A Reflective Christian

All for God’s Kingdom

The source of Biblical authority

The trust of the authority of the Bible is not rooted in any particular theory of inspiration, or otherwise our faith relies upon abstract human reasoning and human attempts to explain the hidden God’s methods of revelation. Authority is had in simple trust that it is authoritative because we believe God’s act of revealing has been shown to be true in history (all of which relies only upon our passive acceptance of what is claimed to be God’s work) and not in any logical conclusion as to how the Scriptures are inspired.

It is “faith seeking understanding” and not “faith relying upon understanding.” It is still subject to rational criticism, but it does not demand a rational framework to accept. To do otherwise is to bring the knowing of God primarily through our own intellect and to destroy the basis of faith, which the belief in the things not seen, not to accept things one has seen. Faith is not to be merely the summary of our logic, but rather an extension of what we do know into that which we do not and can not be certain of rationally. To demand certainty before belief is to destroy what belief in the Biblical sense stands for.

September 25, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 4 Comments

Biblical authority, revelation, historicity, and inerrancy

The Bible obtains his authority on the basis that it claims to have revelation that comes from God about God (although the question of what in Scripture is actually revelation is up for discussion there). However, linked with this is the notion of how does purported revelation have authority itself. How come we should accept the words of Isaiah? Why should we accept the words of Jesus? How can we trust that they are divinely inspired instead of humanly, or even demonically, inspired?

This brings us to the importance of historicity. It is one thing to make a claim of something, but it is another thing to see a claim verified or vindicated is what follows afterwards. This makes an appeal to a basic reasoning faculty of a group (though it might justifiable to say that this basic reasoning is not universal). If Jesus proclaims himself to be Messiah and bringing God’s kingdom, and he is resurrected from the dead, then the justifiable reasoning would that it was God vindicating him and his message as we can not imagine a regular human doing something like to to someone else. Or if a prophet foretells of the future of a people if they do not change and the foretold events happen, it would be taken as vindication by God of the proclamation made by the prophet.

History plays the pivotal role for basing the authority for purported revelation from God. Although, history does not only play the role retrospectively. It may also happen before purported revelation, of which the message gives understanding to what has happened. Even in that case though, it retains its believability through being able to explain future events.

The point is that Revelation and History go hand in hand. Revelation is vindicated by it playing true through human experience. Otherwise how can we know that something is from God, who can make His will known through history? If it is simply a human attempt at truth, it is like taking a shot in the dark.

Since the Bible is a collection of writings, many of which make historical claims in conjunction with claims of revelation of God based upon those events, the authority of Bible lives and dies based upon its historical reliability. Otherwise, what vindication is there for the claims of the prophets and of Jesus himself? Any other appeal makes an appeal to something that is founded purely upon human ability to come up with the correct framework (since there is no true universal reasoning) to interpret and therefore accept the Biblical message as true. It leaves no room for any part of the verification process outside of ourselves. And if no appeal like that is made, then we are being asked to believe blindly.

However, while revelation relies upon its vindication within history, it does not rely upon the infallibility of all the historical claims of Scripture to perform such a task. First off, if one part is not historical, it does not mean we must throw the rest out as unreliable (no matter what critics and fundamentalists might say). Each claim can be taken on its own and must be taken on its own. Secondly, if something itself is not historical, it does not mean there is no other historical claim that can vindicate the purported revelation. Nor, if we have no verification on our part of a purported message does it mean we must automatically reject it as false (although we can not honestly affirm it definitively as true), as Scripture does not record every single historical instance. Only if something is predictive by nature and we have history doing the exact opposite would we place skepticism on the idea that the message came from God.

So Biblical authority rests on revelation, and revelation rests its authority based upon historical vindication. However, none of this requires actual inerrancy of the Biblical message, but rather a general trustworthiness. You can throw into question some parts of the Bible, and the puported revelation can still be accepted based upon other historical claims. However, throw out too much, and the authority dies and turns into merely one claimed path among many that can all just as easily be argued for.

September 18, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment