Do historical matters matter to faith? This is both a good question and the title of a must read book I am reading titled Do Historical Matters Matter to Faith?  A Critical Appraisal to Modern and Postmodern Approaches to Scripture Ed. by James Hoffmeier & Dennis Magary.

In chapter three, Toward a Theological Account of Biblical Inerrancy, Mark Thompson provides five theological pillars of the doctrine of inerrancy. In stating and defining these five pillars he states:

Precisely because a great deal of static has made it difficult for some to hear what is in fact being affirmed by the doctrine of biblical inerrancy, and passions continue to run high on both sides of the debates, careful attention must be given to a theological account of the doctrine. Such an account must be theological in at least two senses: it must argue from the nature and character of God as revealed in the teaching, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ – that is, it must be a christological and evangelical account; and it must attend to the self-attestation and the phenomena of the Scripture we have in fact been given. (p. 72-73)

The Five Theological Pillars of the Doctrine of Inerrancy are as follows:

Pillar One: God’s Personal Veracity – God is creator of all things and knows all things. He is truth and is always truthful. The terms faithful and true are used throughout Scripture to describe God and His word (Num. 23:19; 1 Sam. 15:29; Prov. 3-:5; Ps. 119:160; Titus 1:1-3; Heb. 6:17-18; Rom. 3:4). “The truth of what God says is fully grounded in the truth of what God is. In this way it becomes clear why we must insist that God’s power is not exercised independently, of his veracity, his faithfulness, and his necessary infallibility” (p. 86).

Pillar Two: God’s Concursive Involvement in the Created Order – God was and is not only involved in miraculous events like creation and the resurrection of Jesus, but also in the everyday ordinary events of life. God is both sovereign in His activity within the world but He also gives man freedom to will to act. This is termed compatibilism. Two clear examples from Scripture are Joseph in Egypt with his brothers (Gen. 45:4-5; 50:20) and the events surrounding Jesus death (Acts 2:23). Both God and man’s actions have converged together and man is not free from the sin of his actions despite God willing them to be done and God’s character is not called into questions for holding man accountable for these sins despite their necessity. “The God-breathed text is the product of his providential ordering, in which God remains God and acts in ways consistent with his character while sustaining genuine human agency” (p. 89).

Pillar Three: God’s Willingness to Accommodate Himself for Our Sake – Though God is a spirit and not like man He has revealed Himself to man in such a way that is truthful and understandable and not deceitful. Examples of God’s accommodation to man are instances where He is said to possess body parts like hands, eyes and feet. Clearly God does not possess those physical features and He is not deceiving man in using them to describe by analogy Himself or His actions. This is use of accommodation is termed anthropomorphic expression.

Pillar Four: God’s Creation and Use of Human Speech and Writing – As creator God created language and as creatures made in the image of God, God endowed mankind with the ability to speak. God speaks to mankind and vice-versa.For hundreds of years after creation God spoke His divine revelation to man and then he instructed man to begin writing down this revelation. Though humans are fallible and thus so can their writing, “the limitations of the authors do not automatically transfer to the biblical text, precisely because they are not the only ones involved in its production” (p. 94). Quoting R.C. Sproul, Thompson states, “The infallibility of Scripture does not rest on the infallibility of the human writers but on the integrity of God” (p.94).

Pillar Five: God’s Gift of Scripture – Though mankind will write many books discussing their thoughts of God and their comments on Scripture itself, no writing is of the same class as Scripture because God was involved in its writing. It is God-breathed and both testaments attest to this reality. Inspiration is an act of God upon the text of Scripture not the human authors of Scripture. However, God was working through the human authors of Scripture (2 Pet. 1:20-21). Scripture is a gift of God to mankind that we might hear and receive the gospel of Jesus Christ. And that upon confessing our belief in Christ as our savior we are saved and brought into fellowship with our God and Father who created us and the very language we confess our belief in Him with. God inspired Scripture that we might have fellowship with Him because of the work of His Son and the indwelling of His Spirit.

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