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ST 101: Digest 3

Course: Prolegomena
Professor: Dr. David Garner
Semester: 2016 Fall
Grade: 99%

E. J. Young, Thy Word is Truth (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1957), Chapters 3, 5 (pp. 65–82, 113–138)
           In chapter 3, Young demonstrates that the Bible is also written by human authors. At the very beginning, Young refutes the false understanding of the doctrine of inspiration. Then, Young says that according to the Bible, the human authors are the instruments of God who speaks his word through the authors. Then, he states, human authors are both holy men and sinful men, and according to the New Testament, the authors are real men. However, Young points out that God also prepares the human authors in their daily lives so that they can complete the writing tasks, and that this is the providential work of God. In addition, Young says that the Spirit also works in the writing process of the human authors, but the way that the Spirit works in the process is a mystery which is not understandable to us.
           Moreover, Young rejects the point which claims that the Divine revelation also depends on human “through which that revelation came” (72). He says that God “the Creator, is One who does according to his will” (74). Then, Young refutes the point of view which claims that because of the fallibility of human authors, the Scripture is also fallible. Moreover, Young points out the inconsistency of another point, which alleges that “human fallibility precludes infallibility in the Scripture” (77). However, Young says that the sinful men are controlled by God, and they are selected by God as his instruments of inspiration “under the impulsion of God’s Spirit” (81).
           In chapter 5, Young points out the biblical understanding of inerrancy in contrast to the objections. To begin with, Young says that there is a variety of styles in the Bible and each of them is equal to each other, and that the Bible is not a textbook of grammar, but “the living speech of the people” (118). In addition, when it comes to the two parallel passages in the Old Testament, in contrast to the objections, Young maintains that inerrancy allows minor variations among the parallel passages because the human authors write the biblical books in their cultural and historical context. Furthermore, as Young has indicated, we should pay careful attention to the difficulties in Scripture. For if we think that the Bible is erroneous, that means we consider God himself erroneous. Also, although there are difficulties in Scripture, that does not mean that the difficulties are unresolvable because human beings are not omniscient.
           In addition, Young turns to the difficulties of the parallel passages in the Gospels, saying that the minor divergences “are a sign of genuineness” (131) because if they are identical with each other, it means that they are deliberately written by their authors for particular purposes.
           Moreover, according to Young, it is a fact that God grants gifts and freedom to human authors so that they can accurately express and represent what God says to them, and that fact does not deny the doctrine of inerrancy. Hence, Young says that when man reads the Bible, he should pay attention to the “infinitely greater importance” of Scripture, which is a “harmonious account of God’s gracious plan of redemption” (139).
Scott Oliphint, Vern Poythress, John Frame and David Garner in David B. Garner, ed. Did God Really Say? Affirming the Truthfulness and Trustworthiness of Scripture. Kindle ed., Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2012, Introduction, chapters 1, 5, 6, 7 (168–277, 305–694, 1726–1957, 1965–2328, 2335–2848).
           In the introduction, Dr. Garner’s main idea is that when facing the heresies and theological errors undermining the gospel throughout the history. He points out that our efforts to advance theological truth must be centered on promoting the truth of the gospel. Additionally, as Dr. Garner mentioned, the entire book, by advancing the authoritative truth of the Word of God, aims at to be faithful to the Word of God and by that to be faithful to God himself.
           In Chapter 1, Dr. Oliphint discusses the biblical doctrine of Scripture found in WCF chapter 1. At the very beginning, he explains what the principles of theology are, saying that the term principia means “a beginning point or a first principle” (322) in Greek. And in the Reformed thinking of the term, the principles are both “necessarily and immutably true” (322) and cannot be known outside themselves.
           Furthermore, Dr. Oliphint says that the two principia for theology are the doctrine of God and the doctrine of Scripture. Then, in order to articulate the relationship between the two doctrines, he refers to the distinction between God’s knowledge (archetypal) and our knowledge of God (ectypal), saying that archetypal is the foundation of ectypal, and they are not identical.
           Then, Dr. Oliphint clarifies the relationship between Scripture and WCF, saying that Scripture is the norming norm, while the WCF is the normed norm. Hence, Scripture is the infallible and originally authoritative Word of God, whereas the WCF is a “derivative and fallible document” (428). Moreover, Dr. Oliphint points out that our subscription to the WCF affirms the confession “by good and necessary consequence” (457).
           In addition, Dr. Oliphint focuses on the authority of Scripture. First, he discusses the self-attestation of Scripture, which is an “objective attribute to the knowing agent” (545). The point is that the authority of Scripture only depends on God, who is the truth and the author. Furthermore, Dr. Oliphint says that first, we should not neglect human authors as the secondary authors instructed by God. Second, the doctrine of Scripture is not established by the “phenomena of Scripture” (630). Finally, WCF chapter 1 to 5 affirms that Scripture attests to its own authority.
           Dr. Oliphint concludes by pointing out two applications. The first application is that only the Word of God is our basis for a “redemptive knowledge of God” (667). The second application is that the Reformed doctrine of God and of Scripture “as the two linked inextricably linked principia to be affirmed” (680) means that revelation is the foundation of our knowledge.
           In chapter 5, in response to the skeptical arguments about language, Dr. Poythress demonstrates that God clearly and effectively speaks to us in the Bible. To begin with, Dr. Poythress discusses language and the Trinity, saying that in the context of John 1:1, “the Word” designates the second person of the Trinity and also connects with language. The verse indicates that the Trinity lies behind God’s spoken words. Also, the verse refers to God’s active eternal Word which is the archetype of the words spoken by God to create. And in Genesis 1, God’s first speech to man is “in harmony with the speeches he made to create the world” (1776) and his eternal Word.
           In addition, Dr. Poythress argues against the non-Christian view of language in favor of the biblical view of language. More specifically, he says that first, analogy is embedded in language, and if we use analogy correctly, then “it expresses truth” (1840). Second, Dr. Poythress points out that the Christian worldview affirms that God has planned history and has given it infinite meaning in advance of historical events. In addition, Dr. Poythress thinks that we are obligated to respect the meanings from Scripture, and we also should “trust God who controls all contexts, and enables us” (1891) to understand his words. Finally, Dr. Poythress points out that the Christian view of language “traces meaning back to God” (1932) who is the creator of “the one and the many” (1932) world. And human language is the reflection of the language of God.
           In chapter 6, Frame first challenges Wright’s “understanding of the broad narrative structure of Scripture” (1975). More specifically, Wright neglects the nature of Scripture, but focuses on the content of Scripture. Then, Frame says in Wright’s The Last Word, Wright disconnects the relationship between the authority of God and the Word of God. Furthermore, Frame examines The Last Word, saying Wright reduces the nature of Scripture by limiting it to narrative literary form. Then, as Frame stated, Wright does not mention “what the God of the narrative expects of us” (2084) and the “ethical norms and motivations in Scripture” (2084). However, according to Frame, Wright wants to invent a new understanding of biblical authority that is the reformulation of the way of thinking about Scripture in traditional protestant theology. For example, Wright says that the Word is power and a “sacramental location of God” (2148). Then, as Frame mentions, Wright does not consider revelation to be nonverbal.
           In addition, Frame refutes Wright’s statements about biblical inspiration, infallibility and inerrancy. Precisely, Frame points out that Wright denies the dictation theology, and Wright says nothing about “whether divine inspiration confers truth” (2202) upon Scripture. And, as Frame argues, Wright does not affirm the infallibility and inerrancy of Scripture.
           Finally, Frame argues about Wright’s approach to historical scholarship. Wright thinks that the historicity of Scripture is important. More specifically, Frame thinks that we should let the authority of the Bible be our presupposition, but Wright focuses on historical scholarship.
           In Chapter 7, Dr. Garner introduces some contemporary hermeneutical methods that question the perspicuity and the clarity of Scripture.
           According to Dr. Garner, theorists like Fish think that the meaning of the text is only determined by readers, which contradicts the traditional biblical interpretation. Then, Dr. Garner refutes the hermeneutic of uncertainty, saying that this hermeneutical method denies the perspicuity of Scripture, and has no authoritative certainty or foundation. “Arrogant commitments to biblical imperspicuity vitiate Christian vitality” (2423).
Also, Dr. Garner argues against Smith, saying that Smith fails “to give Scripture the final authority in matters of interpretation” (2474). In addition, as Dr. Garner mentioned, James Callahan fails to distinguish hermeneutics from the perspicuity of Scripture. Then, Dr. Garner says that perspicuity is “of the understandability of Scripture” (2573) and that perspicuity of Scripture is the foundation of hermeneutics.
           In addition, Dr. Garner states that God is the speaker, and his word is the object to which “the elements of creation in Genesis 1 submit” (2602). Dr. Garner concludes that the entire “divine, intra-Trinitarian communication” (2635) is always and undoubtedly perspicuous, for God is “infinite in his self-understanding” (2618). Moreover, Dr. Garner insists that the Word of God is perspicuous to us because God is the creator who made us in his image.
           Next, Dr. Garner says that because the Spirit illumines us, the “redemptive gift of illumination” (2699) is necessary for us to understand the Word of God. Then, Dr. Garner maintains that because God wants to reveal the inscripturated Word, the perspicuity of the Word is therefore established. In addition, Dr. Garner discusses perspicuity and redemptive history, saying that the perspicuity of Scripture is in relation to its “multifaceted and mutually explanatory forms” (2795), and the redemptive work that is spoken by God in his Son is unquestionably perspicuous.
Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, I.1: The Doctrine of the Word of God (ed. by Thomas Torrance; transl. and ed. by Geoffrey Bromiley; London: T & T Clark, 2004): pp. 111–143 (Chapter 1, §4.3 – §5.2)
           First, Barth points out three different forms of the Word of God. The first form is “the revealed word of God” (121). To begin with, he says that the Bible testifies to past revelation, and proclamation expects future revelation, and this expectation “rests on the attestation in the Bible” (Barth, 111). Then, he points out that the Bible is man’s reproduction which is written in human contexts. In addition, he believes that the Bible and Church proclamation “must continually become God’s Word” (117). Revelation, as the “divine decision” (118), ratifies the Bible and Church proclamation. In addition, Barth puts revelation in relation to the act of revelation; its basis is in the triune God. Furthermore, Barth goes on to say that the revealed form, the written form and the preached form of the Word of God are unified together as one Word of God.
           Second, Barth believes that we should learn from these forms about how God’s Word is. According to Barth, Scripture is “talk, speech” (132). More specifically, first, Barth distinguishes the spiritual nature of the Word of God from physical things. Second, he talks about the personalizing quality of the Word of God. Third, the Word of God aims at addressing to us. Particularly, according to Barth, the Word of God has four directions. First, the Word of God is “the Word which we do not say to ourselves” (141). In addition, the Word of God is “the Word of the Lord which aims at us and smites us in our existence” (141). Moreover, the Word of God as “the Word of the Creator directed to us” (142) is required to renew the original relationship between God and his people. Finally, the Word of God is “the Word of reconciliation” (142) whereby God assures that he will absolutely fulfill his words.
Francis Turretin in Peter A. Lillback and Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., eds., Thy Word is Still Truth (NJ: P&R, 2013), 346–396.
           In the first question, Turretin says that the Word of God is necessary because God is perfectly good and man is corrupt. Then Turretin discusses the “twofold appetite of man” (347), saying that God’s grace is necessary for him to instruct us, and that natural revelation should be supplied by the God’s supernatural verbal revelation.
           In the second question, Turretin thinks that the question of the necessity of Scripture is that the Word is spoken by God “relatively and hypothetically” (348). Then, he writes that the “preservation, vindication, and propagation” of the word support the necessity of Scripture.
           In the third question, as Turretin states, Scripture is written by divine command. For the apostles are bound to preach as “they committed themselves to the divine inspiration” (352) that is by the impulse of the Holy Spirit.
           In the fourth question, Turretin discusses the authority of Scripture, saying that Scripture is authentic because it is God’s inspired word, which is the basis of faith. In addition, he says that the Bible proves itself in an external way and an internal way. The eternal is important “in the conviction of the unbelievers” (354), and the internal is more important because it is a divine testimony. Finally, he affirms the testimony of the prophets and the apostles as authentic.
           In the fifth question, Turretin insists that there are no contradictions in Scripture, even through some passages seems not inharmonious with each other, but it is impossible for us to explain these passages, and therefore the integrity and the authenticity of Scripture is upheld.
           In the six question, as Turretin states, the divine authority of Scripture only depends on itself and “the highest genera and first principles” (379). The authority of Scripture does not depend on the testimony of the church because Scripture is the foundation of the church.
           In the seventh question, Turretin says that all canonical books are preserved. Specifically, he says that Christ testifies to the full preservation of the canon. In addition, Turretin refers to the providence of God, saying that God also preserves Scripture for his church.
           In the eighth question, Turretin maintains that the OT is part of Scripture, and the OT also applies to Christians as well as the NT. For Jesus Christ interprets and testifies the law of the OT. In addition, the NT church is founded upon the doctrines of the prophets and apostles.
           In the ninth question, according to Turretin, the apocryphal books are not canonical. For they are not recognized by either the Jewish church nor the Christian church as canonical, and the style of the apocryphal books show that they are merely human products. Also, the apocryphal books are not read by the church for the purpose of “establishing the authority of the doctrines” (394).
Richard Gaffin, Perspectives on Pentecost (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1979), 89–116.
           Gaffin demonstrates that according to the New Testament, prophecy and tongues are ceased. To begin with, Gaffin says that in the NT, apostolate refers to the “representative of a particular church” (89) for a specific task in a specific time, and more important, apostolate also refers to Christ’s apostles who are limited only to the first generation of the church.
           Then, Gaffin discusses the “foundational character of the apostolic witness” (91), saying that the apostles witness to Christ, and that they are recognized by Christ as witnesses to his “resurrection as the fulfillment of covenant history” (91). For instance, the apostles supplement the work of Christ by bearing foundational witness to Christ’s work, but they are not part of the foundation. Additionally, the foundational character is absolute and historical, which describes a “comprehensive redemptive-historical image” (92).
           Next, Gaffin says that according to Ephesians 2:20 and 3:5, the NT prophets are distinct from the apostles. For example, Paul distinguishes the group of the prophets and the group of the apostles, the function of the prophets and the apostles. Consequently, as Gaffin concludes, Eph 2:20 indicates that the NT prophets and apostles were part of the foundations of the church, but their functions were temporary. For Eph. 2:20 provides the overall understanding of the NT on prophecy. Also, Eph 2:20 gives the “fully revelatory character of prophecy” (97), and revelation is covenantal and redemptive-historical. Additionally, Gaffin says that the canon and revelation are not identical, and in the foundational period of the church, the apostles and prophets’ Scripture was not sufficient. Moreover, Eph. 2:20 says that the apostolate is the “immediate source in the church of the gifts” (101) given by Christ in the apostolic age.
           In addition, Gaffin believes that tongues have ceased for the church, “along with prophecy” (102) and other foundational gifts that are associated with the apostolate. First, Paul says prophecy draws unbelievers to Christ, but not tongues. Second, according to Paul, tongues are “a sign of God’s judgement” (105) to the unbelieving nation.
Furthermore, Gaffin points out that 1 Cor. 13:8-13 teaches the continuation of prophecy and tongues in the church in the “entire period until Christ’s return” (110).
           Then, when it comes to the question of cessation, as Gaffin mentioned, generally, the New Testament distinguishes the post-apostolic church situation from the situation in the time of major Pauline epistles.
           Finally, Gaffin discusses “healing and related gifts” (113), saying that they are different from prophecy and tongues. That is to say, the healing gifts in the contemporary church and that of Jesus and the apostles are not the same.
           John Murray, Collected Writings (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1976), 1:186–89.8
In this passage, Murray discusses how the Holy Spirit guides God’s people. To begin with, he puts the Word of God in relation to our situations, saying that we should presuppose that only the Word of God is the infallible rule of practice and faith. Nevertheless, the Holy Spirit provides us “with some direct feeling or impression” (187) and in such a direct way that the Holy Sprit guides us by intimation in our every situation. Also, Murray recognizes that we are able to understand ourselves and others. However, Murray points out that it is essential for us to make the distinction. More precisely, he says that our consciousness is the “effect of a direct intimation to us” (188) of the purpose of the Holy Spirit, and thus “in the category of special direction from him” (188). Then, Murray observes that first, the Holy Spirit guides us in our daily lives, hearts and minds. Second, fallible human beings will still make mistakes and errors even if they depend on the infallible Spirit.
John Murray, “Systematic Theology,” Collected Writings (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1982), 4:1–21.
           Murray says that natural revelation comes within revelation “with which systematic theology deals” (1), and that natural theology is an independent department of systematic theology.
           Then, he points out that revelation mainly derives from Scripture, which is inscripturated revelation, and Scripture is the redemptive “deposit of special revelation” (4) that is in Jesus Christ and proclaimed by God to his people. In addition, as Murray stated, systematic theology is developed in God’s church. However, systematic theology is not the product of the church, but the activity of the Spirit, who is alongside Christ, throughout the history of the church. Although the church is not always faithful to God, the Lord and the Spirit always sheds light upon the development of theology in every period of the church. In the history of the church, the theology of the earlier generation is always developed, enriched, and corrected by the later generation.
           In addition, Murray distinguishes the method of systematic theology from that of biblical theology, saying that systematic theology deals with the data of special revelation “from a standpoint of its history” (9), while biblical theology deals with the data of special revelation “in its totality as a finished product” (9). More specifically, Murray points out the divergence of the viewpoint of the definition of biblical theology in its developed history. In the recent decades of Murray’s age, biblical theology was based on the “assumptions of the literary and historical criticism” (11) which reconstructed the biblical history by rejecting the historical character of the Old Testament, and Murray argues that this kind of “biblical theology” is not biblical theology. In contrast, Murray refers to the viewpoint of Vos, saying that biblical theology recognizes the redemptive revelation that is progressively unfolded by God.
           When it comes to systematic theology, Murray says that systematic theology is rooted in biblical theology. First, systematic theology deals with special revelation “as a finished product” (20) which is always connected with history. Second, systematic theology is “gained for the unity and continuity of special revelation” (20).


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