Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Gospel Depends on it: Why Verbal Inspiration Matters

Why does verbal inspiration matter? Earlier today, we looked in some detail into the doctrine of verbal inspiration with the conclusion that the gospel depends on us adopting the bibliology of the biblical authors. To defend the thesis that verbal inspiration is an important component of rightly understanding of the gospel, we should look at the biblical evidence and examples from history.

As pointed out earlier, Paul's defense of sola fida (to use a Reformation term) against the legalistic Judiazers is centered on the absence of an s in Genesis 13:15 (for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever). Paul's argument in Galatians 3 is that the gospel that saves us by faith and not by works (thus sola fida) predates the giving of the Mosaic Law. Paul writes, What I am saying is this: the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise. For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise. (Gal. 3:17-18)

This all means that the Law was not and still is not the means of salvation, but only condemns us as sinners. This is a serious issue. For if the writer of Genesis was not under the full and verbal inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we might not have the gospel today.*

So in Scripture, the gospel hangs in the balance of every jot and tittle (Matthew 5:18) of Scripture. This is made evident even after the closing of the canon. There appears to be a correlation between those who deny inspiration and who deny the gospel. Redefine your doctrine of Scripture and you will redefine your understanding of the gospel. Examples are abundant here.  Marcionism's distortion of the canon led to heretical doctrine (like Docetism as just one example). the Roman Catholic Church's emphasis on Tradition as authoritative with Scripture led to the Reformations need to reform of the gospel. Liberalism is in many ways a rescue mission that has tried to save Christianity from itself in light of our post-Enlightenment world. Most liberals see Scripture out dated, mythical, and more of a guide than the final authority on all matters of faith and as a result, liberalism has struggle only coming to a final conclusion to the gospel, but they have not struggled distorting the gospel. Liberals emphasis cheap grace because cheap grace is easy to preach.

The prosperity gospel is yet another example. Such preachers are eager to quote verses that put promises of wealth in God's mouth, but seem to be unable to find the countless passages that speak of poverty, suffering, perseverance, death, evil, and carrying our crosses like Christ. As a result, they distort the gospel. Though most prosperity preachers would claim to affirm verbal inspiration, it is clear that they do not. They deny plenary inspiration in their selection of Scriptures and verbal inspiration in refusing to deal honestly with the biblical text. As a result of this distorted bibliology, they have a distorted soteriology.

And that is why verbal inspiration - or our bibliology in general - matters. Distort a right view of Scripture and you will inevitably distort the gospel.


*  We could also point to Matthew 5:17-19 as another example: Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.


Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 1 
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 2 
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 3
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 4  
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 5

Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 1
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 2 
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 3
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 4
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 5
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 6
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 7


 For more on Erickson:
Blogizomai - Where to Begin?: Calvin on the Starting Point of Theology - The Knowledge of God & the Knowledge of Man
Blogizomai - Wherefore Art Thou Theological Giants?
Blogizomai - On Special Revelation: Dreams, Visions, Theophanies, and the Word of God
Blogizomai - Where is the Gospel? Charles Hodge & the Insufficiency of Natural Theology 
Blogizomai - Exegetical Theology or Theological Exegesis?: DeYoung on the Both/And


For more:
Blogizomai - Repost | "Life's Biggest Questions" by Erik Thoennes
Reviews - The Top 5 Essential Works of Theology of the Past 25 Years
Reviews - "Doctrine"
Reviews - "The Good News We Almost Forgot
Reviews - "Dug Down Deep" by Josh Harris
Reviews - "Heresy"
Reviews - "Christianity's Dangerous Idea" by Alister McGrath
Reviews - "The Theology of the Reformers"
Blogizomai - Repost | Schreiner on the Practice of Inaugurated Eschatology
Blogizomai - We Are All Theologians:  The Root of Everything We Are and Do
Blogizomai - Lewis on Practical Theology
Blogizomai - The Meaning & Implications of the Resurrection
Blogizomai - Lewis on Practical Theology
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