Volume 15, Number 1 (Spring 2004)

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  • by Robert L. Thomas

    The claim of some NT scholars that verbal agreements in the Synoptic Gospels prove literary interdependence among them opens a challenge to investigate those Gospels thoroughly to check the claim’s validity. An inductive investigation of fifty-eight triple-tradition sections in the Burton and Goodspeed Harmony of the Gospels finds that an average of only 16% of the words in the sections are identical. Since a much higher percentage of identical words is necessary to demonstrate literary interdependence, the inductive study favors the position of literary independence. Several observations illustrate how the memories of Apostles and other eyewitnesses of Jesus’ life and ministry are sufficient to verify the independence explanation of Gospel origins. Another insight gained from an inductive study of triple-tradition sections comes from the agreements of two Gospels against a third. Agreements of two Synoptic Gospels against a third in all combinations furnishes additional evidence of the failure of literary interdependence to explain Gospel origins. If any two Gospels depended on a third, their agreement with each other against the alleged source Gospel is inexplicable. If, however, the three writers under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit worked independently of each other, the random way in which their Gospels coincide with and differ from each other is exactly what would be expected.

  • by Dennis M. Swanson

    The International Preterist Association (IPA) has made itself known most recently at significant venues across the United States. It serves as an umbrella organization for the theological/eschatological position called Hyper-Preterism (HP), a position that sees all prophecies of the future fulfilled in the period around A.D. 70. The ostensible motivation of the movement is to provide an answer to critics who think that Jesus was mistaken when He promised His return during the same generation of which He was a part. That motivation is flawed, however, because such critics doubt that Jesus ever existed and a response on that single issue is insufficient to change their minds. The methodology of IPA has been to position itself within the mainstream of evangelical Christianity by redefining preterist terminology and conveying the false impression of acceptance by evangelicalism. The theological claims of IPA are heterodox in the area of eschatology, lying outside any creed or statement of faith of orthodox Christianity. It rejects the millennial kingdom, the physical return of Christ, all post-A.D. 70 fulfillment of prophecy, and the traditional view of the resurrection. The consequences of IPA teachings lead to a hopeless and helpless church, a church with no remembrance and message, with no ethical imperative, with no hope and reason for patience, with no rewards for faithfulness, and with no purpose and useful equipment. The system amounts to a regression to the error of Hymenaeus and Philetus (2 Tim 2:18).

  • by Don E. Green

    First Cor 1:23 indicates that both Jews and Gentiles refused to believe Paul’s preaching of Christ crucified. They rejected the message in part because of the cultural connotations of crucifixion in the first century. Crucifixion was a vulgar, common execution that the Romans imposed on notorious criminals, prisoners of war, and rebellious slaves. Its harsh brutality symbolized the supremacy of the Roman government over the victim. Gentiles thus viewed crucifixion as a sure sign of the victim’s defeat. Jews, on the other hand, held crucified men in even greater contempt because to them crucifixion was a sign of God’s curse on the victim. Paul’s preaching of Christ crucified thus cut deeply against the grain of his culture. Jews rejected the idea that the Messiah could be crucified (and thus cursed) and looked for signs instead. Gentiles rejected as foolishness the notion that a crucified man could be the only Savior of mankind and sought eloquent rhetoric in its place. Paul’s example challenges today’s Christian leader to confront the culture with the same message of Christ crucified and not to cater to the latest fads in marketing the gospel to the passing whims of unbelievers.

  • by Terry Mortenson

    Contemporary concern over the negative impact of theories of biological evolution is justified, but many Christians do not understand the stranglehold that philosophical naturalism has on geology and astronomy. The historical roots of philosophical naturalism reach back into the sixteenth century in the works of Galileo Galilei and Francis Bacon. Evolutionary and naturalistic theories of the earth’s creation based on uniformitarian assumptions and advocating old-earth theories emerged in the late eighteenth century. In the early nineteenth century, many Christians sought to harmonize biblical teaching with old-earth geological theories such as the gap theory and a tranquil or local Noachian flood. However, many evangelicals and High Churchmen still held to the literal view of Genesis 1–11. Two Enlightenment-generated philosophical movements in the eighteenth century, deism and atheism, elevated human reason to a place of supreme authority and took an anti-supernaturalistic view of the Bible, holding it to be just another human book. The two movements with their advocacy of an old-earth and their effect on astronomy and geology preceded Darwin and supplied him with millions of years needed for his naturalistic theory of the origin of living things. From this lineage it is clear that geology is not an unbiased, objective science and that old-earth theories, naturalism, and uniformitarianism are inseparable. Intelligent design arguments usually used to combat evolution fail to account for the curse imposed by God in Genesis 3 and are therefore only partially effective. Intelligent design advocates should recognize that the naturalism represented in evolutionary theories began much earlier than Darwin. A return to the Scriptures and their teaching of a young earth is the great need of the day.

  • by Mark A. Snoeberger

    An assumption that dispensationalists are anti-Reformed in their soteriology may stem from an honest misunderstanding of publications of the early dispensationalists who separated the indwelling of the Spirit from sanctification. A historical survey of four early dispensationalists—J. N. Darby, James Hall Brookes, C. I. Scofield, and Lewis Sperry Chafter—reveals whether this model of sanctification is essential to dispensationalism. Darby rejected a second work of the Holy Spirit in a believer’s life and was critical of D. L. Moody’s Keswick beliefs. Brookes, after years of denying a second work of the Spirit, began affirming that doctrine in 1880. Beginning in 1893, Scofield apparently supported Keswick teaching of a second work of the Spirit in a believer’s life, though the teaching was strongly opposed by other dispensationalists. Neither he nor Brookes associated it with the dispensational system. Chafer, founder and longtime president of Dallas Seminary and systematizer of dispensationalism, embraced the second work of the Holy Spirit from the beginning, but not as a part of his dispensational system. His “second work” view arose from his Oberlin training, his itinerant evangelism, and the influence of Moody and Scofield on him, not from his dispensational theology. From a study of these dispensationalists, it is clear that dispensationalism is not necessarily anti-Reformed in its soteriology.

Volume 15, Number 2 (Fall 2004)

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An Issue Devoted to the Subject of The Christian Scriptures

  • by William D. Barrick

    Scripture is necessary because God willed to provide it and because mankind’s condition required it. The image of God in man requires communication between God and human beings. God’s incomprehensibility is another reason for the necessity of Scripture. Natural revelation’s insufficiency to teach the nature of God makes Scripture indispensable. The complexity of divine truth would have eventually required a written revelation even for Adam had he remained in his unfallen state. The fall of man made comprehension of divine truth in an oral form impossible, because corrupt mankind is always prone to distort what is oral. God’s special revelation had to be in written form. The work of God also makes written Scripture a necessity, since Scripture is the means that God has chosen to do His work in human lives. Without Scripture much would be left undone. There can be no question that Scripture is necessary.

  • by John F. MacArthur

    God’s Word is sufficient to meet every need of the human soul as David verifies frequently in his psalms. Psalm 19:7-14 is the most comprehensive statement regarding the sufficiency of Scripture. It is an inspired statement about Scripture as a qualified guide for every situation. Scripture is comprehensive, containing everything necessary for one’s spiritual life. Scripture is surer than a human experience that one may look to in proving God’s power and presence. Scripture contains divine principles that are the best guide for character and conduct. Scripture is lucid rather than mystifying so that it enlightens the eyes. Scripture is void of any flaws and therefore lasts forever. Scripture is true regarding all things that matter, making it capable of producing comprehensive righteousness. Because it meets every need in life, Scripture is infinitely more precious than anything this world has to offer.

  • by Robert L. Thomas

    The purity of Scripture includes, among other things, a freedom from irrationality. Biblical logic is rational and is distinguishable from secular logic. Examples of evangelical abuses of biblical rationality include charismatic irrationality and apocalyptic irrationality. Secular reasoning would call biblical logic irrational because it allows no room for God’s plan and omnipotence. Scripture is connected with sin only when sinful man imposes his own opinions on the text instead of allowing the Bible to express its own meaning. Common practice among contemporary evangelicals imposes an interpreter’s preunderstanding on a text at the beginning of the interpretive process, thus depriving the text of its own meaning. Each text is meaningful in its own right and deserves to be heard through an objective hermeneutical approach. Scripture is reliable because of its precision, evidenced frequently throughout Scripture itself. Its precision requires an appropriately precise response from those who submit themselves to it (see 2 Tim 2:14-26). Unfortunately, recent evangelical scholarship has not acknowledged the Bible’s precision, which extends to the very words that Jesus spoke. Earlier evangelicals, however, did specifically support the verbal inspiration of Scripture.

  • by Larry D. Pettegrew

    The perspicuity or clarity of Scripture in its relation to almost all areas of systematic theology is affected by postmodern hermeneutics that fail to respect the authority of Scripture. The doctrine raises a number of questions difficult to answer in a brief span, but two very basic issues are the meaning of the doctrine of perspicuity and the long-range historical context in which the doctrine has arisen. The basic doctrine means that the Bible can be understood by people through the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit and that people need to search the Scripture and judge for themselves what it means. Scripture itself attests its own perspicuity, but not to the point that it cannot be misunderstood or is in every point equally simple and clear. The doctrine does not rule out the need for interpretation, explanation, and exposition of the Bible by qualified leaders. The doctrine does mean that Scripture is clear enough for the simplest person, deep enough for highly qualified readers, clear in its essential matters, obscure in some places to people because of their sinfulness, understandable through ordinary means, understandable by an unsaved person on an external level, understandable in its significance by a saved person through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, and available to every believer whose faith must rest on the Scriptures. Historically, debates about perspicuity have related to Marcion’s attack on the OT, the fathers’ denial of OT perspicuity, covenant theology’s subordination of the OT to the NT, and the medieval church’s attack on biblical perspicuity. The Reformers, the Protestant scholastics, and theGerman pietists supported the doctrine which is of primary importance for the practice of contemporary Christians.

  • by Richard L. Mayhue

    After a brief look at the general concept of “authority,” this essay continues with an introductory discussion concerning the authority of God. It is developed in terms of (1) the declarations of Scripture; (2) the displays in God’s names, nature, and prerogatives; and (3) Satan’s denial. Then, God’s authority is discussed as it is invested in Scripture in the sense that the Bible is the voice of God and therefore speaks with His full authority. God’s authority in Scripture can thus be described as original, unalterable, exclusive, permanent, ultimate, obligatory, and consequential. Scripture is to be authoritatively preached and submissively obeyed since the Author of and the authority within will reward righteous obedience and condemn those who disregard and disobey His authority in Scripture.

  • by Dennis M. Swanson