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Articles - The Bible

All Scripture is Breathed Out By God

In 2004 Antony Flew, who was arguably the best-known atheist in the English-speaking world, announced that he had accepted the existence of God. Three years later, in his 2007 book, There Is a God, Dr. Flew describes how his commitment to follow the argument wherever it leads resulted in his endorsement of theism. In his concluding reflections Flew asks, “Is it possible that there has been or can be divine revelation? . . . [Y]ou cannot limit the possibilities of omnipotence except to produce the logically impossible. Everything else is open to omnipotence” (213). What Flew meant by “divine revelation” has been defined by another prominent British theistic philosopher, David Conway, whose argument for God’s existence Flew says has persuaded him above all others (92). In his book, The Rediscovery of Wisdom:
From Here to Antiquity in Quest of Sophia, Conway concludes his discussion on the existence of God with the affirmation that “there are no good philosophical arguments for denying God to be the explanation of the universe and of the form of order it exhibits” (134). With his unequivocal position on the existence of God Conway then considers whether God has provided “some supremely important body of truth that has been disclosed to man by God through revelation which is not capable of being known apart from revelation” (134). He says, “The term ‘revelation’ signifies the communication of some doctrine or precept to man by God by way of some specific human being to whom God directly discloses the doctrine or precept and who then relays it to others” (135-36).

There are two great volumes of revelation: (1) General revelation and (2) Special revelation. General, or natural revelation, is that which is available to humans in the creation of (1) the world and (2) themselves. It is from this revelation that Antony Flew became convinced of the
existence of God. He said, “I must stress that my discovery of the Divine has proceeded on a purely natural level. . . . It has been an exercise in what is traditionally called natural theology” (93). The case for the existence of God can be proved with exclusive appeal to general revelation (cf. Psalm 19:1-6; 139:14; Romans 1:20; Hebrews 3:4, et al). A proper handling of the available evidence in general revelation results in the knowledge that God exists and that He is infinite in all His attributes.

As marvelous as God’s revelation of Himself is in the natural world, and in humans, such is, in one sense, an insufficient revelation. Special revelation is necessary if humans are to know God’s will and purpose for their (i.e. human) lives on Earth, and if they are to know whether it is the case that there is life after death. Details concerning how to live life on Earth, and whether there is life to be lived after this life, including any details about such a life after death, will have to come from special divine revelation. Richard Swinburne has summarized well this need for special revelation. In a 2008 book, Was Jesus God?, published by Oxford University, Swinburne says:

We need more information about . . . God. . . . Even if humans easily recognized the force of arguments for the existence of God, it would help them (and especially the less sophisticated among them) if they were told that there is a God by an apparently reliable source of information. We need to know more about what God is like (for example, thathe is a Trinity) and how he has acted towards us (for example, that he became incarnateto share our human condition), in order that we may worship him better for what he is and has done, and interact with him better. Although, I believe, my a priori arguments for the doctrines that if there is a God, God is a Trinity, and that God would become incarnate in order to share the human condition, are valid, not all humans may be fully convinced by them. And even if humans believe that God has become incarnate to provide atonement for our wrongdoing, they still need to know when and as which human he became incarnate and how they ought to appropriate that atonement for themselves (e.g. by seeking baptism); and no a priori argument can show all that. It is an obvious general fact about humans that we would be ignorant of these things unless we were taught them by some person (perhaps by God Incarnate himself) who comes to us with credentials (public evidence) that he has been sent by God to teach us about thesematters. This would provide a ‘propositional revelation’, a revelation from God that
certain propositions (e.g. ‘God became incarnate in Jesus Christ’) are true. (61)

Given the above information, I conclude that it is both possible and necessary that God reveal Himself to humans by means of a special revelation. But is it probable that God would give humans a special revelation in addition to the general revelation He has provided in the natural world and in humans themselves?

In a popular volume concerning evidence for the Christian faith, Keyser wrote:
If there is a personal God, the probability that He would reveal Himself in a personal way is very great. He has, indeed, revealed Himself more or less clearly in nature and reason; but surely He would scarcely think a general, impersonal revelation sufficient for His rational creatures. This would be particularly true if they should fall into sin and evil. Why would He not go to their rescue? An earthly parent would do so. (69)

That God has revealed Himself to humans beyond general revelation is probable because of (1) God’s nature and (2) human nature. God is the Being who seems likely to give such a revelation and humans are beings who are exactly fitted to receive such a revelation. Since God is a moral Being we may infer that if special revelation were beneficial to humans it would be in harmony with the nature of God to give it. It would seem that God would care for the welfare of His creation as a father would care for the welfare of his children. It seems probable that if a human father loved his children that he would wish to communicate with them. It seems unlikely that God would create humanity without desiring to communicate with humans in the same way that it would be unlikely for a man to paint a picture without looking at it, or arrange a concert without listening to it.

Furthermore, as we consider humans, we find that they have the nature fitted exactly to receive such a revelation from God. First, human mental character would enable them to understand and appreciate such a revelation. Turton has stated: “A revelation which would influence him [a human] to act right, and yet without forcing him, and thereby destroying his freedom, and making it possible for him to act either right or wrong, is certainly not improbable” (112). And not only can humans understand and profit by such a revelation, but they desire it. “A thoughtful man cannot help wishing to know why he is placed in this world; why he is given free will; how he is meant to use his freedom; and what future, if any, is in store for him hereafter: in short, what was God’s object in creating him” (113).

In summary, special revelation from God is (1) necessary, (2) possible, and (3) probable. It is necessary because man cannot know many things without it (Jeremiah 10:23; 1 Corinthians 2:9-13). It is possible and probable because of (1) God’s infinite nature and (2) human nature. Turton summarizes:

[A] revelation seems for several reasons to be somewhat probable. To put it shortly, if God is good and really cares for man’s welfare, it seems unlikely that He should withhold from him that knowledge which is the highest, the noblest, and the most longed after; – the knowledge of Himself. While, if man is really a free and immortal being, occupying a unique position in the world, and intended to live forever, it seems unlikely that he should be told nothing, and therefore know nothing, as to why he was created, or what is his future destiny. Thus when we consider both God’s character and man’s character, it seems on the whole to be somewhat probable, that God would make some revelation to man; telling him how he ought to use his freedom in this world, and possibly what future is in store for him hereafter. (116)

A Passage of Affirmation
The Bible makes the claim that it is the exclusive document which is the one and only source of special divine revelation today and unto the end of the world. This claim is crucial as evidenced in the following statement:

To ignore the Bible’s claims would be a terrible mistake. For example, what if the Bible actually admits that it is not an infallible book? There would be nothing more to say in behalf of the thesis of this book! Or what if the Bible simply makes no claim to being inspired? The unbeliever could then say that to claim inspiration for the Bible is to press a claim which is not inherent in the book itself and is thus going beyond the evidence at hand. If, on the other hand, the Bible does make an explicit claim to inspiration, fairness will demand that we examine the claim in the light of all the available evidence. (Shelly 11)

Although it is the case that there are numerous biblical passages that affirm that the Bible claims to be the revelation of the mind of the infinite God, perhaps no passage is any clearer concerning this than 2 Timothy 3:14-17. The passage very well may contain the greatest single
statement concerning what is referred to as the inspiration, authority, and purpose of the biblical writings. The passage reads as follows:

But as for you, continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (NKJV)

The above passage implies at least the following significant facts concerning the Bible: (1) its assurance, (2) its aim, (3) its authorship, (4) its ability, and (5) its all sufficiency. The Assurance of the Scriptures. First, the assurance of the message of the Bible is implied in this passage. The statement urged Timothy, the initial recipient of these words, to “continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of” (v. 14). The Bible makes remarkable claims and confirms such claims concerning the reliability of its message. That concerning which Timothy had been assured had its basis in the Holy Scriptures (i.e. the Bible). The word used here that is rendered assured is derived from that which means “to make reliable” (Rogers and Rogers 505). It involves the idea of confirm or prove (Liddell and Scott 1408). Paul reminded Timothy that he could trust the message of the Bible. “. . . [T]he testimony of the Lord is sure . . .” (Psalm 19:7). “Your [God’s] testimonies are very sure” (Psalm 93:5). “All His precepts are sure” (Psalm 111:7). Christopher de Hamel, whose book History of Illuminated Manuscripts (1994) has become a standard work, wrote, “. . . [A]ll evidence confirms that the text of the Christian Bible as we have it today has been maintained and transmitted with extraordinary accuracy. . . . No significant variations or deliberate falsifications have ever been found to shake public confidence in the Bible as a whole” (319-20).

The things which Timothy had “learned and been assured of” were those things revealed in the Sacred Scriptures. Paul conjoined that which Timothy had learned and been assured of with the fact that “from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures” (v. 15). The reliability and
dependability of Scripture is the result of the divine origin of this special revelation. In another classic text Peter affirmed, “We also have the prophetic word made more sure . . . knowing . . . that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:19-21, emp. added).

Furthermore, those from whom Timothy, even in childhood, had learned the Holy Scriptures were, in some sense, a reminder of the veracity of the authoritative source (the Scriptures) from which he had learned these things. Paul said, “. . . [C]ontinue . . . knowing from whom you have learned . . .” (v. 14). “Jewish children commonly were taught the Scriptures from infancy (see Deuteronomy 11:19; 4:9; 6:7)” (Roberts 90). Timothy had the rich heritage of great teachers. Not only was it the case that in more recent years he had sat at the feet of Paul as a student of the great apostle (cf. 2 Timothy 2:2; 3:10-11), but from his childhood he had the legacy of the wonderful teaching of his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice (cf. 2 Timothy 1:5). Hendriksen explains Paul’s point (v. 14) as follows:

Timothy must never forget that he had learned these things from no less a person than Paul himself (see verses 10 and 11 above) and, going back even farther, from those highly esteemed worthies: grandmother Lois and mother Eunice (II Tim. 1:5). . . . It is clear that Paul, Lois, Eunice, and any others who may have nurtured Timothy, are not viewed as independent authorities, apart from the Word, but as secondary or intermediate sources of knowledge, avenues of instruction, and even this only because they accepted Scripture! (295-96)

Lenski says, “. . . [T]he main point is that from early childhood these dear persons led him [Timothy] to know sacred letters, the divine source of all spiritual wisdom” (838). The poet Whittier captured the beauty of the thought:

We search the world for truth; we cull
The good, the pure, the beautiful,
From graven stone and written scroll,
From all old flower-fields of the soul;
And, weary seekers of the best,
We come back laden from our quest
To find that all the sages said
Is in the Book our mothers read. (342)

The Aim of the Scriptures. Additionally, Paul implies the aim of the Bible when he says, “. . . [T]he Scriptures . . . are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (v. 15). This statement is one of the clearest affirmations of both the purpose and theme of the Bible. First, the aim of the Bible is the salvation of humans.

What is the purpose of this amazing book? What is its theme? It is in a sense a library of 66 books, and yet it is one book. It contains the record of numerous events, addresses many topics, and refers to hundreds of persons by name and thousands unnamed, and yet, when understood, there is the sense in which it is a one subject book and a one Person book. It is not a text of history, science, geography, psychology, or sociology. It addresses these (and other matters), but the Bible is really a one purpose . . . book. (Pugh, Bible 3).

Mathematics, Psychology, Science, and various other books aim to make one wise in their respective area of study. The Bible makes one wise in the matter of salvation. It is also the case that the Bible claims to be the exclusive source that is able to fulfill this purpose. One might us
one of many books when he is concerned with other areas of study. There are numerous books available that enable one to become wise in language, logic, geology, math, etc. However, though there are a multiplicity of books that may assist one in his study of the Holy Scriptures, it is the Bible alone that is the one, and only, authoritative source concerning matters that relate to “life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3).

The purpose of the Bible unfolds throughout the Bible with the implication of four basic spiritual needs of humanity. These needs are woven throughout biblical revelation, more obvious in some sections than others, but these universal needs of humans tie together the various parts of the whole purpose of the Bible. These four needs are as follows: First, there is the need that man has for a prophet to reveal God. Second, there is the need for a priest to represent man before God. Third, there is the need of a propitiation (i.e. sacrifice) with which to approach God, and finally there is the need for a prince to lead man to center his heart and life on God. (Pugh, Bible 4-5)

As the Bible makes one wise for salvation, it does so through a thematic focus on Jesus Christ. Paul wrote of “salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (v. 15). This statement implies the theme of the Bible which is the redemption of man from sin to the glorification of God through the person and work of Jesus Christ. Collett, in his classic volume, All About the Bible, says:

[W]hat we really see, as we open the Bible, is “the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6) . . . “the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person” (Heb. 1:3). . . . As the planets revolve round the sun, so the truths of the Bible may be said to revolve round the person of the Lord Jesus. . . . [I]n every part of the sacred Book these may be found that which will lead the seeking heart to Christ. . . . [I]t matters not where the Bible is opened–Christ will be seen everywhere. He is set forth in prophecy and in type of almost every kind. . . . The Old Testament reveals Christ the Messiah; the New Testament reveals Jesus the Saviour. (189-91)

Jesus Christ–His person and His work in redemption and salvation–relates to every individual book in the Bible. A book-by-book glance at each of the 66 books that comprise the Holy Scriptures evidences how the Bible marvelously is a one-purpose, one-theme Book (cf. Pugh,
Bible 11-14). Beginning in Genesis, He is Shiloh from Judah, the seed of woman, and the seed of Abraham. Concluding with the Book of Revelation, He is the Alpha and Omega, the Lamb who is the Lion, the Lord of lords and King of kings who will lead the faithful to victory. He said, “. . . [T]he Scriptures . . . testify of Me” (John 5:39). “. . . [T]he testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10).

The Authorship of the Scriptures. Not only is it the case that the assurance and aim of the Bible are affirmed in the great text of 2 Timothy 3:14-17, but the authorship of the Holy Scriptures is also emphatically implied. Herein is the crux of the Bible’s claim for itself: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God . . .” (2 Timothy 3:16, emp. added). Scripture (graphe) “can refer to a body of documents, or to a single passage . . . (Mt. 21:42; Jn. 5:39; Rom. 4:3; Acts 1:16)” (Jackson 271). Arndt and Gingrich say it means, “. . . the individual Scripture passage . . . all the parts of Scripture, the scriptures . . .” (165). The word graphe is used 51 times in the New Testament and “is used exclusively of Holy Scripture” (Brown 490). “It never has the meaning of mere ‘writing’” (Roberts 91).

There has been an on-going controversy as to whether the verse (16) should be rendered “All Scripture is given by inspiration . . .” or “Every Scripture, inspired of God. . . .” I agree with Young’s conclusion when he says,

Whatever modern men may think about the matter, one is certainly safe in asserting that the Apostle Paul firmly regarded all Scripture, all that to which the name Scripture could be given, as inspired of God. There is not a particle of evidence to support the position that Paul thought some Scripture uninspired. All things considered, we believe that the thought of the Apostle is most accurately set forth in the world “All Scripture is inspired of God.” (20)

The key word is theopneustos which is rendered “inspiration of God” or “inspired of God.” The meaning of this word, itself, should settle any question concerning what is meant by the inspiration of Scripture. An artist may stand and look across vast open plains to a beautiful sunset and be inspired to paint. One may see the towering Alps of Switzerland or the grandeur of the Grand Canyon and be inspired. Another may read a masterpiece of literature, or hear a talented musician, and be inspired. However, the inspiration implied in these illustrations is not the inspiration of the Scriptures. Theopneustos means breathed out by God. The construction of this compound word (God/theo) and (breathed/pneustos) is crucial. Young explains:

In the Greek language, words which 1) end in – tos and 2) are compound with theo (God) are generally passive in meaning. An example will make this clear. There is a Greek word theodidaktos . . . which means “taught of God.” . . . [C]learly seen, it ends in –tos and also contains the element theo (God). [Theopneustos] . . . likewise is passive in usage, and we should properly translate, “breathed of God.” . . . [T]here have been those who have somewhat vigorously insisted that the meaning is active. They would therefore translate by the
phrase “breathing out God,” in the sense that the Scriptures breathed forth or were imbued with the Spirit of God. Such, however, . . . is not the true meaning. The true meaning is passive, “that which is breathed out by God.” . . .

. . . [Paul] wished to make as clear as possible the fact that the Scriptures did not find their origin in man but in God. It was God the Holy Ghost who breathed them forth; they owed their origin to Him; they were the product of the creative breath of God Himself. It is a strong figure, this expression “breathed out by God.” A strong figure, however, is needed, in order that Timothy may realize that he is being asked to place his confidence not in writings which merely express the hopes and aspirations of the best of men, but rather in writings which are themselves actually breathed out by God, and consequently of absolute authority.

. . . According to Paul, the Scriptures are not writings into which something Divine has been breathed; they are not even writings which are imbued with the Divine Spirit (at least, that is not the emphasis in this passage). The Scriptures, Paul vigorously asserts, are writings which came into being because they were breathed out by God Himself. . . . [I]t is this fact of being breathed out by God that constitutes the very heart and core of the Biblical doctrine of inspiration. . . . They, and they alone of all writings, were breathed out of the mouth of God. Could words be found to make clearer the Divine origin of the Bible? (20-23).

Therefore, the Bible in the ultimate sense was not “breathed into” by God. Although the prophet was, in some sense, said to be “in the Spirit” (cf. Matthew 22:43; Revelation 1:10), the teaching of rabbinical tradition “was that the Spirit of God rested on and in the prophets and spoke through them, so that their words did not come from themselves but from the mouth of God . . .” (Rogers and Rogers 506). David declared, “The Spirit of the Lord spoke to me. His word was on my tongue” (2 Sam. 23:2). B. B. Warfield wrote what has become to many a classic volume on the inspiration of the Bible. He said, “. . . [T]he Scriptures are a Divine product, without any indication of how God has operated in producing them . . . the product of a specifically Divine operation” (433). “The language is metaphorical, in the sense that, ‘God
breathed [H]is message into the minds of the sacred writers,’ while allowing individual vocabulary styles to prevail” (Jackson 271-72). And so, a recent translation (2001) has rendered the passage as follows: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable . . .” (ESV). The Ability of the Scriptures. As a result of its Divine origin, Paul affirmed the ability of the Bible. “All Scripture is . . . profitable” (v. 16, emp. added). “. . . [B]ecause of this its Divine origination, [it] is of supreme value for all holy purposes” (Warfield 134). Scripture has a fourfold profitability. It is able to profit in reference to (1) doctrine, (2) reproof, (3) correction, and (4) instruction in righteousness. The Scriptures are profitable for doctrine (teaching, didaskalian). “This [is] the teaching of the person reading [studying, hearing] the Scriptures. . . . It is not [Timothy’s] ability as a teacher, but his stability as a Christian . . .” (Alford 397). The Bible teaches the right teaching (cf. Proverbs 4:2). It teaches us those things we simply cannot discover apart from Divine revelation (cf. Jerermiah 10:23; 1 Corinthians 2:9-13). Furthermore, the Scriptures are able to profit with reference to reproof. Reproof (elegmon) is “proving, convicting . . . refuting error and rebuking sin” (Rogers and Rogers 506). Secular
books do not convict of sin. Many of them even deny the reality of sin. However, “the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12). Additionally, the Bible is profitable for correction (epanorthosin) which is “setting right . . . setting upright on their feet” (Rogers and Rogers 506). We not only need to know what the problem is (i.e. reproof), but we need the solution and put on the right way. “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul. . .” (Psalm 19:7). Finally, the Sacred Scriptures are able to profit with regard to “instruction in righteousness.” Righteousness is what is right. Such is not discovered by feelings, psychology, sociology, etc., but is breathed out by God in His written revelation, the Bible. The Scriptures reveal the way humans are made right by God–i.e. through the gospel of Christ (cf. Romans 1:16-17). The Bible also provides great incentives for doing what is right (cf. Isaiah 32:17).

The All-Sufficiency of the Scriptures. The concluding implication concerning the Bible’s affirmation for itself in 2 Timothy 3:14-17 can be identified as the Bible’s claim to its allsufficiency. Paul concludes this classic text with the statement “that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (v. 17). The word translated complete (NKJV, ASV, RSV), perfect (KJV), competent (ESV), and adequate (NASV) is artios. It means “capable, proficient, able to meet all demands . . .” (Arndt and Gingrich 110). Thayer says, “. . . fitted, complete, perfect (having reference apparently to ‘special aptitude for given uses’)” (75). “. . . [T]o completely outfit, fully furnish, fully equip or supply . . . used of documents–or of a wagon or rescue boat–which were completely outfitted, or of a machine sold in good condition; i.e. capable of performing the service expected of it” (Rogers and Rogers 506). The man of God is any spiritual person (cf. Alford 398), and the Bible makes such a one complete or proficient in all things that pertain to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3), or living the Christian life, because it is complete. It is complete in that it is all the revelation needed for a human to be completely outfitted with the information he needs to live life as it is meant to be lived on Earth. “The Scriptures are complete for every requirement of humanity” (Jackson 273). There is nothing humans need to know or do in reference to living life properly that the Bible does not reveal. The Bible is all sufficient in reference to life–the Christian life, the home, the community, the nation. It has the sufficient principles to guide one in every aspect of life on Earth. Furthermore, it is all sufficient in reference to death.

Why is it that such a large proportion of skeptics, when near the close of their lives, or are in the immediate expectation of death, renounce and repudiate their skepticism? Why does their foundation fail them at the very time when they need support more than at any former period? Why is it that, at the gate of death, so many of them renounce what had been upon their lips for years? Why is it that the most impudent scoffers, bold and ridiculing unbelievers, in such large proportions, when they approach the change of worlds, repudiate, frequently with their last words, the unbelief that had dwelt upon their lips for years? Why does the meekest believer in the kingdom of God press his faith to his heart the more closely as he approaches death? Why is it that not a man who claimed to believe the Bible, while in life and health, ever denied it when he approached death? The answer is, that the divine testimony is sufficient for all confidence, worthy of all acceptation; and the human soul, at the hour of dissolution, when it needs support, leans on that which is infallibly safe, as also infallibly correct. (Franklin 360-61)

The Bible is all sufficient in reference to life after death. Only its testimonies ultimately can be trusted for what humans will experience at the moment of death and thereafter. As nothing else has, or can, the Bible reveals how that Jesus Christ has “abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Timothy 1:10). In summation, concerning the marvelous sufficiency of the Bible the Psalmist wrote, “Therefore all Your precepts concerning all things I consider to be right; I hate every false way” (Psalm 119:128). It is “a closed system” with such completeness and finality that it is the source of “all the truth” (John 16:13, ESV). Woe be to anyone who would add to it or take from it (cf. Revelation 22:18-19).

The Place of Argumentation

In the preceding discussion, the biblical passage (2 Timothy 3:14-17) that affirms the basic claim of the Bible has been considered. The Bible claims to have been breathed out by God. The details concerning how this was accomplished are not given, but there can be no doubt
concerning the claim. But how does one determine whether the biblical claim concerning its Divine origin is true? The answer is by reason and logical argumentation. Thompson provides the following excellent explanation:

Reason does not tell us what to find in revelation, and in this respect revelation is not dependent on reason. But there is a way in which revelation does depend on reason, and this is in our need to use reason to examine the claims of that which purports to be revelation. No claim of revelation can be self-justifying; for what is claimed to be a revelation is always claimed to be a revelation of something. That it does reveal what it claims to reveal cannot be shown in the supposed revelation itself. The claim has to be examined independently.

To those who assert that the true recognition and authentication of revelation in religion is an act of faith the reply is that this only pushes the matter back a step. Even those who take such a position must have some marks of faith which they accept, and must have
some reason for accepting these as the marks of faith. For they surely do not accept at face value every claim of everything which announces itself to be the product of religious faith. . . .

To test the genuineness of a purported revelation we have to look at the evidence, and the knowledge that it is genuine will have a rational basis if it is knowledge at all. This does not mean that what is revealed is revealed in rational terms. What is revealed may be something we could never have reached by our own efforts and our own reason. . . . The claim to be a revelation is subject to reason’s tests; the only way it can escape its debt to reason is to abandon its claim of truth, but with this it gives up also its claim to be a revelation. A faith which does not have its roots in knowledge becomes the creature of the imagination, the disguise of self-interest, the rationalization of prejudice and malice. (395-98)

Concerning the place of reason and argumentation as the means to identify what is God’s special revelation, I have written elsewhere the following:

[R]eason must be used to identify what is true revelation and [to] properly interpret the revelation. . . . As the law of rationality is honored, and a purported revelation is put to the test, one of two results will follow. Either that which claims to be revelation will prove to be genuine, or it will prove to be spurious. . . . Everyone must use the process of sound reasoning when it comes to determining: (1) whether God exists, (2) whether special revelation is available from God, (3) whether the Bible is that special revelation from God, (4) whether Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and if special, divine revelation is available, (5) what is the meaning of its explicit statements (i.e. what its explicit statements imply). It needs to be emphasized that there simply is no other means available to determine the truth on these important matters. There is nothing more basic, more crucial, or more needed than rationality as one seeks to find the truth. (Joy 64-66)
Personally, I feel an extremely deep sense of indebtedness to the late Thomas B. Warren for helping me see the proper place of logical argumentation in the procedure one must use to identify whether a document is the word of God. In my judgment, it likely is the case that no one among us during the last 100 years did more than Thomas B. Warren to help people see how crucial it is to honor the law of rationality (i.e. draw only those conclusions that are warranted by the evidence) through sound argumentation (i.e. valid arguments and true premises). Concerning the inspiration of the Bible, Warren wrote:

It has long been a three-fold abiding passion of mine: (1) to develop the basic argument which would prove without doubt that the Bible is the inspired, infallible, and authoritative word of God, (2) to help younger men to see this truth, and (3) to encourage them to communicate this truth to others by means of oral speech, journal articles, tracts, and books.

I am convinced that I did develop the basic argument for such proof. I have set forth that argument (with full proof that the premises of that argument are true) in the classroom. I also have set forth in print the basic argument (first, in a journal article [cf. Warren, Sword 1-3] and, second, in a lecture during a college lectureship [cf. Warren, Bible 1-24]). (Introduction v-vi)

The aforementioned basic argument developed by Dr. Warren that proves the Bible to be the one and only Divine revelation for humans today is as follows:

1. If it is the case that the Bible possesses property A, property B, property C . . . property Z (where the total situation involved in having such properties makes it clear that the Bible is beyond mere human production) then the Bible is the word of God.

2. It is the case that the Bible possesses property A, property B, property C . . . property Z.

3. Conclusion: Therefore the Bible is the word of God.

In this argument, when I refer to property A, property B, property C, etc., I mean for these designations to stand for affirmative propositions regarding some fact regarding the Bible. It is clear that the argument is valid in form (it is a hypothetical syllogism in which the antecedent of the major premise is affirmed). Thus the only way the argument could be shown to be unsound (that is, that the truthfulness of the conclusion does not follow from the premises) would be to show that at least one of the premises is false. (Bible 17-18)

Some would minimize the value of the proper place of logical argumentation in Christian faith. They attempt to “logically argue” that we should not depend on logical argumentation when it comes to religious faith. They “reason” that reason and revelation are mutually exclusive. One author, in a book on inspiration, in which he says many good things, makes the unfortunate statement that “[o]ne does not come to belief [in the inspiration and authority of the Scriptures] because of logical deduction although he finds that his faith fits what he knows of the world, logic, and living” (Jividen 58). Such a statement reflects a misunderstanding of the place of logical argumentation in learning that the Bible is God’s one, and only, written revelation. A statement as simple as the following implies the essentiality of logical deduction in Christian faith. John wrote: “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written than you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:30-31). John implies that through a logical (reasonable, valid) deduction based on truth (adequate evidence, true premises) one is able to come to believe that Jesus is the Christ. Belief (Christian faith) is obedient “trust beyond the range of experiment” (Sweet 105). However, it is not trust beyond the range of knowledge and certainty (cf. Luke 1:1-4). Pierson has explained the relationship of reason and faith in proving the Bible to be the word of God, as well as in proving Jesus Christ to be the Son of God.

The teachings of the Bible are at once so peculiar and so important that it is one of our first duties and privileges to attain a certainty of conviction as to the divine origin of the Holy Scriptures, and the divine character and mission of Jesus Christ. Such certainty ought to be attainable. If any human ruler should address to his subjects the most ordinary proclamation, touching their duties as citizens, those subjects have a right to claim good plain proofs that whoever may have written or composed that proclamation, it is by the King’s authority, and that he is its proper author. No subject should be satisfied unless the grand royal signature and seal are found upon the decree; otherwise it might prove the device of some traitor or enemy to mislead and betray subjects, and even to overturn lawful rule.

If therefore God has given to mankind a revelation of His will upon matters of the first moment, there can be no doubt that it is in some plain, unmistakable way marked by His hand: it has on its very face God’s signature and seal: there are many infallible proofs to satisfy honest doubt.

. . . God could not ask of us anything which is not right and reasonable; and it would be neither reasonable nor right to ask us to take it for granted that the Bible is God’s own Book, simply because it says so, or somebody says so, or even because any number of people honestly believe it. God himself gave us reasoning powers to weigh evidence with, and He means that we shall test truth and falsehood, proving all things and holding fast the good. (9-10)

What I am affirming and defending is not rationalism. There is a difference between rationality and rationalism. Rationalism is the result of an eighteenth century intellectual movement that emphasized the “autonomy of human reason” (cf. Campbell-Jack and McGrath 592-94).
Rationalism subordinates Divine revelation to human reason and/or dismisses special revelation as a source of knowledge altogether. It champions the all-sufficiency of human reason. It emphasizes the “pursuit of knowledge by means of unfettered human reason alone” (Craig 20). However, as earlier implied in my discussion of special revelation and 2 Timothy 3:14-17, all truth cannot be deducted from reason alone (cf. Clark 130). Special Divine revelation is a source of truth not discovered by reason alone. When he set forth the basic argument he had developed to prove the Bible is the inspired, infallible, and authoritative word of God, Warren anticipated  the misunderstanding held by some concerning the place of reason and logical argumentation in identifying a document as inspired. He replied to this misunderstanding when he said:

The following question might well be raised: How do you decide just what criteria a document would have to have in order to be regarded as inspired and authoritative? The answer is: By the use of reason. If the objector should then say, “But you thus make
human reasoning the ultimate judge.” then we reply that such is simply not the case. While it is true that we must use our powers of reason in order to ascertain the marks (criteria) which would identify a document as inspired and authoritative, it is not the case that reason thus becomes ultimately authoritative. We simply use our powers of reason to find out which claim to “revelation” really is the revelation from God to man. Further, we use those same powers to accurately interpret that authoritative revelation. But we insist it is the Bible itself, not human reason which is ultimately authoritative. (This is the case because it is God’s word.) We must use our reason correctly in order to be sure that what we regard as the authoritative revelation from God really is such, but, having drawn the conclusion (by the use of our reason) that the Bible is inspired and authoritative, we then depend upon the Bible as the only source of the right answer to questions pertaining to salvation from sin. (Bible 18-19)

A few years later, Dr. Warren wrote an excellent statement that shows the proper balance between reason, emotion, and special revelation. He observed:

It must be re-emphasized that all men, having been created by God with intelligent minds (able to recognize, to observe and to properly consider the evidence which God has given) are required by God to draw only such conclusions as are warranted by the evidence. It has been noted already that logical reasoning is not the answer to everything. Logic is necessary to a proper life, but logic alone is certainly not sufficient for such a life. Correct reasoning has its place and so does emotion. But both reasoning and emotion must be given content by the revelation of God, the Bible (Jer. 10:23; 2 Tim. 3:16-17). No purely intellectual life can be adequate any more than can a purely emotional one. Both are necessary, but both also need revelation from God. (Example 31) 

The Properties of Verification

Understanding (1) the biblical claim of inspiration and (2) the place of logical argumentation in
deciding whether such a claim is true, we now turn attention to (3) the properties (marks, criteria) that identify the Bible as inspired. With reference to the above basic argument, which proves the Bible to be the word of God, by “properties” I mean those characteristics (A, B, C, . . . Z), possessed by the Bible, which make it clear that the Bible is beyond mere human production. These properties, understood within the framework of a valid argument, prove the Bible to be the word of God. It is not enough to present facts concerning the Bible. “Many writers set forth facts without bothering to incorporate them in a logical argument. In the strictest sense of the term, such a parading of data without logical structure does not ‘prove’ anything at all” (Shelly ix). Josiah Stamp said, “We know well that a fallacy that would be obvious to all in a three-line syllogism may deceive the elect in 400 pages of crowded fact and argument,” but to fit these facts into the framework of a valid argument will “lay bare the bones of the argument” (qtd. in Black 13).

Much of the material that follows is taken from my book, Life’s Greatest Acclamation-God (55-66). Attached to, and deposited in, biblical revelation are a multitude of characteristics or properties that make it impossible for the Bible to be a mere human production. Some of the
evidences that necessitate this conclusion (rationally) that the Bible is from God include the following:

 Predictive prophecy clearly made in advance of its unquestioned fulfillment.
 A humanly impossible unity of theme, teaching, and structure.
 A view of reality otherwise unknown in human thought.
 Confirmation by all the accepted means of historical research.
 The absence of demonstrable error.
 A treatment of matters of science in a way that transcends human invention in the days when its various parts were written.
 A presentation of the Person and Work of Jesus Christ that is beyond human invention.
 Numerous additional features that are beyond human wisdom or invention. (cf. Shelly ix-x)

As an example of one of many properties (marks) that show the Bible to be beyond human production, I call attention to the biblical treatment of science. The Bible is not a textbook on science, but it evidences a marvelous scientific accuracy. The Bible’s treatment of science is such that it simply could not have been produced without a Divine origin. The biblical treatment of science transcends human invention (cf. Genesis 1:1; 15:5; 17:12; Leviticus 12-14; 17:11 Job 38-39; Psalm 8:8; Ecclesesiastes 1:7; Isaiah 40:22; Acts 17:26; 1 Corinthians 15:39 et al). The Bible also contains great scientific-accuracy-questions (cf. Job 38-39).

The logical argument for the proof that the biblical treatment of scientific matters is sufficient evidence that the Bible is the word of God is as follows:

1. If the particular characteristics of the Bible’s treatment of science transcends mere human invention, then the Bible is of divine origin.

2. The particular characteristics of the Bible’s treatment of science transcends mere human invention.

3. Therefore the Bible is of divine origin. (Shelly 41)

As an example of evidence that proves the above argument for the Bible’s divine origin, I call attention to the biblical treatment of scientific matters concerning the oceans. In The Depths of the Sea by Sir John Murray and Dr. Johan Hjort, Science of the Sea edited by G. Herbert Fowler, and Founders of Oceanography by Sir William A. Herdman, justification is provided for referring to Matthew Fontaine Maury (1806-1873) as “The Pathfinder of the Seas.” The above writers all affirm that meteorology dates from Maury’s time (Lewis 249). In his biography of
Maury, Lewis says, “Not only is this title [The Pathfinder of the Seas] appropriate in that Maury laid out on his charts the best track for voyagers to follow on the Seven Seas, but it is also fitting in a figurative sense for he was indeed a pathfinder in the realm of a new science–the physical geography of the sea” (249). The Saturday Review (October 20, 1888) reported “that scientific investigation was almost non-existent before Maury’s work and that he had improved the course of every ship on the sea” (qtd. in Lewis 243). In 1918 a destroyer ship was called the Maury and the Secretary of the Navy named the Naval Oceanographic Research in Maury’s honor. At the United State Naval Academy at Annapolis, MD, the left wing of the Academic building bears the name Maury Hall because of his “distinguished and world-wide reputation in connection with meteorology and the study of ocean currents, etc.” (247).

An impressive monument to Matthew Fontaine Maury is erected at Richmond, VA. Sculpted by William F. Sievers, it is nearly thirty feet high and pictures Maury in a large chair with a globe and various figures representing a storm on land and sea. Prior to the erection of the great Maury Monument, Virginia Lee Cox wrote a description of the monument for the Richmond Times. She stated:

On the plinth of the monument in the flattest relief are figures of fish, representing Maury’s interest in the paths of the sea. The story goes that once when Maury was ill he had his son read the Bible to him each night. One night he read the eighth Psalm, and when he came to the passage–“The fishes of the sea and whatsoever walketh through the paths of the sea”–Maury had him read it over several times. Finally he said, “If God says there are paths in the sea I am going to find them, if I get out of this bed.” Thus the Psalm was the direct inspiration of his discoveries.” (qtd. in Lewis 252, emp. added)
Some have denied the factuality of the above story from Cox including Major. However, he also admitted “the apparent reliability of the source” (87, emp. added). It should be noted that the above alleged incident regarding Maury and Psalm 8 appears in a biography that is “based chiefly upon the Maury Papers, comprising letters, diaries, scientific notebooks, and other manuscripts . . . presented to the United States Government in 1912 by Maury’s only living child . . . and other descendents, and then deposited in the Division of Manuscripts, Library of Congress” (Lewis xi). The very title of Lewis’ biography of Maury witnesses to the validity of viewing him in this way and the volume is filled with numerous references from various sources who described Maury accordingly. Even Major, who called it “The Psalm 8 Legend” (86), admits it is “quite possible” that Maury launched his venture of “his systematic mapping of large-scale wind and ocean currents . . . after reading about the ‘paths of the seas’ in Psalm 8:8 . . . because the Bible was an integral part of Maury’s approach to science” (86-87).

Biblical truth and scientific truth are consistent. Both find their ultimate source in God, and both are in harmony with the other. The prominent oceanographer Maury summed up this consistency when he explained:

I have been blamed by men of science; both in this country and in England, for quoting the Bible in confirmation of the doctrines of physical geography. The Bible, they say, was not written for scientific purposes, and is therefore of no authority in matters of science. I beg pardon! The Bible is the authority for everything it touches. What would you think of the historian who should refuse to consult the historical records of the Bible, because the Bible was not written for purposes of history? The Bible is true and science is true. . . . They are both true; and when your men of science, with vain and hasty conceit, announce the discovery of disagreement between them, rely upon it the fault is not with the Witness of His records, but with the “worm” who essays to interpret evidence which he does not understand.

When I, a pioneer in one department of this beautiful science, discover the truths of revelation and the truths of science reflecting light one upon the other and each sustaining the other, how can I, as a truth-loving knowledge-seeking man, fail to point out the beauty and to rejoice in its discovery? . . . As a student of physical geography, I regard the earth, sea, air, and water, as parts of a machine, pieces of mechanism not made with hands, but to which nevertheless certain offices have been assigned in the terrestrial economy. . . . Thus as we progress with our science we are permitted now and then to point out here and there in the physical machinery of the earth a design of the Great Architect when He planned it all. (qtd. in Lewis 98-100)

As an additional example of a biblical property that proves the Bible’s divine origin, I cite the united simplicity and inexhaustibility of the Bible. The logical argument is as follows:

1. If the content of the Bible is characterized by a united simplicity and inexhaustibility that is beyond mere human production, then the content of the Bible is of divine origin.

2. The content of the Bible is characterized by a united simplicity and inexhaustibility that is beyond mere human production.

3. Therefore the content of the Bible is of divine origin.

Even skeptics have admitted the uniqueness of the biblical message. Rousseau, the prominent eighteenth century thinker to whom such philosophers as Kant and Hegel acknowledged their debt (Collier 205) said:

I will confess to you farther that the majesty of the Scriptures strikes me with admiration, as the purity of the Gospel has its influence on my heart. Peruse the works of our philosophers, with all their pomp of diction, how mean, how contemptible are they, compared with the Scriptures! Is it possible that a book, at once so simple and sublime, should be merely the work of man? (qtd. in Mitchell 425)

Milligan offered proof of this argument when he set forth the following:

The second argument that I shall submit in proof of the Divine Origin of the Holy Bible, is taken from its great simplicity associated with a length, and breadth, and depth of meaning that far transcends the range and capacity of the most inspired genius. . . . The . . . truth is . . . very clearly taught in the actual developments of the Gospel. Its requirements are all so very plain that no honest man can well misunderstand his duty. . . . [C]onsider . . . [w]hat is required in order to admission into the Kingdom of Christ here on [E]arth, such as faith, repentance, confession, and baptism; and . . . [t]he conditions of continued membership, and of admission into God’s everlasting Kingdom. For a summary of these, see 2 Peter 1:1-11. But connected with this wonderful simplicity of the Gospel plan of salvation, there is also in it a depth of meaning which no finite or uninspired mind can ever fully comprehend. . . . For [two thousand] years, infidels of all schools have labored to explain this and other similar characteristics of the Holy Bible on the assumption that the whole Book is of human origin. But hitherto they have given us no solution of the problem that is even satisfactory to themselves. (27, 29, 30)

The Scriptures refer to “His wonders in the deep” (Psalm 107:24). The prophet declared that God “will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19, emp. added). Describing the astounding depth of the sea. Dubach and Taber say:

The sea bottom is divided into three distinct areas: the continental shelf, the continental slope, and the ocean floor.

The continental shelf has numerous hills, ridges, terraces, and even canyons comparable to the Grand Canyon. The average width of the shelf is 30 miles, but it may extend several hundred miles from shore. . . .

. . . Many mountains under the sea are higher than Mt. Everest [29,000 ft.]. All oceans except the North Pacific are divided by an almost continuous system of mountains, the largest being the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. (23)

The depth of the sea is profound. The deepest known point in the oceans is 36,198 feet in the Mariana Trench in the western Pacific Ocean (Museum of Science).

The extensive depth of the oceans is used biblically to illustrate the inexhaustible depth of the Scriptures. We read, “Your righteousness is like the great mountains; Your judgments [i.e. the Scriptures, cf. Psalm 19:7-9] are a great deep” (Psalm 36:6). The Psalmist also said, “I have seen a limit to all perfection, but [Y]our commandment is exceedingly broad” (Psalm 119:96, ESV). In other words, what the mind of man has originated and written the mind of man masters, exhausts, and moves on to something else. However, the mind of man cannot plumb the depths of Scripture. The Bible is a bottomless and unfathomable well of truth. I once heard Dr. Warren, who received the doctorate in Philosophy from Vanderbilt University, say that he had read the Bible for over seventy years but never had done so without being amazed at some enormously wonderful truth in it.

Paul wrote, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” (Romans 11:33). The word, unsearchable, here means “literally, not be tracked out, incomprehensible” (Rogers and Rogers 338). The Bible is like the mighty ocean whose immediate shores man has explored but whose mighty depth no man has fully penetrated. The inexhaustible depth of the Bible evidences the existence and infinite power of God and the Divine origin of the Bible.

Humans need special revelation from God. Such a revelation is both possible and probable. 
The Bible, in the basic passage of 2 Timothy 3:14-17 (as well as in other relevant passages) makes the affirmation that it is the “breathed out” revelation of God. It implies it is the one and only complete, final, infallible, and authoritative special revelation of God to humans. This claim
can be tested (as all purported revelations must) by reason and logical argumentation. A sound argument (in valid form with true premises) that proves the Divine origin of the Bible is available. The Bible is the word of God. Ultimately, this marvelous special revelation of God reveals the Person and Work of Jesus Christ who, in one sense, is what the Bible is all about (cf. 2 Timothy 3:14-15).

In his book, You Can Trust Your Bible, Neale Pryor tells the story of an atheist who was lecturing in a village in England. He was giving his reasons for not believing in God and the Bible. At the conclusion he asked if there were any questions. One elderly woman said she had one question. She said, “My husband died 10 years ago and left me with 10 children. It was my faith in the Bible that saw me through those years of hardship, poverty, and illness. My faith enabled me to rear my children and make it through those hard times. My question is this: What has your faith done for you?” The lecturer had nothing to say and the assembly ended in confusion (22).

“Have you experienced the richness of one of life’s greatest challenges–to read, study, and apply the message of the Bible? Try it! You will find out what this marvelous Book is all about and, beyond that, you will find out what your life is all about” (Pugh, Bible 17).
[T]hat supreme Book, super-natural in origin, divine in authorship, human in penmanship, infallible in authority, inexhaustive in its adequacy, a miracle Book of diversity in unity, infinite in scope, universal in interest, eternal in duration, personal in application, inspired in totality, regenerative in power, inestimable in value, immeasurable in power, unsurpassed in literary beauty, unequalled in simplicity of expression, immortal in its hopes, the masterpiece of God. . . . [I]t . . . takes the pain out of parting, the sting out of death, the gloom out of the grave. (Lee 36)

-Charles C. Pugh III
Executive Director


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