Bibliology

The Primacy of Revelation, Part 1

I thought I would adapt some of my lecture notes on Systematic Theology for my blog. I am continuing to work on my book of biblical theology and thought it would do me good to change things up a bit. The first group of posts will be on the Doctrine of Revelation.

That God has spoken is the most important thing that can be said by a human being in this world. Ontologically speaking, God must come first, and God must have priority. God is before all things, even before the Scriptures, which are given in time as a disclosure of God to man—not a full disclosure, but a sufficient one.

There are all kinds of epistemological—that is, knowledge-based—questions that arise when we deal with God’s disclosing of Himself, about the world, and about ourselves. This epistemological triad comes to us from two sources: Nature and Scripture.

If we’re going to take a truly biblical approach to knowledge, we must understand the ramifications of stating the fact that God has spoken to us, and that therefore, there are ways of operating, ways of thinking, ways of conducting ourselves, ways of doing theology, that are either commensurate with that great fact or in opposition to it.

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The Canon Is Closed: The Cessation of Special Revelation

Reposted from It Is Written. Read Part 1.

I believe the gifts of NT prophecy and tongues served an important but provisional role in the founding of the New Covenant community. To establish this thesis I will need to demonstrate two premises: First, scripture-quality revelation has ceased. Second, NT prophecy and tongues are forms of scripture-quality revelation. The first premise, which is the focus of this post, is (generally) affirmed by all parties. This fact is critical in that it clarifies the real point of the debate and helps us to avoid mischaracterizations.1

Major Premise: The Canon Is Closed

Special revelation reaches its ultimate historical goal in the apostolic witness to the person, words, and work of Jesus Christ. And this inspired apostolic witness reaches its final covenantal form in the canonical writings of the New Testament. Since special revelation has reached its ultimate goal and final form, the church should not expect any more scripture-quality revelation until the bodily return of Christ. I develop this argument with some detail in my three-part lecture series “The Necessity of Scripture.”2

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Why I Read the Scholars Yet Still Believe that God Means What He Says

Recently, I have been immersing myself (not for the first time) in the works of writers who would disagree very strongly with the views espoused at Telos and by traditional dispensationalists in general. Trawling through these big books, paying attention to each argument and their use of Scripture, and repeatedly coming across assertions that seem to make God guilty of double-talk is, to be brutally honest, a sort of self-imposed torture. So why do I do it? I read these works because I want to be informed about the latest arguments against my position. I want to keep abreast of how many evangelical scholars think. I don’t want to be a Bible teacher and theologian who is ignorant of what’s going on around him.

Another reason I read books by those with whom I disagree is because if a good argument arises which demonstrates I am wrong, I want to see it. So far, I have to report that I have not found any argument which impresses me that way. In fact, the more I read of these men, the more convinced I become that they are, hermeneutically speaking, barking up the wrong tree.

Let me give you an example:

Perhaps one of the most striking features of Jesus’ kingdom is that it appears not to be the kind of kingdom prophesied in the OT and expected by Judaism. (G. K. Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology, 431)

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Axioms for Bible Interpretation

How can Christians tell which interpretation is valid? Different people read the same text, and have different ideas about what it means. Why? Don’t we all have the same Lord, the same faith, the same baptism of the Spirit, and the same God and Father? Why don’t we agree on what the Bible teaches?

One reason is because some people are better at reading than others. In our day and age, people don’t read as often as they should. This means we don’t read all that much, which means when we do read, we can do it badly. So, when we read the Bible, it’s entirely possible we don’t read it too well.

A while back, Roy Zuck wrote a wonderful book entitled Basic Bible Interpretation: A Practical Guide to Discovering Biblical Truth. The title says it all. What makes this book so practical is that it’s written for normal people. Zuck tackled the problem of “whose view is valid” in this book. Here, I’ll briefly explain some of his axioms of Bible interpretation. No matter how smart you are, how many degrees you have (or don’t have), or how skilled you are in biblical Greek and Hebrew, these principles are foundational to understanding and interpreting the Bible. I once heard Steven Lawson proclaim that he re-reads Zuck’s book every few years; it helps him not forget so many of the basics that can be taken for granted.

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A Theological Case for Inerrancy (Part 2)

Read Part 1.

Let us consider the full import of Christ’s words in John 17:17:

Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.

Jesus is praying to the Father regarding the sanctifying of His disciples. He tells the Father “Your word is truth.” This “word” is the same “word” which will sanctify them. They have kept it (v.6) as it was given them (v.14), but where is this word? I maintain it is Scripture (v.12), and this text associates the word with God’s own holy and truthful character. There is no room for human frailty.

This text also separates Jesus from the Scripture. Jesus is going away, but the word of the Father must now keep His disciples. Thus, it is a mistake to too closely equate Jesus the Word with the Scriptures. There does exist a close connection between the two, but we cannot push the association too far. Indeed, we cannot push it even as far a personification. The Scriptures are the written product of the Divine revelation, but they are a product all the same.

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A Theological Case for Inerrancy (Part 1)

The battle over the inerrancy of Scripture hasn’t and isn’t going away. We must decide how we will approach the Bible – what our working assumptions will be. If “all Scripture is God-breathed” then all Scripture has the insignia of God upon it. This would be the bare-bones theological deduction from the relationship between the two.

For the human element to be lifted above the Divine element so as to enjoy equal ultimacy over the resultant production of Scripture requires an alteration to Scripture’s own self-witness. This is the reason why those who reject the idea of inerrancy (and I am far from rejecting all their work on account of their error), often plead in the vacuum of unaided reason.

Taking one prominent broadly evangelical theologian as an example, Donald Bloesch wrote,

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The Gospels Are Not Enough

I have heard it from theologically liberal theologians. I have heard it from supposedly conservative pastors (usually those with no theological training). I have heard it from lost people and immature believers: “We don’t follow Paul or Moses, we follow Jesus. All we need is the Gospels.”

Such a viewpoint stands in contrast to that of the Apostle Paul, who taught,

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (ESV, 2 Tim. 3:16-17, emphasis added)

According to Paul, all Scripture is inspired, and all Scripture is profitable. We are to teach it all, use it all for correcting and training. We need all Scripture to be “complete” and “equipped.”

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The Tragedy of Biblical Illiteracy, Part 3

Read Part 1 and Part 2.

Inerrancy

Reasons for biblical illiteracy are many: lack of emphasis and teaching of the Bible in our churches, youth programs that major on entertainment rather than the Word of God, Bible colleges and seminaries that prepare ministers to be CEOs rather than shepherds who feed the flock a rich diet of Scripture, confusing MTD for biblical Christianity, and simply laziness and distractions resulting in neglect of personal reading of the Bible. But one other culprit surely is the increasing challenge to biblical inerrancy. If Christians do not believe in the inerrancy of the Scriptures then by default they believe the Bible contains errors and, therefore, cannot be trusted.

If this is the case then why bother reading it? Major attacks on the truthfulness and reliability of God’s Word have been prolific from the New Atheists such as Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, and skeptics such as Bart Ehrman. But, sadly, theologians closer to the core of the faith are also adding fuel to the fire.

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