God's Inerrant Word

An International Symposium on the Trustworthiness of Scripture

© 1974  John Warwick Montgomery, Editor

Bethany Fellowship, Minneapolis, Minnesota

All Rights Reserved

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1. Bible — Evidences, authority, etc. — Congresses. 2. Bible — Inspiration — Congresses 
BS480 .C623 1973 ~~ 220.1 ~~ LCCN: 74004100 ~~ OCLC: 835417 ~~ 288p.

God's Inerrant Word by John Warwick Montgomery is presently held by 261 libraries including Seattle Pacific University and The Library of Congress.

Conference on the Inspiration and Authority of Scripture (1973 : Ligonier, Pa.)

Table of Contents

1. Biblical Inerrancy: What Is at Stake? .......... 15
          John Warwick Montgomery

2. "Sola Scriptura" in History and Today .......... 43
          J.I. Packer

3. Lessons from Luther on the Inerrancy of Holy Writ .......... 63
          John Warwick Montgomery

4. Calvin's View of Scripture .......... 95
          J.I. Packer

5. Warfield's Case for Biblical Inerrancy .......... 115
          John H. Gerstner

6. Limited Inerrancy: A Critical Appraisal and Constructive Alternative .......... 143
          Clark H. Pinnock

7. God and Biblical Language: Transcendence and Immanence .......... 159
          John M. Frame

8. Scripture Speaks for Itself .......... 178
          John M. Frame

9. The Inspiration of Scripture and the Authority of Jesus Christ .......... 201
          Clark H. Pinnock

10. The Apostle Paul: Second Moses to the New Covenant Community .......... 219
          Peter R. Jones

11. The Case for Inerrancy: A Methodological Analysis .......... 242
          R.C. Sproul

From the Jacket of the Book

   God's Inerrant Word is edited by Dr. John Warwick Montgomery. Dr. Montgomery is singularly prepared for such tasks. He is himself the author of twenty books and is currently Professor of Law and Theology at the International School of Law, in Washington, D.C.

   In addition to editing this volume, Dr. Montgomery has himself contributed two chapters.

   In the Editor's Introduction he underscores the urgency of the message of this book in the following words: "The anti-inerrancy trend in evangelical Protestantism has the characteristics of Aristotle's classic tragedy: it has occurred in a remarkably short time, and it produces both pity and fear in the sensitive observer — pity that our theologians have learned so little from history, and fear that such naïveté will totally corrupt evangelical witness here and abroad.

   "Opposition to unqualified biblical authority has begun to erode evangelical testimony from within the ranks, and the importation of Barthian dichotomies has reinforced the natural tendency of pietistic fundamentalism to sacrifice the objective truths of Scripture on the altar of subjective experience."

Within that awful volume lies

The mystery of mysteries!

Happiest they of human race,

To whom God has granted grace

To read, to fear, to hope, to pray,

To lift the latch, and force the way;

And better had they ne'er been born,

Who read to doubt, or read to scorn.

Sir Walter Scott on the Holy Scriptures

The Ligonier Statement

   We believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the inspired and inerrant Word of God: We hold the Bible, as originally given through human agents of revelation, to be infallible and see this as a crucial article of faith with implications for the entire life and practice of all Christian people. With the great fathers of Christian history we declare our confidence in the total trustworthiness of the Scriptures, urging that any view which imputes to them a lesser degree of inerrancy than total, is in conflict with the Bible's self-testimony in general and with the teaching of Jesus Christ in particular. Out of obedience to the Lord of the Church we submit ourselves unreservedly to his authoritative view of Holy Writ.

Signatories: John M. Frame, John H. Gerstner, Peter R. Jones, John Warwick Montgomery, James I. Packer, Clark H. Pinnock, Robert C. Sproul.

FOREWORD

   At the turn of the century (1900), Abraham Kuyper warned of the possibility that developing trends in the higher criticism of the Christian Scriptures could become an exercise in "Biblical vandalism." That warning is no longer a future possibility but a fait accompli. More and more Biblical criticism comes from a context of anti-historical and anti-revelational ideologies. The result has been confusion, skepticism, and despair. Church communities have opted for pluralistic and relativistic theology in order to accommodate the loss of authority. "Studied ambiguity" is the hallmark of modern confessional statements. In a word, the foundations of the church have been rudely shaken.

   Each generation of Christian believers must deal afresh with the question of authority. A mere restatement of former views without reference to contemporary issues is inadequate; a de novo statement divorced from all past reflection is irresponsible. Thus, this volume appears as a contemporary attempt to speak stereoscopically to the modern vacuum of authority — with one eye on contemporary issues and the other on the wisdom of the history of the church.

   The essays in this book were written as research articles for delivery at the Conference on the Inspiration and Authority of Scripture, Ligonier, Pennsylvania, in the fall of 1973. The Conference was sponsored by the Ligonier Valley Study Center, a facility developed to made the resources of Christian scholarship available to today's laymen and pastors.

R.C. Sproul, Convener
Conference on the Inspiration and Authority of Scripture
Ligonier, Pennsylvania
26 October 1973

*      *      *

   The eleven essays comprising the text of this book were all publicly delivered at the Ligonier Conference. Appended is an additional paper which, though not presented at the Conference, the essayists deemed particularly germane to its stated objectives.

EDITOR'S INTRODUCTION

   Contemporary evangelical Christianity has demonstrated great vitality both in its stress on an unchanging gospel and in its forthright proclamation of saving truth. Yet in spite of this (or perhaps because of it, since nothing maddens the Evil Foe like fidelity to God's will), the present evangelical situation is fraught with extreme peril. Opposition to unqualified biblical authority has begun to erode evangelical testimony from within the ranks, and the importation of Barthian dichotomies has reinforced the natural tendency of pietistic fundamentalism to sacrifice the objective truths of Scripture on the altar of subjective experience.

   The cry of "paper pope" has been shouted at evangelical Protestants ever since the Reformation. Today, however, one observes with amazement and with sorrow that in the very orthodox circles where the 20th century battle for biblical authority has been most courageously fought, voices are being raised against the inerrancy of Holy Writ. In 1963, Dewey M. Beegle, of the late, great Biblical Seminary in New York, published his work, The Inspiration of Scripture, in which — having embraced neo-orthodox, dialectic presuppositions as to the nature of truth — he imposes them on Scripture, denies its inerrancy, and makes the incredible claim that evangelicals by a "mental readjustment" can now retain inspiration without inerrancy and thereby rejoin mainline Protestant ecumenical theology. North Park Seminary in Chicago, long known for its uncompromising free-church orthodoxy and piety, is now characterized by an anti-inerrancy approach to the Bible that finds scriptural truth-value not in any historical soundness or factual consistency possessed by the Word, but in its ability to trigger spiritual experience. Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, a bastion of biblical orthodoxy in the days of Theodore Engelder and W.F. Arndt, has in the last two decades weakened its stand appallingly; how much can be seen from the September, 1965, issue of the Concordia Theological Monthly, where arguments contra inerrancy once directed against the Church from outside (e.g., non-possession of the original autographs of the

Page 14

biblical books) are now advocated by faculty members themselves. And in many quarters of the American evangelical scene, from East coast to West, as well as in England and on the continent, theologians who should be testifying to Scripture's total truth are preferring to avoid the word "inerrancy," are making no efforts to explain apparent discrepancies in the Bible, and are re-defining "truth" so that the Scripture can — we are confidently told — retain its absolute revelational veracity without the necessity of factual accuracy.

   The anti-inerrancy trend in evangelical Protestantism has the characteristics of Aristotle's classic tragedy: it has occurred in a remarkably short time, and it produces both pity and fear in the sensitive observer — pity that our theologians have learned so little from history (the United Presbyterian Confession of 1967 is the inevitable consequence of the deterioration of belief in biblical inerrancy in the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. in the 1920's) and fear that such naïveté will totally corrupt evangelical witness here and abroad.

   The Ligonier Conference and the essays delivered at it were designed specifically to serve as an adrenal injection for the faint-of-heart who question the place of inerrancy in historic Christian theology or doubt that modern research is compatible with an errorless Bible. The essayists may differ from each other in a number of respects (their epistemologies, for example, stand in frequent tension), and they do not assume responsibility for the view of their colleagues; but, as the Ligonier Declaration makes crystal clear, they hold in common the historic Christian confidence in an entirely trustworthy Bible. They would impart that confidence to the readers of this volume, and they pray the Lord of the Church to use their efforts to that end. Quod non est biblicum, not est theologicum (what is not biblical is not theological), is their motto, and it remains the only path to Reformation and renewal.

John Warwick Montgomery
31 October 1973
The Festival of the Reformation
  and the Eve of All Saints' Day

Begin Reading at Chapter One

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