Posts tagged Scripture
The Untamable Lion

Spurgeon once wrote:

See you that lion. They have caged him for his preservation; shut him up behind iron bars to secure him from his foes! See how a band of armed men have gathered together to protect the lion. What a clatter they make with their swords and spears! These mighty men are intent upon defending a lion. O fools, and slow of heart! Open that door! Let the lord of the forest come forth free. Who will dare to encounter him? What does he want with your guardian care? Let the pure gospel go forth in all its lion-like majesty, and it will soon clear its own way and ease itself of its adversaries.

I used to love this quote. There’s something exhilarating in thinking about the Word of God as a wild and ravaging lion, striking fear in the heart of its enemies with a thunderous roar that demands reverence. Recently, however, this quote began to trouble me.

Why was the lion in a cage to begin with? After trouncing its enemies, do the guardians escort it back into the cage? I know, if you squeeze an orange too hard the seed may pop out and hit you in the eye, I get it. But hear me out.

We search the Scriptures, study them, assuming the law of noncontradiction, we then piece them together to formulate a theological grid of sorts –a lens through which we will analyze and comprehend the comprehensive whole. Kantzer posits that the goal of the systematic theologian is “to systematize and present as a unified whole the truth concerning God and His relationships to men and the universe as this is authoritatively revealed in the Holy Scriptures and to relate this truth to human thought and life.”

Again, assuming the law of noncontradiction, this synthesized grid should, ideally, fit seamlessly on the texts from which it was constructed. But sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes the Bible isn’t as neat as we synthesizers would like it to be. Sometimes the i’s I wish were dotted, and the t’s I wish were crossed are not. Sometimes, no matter how many times I run the experiment, the results don’t affirm my original hypothesis.

I loved Spurgeon’s quote because I never imagined the beast in the illustration as a timid domesticated cat, until I put it back in its cage…

What happens when you realize that the cage you constructed is not large enough, nor strong enough to contain your massive, untamed lion? Fear begins to register as your lion crushes any illusion you had of it ever being your lion, and reminds you that you are its prey.

What is the Inerrancy of Scripture?

A-Primer-on-Inerrancy_555 All Scripture is inspired. Written by the hands of the authors in their own words, the Holy Spirit moved them so that all they wrote fully encompassed all He desired for them to write. The Bible then is both a human and divine book. Because of this, men like Hodge and Warfield rightly concluded: “What the biblical writers produced by the inspiration of Scripture is a verbal, plenary, infallible, and inerrant book, the Bible.”[1] Some may assume that while a case for inspiration has been made, one for inerrancy has yet to be seen. What they fail to understand, however, is that inspiration necessitates inerrancy. To refer to something as inerrant is to confer on that thing the inability to be false. The doctrine of inerrancy is founded on the truth that the Bible is the inspired Word of God and must, therefore, be true because God cannot lie.

The authority of Scripture is founded on the fact that it has been spoken by God. Because the Scriptures bear God’s name, His character is extended to them. Jesus prays, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17). Here, Christ, who is God, declares an axiomatic principle: God’s Word is always true. God’s Word is true because it has been spoken by Him, and by His very nature God cannot lie (Numbers 23:19; 1 Sam 15:29; Psalm 33:4; 2 Sam 22:31; Psalms 12:6). By superintending the authors, the Holy Spirit ensured that they would not err as He guided them and guarded them from falsity.

Some, seeking to undermine the doctrine of inerrancy, contend that this proof for inerrancy is pedantic and circular. They maintain that the line of reasoning used to make this argument is self-appreciating and utilizes only deductive reasoning–the process of reasoning by which a general premise is employed to reach a certain conclusion. The defense for the inerrancy of the Bible, however, is not limited to deductive reasoning. Rather, the strongest proof for inerrancy comes neither from deductive nor inductive reasoning. By using abduction–the process of reasoning where facts are surveyed, a hypothesis is formulated to give possible explanations, and then brought back to the datum to be tested–Christians can avoid the charge of circular reasoning, thereby making the strongest defense for the faith and for the truth of God’s Word.

Abductive reasoning can be used to prove the truthfulness of Scripture by giving evidence to demonstrate that the Bible is a historically accurate document. Since the accounts of the Bible occur almost exclusively in space and time, any attestation to historical events or persons is subject to the standard means of verification. For instance, the writers of the synoptic Gospels note that Herod the Great ruled as King of Judea at the time of Jesus’s birth. Additionally, the authors wrote that, before His crucifixion, Jesus was questioned by Pontius Pilate. From these two facts alone, one can gather an approximate time frame for the life and death of Jesus. Not only this, independent evidence can easily be found to support the claim that an actual man named Jesus went around teaching and was crucified during the purported time frame. Hence a hypothesis can be formulated which states: the Bible makes truth claims in a historical context which must be verified, therefore the truthfulness of the Bible (inerrancy) can be put to the test. Whether it is Israel’s exile from Egypt or the Babylonian captivity, this hypothesis can be brought back to the data and verified again and again. By utilizing this method of reasoning, Christians can avoid the charge of circular reasoning in their arguments for inerrancy.

Evangelicals hold to the doctrine of inerrancy with this caveat: infallibility extends only to the autographs, the original writings of Scripture. Through the work of textual criticism, the copies possessed today are a faithful representation of the Scriptures to the highest degree of accuracy. While this is sufficient for godly living, the Bible found on the backside of a pew is only a transmitted copy and not the inerrant Word of God. The delineation must be made not only between the inerrant autographs and the accurate copies, but also between inerrancy and infallible interpretations. Paul Feinberg defined inerrancy as “the view that when all the facts become known, they will demonstrate that the Bible in its original manuscripts and correctly interpreted is entirely true and never false in all it affirms, whether that relates to doctrine or ethics or to the social, physical, or life sciences.”[2] Because of this, an attack on inerrancy is an affront on the gospel itself. If even one word in the Bible is false, subsequently every word becomes suspect. Worse still, God Himself becomes a liar.

[1]Norman Geisler and William Nix, A General Introduction to the Bible, Rev. and expanded. (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1986), 154.

[2]Paul Feinberg, "Does the Bible Contain Errors?" In The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2007).

What is the Inspiration of Scripture?


The English language recognizes two primary definitions of the verb inspire. The first definition denotes creating a feeling in people that both urges them and gives them the ability to do something. The second definition denotes the act of blowing out, or the exhalation of breath. Both of these definitions aptly describe the dual nature of authorship of the written Word of God. These authors did not write only from their minds or personal interpretations but wrote and spoke “as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20). With their own words and hands these authors of Scripture wrote down God’s breathed out Word, which is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). Because the Bible has the Holy Spirit as its author, a Christian can be certain that it is both divinely inspired–therefore authoritative–and wholly true.

The inspiration of the Holy Spirit means that a Christian can have total confidence in the truthfulness of the words written and events recorded by the authors of Scripture. Because the words of the Bible are inspired, the words of the authors are the very words of God. The question naturally arises, How can fallible men author an infallible document? While the logic of this argument is substantial, it does not account for the superintendence of the Holy Spirit on the authors as they recorded the Scriptures. The Holy Spirit safeguarded the authors and made certain they would not err.

This guidance did not, however, come in the form of an ethereal, ambiguous prodding. The inspiration of the Spirit extended to even the preciseness of the words chosen. For example, in Matthew, when Jesus quotes from Exodus 3:6 and Psalm 110:1, He makes an argument for His deity by nuancing the present tense of “I AM,” (Matthew 22:32, cf. Exodus 3:6) and by emphasizing the possessive suffix of Psalm 110:1 (Matthew 22:43-45). Jesus teaches His audience and the later reader that every word of Scripture is significant when He reveals His deity simply by stressing the precision of a verb and a suffix. From this one can surmise that the inspiration of the Holy Spirit on the authors was not limited to assisting them in stating propositional truth claims but pervaded their writing, even to the point of the nuances of their verbs.

One can accept God’s Word as inspired only after experiencing regeneration by the Holy Spirit. Even though a Christian apologetic can fend off the flaming arrows of the evil one, human reason can never convince someone of the inspiration of the Word of God. On this Calvin wrote, “The testimony of the Spirit is superior to reason. For as God alone can properly bear witness to his own words, so these words will not obtain full credit in the hearts of men, until they are sealed by the inward testimony of the Spirit.”[1] If the Spirit alone illuminates the mind of the unregenerate to see the truth of the gospel, how then can human reason convince them to accept the testimony about Him? Explaining the divine inspiration of the Word to a person whose heart is hostile to the things of God is as futile as describing color to a blind man. This, however, does not mean that the arguments for divine inspiration are moot. Through the Scriptures, God commands His people to be prepared to defend the faith (1 Peter 3:15; Colossians 4:6; 2 Timothy 2:25). To assume that defending the faith does not equate to defending the Scriptures is to betray one’s true sentiments, as the distinction then is wrongly drawn between God and His Word. Furthermore, one cannot defend God but not His Word since all salvific knowledge of Christ is found only in the Scriptures.

By God’s testimony, Christians believe the Word of God to be fully and absolutely inspired (2 Timothy 3:16-17). In the Old Testament, God spoke to His people through the mouths of the prophets (Luke 1:70). Their words and writings, however, were not wholly their own, for they spoke by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:16). The psalmist, David, declared, “The Spirit of the Lord speaks by me; his word is on my tongue” (2 Samuel 23:2). But in these last days, God no longer communicates through the mouths of the prophets, for He has spoken by His Son (Hebrews 1:1-2). It was this Son who taught that all of the Scriptures bear one over-arching meta-message: the entirety of Scripture testifies about Him (John 5:39). Hence, “the highest proof of Scripture is uniformly taken from the character of him whose Word it is.”[2]

[1]John Calvin, Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion, ed. John T. Mcneill, trans. Ford Lewis Battles, paperback (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011), 1:79.

[2]Ibid., 78.