Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe (2010) [Chapter 2 – Part 3]

[Articles in the Summed Up series are intended to be summaries of chapters of selected theological books. The author(s) will be quoted verbatim for the purposes of ensuring accurate representation]

Revelation: God Speaks 

(Part 3: pp.58-68)

A) About the author(s):

Mark Driscoll has a Master of Arts degree in exegetical theology from Western Seminary. He was the founding and preaching pastor of Mars Hill Church, and former president of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network

Gerry Breshears is a Professor of Theology at Western Seminary and earned his PhD in Systematic Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary.

B) Chapter Summary:

vii) Does the Scriptures contain errors and/or contradictions?

“… we believe that all that the Bible teaches is truth from God, whether statements of fact about earth, heaven, humans, or God, or moral commands, or divine promises.”[1]

“The affirmation of the truthfulness of the Bible is inextricably tied to the character of God himself. God is a truthful God who does not lie. Therefore, because God is ultimately the author of Scripture, it is perfect, unlike every other uninspired writing and utterance. Taken altogether, inerrancy is the shorthand way of summarizing all that the Scriptures say about Scripture. Inerrant means that the Scriptures are perfect, without any error. The doctrine of inerrancy posits that because God does not lie or speak falsely in any way, and because the Scriptures are God’s Word, they are perfect. As a result, the entire Bible is without any error.”[2]

See Num. 23:19; Pss. 12:6; 119:89; Prov. 30:5–6

See also as 2 Samuel 7:28, Psalm 19:7–10, Psalm 119:42–43, 142, 151, 160, 163; and John 17:17

“A telling example of the Bible’s accuracy is in the transliteration of the names of foreign kings in the Old Testament as compared to contemporary extra-biblical records, such as monuments and tablets. The Bible is accurate in every detail in the thirty-six instances of comparison, a total of 183 syllables.

To see how amazing this is, Manetho’s ancient work on the dynasties of the Egyptian kings can be compared to extra-biblical records in 140 instances. He is right forty-nine times, only partially right twenty-eight times, and in the other sixty-three cases not a single syllable is correct! The Bible’s accuracy is shown not only in the original work but in its copies as well.

Luke correctly identifies by name, title, job, and time such historical individuals as Annas, Ananias, Herod Agrippa I, Herod Agrippa II, Sergius Paulus, the Egyptian prophet, Felix, and Festus. Political titles were very diverse and difficult to keep straight since every province had its own terms and, worse yet, the terms constantly changed. Yet Luke gets them right: a proconsul in Cypress and Achaia, the undeserved title Praetor in Philippi, the otherwise unknown title of Politarchs in Thessalonica, Asiarchs in Ephesus, and “the chief man” in Malta.”[3]

“Because Scripture is God speaking to us because he wants us to understand, we also believe Scripture usually speaks accurately in ordinary language. Typically the writers use popular language rather than technical terminology … There are also summaries, such as the Sermon on the Mount and Peter’s sermon at Pentecost, which we do not have full transcriptions of but rather only a portion of what was preached. Sometimes, the Bible also gives us rounded numbers rather than exact head counts of …”[4]

Popular language – Gen. 19:23; Mark 16:2; Isa. 11:12; Rev. 7:1; 20:8; Isa. 55:12.

Summaries – Mark 6:44; Acts 4:4.

Rounded numbers – Judg. 20:44–47.

[1] p.58

[2] Ibid.

[3] pp.59-60

[4] pp.62-63

viii) Can I trust that my bible is God’s Word?

“Until the middle of the twentieth century, the situation was similar with the Hebrew Old Testament. Our oldest copies dated from about AD 900. We knew the extreme care the rabbis used to copy the sacred text before they destroyed the worn one. But still, the copies we had were historically distant from the original (called the autographa). But then in 1947 the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered at Qumran. Suddenly we had copies of much of the Old Testament that were more than a thousand years older than our previous oldest copies.”[1]

“In the case of the New Testament, we have 14,000 ancient copies, with fragments written no later than one hundred years after the original books and letters. This is truly amazing because the Bible was copied onto fragile materials like papyrus. The copies weren’t stored anywhere that protected them from the elements, but in God’s providence they still survived.”[2]

“Because we have so many manuscripts to check, we are virtually certain that the text of over 99 percent of the Bible we have is faithful to the original manuscripts.”[3]

[1] pp.63-64

[2] p.64

[3] Ibid.

ix) Can Scripture be written today?

“No. The only people who could write Scripture were prophets and apostles— people who were witnesses of God’s revelation in Jesus, or authors like Luke who based his Gospel on eyewitness testimony and on the report of the apostles who were eyewitnesses.”[1]

See Luke 1:1–4, and Acts 1:1–3, 9.

“… the Old Testament ended with the prophet Malachi promising that the next major event in redemptive history would be the coming of John the Baptist, who would prepare the way for Jesus. There were then four hundred years of silence in which no book of the Bible was written until John came, as promised.”[2]

See Malachi 3:1; 4:5-6, and Luke 1:11-17

“Second, the Bible tells us that Jesus is God’s final word to us and that we should not add anything to the Bible.”[3]

See Hebrews 1:1-2; Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32; Proverbs 30:5-6

“However, this does not mean that God’s special revelation has ceased. God still speaks to people and groups, albeit not in apostolic, inspired, canonical revelation. Examples include such things as predictive prophecies, dreams, visions, angelic visits, and the like that Scripture itself speaks of.

In dealing with any alleged extra-biblical revelation, we must follow the biblical cautions. We must be neither gullible nor skeptical.”[4]

[1] pp.64-65

[2] p.65

[3] Ibid.

[4] p.66

x) Why is Scripture authoritative?

“Holy Scripture is God speaking.”[1]

“Practically, this means that lesser courts of reason, tradition, and culture are under the highest court of truth, which is divinely inspired Scripture.

By contrast, the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches teach that Scripture is a part of the larger pool of revelation that the church uses in its teaching. The authority is not in the Bible itself, but in the teaching office of the church.”[2]

“The central development of the Protestant Reformation was the return to Scripture as supreme authority. The Reformers coined the slogan sola Scriptura (sometimes prima Scriptura) to summarize this conviction. Nothing judges Scripture. It judges everything else.”[3]

“The bible is a living book of God authoritatively speaking as a perfect Father to children he dearly loves. The Bible tells us how to live godly lives.”[4]

See Ephesians 4:25

[1] p.66

[2] p.67

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

C) Review of Part 3 of Chapter 2:

  • Readability: 10/10
  • Theological depth: 7/10
  • Any other comments: This part deserves extra attention by all readers as it touches on issues heavily under attack by non-Christian quarters (e.g. the canon of Scripture, inerrancy, whether the Bible is God’s word).

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