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7 years ago  ::  May 29, 2008 - 5:08PM #1
CalKnox
Posts: 330
From an interview with Dr. C. Hassell Bullock, recently elected president of the Evangelical Theological Society.  Dr. Bullock is a pastor and professor and holds his Ph.D. in Old Testament from the Jewish Institute of Religion at Hebrew Union College. Bullock has been a professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College since 1973 and holds the Franklin S. Dyrness chair in Biblical Studies. He serves as pastor of Warren Park Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) in Cicero, Illinois. His published works include An Introduction to the Old Testament Poetic Books and An Introduction to the Old Testament Prophetic Books (both Moody Press), and Encountering the Book of Psalms (Baker Book House).


The current state of the PCUSA can be attributed to the waning commitment of the church to the authority of Scripture, a process that has been eroding our theology and life together for many years. Our generation, lamentably, is the one that must reap the sad harvest of this decline.



The issue is still, and always has been, the question of Biblical authority.

Since I was trained by liberal thinkers on the Old Testament, I have a good working knowledge of the critical approaches to the discipline, and some are admittedly helpful. However, the question the exegete has always to ask is whether the method undermines the authority of the text. Or to put it another way, do the exegete's presuppositions pre-empt the meaning and integrity of the text.

The evangelical will give the text of the Old Testament the benefit of the doubt, rather than give the method the benefit. Unfortunately, despite the sincerity of many historical critics of the Bible, we have sometimes misunderstood the nature of the Old Testament material.

For example, when I was in graduate school, the tendency was to disallow any hopeful words to a prophet like Amos and assign such words to a later prophet. The rabbis, however, understood the prophetic word to include both "words of comfort" and "words of reproof."

In rabbinic thought they belonged together – the rabbis understood the true nature of the material – just as they do in the preaching ministry of the Church. A word of grace loses its edge when a word of reproof is never forthcoming.



I want to be fair to those who do not espouse the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy and not misjudge them, since I don't know their thinking on the matter. So again I have to speak theoretically and assume that many in the PCUSA have bought so deeply into the methods and conclusions of historical criticism, that they find the idea of an inerrant Bible to be outside the bounds of reason.

Obviously there are historical and theological issues that any interpreter of Scripture must deal with, and even the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy allows latitude for resolving those difficulties. Biblical inerrancy is not the equivalent of the dictation theory, as some may assume. Yet the Scriptures have to be treated with respect as the interpreter realizes he or she is dealing with God's Word to humanity through the written Bible and ultimately through the Incarnate Word.

The Westminster confessors saw this quality inherent in Scripture itself: "The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed and obeyed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man or church, but wholly upon God (who is truth itself), the author thereof; and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God" (The Westminster Confession of Faith, I:5). Sadly, many in the PCUSA have distance themselves from this view of Scripture.

The modern verbalization of the doctrine of inerrancy was an attempt to "build a fence around the Torah." This latter phrase is used in rabbinic thought to express the view that the Masorah, which surrounds the Hebrew text (both the Large and the Small Masorah), was a means to insure its accuracy and authenticity. Analogously the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy was intended to serve as a protective measure for both the Biblical text and Biblical theology, not protecting the text from itself, but from human inventions and misunderstandings.
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7 years ago  ::  May 29, 2008 - 10:55PM #2
AppleMan
Posts: 348
My Bible is errant. But that's OK. It makes me read it more carefully.
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7 years ago  ::  May 31, 2008 - 6:40PM #3
CalKnox
Posts: 330
[QUOTE=AppleMan;532331]My Bible is errant. But that's OK. It makes me read it more carefully.[/QUOTE]

By what unique authority do you decide what parts are errant and which are not?
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7 years ago  ::  Jun 03, 2008 - 1:34AM #4
smc93
Posts: 200
[QUOTE=AppleMan;532331]My Bible is errant. But that's OK. It makes me read it more carefully.[/QUOTE]

But my Jesus ain't... and He's the Word of God, the one Rev. Dr. Bullock confuses with paper and ink!  :-(   

p.s. PC(USA) churches can have conservative pastors, God bless them all.
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7 years ago  ::  Jun 03, 2008 - 1:40AM #5
smc93
Posts: 200
"the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy was intended to serve as a protective measure for both the Biblical text and Biblical theology, not protecting the text from itself, but from human inventions and misunderstandings."

This is too rich!  The theory of inerrancy is an human invention and misunderstanding of Holy Scripture.
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7 years ago  ::  Jun 04, 2008 - 3:11PM #6
CalKnox
Posts: 330
[QUOTE=smc93;540158]"the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy was intended to serve as a protective measure for both the Biblical text and Biblical theology, not protecting the text from itself, but from human inventions and misunderstandings."

This is too rich!  The theory of inerrancy is an human invention and misunderstanding of Holy Scripture.[/QUOTE]

By a solemn vow, you said it was “unique and authoritative.”
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7 years ago  ::  Jun 04, 2008 - 3:42PM #7
AppleMan
Posts: 348
The point you are missing, Cal, is that those words were carefully chosen because the Bible is not inerrant.

Unique, yes, of course.
Authoritative - yes, it is our single best source, but it speaks with many voices and must be discerned.

Inerrant - nope
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7 years ago  ::  Jun 04, 2008 - 11:21PM #8
smc93
Posts: 200
[QUOTE=CalKnox;543566]By a solemn vow, you said it was “unique and authoritative.”[/QUOTE]

I did not take any vow about a theory of inspiration or inerrancy or infallibility!  The Bible, not the theory, is unique and authoritative.  C'mon.  You're not gonna pull the wool over these ole eyes, brother!
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7 years ago  ::  Jun 04, 2008 - 11:31PM #9
laughingpastor
Posts: 20
What vow did you take Cal?
What is the exact wording of your vows for your ordination?
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7 years ago  ::  Jun 05, 2008 - 6:16PM #10
CalKnox
Posts: 330
[QUOTE=laughingpastor;544539]What vow did you take Cal?
What is the exact wording of your vows for your ordination?[/QUOTE]

Do you believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice?

Do you sincerely receive and adopt the Confession of Faith and Catechisms of this Church, as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures?

Do you approve of the government, discipline, and worship of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church?

Do you promise subjection to your brethren in the Lord?

Have you been induced, as far as you know your own heart, to seek the office of the holy ministry from love to God and a sincere desire to promote his glory in the gospel of his Son?

Do you promise to be zealous and faithful in maintaining the truths of the gospel, and the purity, the peace, and the unity of the church, whatever persecution or opposition may arise unto you on that account?

Do you promise to be faithful and diligent in the exercise of all private and personal duties which become you as a Christian and a minister of the gospel, as well as in all the duties of your office, endeavoring to adorn the profession of the gospel by your life, and walking with exemplary piety before the flock over which God shall make you overseer?

Are you now willing to undertake the work of the ministry in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, and do you promise to discharge the duties which may be incumbent upon you in that capacity as God may give you strength?

Are you now willing to take the charge of this congregation as its pastor, in agreement with your declaration when you accepted its call?

Do you conscientiously believe and declare, as far as you know your own heart, that in taking upon you this charge you are influenced by a desire to promote the glory of God and the good of his church?

Do you solemnly promise that, by the assistance of the grace of God, you will endeavor faithfully to discharge all the duties of a pastor to this congregation, and will be careful to maintain a deportment in all respects becoming a minister of the gospel of Christ?
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