Once in a while I get a packet of clippings from one of my publishers regarding references to my books in the media. I generally don’t look too closely, but today as I was packing up the envelope after glancing through it a very small item fell out on the countertop, and I took a look at it. It was a very brief review of Scripture Alone from Christopher Brennan in the Library Journal. Now, if I were anything like the wild caricatures thrown about by various folks all the time on the net, would I post a negative review like this?
A strong argument could be made for the inerrancy of the Bible, but this is not one. While White (apologetics, Christian Evangelical Seminary) acknowledges that he has written an introduction rather than an academic tome, it’s still not convincing. He argues for biblical inspiration based solely on textual self-claims. For example, arguing from the Greek text of the New Testament, he holds that the Bible is inspired because the Bible says its text is “Breathed out by God.” Also, since much of White’s argument contrasts the authority of the biblical text with that of human teachers (as in the Catholic tradition), it is significant that he does not explain how this “breathing out by God” of the text differs from God’s breathing into such humans as Adam or the Apostles. A good example of preaching to the choir, this work is recommended only for popular religion collections of interest to conservative Christians.
Ouch! Well, a few lesser matters before the important one: I get the distinct feeling someone read through the book just a tad bit too fast (and if you have read it as well, you are probably thinking the same thing). It almost sounds as if the reviewer thinks the entire work is meant to be a defense of inerrancy, when that is but one topic amongst many when offering an apologetic that addresses a broad spectrum of issues raised against the sufficiency of Scripture. Secondly, the book was written for the choir. Third, it seems that the material on the canon, which at the very least one would think would catch the attention of someone in this reviewer’s position, would be noted, but it is passed over in silence.
But those issues aside, I am left wondering just a bit about what this reviewer would find to be “convincing” regarding the inerrancy of Scripture? It is possible, of course, that being a flawed and imperfect writer I did not clearly enough emphasize the reason why I focused upon the nature of Scripture itself. I get the feeling the reviewer thought my discussion of qeo,pneustoj was somehow meant to be a stand-alone defense of inerrancy. In any case, it is hardly accurate to describe my presentation as simply saying “the Bible is inspired because it says so.” The careful reader knows that there were two points rather forcefully communicated: Scripture is not merely the elevated thoughts of men, but is God speaking. Surely, the reviewer completely missed the explanation of this aspect, as his comments about Adam and the Apostles clearly indicate. But the second point, based upon the nature of Scripture, was the ultimate authority that must needs be assigned to that which is in fact the very speaking of God, and it is just here that obviously my point was missed or is just not “convincing” to many. I refuse to base my defense of Scripture upon what is convincing to the natural man, and that is counter-intuitive for many who view apologetics as approaching the unsaved as if they are at a moral neutral point and our job is to give them just a few more facts that will tilt the scale to the right “side” so that they will then exercise their free will to make the right decision. To base Scriptural authority upon something other than its nature as qeo,pneustoj revelation leaves one without a consistent epistemology, and inevitably leads to the subjection of Scripture to some external authority. Using some syllogism as the guarantee of the truthfulness of what God has said simply will not work. The reviewer evidently did not invest the time to follow this discussion in the work itself, and hence misses the point.