Friday, May 12, 2017

More Bavinck on Scripture

Some further jottings. Bavinck is especially good in describing and defending what he calls a more organic (historical and psychological) view of full inspiration against some excessively mechanical accounts.

Reformed Dogmatics, volume 1, chapter 13, The Inspiration of Scripture

“From the beginning Holy Scripture was recognised as the Word of God by all Christian churches. There is no dogma about which there is more unity than that of Holy Scripture.” (p402)

In later times, the Jews called the Torah the wisdom, image, daughter of God, the highest good, the way to life (p402)

“If Israel had not sinned, it [the Torah] would have been sufficient.” (p403)

“Nothing in it [the OT] is superfluous: everything has meaning – every letter, every sign, right down to the very form and shape of the word – for everything comes from God.” (p403)

“The church was never without a Bible. It immediately accepted the OT, with its divine authority, from the hands of the apostles. From the beginning, the Christian faith included belief in the divine authority of the OT.” (p403)

“The apologists of the second century compare the authors of Scripture to a cither, lyre, or flute that the divine musician employed as his instrument.” (p404 – with citations)

Dictation (p404)

Jerome: “Each and every speech, all syllables, marks and periods in the divine scriptures are full of meanings and breathe heavenly sacraments.” (p404)

The self-consciousness of the writers in inspiration stressed (p404f) – prior investigation, differences in intellectual development, uses of sources and memory (p405)

Celebration of the physical object of the bible in the middle ages (p407)

Calvin “assumes the presence of an error in Matthew 22:9 and 23:25 but not in the autographa.” (p415) [??? What error did he think was in them]

The Reformed view (p415)

“Occasionally one can discern a feeble attempt at developing a more organic view of Scripture.” (p415) – The authors used their own intellect, memory, judgement and style (p415) Writers not authors but scribes (p415)

Differences in style sometimes attributed to the Holy Spirit wanting to write in a different way (p415)

“Inspiration is possible because the Spirit of God is immanent in creation” – but a special work of God (p388, editor’s summary)

“Scripture teaches us that the world is not independent, does not exist and live by itself, but the Spirit of God is immanent in everything that has been created. The immanence of God is the basis of all inspiration, including divine inspiration (Ps. 104:30; 139:7; Job 33:4). Existence and life is conferred upon every creature from moment to moment by the inspiration of the Spirit. More particularly, that Spirit of the Lord is the principle of all intelligence and wisdom (Job 32:8; Isa. 11:2); all knowledge and skill, all talent and genius proceeds from him….” (p426) The Spirit’s inspiring of Scripture “accordingly, is not an isolated event; it is linked with all his imminent activity in the world and the church. It is the crown and zenith of it all. The inspiration of the authors in writing the books of the Bible is based on all those other activities of the Holy Spirit.” (p426) – creation, upbringing, education etc.

Inspiration is possible without regeneration (Num 23:5; John 11:51; cf. Num 22:28; 1 Sam 19:24; Heb 6:4) (p427)

 God is the actual speaker and primary author (p428)

Not just impressions etc. but God speaking in human words so that the words of the human writers are his words (p429)

Critical of mechanical views of inspiration which fail to do justice to the activities of the secondary human authors (p430)

It is not necessarily impersonal for people to receive a message from outside themselves that they do not fully understand (p430)

Rejects the disregarding of human personality of the authors as if God lifted them out of history and time and used them “only as mindless, inanimate instruments in the hands of the Holy Spirit.” (p431)

Though the Fathers would speak of the human writers as like musical instruments or pens, “they firmly and unanimously rejected the error of Montanists, who claimed that prophecy and inspiration rendered their mouthpieces unconscious, and often clearly recognized the self-activity of the biblical authors as well.” (p431)

The historical and psychological mediation of revelation more fully appreciated in modern times and that the mechanical view has increasingly given way to a more organic one (p431)

God “confirms and strengthens” “the self-activity of human beings” and does “not destroy” it (p432) – God maintains the distinct though dependant nature of his creatures and allows them to function according to their own nature, personality, rationality and freedom (p432)

God does not obliterate but restores, strengthens and purifies created humanity (p432)

The Bible citations of the human authors shows that “Moses, David, Isaiah, and others, though led by the Spirit, were in fact in the full sense of the word the authors of their books (Matt. 13:14; 22:43; John 1:23, 45; 5:46; 12:38). … the Spirit of the Lord, so far from suppressing the personality of the prophets and apostles, instead heightens the level of their activity…. Their native disposition and bent, their character and inclination, their intellect and development, their emotions and willpower are not undone by the calling that later comes to them… Their whole personality with all their gifts and powers are made serviceable to the calling to which they are called.” (p432)

“the prophets and apostles, as they write, completely remain themselves. They retain their powers of reflection and deliberation, their emotional states and freedom of the will. Research (Luke 1:1), reflection, and memory (John 14:26), the use of sources, and all the ordinary means that an author employs in the process of writing a book are used.” (p433)

As they write they “retain their own character, language and style.” (p434)

“the theory of organic inspiration… is the working out and application of the central fact of revelation: the incarnation of the Word. The Word (logos) has become flesh (sarx), and the word has become Scripture; these two facts do not only run parallel but are most intimately connected…. [Like the incarnate Christ] the word … entered the world of creatureliness, the life and history of humanity… right down into that which was humanly weak and despised and ignoble. ” (p434) – whole passage worth reading! – weakness, lowliness, a servant form in Scripture (p435)

“just as Christ’s human nature, however weak and lowly, remained free from sin, so also Scripture is “conceived without defect or stain”; totally human in all its parts but also divine in all its parts.” (p435)

An organic view of inspiration “more historically and psychologically” (p438)

“Included in the thoughts [which the Spirit inspired] are words; included in the words are the vowels.” (p438)

“Scripture may not be viewed atomistically as though every word and letter by itself is inspired by God as such and has its own meaning with its own infinite, divine content.” (p438)

“Inspiration has to be viewed organically, so that even the lowliest part has its place and meaning and at the same time is much farther removed from (p438) the center than other parts.” (p439)

The Battle against / for the Bible is primarily ethical – as people have always opposed Christ so they oppose the Bible (p439) – Heb 4:12

“It [Scripture] not only was inspired but is still “God-breathed” and “God-breathing”. (p439) “The Holy Spirit does not, after the act of inspiration, withdraw from Holy Scripture and abandon it to its fate but sustains and animates it and in many ways brings its content to humanity, to its heart and conscience.” (p440)

“Scripture is the handmaiden of Christ” (p440) – The ungodly react to it with opposition as they did to Christ

“ignorance of the Scriptures is automatically and proportionately ignorance of Christ (Jerome).” (p440)

 “the Holy Spirit, in the inscripturation of the word of God, did not spurn anything human to serve as an organ of the divine. The revelation of God is not abstractly supernatural but has entered into the human fabric, into persons and states of being, into forms and usages, into history and life. It does (p442) not fly high above us but descends into our situation; it has become flesh and blood, like us in all things except sin. Divine revelation is now an ineradicable constituent of this cosmos in which we live and, effecting renewal and restoration, continues in operation. The human has become and instrument of the divine; the natural has become a revelation of the supernatural; the visible has become a sign and seal of the invisible. In the process of inspiration, use has been made of all the gifts and forces resident in human nature.” (p443)

Differences of language and style between the human authors perfectly natural (p443)

“grace does not cancel out nature but perfect it” (p443)

“ordinary human life and natural life… is made serviceable to God” (p443)

“Even if a book on geography, say, was inspired from cover to cover and was literally dictated word-for-word, it would still not be “God-breathed” and “God-breathing” in the sense of 2 Timothy 3:16. Scripture is the word of God because it has the Word-made-flesh as its matter and content. Form and content interpenetrate each other and are inseperable…. Christ counted nothing human as alien to himself; and Scripture does not overlook even the most minor concerns of daily life (2 Tim 4:13). Christianity is not antithetically opposed to that which is human but is its restoration and renewal.” (p443)

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