The Inspiration of the Bible

Around the turn of the twentieth-century a parasitic religion called Liberal Christianity was spreading.  Liberals (or Modernists) wanted to retain some traditional Christian language, but re-define the terms in keeping with their primary allegiance to Enlightenment Rationality instead of Divine Revelation.

One such term was the “inspiration” of Scripture.  There were several different definitions of inspiration being put forward.  But B.B. Warfield of Princeton pointed out:

Over against the numberless discordant theories of inspiration which vex our time, there stands a well-defined church-doctrine of inspiration.  This church-doctrine of inspiration differs from the theories that would fain supplant it, in that it is not the invention nor the property of an individual, but the settled faith of the universal church of God; in that it is not the growth of yesterday, but the assured persuasion of the people of God from the first planting of the church until to-day; in that it is not a protean shape, varying its affirmations to fit every new change in the ever-shifting thought of men, but from the beginning has been the church’s constant and abiding conviction as to the divinity of the Scriptures committed to her keeping….

What this church-doctrine is, it is scarcely necessary minutely to describe.  It will suffice to remind ourselves that it looks upon the Bible as an oracular book, – as the Word of God in such a sense that whatever it says God says, – not a book, then, in which one may, by searching, find some word of God, but a book which may be frankly appealed to at any point with the assurance that whatever it may be found to say, that is the Word of God….  We know how, as Christian men, we approach this Holy Book, – how unquestioningly we receive its statements of fact, bow before its enunciations of duty, tremble before its threatenings, and rest upon its promises….

Nor do we need to do more than remind ourselves that this attitude of entire trust in every word of the Scriptures has been characteristic of the people of God from the very foundation of the church.  Christendom has always reposed upon the belief that the utterances of this book are properly oracles of God.  The whole body of Christian literature bears witness to this fact.

Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield, “The Inspiration of the Bible,” in Bibliotheca Sacra, vol. 51 (1854).  Found in The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield (Baker, 2003 [1932]), 1:52-53.

 

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