'" . . . . "in spiritual
    matters, human reasoning certainly is not in
  • 2.6.3 "The purpose of Scripture was to speak to
    us of personal salvation." Rogers, 24
  • 2.6.4 Accommodation "What the early church
    theologians had called God's accommodation,
    Luther understood as an incarnational style of
    communication. Luther saw a divine and human
    nature of the Bible just as there was a divine and

2.6 History of the Idea
  • 2.6 Luther
  • human nature in Christ. The Bible was the Word
    of God in the words of human beings." Rogers
    McKim, 78
  • 2.6.5 The Holy Spirit "It is only the internal
    working of the Holy Spirit that causes us to
    place our trust in this Word of God, which is
    without form or comeliness . . . ." "The Bible
    cannot be mastered by study or talent you must
    rely solely on the influx of the Spirit."
  • 2.6.6 Critical Concerns "Luther himself held
    some "critical opinions" regarding textual
    matters including his statements regarding the
    authorship of Genesis, Ecclesiastes, and Jude
    the propriety of

2.6 History of the Idea
  • 2.6 Luther
  • the canonicity of Esther, Hebrews, James, and
    Revelation the "errors" of the prophets, the
    trustworthiness of Kings vis-à-vis Chronicles
    and the value of the Gospel accounts." Rogers
    McKim, 87

2.7 History of the Idea
  • 2.7 Calvin
  • 2.7.1 Philosophic Background "Calvin, like
    Luther, reacted against the Aristotelian-Thomistic
    tradition. Plato was the best of all the
    philosophers for Calvin who cited him freely,
    though not uncritically." Rogers, 25

2.7 History of the Idea
  • 2.7 Calvin
  • 2.7.2 Contextual Exegesis "As a humanist
    scholar, Calvin adopted . . . Contextual approach
    in the exegesis of Scripture. Calvin was always
    occupied with the circumstances and culture in
    which the biblical message was set." Rogers
    McKim, 97
  • 2.7.3 Accommodation "Calvin expanded on and used
    the accommodation principle as a consistent basis
    for not only handling difficulties in Scripture,
    but also explaining every relationship between
    God and humankind." Rogers McKim, 98-99

2.7 History of the Idea
  • 2.7 Calvin
  • 2.7.4 Reason, Spirit Scripture "Calvin strove
    for the Augustinian middle way of the church. He
    fought against two extremes. He rejected the
    rationalistic Scholasticism on the one side which
    demanded proofs prior to faith in Scripture. He
    rejected with equal firmness the spiritualistic
    sectarians on the other side who claimed leadings
    of the Spirit apart from the Scriptures. For
    Calvin, "Word and Spirit belong inseparably
    together." Rogers, 27

2.8 History of the Idea
  • 2.8 Post-Reformation Scholasticism
  • 2.8.1 "Post-Reformation Protestants tried to
    prove the authority of the Bible using the same
    Aristotelian-Thomistic arguments which Roman
    Catholics used to prove the authority of the
    church. Melanchthon, the successor of Luther, and
    Beza, the successor of Calvin, both endeavored to
    systematize the work of their masters by casting
    it into an Aristotelian mold. Thus a significant
    shift in theological method occurred from the
    neo-Platonic Augustinianism of Luther and Calvin
    to the neo-Aristotelian-Thomism of their
    immediate followers." Rogers, 29

2.8 History of the Idea
  • 2.8 Post-Reformation Scholasticism
  • 2.8.1 Terretin
  • "Turretin asked a twofold question "Is
    the Bible truly credible of itself and divine?"
    and "How do we know that it is such?" His
    response was to proclaim that the Bible was
    inerrant in all matters." Rogers, 30
  • "Turretin utilized the Aristotelian-Thomis
    tic method of putting reason before faith to
    develop theology. "Before faith can believe, it
    must have the divinity of the witness, to whom
    faith is to be given, clearly established, from
    certain true marks which are apprehended to it,
    otherwise it cannot believe." Rogers, 30

Old Princeton Theology
  • American Reformed Scholasticism

Origins of Princeton Theology
  • 1812 John 539 "Search the Scriptures"
  • Finney "Straight jacket theology"
  • 1812-1921 Charles Hodge "I am not afraid to say
    that a new idea never originated in this

Archibald Alexander
  • 1772-1851
  • Graham "If you mean ever to be a theologian, you
    must come at it not by reading but by thinking."
  • Scottish Common Sense Philosophy
  • "The first principle of Scottish Realism is that
    out sense experience is reliable and certain. . .
    . A second axion of S.R. was the principle of
    universality." Rogers, 39-40
  • Degrees of Inspiration 1)Superintendence
    2)Suggestion 3)Evelation
  • Francis Turretin "Bible's inerrancy in all

Charles Hodge
  • 1797-1886
  • Made Professor at 24 ("original languages"
    "didactic theology" in 1840)
  • Studied in Germany for 2 years meet Neander,
    Hengstenberg, Schleiermacher.
  • Started and then Edited the Biblical
    RepertoryPrinceton Review for over 40 years.

Charles Hodge
  • Although Turretin and the Reformed scholastics of
    the 17th century resisted text criticism, it was
    acceptable by the time of the Princeton Theology.
  • Charles Hodge rejected "Higher Criticism" as
    "rationalist" and "pantheistic." . . . . "The
    Latest Form of Infidelity" Leben Jesu (Strauss)

Charles Hodge
  • Inspiration of the Scriptures "The common
    doctrine of the Church is, and ever has been,
    that inspiration was an influence of the Holy
    Spirit on the minds of certain select men, which
    rendered them the organs of God for the
    infallible communication of his mind and will.
    They were in such a sense the organs of God, that
    what they said God said."
  • "The whole end and office of inspiration is to
    preserve the sacred writers from error in

Charles Hodge
  • "It means, first, that all the books of the
    Scripture are equally inspired. All alike are
    infallible in what they teach. And secondly, that
    inspiration extends to al the content o these
    several books. It is not confined to moral and
    religious truths, but extends to the statements
    of facts, whether scientific, historical, or
    geographical. It is not confined to those facts
    the importance of which is obvious or which are
    involved in matters of doctrine. It extends to
    everything which any sacred writer asserts to be

Archibald Alexander Hodge
  • 1823-1886
  • Missionary, Pastor, Theologian.
  • The original autographs not translations were
  • "The fact that the Scriptures are thus inspired
    is proved because they assert it of themselves."

Archibald Alexander Hodge
  • "And because they must either be credited as true
    in this respect, or rejected as false in all
    respects . . . . God authenticated the claims of
    their writers by accompanying their teaching with
    'signs and wonders and divers miracles' Heb.
  • ". . . the Church has never held the verbal
    infallibility of our translations, nor the
    perfect accuracy of the copies of the original
    Hebrew and Greek Scriptures now possessed by us.
    These copies confessedly contain many
    'discrepancies' resulting from frequent

Archibald Alexander Hodge
  • Alleged Discrepancies
  • That the alleged discrepant statement certainly
    occurred in the veritable autograph copy of the
    inspired writing containing it.
  • That their interpretation of the statement, which
    occasions the discrepancy, is the only possible
    one, the one it was certainly intended to bear .
    . . .
  • He must also prove that facts of science or
    history, or the Scriptural statements, with which
    the statement is asserted to be inconsistent, are
    real facts or real parts of the autograph text of
    canonical Scripture, and that the sense in which
    they are found to be inconsistent with the
    statement in question is the only sense they can
    rationally bear.

Archibald Alexander Hodge
  • Alleged Discrepancies
  • (4) When the reality of the opposing facts or
    statements is determined, and their true
    interpretation is ascertained, then it must, in
    conclusion, be shown not only that they appear
    inconsistent, nor merely that their
    reconciliation is impossible in our present state
    of knowledge, but that they are in themselves
    essentially incapable of being reconciled.

Benjamin B. Warfield
  • 1851-1921
  • Professor of Didactic and Polemical Theology
  • Warfield saw the Princeton system under attack .
    . . The task was defense and the technique was
  • "Warfield laid his stress not on the
    supernatural, but on the natural knowledge of

Benjamin B. Warfield
  • "For Warfield the Holy Spirit worked to produce
    acceptance of the humanly devised evidential
    reasons for faith."
  • "All authority of the apostles stands behind the
    Scriptures, and all the authority of Christ
    behind the Apostles. The Scriptures are simply
    the law-code which the law-givers of the Church
    gave it."

Benjamin B. Warfield
  • ". . . Warfield predicated the authority of the
    Bible on his ability to prove the traditional
    apostolic authorship or sanction for each of the
    books. This set him in constant opposition to the
    Higher Critics." Rogers McKim, 334
  • Warfield rejects "accommodationism" (James Stuart)
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