Friday, March 31, 2017

When America Saved Europe From Islam

"Thomas Jefferson fought back, and ended Moslem piracy in Europe. It was the first time America saved Europe militarily, and no one seems to remember, least of all the Europeans. Although our people don’t remember, they do speak about it whenever they sing or hear the first words of the Marine Corps Anthem: “From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli, we will fight our country’s battles on the land and on the sea….” Why don’t we teach our children about the wars these words refer to?"

Patrick Michael Murphy, “How the West Was Lost,” p.203

Sola Scriptura And Divisions

  • Defining the issues:
           -Although this article is dedicated primarily to the Roman Catholic apologists who maintain that there are 33,000 (or more) Protestant denominations (in order to disqualify the principle of Sola Scriptura), the contents that are about to be presented hold true for all who tout the same argument around.  
           -There is a great deal of controversy between  the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and all of the Protestant churches due to the issue of "private interpretation". Private interpretation of Scripture is the concept of a person using his or her reasoning to make a judgment on a particular passage from the Bible. It is a more individualistic approach to determining what Scripture means.
           -Hierarchical structured churches always insist that we absolutely must have their leaders "infallibly interpret" the Scriptures in order to preserve absolute truth in doctrinal matters and thus aid in the prevention of division within the entire congregational body.
           -The claim that we need an infallible interpreter of Scripture is essentially the same as saying that the Bible is too difficult for the common people to understand. In other words, both arguments use the same logic in there premises in order to reach their conclusions. If Scripture is simple enough for us to comprehend without the need of an infallible interpreter, then why would we even need one in the first place?   
           -Consequently, the Church of Rome claims that Christians who rely on the Bible alone for the development of doctrine (instead of its Magisterium) will inevitably end up in a state of hopeless doctrinal confusion. In summary, one of the most common arguments raised against Sola Scriptura is that it unavoidably results in irreconcilable doctrinal contradictions and thus points to the need of an infallible teaching authority.
  • Scripture Is A Perspicuous Guide And Is Therefore In Need Of No Infallible Interpreter:
           -Scripture repeatedly implies and assures that its readers can understand its message (i.e. Deuteronomy 29:29; 2 Kings 22:8-13; Psalm 19:7-9; 119:97-105; 130; Matthew 22:29-32; Luke 1:1-4; 10:25-28; Acts 17:11-12; Ephesians 3:3-5; 2 Corinthians 1:13; 3:15-16; Colossians 4:16; 2 Peter 1:16-21; 2 Timothy 3:15).
           -With the exception of 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus, all of the New Testament epistles were written to Christians in general: Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Galatians 1:2; Ephesians 1:1; Philemon 1:1-2; Colossians 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1; 1 Peter 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1; James 1:1-2; Revelation 1:3-4.
           -Calls to read and obey Scripture demonstrates that we can understand it (Joshua 1:7-8; 23:6; 1 Kings 2:3-4; Matthew 12:3; 5; 19:4; 21:16; 42; 22:31; Luke 10:26; John 10:34; 1 Corinthians 10:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:27; 2 Thessalonians 3:14; 1 Timothy 4:13).
           -The common people understood the teachings of Jesus Christ without an "infallible interpreter" (i.e. Matthew 11:25; 13:51; Mark 12:37). In other words, there was never an infallible interpreter sitting next to Jesus when He was teaching in front of the crowds. Neither do we see one in any of the sermons documented in the Book of Acts. Furthermore, the New Testament epistles to the churches of the first century say nothing about submission to an alleged infallible teaching authority who makes spiritual teachings simple enough for the common people to understand.
           -Three relevant observations that we can gather from the New Testament against the belief that it is too difficult for us to understand is that Jesus Christ did not always explain His parables to those who were confused by His teachings, He made individuals interpret the Scriptures for themselves, and held them accountable when they interpreted them incorrectly. He neither demanded the people who heard His teachings to blindly submit to Him nor instructed His disciples to act in such a manner. Jesus usually attracted the poor, uneducated, and the common people. Anyone with a humble and prayerful heart can understand what God desires for mankind (salvation), apart from a complex church hierarchy.
  • Addressing Common Misrepresentations Of Sola Scriptura:
           -"What use is an infallible book without an infallible interpreter?":
               *The above question can be likened to asking, "What is the use of an infallible God without an infallible human mind to understand Him?" He does not expect us to understand Him infallibly because our minds are finite. However, we can have more than sufficient certainty behind the meaning of Scripture. Now, I am certainly not saying that we can interpret the Scriptures in any random way that we desire. We have the obligation to examine Scripture in its proper context, compare our interpretations of particular Scripture passages to what other passages say about the same topic, use our common sense, and use study aids such as defining the proper meaning of specific Hebrew/Greek words and commentaries. 
           -"By What Authority Do You Interpret Scripture?":
              *We might as well retort by asking, "By what authority do you obey Ten Commandments?" These things are completely irrelevant to the issue of our own "personal authority", but rather, are things God is expecting us to do. He wants us to obey Him. This in no way implies that no additional church authorities besides the Bible exist. They exist, but are subject to the infallible authority of Scripture. We do not need "special authority" to search the Scriptures and discern God's will.  
           -Scripture is clear enough for readers to at least get the basic message of the gospel. The misusing of Scripture is not the same as the insufficiency of Scripture.
  • Religious Division:
           -The cause of religious division among churches is not the fault or difficulty level of reading the Bible, but rather, is a result of our own inherent sinful desires. In other words, religious division forms as a result of people refusing to accept the clear teachings of Scripture and an intentional lack of devotional study of the sacred Christian texts. It is not the fault of the Bible that people misinterpret it, but their own.
           -The mere fact that divisions exist within the Protestant body neither proves that the Bible is too hard to understand nor that the principle of Sola Scriptura is false. Furthermore, the fact that divisions exist within Protestantism does not logically prove that the Church of Rome has the solution to the problems. Refuting an opponent's argument(s) in a debate does not guarantee the accuracy of your own. Both sides can be wrong.          
           -While it is true that contentions within the Body of Christ over significant doctrinal issues are unfortunate and painful, they may sometimes be necessary. The Apostle Paul wrote, “For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you” (1 Corinthians 11:19). We are called to publicly expose false brethren and separate ourselves from those who propagate heretical doctrines (Galatians 2:4; Romans 16:17). Although Jesus Christ emphasized spiritual unity (John 17), He never supported organizational unity. In other words, it is wrong to merely set aside our doctrinal differences for the sake of unity because truth cannot be mixed with error. So true conservative Christians must separate themselves from the liberals and other apostates in order to preserve doctrinal purity. Unity does not guarantee truth or preservation of the truths revealed in the gospel.
        -The New Testament reveals to us that churches had significant divisions over doctrinal and moral issues such as the ones located in the ancient cities of Corinth, Galatia, and Colosse. These first century churches had the same problems that exist in our local congregations today. Instead of simply appealing to the allegedly infallible Papal authority of the Apostle Peter for a short, clear, inspired declaration to settle matters once for all, Paul reasoned directly from the Scriptures with these divided churches. Not only did he reason in such a manner, but he also gave them supplemental scriptural material to furnish the discerning ability of the entire church for future generations. If we stay within the boundaries of God's wisdom as revealed through the testimony of Holy Scripture, then we will have no reason to be bitterly divided against each other (1 Corinthians 4:6).        
      -If individual Christians worshiped together, assembled to peacefully resolve disputes on doctrine, studied Scripture more often, and stopped taking it out of context, then religious division on significant doctrinal matters would gradually fade away. There would finally be unity in the Truth. But people need to stop looking at Scripture through the lenses of their church traditions, and let themselves see the truth of Scripture through the lenses of their own reason. People need to seek and discover the truth for themselves because it will set them free from the bondage of sin (John 8:32). 
      -According to Scripture, Christians are permitted to uphold their own views on minor-doctrinal issues (i.e. Romans 14:1-12). It implicitly distinguishes between essential and non-essential doctrines.
  • Unity Does Not Prove Truth:
         -Even if we had all agreed to accept Papal authority, that would only eliminate doctrinal conflict in a circular, tautological sense. But that would still not reveal to us whether we should be in communion with the Roman Bishop (i.e. whether we are right or wrong in our decision making). It still does not build a case for Roman Catholicism.
  • A Hypocritical Double-Standard:
         -While it is true that there are divisions within Protestantism, Roman Catholics who raise this argument against Sola Scriptura fall into the category of being hypocritical because they have just as many, if not more, divisions within the realms of their own denomination, even though they scarcely choose to recognize that fact.
       -While the Church of Rome may appear to be fairly unified because of it is structured and organized manner under the headship of a worldly king called the pope, the unity in which Catholics appeal to is simply a delusion. It is simply a trick to deceive those who only look at things from a very superficial perspective, for there are significant theological differences among the Catholic laity, priests, scholars, theologians, and bishops. There are all sorts of societies, movements, and orders forming within the chambers of Roman Catholicism. Consider, for example, the existence of liberal and conservative Catholics. 
         -Many individual Roman Catholics are unlearned in regards to the official teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. The vast majority flatly contradict many of the official teachings of the Catholic Church on issues such as abortion, artificial birth control, the death penalty, homosexuality, on whether priests should be married, letting females join the priesthood, stem-cell research, and much more. Roman Catholics are in a state of bitter division over additional issues such as creation/evolution, the material sufficiency of Scripture, charismatic occurrences, whether practicing Jews and Muslims can be saved without conversion, and whether Mary is the co-redemptrix. Catholic theologians are even divided over the interpretation of Vatican II documents! Although all of these significant divisions are hidden under the umbrella of Rome, the dramatic differences still exist and are still very severe in nature.        
         -In reality, comparing the unity of the Roman Catholic Church to Protestantism as a whole is like comparing apples to oranges. Catholicism is a group that is lead by an individual leader and occupies the same title all throughout its domain ("Roman Catholic"), whereas Protestantism is made up of individual churches with many different labels. Within Protestant Christianity, there is a general consensus as to what constitutes the essential doctrines of Christianity. Though it may shock some to hear this, there is a great sense of spiritual unity amongst all genuine Christians across all different denominations within the realm of orthodoxy. All genuine Christians accept the fundamental doctrines of the faith. We all have a sense of genuine love and fellowship toward each other. We are not lost and always contradicting each other, as Roman Catholic apologists foolishly claim. It is true that doctrinal differences exist within Protestantism, with some being heretical. Every church group has its own set of divisions.
         -If Sola Scriptura cannot be the correct method of determining truth because of religious division among churches who claim to use this method, then the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches' method of using tradition to determine truth must also be invalidated because they contradict each other, as well. 
  • Refuting The 30,000 Protestant Denominations Myth:
         -This argument is derived off a complete misinterpretation of the World Christian Encyclopedia (David A. Barrett; Oxford University Press, 1982).
         -Out of the cited figure of 20,780 denominations, only 8,196 are labeled as being Protestant. According to Barrett's figure, 223 Roman Catholic denominations exist.
         -The figure of 8,000 denominations is pretty misleading because David A. Barrett separates "distinct denominations" according to their jurisdiction, rather than differing doctrinal practices and beliefs. In reality, these individual "denominations" only have slightly different beliefs. 
         -Then, Barrett breaks the Protestant section down into 21 major traditions, and the Church of Rome is subdivided into 16 different traditions. The word "denomination" in this context is best defined to mean "tradition".
         -Interestingly, the National Catholic Register agrees with me when I say that the 33,000 Protestant denominations argument is utterly false. 
         -In conclusion, the argument that Sola Scriptura does not work because it results in a endless cycle of confusion is based on a completely unfair case of intentional intellectual dishonesty.  
  • An Argument That Backfires:
          -If the Roman Catholic apologist still wants to use this totally false argument against the biblical principle of Sola Scriptura, then we can point out the fact that the same Word Christian Encyclopedia ranks Roman Catholicism as being the fifth worst when persecuting martyrs (total of: 4,951,000):

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Gnosticism And The Gnostic Jesus

                                                     By Douglas Groothuis

From the Christian Research Journal, Fall 1990, page 8. The Editor-in-Chief of the Christian Research Journal is Elliot Miller.

Popular opinion often comes from obscure sources. Many conceptions about Jesus now current and credible in New Age circles are rooted in a movement of spiritual protest which, until recently, was the concern only of the specialized scholar or the occultist. This ancient movement -- Gnosticism -- provides much of the form and color for the New Age portrait of Jesus as the illumined Illuminator: one who serves as a cosmic catalyst for others' awakening.

Many essentially Gnostic notions received wide attention through the sagacious persona of the recently deceased Joseph Campbell in the television series and best-selling book, The Power of Myth. For example, in discussing the idea that "God was in Christ," Campbell affirmed that "the basic Gnostic and Buddhist idea is that that is true of you and me as well." Jesus is an enlightened example who "realized in himself that he and what he called the Father were one, and he lived out of that knowledge of the Christhood of his nature." According to Campbell, anyone can likewise live out his or her Christ nature.[1]

Gnosticism has come to mean just about anything. Calling someone a Gnostic can make the person either blush, beam, or fume. Whether used as an epithet for heresy or spiritual snobbery, or as a compliment for spiritual knowledge and esotericism, Gnosticism remains a cornucopia of controversy.

This is doubly so when Gnosticism is brought into a discussion of Jesus of Nazareth. Begin to speak of "Christian Gnostics" and some will exclaim, "No way! That is a contradiction in terms. Heresy is not orthodoxy." Others will affirm, "No contradiction. Orthodoxy is the heresy. The Gnostics were edged out of mainstream Christianity for political purposes by the end of the third century." Speak of the Gnostic Christ or the Gnostic gospels, and an ancient debate is moved to the theological front burner.

Gnosticism as a philosophy refers to a related body of teachings that stress the acquisition of "gnosis," or inner knowledge. The knowledge sought is not strictly intellectual, but mystical; not merely a detached knowledge of or about something, but a knowing by acquaintance or participation. This gnosis is the inner and esoteric mystical knowledge of ultimate reality. It discloses the spark of divinity within, thought to be obscured by ignorance, convention, and mere exoteric religiosity.

This knowledge is not considered to be the possession of the masses but of the Gnostics, the Knowers, who are privy to its benefits. While the orthodox "many" exult in the exoteric religious trappings which stress dogmatic belief and prescribed behavior, the Gnostic "few" pierce through the surface to the esoteric spiritual knowledge of God. The Gnostics claim the Orthodox mistake the shell for the core; the Orthodox claim the Gnostics dive past the true core into a nonexistent one of their own esoteric invention.

To adjudicate this ancient acrimony requires that we examine Gnosticism's perennial allure, expose its philosophical foundations, size up its historical claims, and square off the Gnostic Jesus with the figure who sustains the New Testament.



Glossary

aeons: Emanations of Being from the unknowable, ultimate metaphysical principle or pleroma (see pleroma).

Apostolic rule of faith: The essential teachings of the apostles that served as the authoritative standard for orthodox doctrine before the canonization of the New Testament.

Demiurge: According to the Gnostics (as opposed to Plato and others who had a more positive assessment), an inferior deity who ignorantly and incompetently fashioned the debased physical world.

esotericism: The teaching that spiritual liberation is found in a secret or hidden knowledge (sometimes called gnosis) not available in traditional orthodoxy or exotericism.

exotericism: A pejorative term used by esotericists to describe the mere outer or popular understanding of spiritual truth which is supposedly inferior to the esoteric essence.

gnosis: The Greek word for "knowledge" used by the Gnostics to mean knowledge gained not through intellectual discovery but through personal experience or acquaintance which initiates one into esoteric mysteries. The experience of gnosis reveals to the initiated the divine spark within. "Gnosis" has a very different meaning in the New Testament which excludes esotericism and self-deification.

Pleroma: The Greek word for "fulness" used by the Gnostics to mean the highest principle of Being where dwells the unknown and unknowable God. Used in the New Testament to refer to "fulness in Christ" (Col. 2:10) who is the known revelation of God in the flesh.



MODERN GNOSTICISM

Gnosticism is experiencing something of a revival, despite its status within church history as a vanquished Christian heresy. The magazine Gnosis, which bills itself as a "journal of western inner traditions," began publication in 1985 with a circulation of 2,500. As of September 1990, it sported a circulation of 11,000. Gnosis regularly runs articles on Gnosticism and Gnostic themes such as "Valentinus: A Gnostic for All Seasons."

Some have created institutional forms of this ancient religion. In Palo Alto, California, priestess Bishop Rosamonde Miller officiates the weekly gatherings of Ecclesia Gnostica Myteriorum (Church of Gnostic Mysteries), as she has done for the last eleven years. The chapel holds forty to sixty participants each Sunday and includes Gnostic readings in its liturgy. Miller says she knows of twelve organizationally unrelated Gnostic churches throughout the world.[2] Stephan Hoeller, a frequent contributor to Gnosis, who since 1967 has been a bishop of Ecclesia Gnostica in Los Angeles, notes that "Gnostic churches...have sprung up in recent years in increasing numbers."[3] He refers to an established tradition of "wandering bishops" who retain allegiance to the symbolic and ritual form of orthodox Christianity while reinterpreting its essential content.[4]

Of course, these exotic-sounding enclaves of the esoteric are minuscule when compared to historic Christian denominations. But the real challenge of Gnosticism is not so much organizational as intellectual. Gnosticism in its various forms has often appealed to the alienated intellectuals who yearn for spiritual experience outside the bounds of the ordinary.

The Swiss psychologist Carl Jung, a constant source of inspiration for the New Age, did much to introduce Gnosticism to the modern world by viewing it as a kind of proto-depth psychology, a key to psychological interpretation. According to Stephan Hoeller, author of The Gnostic Jung, "it was Jung's contention that Christianity and Western culture have suffered grievously because of the repression of the Gnostic approach to religion, and it was his hope that in time this approach would be reincorporated in our culture, our Western spirituality."[5]

In his Psychological Types, Jung praised "the intellectual content of Gnosis" as "vastly superior" to the orthodox church. He also affirmed that, "in light of our present mental development [Gnosticism] has not lost but considerably gained in value."[6]

A variety of esoteric groups have roots in Gnostic soil. Madame Helena P. Blavatsky, who founded Theosophy in 1875, viewed the Gnostics as precursors of modern occult movements and hailed them for preserving an inner teaching lost to orthodoxy. Theosophy and its various spin-offs -- such as Rudolf Steiner's Anthroposophy, Alice Bailey's Arcane School, Guy and Edna Ballard's I Am movement, and Elizabeth Clare Prophet's Church Universal and Triumphant -- all draw water from this same well; so do various other esoteric groups, such as the Rosicrucians. These groups share an emphasis on esoteric teaching, the hidden divinity of humanity, and contact with nonmaterial higher beings called masters or adepts.

A four-part documentary called "The Gnostics" was released in mid-1989 and shown in one-day screenings across the country along with a lecture by the producer. This ambitious series charted the history of Gnosticism through dramatizations and interviews with world-renowned scholars on Gnosticism such as Gilles Quispel, Hans Jonas, and Elaine Pagels.

A review of the series in a New Age-oriented journal noted: "The series takes us to the Nag Hammadi find where we learn the beginnings of the discovery of texts called the Gnostic Gospels that were written around the same time as the gospels of the New Testament but which were purposely left out."[7] The review refers to one of the most sensational and significant archaeological finds of the twentieth century; a discovery seen by some as overthrowing the orthodox view of Jesus and Christianity forever.

GOLD IN THE JAR

In December 1945, while digging for soil to fertilize crops, an Arab peasant named Muhammad 'Ali found a red earthenware jar near Nag Hammadi, a city in upper Egypt. His fear of uncorking an evil spirit or jin was shortly overcome by the hope of finding gold within. What was found has been for hundreds of scholars far more precious than gold. Inside the jar were thirteen leather-bound papyrus books (codices), dating from approximately A.D. 350. Although several of the texts were burned or thrown out, fifty-two texts were eventually recovered through many years of intrigue involving illegal sales, violence, smuggling, and academic rivalry.

Some of the texts were first published singly or in small collections, but the complete collection was not made available in a popular format in English until 1977. It was released as The Nag Hammadi Library and was reissued in revised form in 1988.

Although many of these documents had been referred to and denounced in the writings of early church theologians such as Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, most of the texts themselves had been thought to be extinct. Now many of them have come to light. As Elaine Pagels put it in her best-selling book, The Gnostic Gospels, "Now for the first time, we have the opportunity to find out about the earliest Christian heresy; for the first time, the heretics can speak for themselves."[8]

Pagels's book, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, arguably did more than any other effort to ingratiate the Gnostics to modern Americans. She made them accessible and even likeable. Her scholarly expertise coupled with her ability to relate an ancient religion to contemporary concerns made for a compelling combination in the minds of many. Her central thesis was simple: Gnosticism should be considered at least as legitimate as orthodox Christianity because the "heresy" was simply a competing strain of early Christianity. Yet, we find that the Nag Hammadi texts present a Jesus at extreme odds with the one found in the Gospels. Before contrasting the Gnostic and biblical renditions of Jesus, however, we need a short briefing on gnosis.

THE GNOSTIC MESSAGE

Gnosticism in general and the Nag Hammadi texts in particular present a spectrum of beliefs, although a central philosophical core is roughly discernible, which Gnosticism scholar Kurt Rudolph calls "the central myth."[9] Gnosticism teaches that something is desperately wrong with the universe and then delineates the means to explain and rectify the situation.

The universe, as presently constituted, is not good, nor was it created by an all-good God. Rather, a lesser god, or demiurge (as he is sometimes called), fashioned the world in ignorance. The Gospel of Philip says that "the world came about through a mistake. For he who created it wanted to create it imperishable and immortal. He fell short of attaining his desire."[10] The origin of the demiurge or offending creator is variously explained, but the upshot is that some precosmic disruption in the chain of beings emanating from the unknowable Father-God resulted in the "fall out" of a substandard deity with less than impeccable credentials. The result was a material cosmos soaked with ignorance, pain, decay, and death -- a botched job, to be sure. This deity, nevertheless, despotically demands worship and even pretentiously proclaims his supremacy as the one true God.

This creator-god is not the ultimate reality, but rather a degeneration of the unknown and unknowable fullness of Being (or pleroma). Yet, human beings -- or at least some of them -- are in the position potentially to transcend their imposed limitations, even if the cosmic deck is stacked against them. Locked within the material shell of the human race is the spark of this highest spiritual reality which (as one Gnostic theory held) the inept creator accidently infused into humanity at the creation -- on the order of a drunken jeweler who accidently mixes gold dust into junk metal. Simply put, spirit is good and desirable; matter is evil and detestable.

If this spark is fanned into a flame, it can liberate humans from the maddening matrix of matter and the demands of its obtuse originator. What has devolved from perfection can ultimately evolve back intoperfection through a process of self-discovery.

Into this basic structure enters the idea of Jesus as a Redeemer of those ensconced in materiality. He comes as one descended from the spiritual realm with a message of self-redemption. The body of Gnostic literature, which is wider than the Nag Hammadi texts, presents various views of this Redeemer figure. There are, in fact, differing schools of Gnosticism with differing Christologies. Nevertheless, a basic image emerges.

The Christ comes from the higher levels of intermediary beings (called aeons) not as a sacrifice for sin but as a Revealer, an emissary from error-free environs. He is not the personal agent of the creator-god revealed in the Old Testament. (That metaphysically disheveled deity is what got the universe into such a royal mess in the first place.) Rather, Jesus has descended from a more exalted level to be a catalyst for igniting the gnosis latent within the ignorant. He gives a metaphysical assist to underachieving deities (i.e., humans) rather than granting ethical restoration to God's erring creatures through the Crucifixion and Resurrection.

NAG HAMMADI UNVEILED

By inspecting a few of the Nag Hammadi texts, we encounter Gnosticism in Christian guise: Jesus dispenses gnosis to awaken those trapped in ignorance; the body is a prison, and the spirit alone is good; and salvation comes by discovering the "kingdom of God" within the self.
One of the first Nag Hammadi texts to be extricated out of Egypt and translated into Western tongues was the Gospel of Thomas, comprised of one hundred and fourteen alleged sayings of Jesus. Although scholars do not believe it was actually written by the apostle Thomas, it has received the lion's share of scholarly attention. The sayings of Jesus are given minimal narrative setting, are not thematically arranged, and have a cryptic, epigrammatic bite to them. Although Thomas does not articulate every aspect of a full-blown Gnostic system, some of the teachings attributed to Jesus fit the Gnostic pattern. (Other sayings closely parallel or duplicate material found in the synoptic Gospels.)

The text begins: "These are the secret sayings which the living Jesus spoke and which Didymos Judas Thomas wrote down. And he said, 'Whoever finds the interpretation of these sayings will not experience death.'"[11] Already we find the emphasis on secret knowledge (gnosis) as redemptive.

JESUS AND GNOSIS

Unlike the canonical gospels, Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection are not narrated and neither do any of the hundred and fourteen sayings in the Gospel of Thomas directly refer to these events. Thomas's Jesus is a dispenser of wisdom, not the crucified and resurrected Lord.
Jesus speaks of the kingdom: "The kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living father. But if you will not know yourselves, you dwell in poverty and it is you who are that poverty."[12]

Other Gnostic documents center on the same theme. In the Book of Thomas the Contender, Jesus speaks "secret words" concerning self-knowledge: "For he who has not known himself has known nothing, but he who has known himself has at the same time already achieved knowledge of the depth of the all."[13]

Pagels observes that many of the Gnostics "shared certain affinities with contemporary methods of exploring the self through psychotherapeutic techniques."[14] This includes the premises that, first, many people are unconscious of their true condition and, second, "that the psyche bears within itself the potential for liberation or destruction."[15]

Gilles Quispel notes that for Valentinus, a Gnostic teacher of the second century, Christ is "the Paraclete from the Unknown who reveals...the discovery of the Self -- the divine spark within you."[16]

The heart of the human problem for the Gnostic is ignorance, sometimes called "sleep," "intoxication," or "blindness." But Jesus redeems man from such ignorance. Stephan Hoeller says that in the Valentinian system "there is no need whatsoever for guilt, for repentance from so-called sin, neither is there a need for a blind belief in vicarious salvation by way of the death of Jesus."[17] Rather, Jesus is savior in the sense of being a "spiritual maker of wholeness" who cures us of our sickness of ignorance.[18]

Gnosticism on Crucifixion and Resurrection

Those Gnostic texts that discuss Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection display a variety of views that, nevertheless, reveal some common themes.

James is consoled by Jesus in the First Apocalypse of James: "Never have I suffered in any way, nor have I been distressed. And this people has done me no harm."[19]

In the Second Treatise of the Great Seth, Jesus says, "I did not die in reality, but in appearance." Those "in error and blindness....saw me; they punished me. It was another, their father, who drank the gall and vinegar; it was not I. They struck me with the reed; it was another, Simon, who bore the cross on his shoulder. I was rejoicing in the height over all....And I was laughing at their ignorance."[20]

John Dart has discerned that the Gnostic stories of Jesus mocking his executors reverse the accounts in Matthew, Mark, and Luke where the soldiers and chief priests (Mark 15:20) mock Jesus.[21] In the biblical Gospels, Jesus does not deride or mock His tormentors; on the contrary, while suffering from the cross, He asks the Father to forgive those who nailed Him there.

In the teaching of Valentinus and followers, the death of Jesus is movingly recounted, yet without the New Testament significance. Although the Gospel of Truth says that "his death is life for many," it views this life-giving in terms of imparting the gnosis, not removing sin.[22] Pagels says that rather than viewing Christ's death as a sacrificial offering to atone for guilt and sin, the Gospel of Truth "sees the crucifixion as the occasion for discovering the divine self within."[23]

A resurrection is enthusiastically affirmed in the Treatise on the Resurrection: "Do not think the resurrection is an illusion. It is no illusion, but it is truth! Indeed, it is more fitting to say that the world is an illusion rather than the resurrection."[24] Yet, the nature of the post-resurrection appearances differs from the biblical accounts. Jesus is disclosed through spiritual visions rather than physical circumstances.

The resurrected Jesus for the Gnostics is the spiritual Revealer who imparts secret wisdom to the selected few. The tone and content of Luke's account of Jesus' resurrection appearances is a great distance from Gnostic accounts: "After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God" (Acts 1:3).

By now it should be apparent that the biblical Jesus has little in common with the Gnostic Jesus. He is viewed as a Redeemer in both cases, yet his nature as a Redeemer and the way of redemption diverge at crucial points. We shall now examine some of these points.

DID CHRIST REALLY SUFFER AND DIE?

As in much modern New Age teaching, the Gnostics tended to divide Jesus from the Christ. For Valentinus, Christ descended on Jesus at his baptism and left before his death on the cross. Much of the burden of the treatise Against Heresies, written by the early Christian theologian Irenaeus, was to affirm that Jesus was, is, and always will be, the Christ. He says: "The Gospel...knew no other son of man but Him who was of Mary, who also suffered; and no Christ who flew away from Jesus before the passion; but Him who was born it knew as Jesus Christ the Son of God, and that this same suffered and rose again."[25]

Irenaeus goes on to quote John's affirmation that "Jesus is the Christ" (John 20:31) against the notion that Jesus and Christ were "formed of two different substances," as the Gnostics taught.[26]
In dealing with the idea that Christ did not suffer on the cross for sin, Irenaeus argues that Christ never would have exhorted His disciples to take up the cross if He in fact was not to suffer on it Himself, but fly away from it.[27]

For Irenaeus (a disciple of Polycarp, who himself was a disciple of the apostle John), the suffering of Jesus the Christ was paramount. It was indispensable to the apostolic "rule of faith" that Jesus Christ suffered on the cross to bring salvation to His people. In Irenaeus's mind, there was no divine spark in the human heart to rekindle; self-knowledge was not equal to God-knowledge. Rather, humans were stuck in sin and required a radical rescue operation. Because "it was not possible that the man...who had been destroyed through disobedience, could reform himself," the Son brought salvation by "descending from the Father, becoming incarnate, stooping low, even to death, and consummating the arranged plan of our salvation."[28]

This harmonizes with the words of Polycarp: "Let us then continually persevere in our hope and the earnest of our righteousness, which Jesus Christ, "who bore our sins in His own body on the tree" [1 Pet. 2:24], "who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth" [1 Pet. 2:22], but endured all things for us, that we might live in Him."[29]

Polycarp's mentor, the apostle John, said: "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us" (1 John 3:16); and "This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins" (4:10).

The Gnostic Jesus is predominantly a dispenser of cosmic wisdom who discourses on abstruse themes like the spirit's fall into matter. Jesus Christ certainly taught theology, but he dealt with the problem of pain and suffering in a far different way. He suffered for us, rather than escaping the cross or lecturing on the vanity of the body.

THE MATTER OF THE RESURRECTION

For Gnosticism, the inherent problem of humanity derives from the misuse of power by the ignorant creator and the resulting entrapment of souls in matter. The Gnostic Jesus alerts us to this and helps rekindle the divine spark within. In the biblical teaching, the problem is ethical; humans have sinned against a good Creator and are guilty before the throne of the universe.

For Gnosticism, the world is bad, but the soul -- when freed from its entrapments -- is good. For Christianity, the world was created good (Gen. 1), but humans have fallen from innocence and purity through disobedience (Gen. 3; Rom. 3). Yet, the message of the gospel is that the One who can rightly prosecute His creatures as guilty and worthy of punishment has deigned to visit them in the person of His only Son -- not just to write up a firsthand damage report, but to rectify the situation through the Cross and the Resurrection.

In light of these differences, the significance of Jesus' literal and physical resurrection should be clear. For the Gnostic who abhors matter and seeks release from its grim grip, the physical resurrection of Jesus would be anticlimactic, if not absurd. A material resurrection would be counterproductive and only recapitulate the original problem.

Jesus displays a positive attitude toward the Creation throughout the Gospels. In telling His followers not to worry He says, "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them" (Matt. 2:26). And, "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father" (Matt. 10:29). These and many other examples presuppose the goodness of the material world and declare care by a benevolent Creator. Gnostic dualism is precluded.

If Jesus recommends fasting and physical self-denial on occasion, it is not because matter is unworthy of attention or an incorrigible roadblock to spiritual growth, but because moral and spiritual resolve may be strengthened through periodic abstinence (Matt. 6:16-18; 9:14-15). Jesus fasts in the desert and feasts with His disciples. The created world is good, but the human heart is corrupt and inclines to selfishly misuse a good creation. Therefore, it is sometimes wise to deny what is good without in order to inspect and mortify what is bad within.

If Jesus is the Christ who comes to restore God's creation, He must come as one of its own, a bona fide man. Although Gnostic teachings show some diversity on this subject, they tend toward docetism -- the doctrine that the descent of the Christ was spiritual and not material, despite any appearance of materiality. It was even claimed that Jesus left no footprints behind him when he walked on the sand.

From a biblical view, materiality is not the problem, but disharmony with the Maker. Adam and Eve were both material and in harmony with their good Maker before they succumbed to the Serpent's temptation. Yet, in biblical reasoning, if Jesus is to conquer sin and death for humanity, He must rise from the dead in a physical body, albeit a transformed one. A mere spiritual apparition would mean an abdication of material responsibility. As Norman Geisler has noted, "Humans sin and die in material bodies and they must be redeemed in the same physical bodies. Any other kind of deliverance would be an admission of defeat....If redemption does not restore God's physical creation, including our material bodies, then God's original purpose in creating a material world would be frustrated."[30]

For this reason, at Pentecost the apostle Peter preached Jesus of Nazareth as "a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs" (Acts 2:22) who, though put to death by being nailed to the cross, "God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him" (v. 24). Peter then quotes Psalm 16:10 which speaks of God not letting His "Holy One see decay" (v. 27). Peter says of David, the psalm's author, "Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave nor did his body see decay. God raised Jesus to life" (vv. 31, 32).

The apostle Paul confesses that if the resurrection of Jesus is not a historical fact, Christianity is a vanity of vanities (1 Cor. 15:14-19). And, while he speaks of Jesus' (and the believers') resurrected condition as a "spiritual body," this does not mean nonphysical or ethereal; rather, it refers to a body totally free from the results of sin and the Fall. It is a spirit-driven body, untouched by any of the entropies of evil. Because Jesus was resurrected bodily, those who know Him as Lord can anticipate their own resurrected bodies.

JESUS, JUDAISM, AND GNOSIS

The Gnostic Jesus is also divided from the Jesus of the Gospels over his relationship to Judaism. For Gnostics, the God of the Old Testament is somewhat of a cosmic clown, neither ultimate nor good. In fact, many Gnostic documents invert the meaning of Old Testament stories in order to ridicule him. For instance, the serpent and Eve are heroic figures who oppose the dull deity in the Hypostasis of the Archons (the Reality of the Rulers) and in On the Origin of the World.[31]

In the Apocryphon of John, Jesus says he encouraged Adam and Eve to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,[32] thus putting Jesus diametrically at odds with the meaning of the Genesis account where this action is seen as the essence of sin (Gen. 3). The same anti-Jewish element is found in the Jesus of the Gospel of Thomas where the disciples say to Jesus, "Twenty-four prophets spoke in Israel, and all of them spoke in you." To which Jesus replies, "You have omitted the one living in your presence and have spoken (only) of the dead."[33] Jesus thus dismisses all the prophets as merely "dead." For the Gnostics, the Creator must be separated from the Redeemer.

The Jesus found in the New Testament quotes the prophets, claims to fulfill their prophecies, and consistently argues according to the Old Testament revelation, despite the fact that He exudes an authority equal to it. Jesus says, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them" (Matt. 5:17). He corrects the Sadducees' misunderstanding of the afterlife by saying, "Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures..." (Mark 12:24). To other critics He again appeals to the Old Testament: "You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me" (John 5:39).

When Jesus appeared after His death and burial to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, He commented on their slowness of heart "to believe all that the prophets have spoken." He asked, "Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter into glory?" Luke then records, "And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself" (Luke 24:25-27).

For both Jesus and the Old Testament, the supreme Creator is the Father of all living. They are one and the same.

GOD: UNKNOWABLE OR KNOWABLE?

Many Gnostic treatises speak of the ultimate reality or godhead as beyond conceptual apprehension. Any hope of contacting this reality -- a spark of which is lodged within the Gnostic -- must be filtered through numerous intermediary beings of a lesser stature than the godhead itself.

In the Gospel of the Egyptians, the ultimate reality is said to be the "unrevealable, unmarked, ageless, unproclaimable Father." Three powers are said to emanate from Him: "They are the Father, the Mother, (and) the Son, from the living silence."[34] The text speaks of giving praise to "the great invisible Spirit" who is "the silence of silent silence."[35] In the Sophia of Jesus Christ, Jesus is asked by Matthew, "Lord...teach us the truth," to which Jesus says, "He Who Is is ineffable." Although Jesus seems to indicate that he reveals the ineffable, he says concerning the ultimate, "He is unnameable....he is ever incomprehensible."[36]

At this point the divide between the New Testament and the Gnostic documents couldn't be deeper or wider. Although the biblical Jesus had the pedagogical tact not to proclaim indiscriminately, "I am God! I am God!" the entire contour of His ministry points to Him as God in the flesh. He says, "He who has seen me has seen the Father" (John 14:9). The prologue to John's gospel says that "in the beginning was the Word (Logos)" and that "the Word was with God and was God" (John 1:1). John did not say, "In the beginning was the silence of the silent silence" or "the ineffable."

Incarnation means tangible and intelligible revelation from God to humanity. The Creator's truth and life are communicated spiritually through the medium of matter. "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling place among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only who came from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). The Word that became flesh "has made Him [the Father] known" (v. 19). John's first epistle tells us: "The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard..." (1 John 1:2-3).

Irenaeus encountered these Gnostic invocations of the ineffable. He quotes a Valentinian Gnostic teacher who explained the "primary Tetrad" (fourfold emanation from ultimate reality): "There is a certain Proarch who existed before all things, surpassing all thought, speech, and nomenclature" whom he called "Monotes" (unity). Along with this power there is another power called Hentotes (oneness) who, along with Monotes produced "an intelligent, unbegotten, and undivided being, which beginning language terms 'Monad.'" Another entity called Hen (One) rounds out the primal union.[37] Irenaeus satirically responds with his own suggested Tetrad which also proceeds from "a certain Proarch":
    But along with it there exists a power which I term Gourd; and along with this Gourd there exists a power which again I term Utter-Emptiness. This Gourd and Emptiness, since they are one, produced...a fruit, everywhere visible, eatable, and delicious, which fruit-language calls a Cucumber. Along with this Cucumber exists a power of the same essence, which again I call a Melon.[38]
Irenaeus's point is well taken. If spiritual realities surpass our ability to name or even think about them, then any name under the sun (or within the Tetrad) is just as appropriate -- or inappropriate -- as any other, and we are free to affirm with Irenaeus that "these powers of the Gourd, Utter Emptiness, the Cucumber, and the Melon, brought forth the remaining multitude of the delirious melons of Valentinus."[39]

Whenever a Gnostic writer -- ancient or modern -- simultaneously asserts that a spiritual entity or principle is utterly unknown and unnameable and begins to give it names and ascribe to it characteristics, we should hark back to Irenaeus. If something is ineffable, it is necessarily unthinkable, unreportable, and unapproachable.

ANCIENT GNOSTICISM AND MODERN THOUGHT

Modern day Gnostics, Neo-Gnostics, or Gnostic sympathizers should be aware of some Gnostic elements which decidedly clash with modern tastes. First, although Pagels, like Jung, has shown the Gnostics in a positive psychological light, the Gnostic outlook is just as much theological and cosmological as it is psychological. The Gnostic message is all of a piece, and the psychology should not be artificially divorced from the overall world view. In other words, Gnosticism should not be reduced to psychology -- as if we know better what a Basilides or a Valentinus really meant than they did.

The Gnostic documents do not present their system as a crypto-psychology (with various cosmic forces representing psychic functions), but as a religious and theological explanation of the origin and operation of the universe. Those who want to adopt consistently Gnostic attitudes and assumptions should keep in mind what the Gnostic texts -- to which they appeal for authority and credibility -- actually say.

Second, the Gnostic rejection of matter as illusory, evil, or, at most, second-best, is at odds with many New Age sentiments regarding the value of nature and the need for an ecological awareness and ethic. Trying to find an ecological concern in the Gnostic corpus is on the order of harvesting wheat in Antarctica. For the Gnostics, as Gnostic scholar Pheme Perkins puts it, "most of the cosmos that we know is a carefully constructed plot to keep humanity from returning to its true divine home."[40]

Third, Pagels and others to the contrary, the Gnostic attitude toward women was not proto-feminist. Gnostic groups did sometimes allow for women's participation in religious activities and several of the emanational beings were seen as feminine. Nevertheless, even though Ms. Magazine gave The Gnostic Gospels a glowing review[41], women fare far worse in Gnosticism than many think. The concluding saying from the Gospel of Thomas, for example, has less than a feminist ring:
    Simon Peter said to them, "Let Mary leave us, for women are not worthy of life." Jesus said, "I myself shall lead her in order to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every woman who will make herself male will enter the kingdom of heaven."[42]
The issue of the role of women in Gnostic theology and community cannot be adequately addressed here, but it should be noted that the Jesus of the Gospels never spoke of making the female into the male -- no doubt because Jesus did not perceive the female to be inferior to the male. Going against social customs, He gathered women followers, and revealed to an outcast Samaritan woman that He was the Messiah -- which scandalized His own disciples (John 4:1-39). The Gospels also record women as the first witnesses to Jesus' resurrection (Matt. 28:1-10) -- and this in a society where women were not considered qualified to be legal witnesses.

Fourth, despite an emphasis on reincarnation, several Gnostic documents speak of the damnation of those who are incorrigibly non-Gnostic[43], particularly apostates from Gnostic groups.[44] If one chafes at the Jesus of the Gospels warning of "eternal destruction," chafings are likewise readily available from Gnostic doomsayers.

Concerning the Gnostic-Orthodox controversy, biblical scholar F. F. Bruce is so bold as to say that "there is no reason why the student of the conflict should shrink from making a value judgment: the Gnostic schools lost because they deserved to lose."[45] The Gnostics lost once, but do they deserve to lose again? We will seek to answer this in Part Two as we consider the historic reliability of the Gnostic (Nag Hammadi) texts versus that of the New Testament.

NOTES

1 Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth, ed. Betty Sue Flowers (New York: Doubleday, 1988), 210.
2 Don Lattin, "Rediscovery of Gnostic Christianity," San Francisco Chronicle, 1 April 1989, A-4-5.
3 Stephan A. Hoeller, "Wandering Bishops," Gnosis, Summer 1989, 24.
Ibid.
5 "The Gnostic Jung: An Interview with Stephan Hoeller," The Quest, Summer 1989, 85.
6 C. G. Jung, Psychological Types (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1976), 11.
7 "Gnosticism," Critique, June-Sept. 1989, 66.
8 Elaine Pagels, The Gnostic Gospels (New York: Random House, 1979), xxxv.
9 Kurt Rudolph, Gnosis: The Nature and History of Gnosticism (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1987), 57f.
10 James M. Robinson, ed., The Nag Hammadi Library (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1988), 154.
11 Robinson, 126.
12 F. F. Bruce, Jesus and Christian Origins Outside the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974), 112-13.
13 Bentley Layton, The Gnostic Scriptures (Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Co., Inc., 1987), 403.
14 Pagels, 124.
15 Ibid., 126.
16 Christopher Farmer, "An Interview with Gilles Quispel," Gnosis, Summer 1989, 28.
17 Stephan A. Hoeller, "Valentinus: A Gnostic for All Seasons," Gnosis, Fall/Winter 1985, 24.
18 Ibid., 25.
19 Robinson, 265.
20 Ibid., 365.
21 John Dart, The Jesus of History and Heresy (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1988), 97.
22 Robinson, 41.
23 Pagels, 95.
24 Robinson, 56.
25 Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3.16.5.
26 Ibid.
27 Ibid., 3.18.5.
28 Ibid., 3.18.2.
29 "The Epistle of Polycarp," ch. 8, in The Apostolic Fathers, ed. A. Cleveland Coxe (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987), 35.
30 Norman L. Geisler, "I Believe...In the Resurrection of the Flesh," Christian Research Journal, Summer 1989, 21-22.
31 See Dart, 60-74.
32 Robinson, 117.
33 Ibid., 132.
34 Ibid., 209.
35 Ibid., 210.
36 Ibid., 224-25.
37 Irenaeus, 1.11.3.
38 Ibid., 1.11.4.
39 Ibid.
40 Pheme Perkins, "Popularizing the Past," Commonweal, November 1979, 634.
41 Kenneth Pitchford, "The Good News About God," Ms. Magazine, April 1980, 32-35.
42 Robinson, 138.
43 See The Book of Thomas the Contender, in Robinson, 205.
44 See Layton, 17.
45 F. F. Bruce, The Canon of Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 277.


End of document, CRJ0040A.TXT (original CRI file name),
"Gnosticism And The Gnostic Jesus"
release A, March 21, 1994
R. Poll, CRI
A special note of thanks to Bob and Pat Hunter for their help in the preparation of this ASCII file for BBS circulation.
Copyright 1994 by the Christian Research Institute.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Mark 16:9-20 And King James Onlyism

"tc The Gospel of Mark ends at this point in some witnesses (א B sy sa arm geomss Eus Eus Hier), including two of the most respected mss (א B). This is known as the “short ending.” The following “intermediate” ending is found in some mss: “They reported briefly to those around Peter all that they had been commanded. After these things Jesus himself sent out through them, from the east to the west, the holy and imperishable preaching of eternal salvation. Amen.” This intermediate ending is usually included with the longer ending (L Ψ 083 099 579 pc); k, however, ends at this point. Most mss include the “long ending” (vv. 9-20) immediately after v. 8 (A C D W [which has unique material between vv. 14 and 15] Θ ƒ 33 M lat sy bo); however, Eusebius (and presumably Jerome) knew of almost no Greek mss that had this ending. Several mss have marginal comments noting that earlier Greek mss lacked the verses. Internal evidence strongly suggests the secondary nature of both the intermediate and the long endings. Their vocabulary, syntax, and style are decidedly non-Markan (for further details, see TCGNT 102-6). All of this evidence indicates that as time went on scribes added the longer ending, either for the richness of its material or because of the abruptness of the ending at v. 8. (Indeed, the strange variety of dissimilar endings attests to the likelihood that early scribes had a copy of Mark that ended at v. 8, and they filled out the text with what seemed to be an appropriate conclusion. All of the witnesses for alternative endings to vv. 9-20 thus indirectly confirm the Gospel as ending at v. 8.) Because of such problems regarding the authenticity of these alternative endings, 16:8 is usually regarded today as the last verse of the Gospel of Mark. There are three possible explanations for Mark ending at 16:8: (1) The author intentionally ended the Gospel here in an open-ended fashion; (2) the Gospel was never finished; or (3) the last leaf of the ms was lost prior to copying. This first explanation is the most likely due to several factors, including (a) the probability that the Gospel was originally written on a scroll rather than a codex (only on a codex would the last leaf get lost prior to copying); (b) the unlikelihood of the ms not being completed; and (c) the literary power of ending the Gospel so abruptly that the readers are now drawn into the story itself. E. Best aptly states, “It is in keeping with other parts of his Gospel that Mark should not give an explicit account of a conclusion where this is already well known to his readers” (Mark, 73; note also his discussion of the ending of this Gospel on 132 and elsewhere). The readers must now ask themselves, “What will I do with Jesus? If I do not accept him in his suffering, I will not see him in his glory.” For further discussion and viewpoints, see Perspectives on the Ending of Mark: Four Views, ed. D. A. Black (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2008); Nicholas P. Lunn, The Original Ending of Mark: A New Case for the Authenticity of Mark 16:9-20 (London: Pickwick, 2014); Gregory P. Sapaugh, “An Appraisal of the Intrinsic Probability of the Longer Endings of the Gospel of Mark” (Ph.D. diss., Dallas Theological Seminary, 2012).sn Double brackets have been placed around this passage to indicate that most likely it was not part of the original text of the Gospel of Mark. In spite of this, the passage has an important role in the history of the transmission of the text, so it has been included in the translation."

https://netbible.org/bible/Mark+16

Refuting The Atheistic "God Of The Gaps" Argument

  • Discussion:
          -Atheists portray belief in the existence of God as merely being an explanation for things that science has not yet answered. In other words, a common objection to theism is that it has only been assumed without proof the necessity of God's existence in all areas that science alone has not been able to explain.
          -Christians are not pointing to the existence of a deity to seal up any sort of missing or incomplete scientific information. In other words, we are not simply saying, "Oh, God did it." We are not making arguments based on ignorance.
          -When arguments for the existence of God are made, we are making inferences from the best observations gathered by science and from the principles of elementary logic to substantiate our beliefs. In the end, all of our collected evidences point to the existence of a external, much greater reality. These logical proofs for the existence of God point beyond the scope of the natural world. 
          -The validity of each logical premise in these arguments is based on the validity of each scientific or logical fact. For instance, the universe does indeed have a fine tuning and a first cause. These theistic arguments do not simply appeal to God as a means to provide an explanation, but are logical deductions that are unpacked to get an intended point across.
          -If the premises of such arguments are true, then their conclusions automatically follow. This is true, regardless of how people feel or react to the validity of the presented deductive arguments.
          -A true scientist must always be willing to admit to the possibility of anything, for they are supposed to be dedicated to seeking answers. Scientists are supposed to be about evidence. Those who reject the existence of God are indeed very biased. Science is about the study of the natural world, not searching for naturalistic explanations that rule out the supernatural.
          -The fact that science has discovered answers to some of the complicated questions of life does not mean that it will uncover all of them.

    Answering A Common Objection To The First Cause Argument

    • Discussion:
              -A very common objection raised by atheists in response to the first cause argument for the existence of God is, "If God is the creator of the universe, then who created or designed God? Where did He come from?"
              -God has no beginning or end. He is eternal. That is His very nature. He is the first cause of all things. We know beyond any shadow of a doubt that something cannot create itself from nothing. It is impossible for nothing to create something.
              -What about the idea of an eternal universe? Can matter, time, and space be infinite? One cannot reach infinity by using finite instances or materials. In other words, it is impossible to have an infinite number of finite things. So the universe cannot be in itself eternal because it consists of finite particles. Hence, there must be an infinite outside Source.

    Sunday, March 26, 2017

    A Study On Biblical Inspiration (Part 2)

    8. The "Oracles of God":

    This view of the Scriptures as a compact mass of words of God occasioned the formation of a designation for them by which this their character was explicitly expressed. This designation is "the sacred oracles," "the oracles of God." It occurs with extraordinary frequency in Philo, who very commonly refers to Scripture as "the sacred oracles" and cites its several passages as each an "oracle." Sharing, as they do, Philo's conception of the Scriptures as, in all their parts, a word of God, the New Testament writers naturally also speak of them under this designation. The classical passage is Romans 3:2 (compare Hebrews 5:12; Acts 7:38). Here Paul begins an enumeration of the advantages which belonged to the chosen people above other nations; and, after declaring these advantages to have been great and numerous, he places first among them all their possession of the Scriptures:

    "What advantage then hath the Jew? or what is the profit of circumcision? Much every way: first of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God." That by "the oracles of God" here are meant just the Holy Scriptures in their entirety, conceived as a direct Divine revelation, and not any portions of them, or elements in them more especially thought of as revelatory, is perfectly clear from the wide contemporary use of this designation in this sense by Philo, and is put beyond question by the presence in the New Testament of habitudes of speech which rest on and grow out of the conception of Scripture embodied in this term. From the point of view of this designation, Scripture is thought of as the living voice of God speaking in all its parts directly to the reader; and, accordingly, it is cited by some such formula as "it is said," and this mode of citing Scripture duly occurs as an alternative to "it is written" (Luke 4:12 replacing "it is written" in Matthew; Hebrews 3:15; compare Romans 4:18). It is due also to this point of view that Scripture is cited, not as what God or the Holy Spirit "said," but what He "says," the present tense emphasizing the living voice of God speaking in Scriptures to the individual soul (Hebrews 3:7; Acts 13:35; Hebrews 1:7,8,10; Romans 15:10). And especially there is due to it the peculiar usage by which Scripture is cited by the simple "saith, without expressed subject, the subject being too well understood, when Scripture is adduced, to require stating; for who could be the speaker of the words of Scripture but God only (Romans 15:10; 1 Corinthians 6:16; 2 Corinthians 6:2; Galatians 3:16; Ephesians 4:8; 5:14)? The analogies of this pregnant subjectless "saith" are very widespread. It was with it that the ancient Pythagoreans and Platonists and the medieval Aristotelians adduced each their master's teaching; it was with it that, in certain circles, the judgments of Hadrian's great jurist Salvius Julianus were cited; African stylists were even accustomed to refer by it to Sallust, their great model. There is a tendency, cropping out occasionally, in the Old Testament, to omit the name of God as superfluous, when He, as the great logical subject always in mind, would be easily understood (compare Job 20:23; 21:17; Psalms 114:2; Lamentations 4:22). So, too, when the New Testament writers quoted Scripture there was no need to say whose word it was: that lay beyond question in every mind. This usage, accordingly, is a specially striking intimation of the vivid sense which the New Testament writers had of the Divine origin of the Scriptures, and means that in citing them they were acutely conscious that they were citing immediate words of God. How completely the Scriptures were to them just the word of God may be illustrated by a passage like Galatians 3:16: "He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ." We have seen our Lord hanging an argument on the very words of Scripture (John 10:34); elsewhere His reasoning depends on the particular tense (Matthew 22:32) or word (Matthew 22:43) used in Scripture. Here Paul's argument rests similarly on a grammatical form. No doubt. it is the grammatical form of the word which God is recorded as having spoken to Abraham that is in question. But Paul knows what grammatical form God employed in speaking to Abraham only as the Scriptures have transmitted it to him; and, as we have seen, in citing the words of God and the words of Scripture he was not accustomed to make any distinction between them. It is probably the Scriptural word as a Scriptural word, therefore, which he has here in mind: though, of course, it is possible that what he here witnesses to is rather the detailed trustworthiness of the Scriptural record than its direct divinity--if we can separate two things which apparently were not separated in Paul's mind. This much we can at least say without straining, that the designation of Scripture as "scripture" and its citation by the formula, "It is written," attest primarily its indefectible authority; the designation of it as "oracles" and the adduction of it by the formula, "It says," attest primarily its immediate divinity. Its authority rests on its divinity and its divinity expresses itself in its trustworthiness; and the New Testament writers in all their use of it treat it as what they declare it to be--a God-breathed document, which, because God-breathed, is through and through trustworthy in all its assertions, authoritative in all its declarations, and down to its last particular, the very word of God, His "oracles."

    9. The Human Element in Scripture:

    That the Scriptures are throughout a Divine book, created by the Divine energy and speaking in their every part with Divine authority directly to the heart of the readers, is the fundamental fact concerning Scripture them which is witnessed by Christ and the sacred writers to whom we owe the New Testament. But the strength and constancy with which they bear witness to this primary fact do not prevent their recognizing by the side of it that the Scriptures have come into being by the agency of men. It would be inexact to say that they recognize a human element in Scripture:

    they do not parcel Scripture out, assigning portions of it, or elements in it, respectively to God and man. In their view the whole of Scripture in all its parts and in all its elements, down to the least minutiae, in form of expression as well as in substance of teaching, is from God; but the whole of it has been given by God through the instrumentality of men. There is, therefore, in their view, not, indeed, a human element or ingredient in Scripture, and much less human divisions or sections of Scripture, but a human side or aspect to Scripture; and they do not fail to give full recognition to this human side or aspect. In one of the primary passages which has already been before us, their conception is given, if somewhat broad and very succinct, yet clear expression. No `prophecy,' Peter tells us (2 Peter 1:21), `ever came by the will of man; but as borne by the Holy Ghost, men spake from God.' Here the whole initiative is assigned to God, and such complete control of the human agents that the product is truly God's work. The men who speak in this "prophecy of scripture" speak not of themselves or out of themselves, but from "God": they speak only as they are "borne by the Holy Ghost." But it is they, after all, who speak. Scripture is the product of man, but only of man speaking from God and under such a control of the Holy Spirit as that in their speaking they are "borne" by Him. The conception obviously is that the Scriptures have been given by the instrumentality of men; and this conception finds repeated incidental expression throughout the New Testament.

    It is this conception, for example, which is expressed when our Lord, quoting Psalms 110, declares of its words that "David himself said in the Holy Spirit" (Mark 12:36). There is a certain emphasis here on the words being David's own words, which is due to the requirements of the argument our Lord was conducting, but which none the less sincerely represents our Lord's conception of their origin. They are David's own words which we find in Psalms 110, therefore; but they are David's own words, spoken not of his own motion merely, but "in the Holy Spirit," that is to say--we could not better paraphrase it--"as borne by the Holy Spirit." In other words, they are "God-breathed" words and therefore authoritative in a sense above what any words of David, not spoken in the Holy Spirit, could possibly be. Generalizing the matter, we may say that the words of Scripture are conceived by our Lord and the New Testament writers as the words of their human authors when speaking "in the Holy Spirit," that is to say, by His initiative and under His controlling direction. The conception finds even more precise expression, perhaps, in such a statement as we find--it is Peter who is speaking and it is again a psalm which is cited--in Acts 1:16, "The Holy Spirit spake by the mouth of David." Here the Holy Spirit is adduced, of course, as the real author of what is said (and hence, Peter's certainty that what is said will be fulfilled); but David's mouth is expressly designated as the instrument (it is the instrumental preposition that is used) by means of which the Holy Spirit speaks the Scripture in question. He does not speak save through David's mouth. Accordingly, in Acts 4:25, `the Lord that made the heaven and earth,' acting by His Holy Spirit, is declared to have spoken another psalm `through the mouth of .... David,' His "servant"; and in Matthew 13:35 still another psalm is adduced as "spoken through the prophet" (compare Matthew 2:5). In the very act of energetically asserting the Divine origin of Scripture the human instrumentality through which it is given is constantly recognized. The New Testament writers have, therefore, no difficulty in assigning Scripture to its human authors, or in discovering in Scripture traits due to its human authorship. They freely quote it by such simple formulas as these:

    "Moses saith" (Romans 10:19); "Moses said" (Matthew 22:24; Mark 10; Acts 3:22); "Moses writeth" (Romans 10:5); "Moses wrote" (Mark 12:19; Luke 20:28); "Isaiah .... saith" (Romans 10:20); "Isaiah said" (John 12:39); "Isaiah crieth" (Romans 9:27); "Isaiah hath said before" (Romans 9:29); "said Isaiah the prophet" (John 1:23); "did Isaiah prophesy" (Mark 7:6; Matthew 15:7); "David saith" (Luke 20:42; Acts 2:25; Romans 11:9); "David said" (Mark 12:36). It is to be noted that when thus Scripture is adduced by the names of its human authors, it is a matter of complete indifference whether the words adduced are comments of these authors or direct words of God recorded by them. As the plainest words of the human authors are assigned to God as their real author, so the most express words of God, repeated by the Scriptural writers, are cited by the names of these human writers (Matthew 15:7; Mark 7:6; Romans 10:5; compare Mark 7:10 from the Decalogue). To say that "Moses" or "David says," is evidently thus only a way of saying that "Scripture says," which is the same as to say that "God says." Such modes of citing Scripture, accordingly, carry us little beyond merely connecting the name, or perhaps we may say the individuality, of the several writers with the portions of Scripture given through each. How it was given through them is left meanwhile, if not without suggestion, yet without specific explanation. We seem safe only in inferring this much: that the gift of Scripture through its human authors took place by a process much more intimate than can be expressed by the term "dictation," and that it took place in a process in which the control of the Holy Spirit was too complete and pervasive to permit the human qualities of the secondary authors in any way to condition the purity of the product as the word of God. The Scriptures, in other words, are conceived by the writers of the New Testament as through and through God's book, in every part expressive of His mind, given through men after a fashion which does no violence to their nature as men, and constitutes the book also men's book as well as God's, in every part expressive of the mind of its human authors.

    10. Activities of God in Giving Scripture:

    If we attempt to get behind this broad statement and to obtain a more detailed conception of the activities by which God has given the Scriptures, we are thrown back upon somewhat general representations, supported by the analogy of the modes Scripture of God's working in other spheres of His operation. It is very desirable that we should free ourselves at the outset from influences arising from the current employment of the term "inspiration" to designate this process. This term is not a Biblical term and its etymological implications are not perfectly accordant with the Biblical conception of the modes of the Divine operation in giving the Scriptures. The Biblical writers do not conceive of the Scriptures as a human product breathed into by the Divine Spirit, and thus heightened in its qualities or endowed with new qualities; but as a Divine product produced through the instrumentality of men. They do not conceive of these men, by whose instrumentality Scripture is produced, as working upon their own initiative, though energized by God to greater effort and higher achievement, but as moved by the Divine initiative and borne by the irresistible power of the Spirit of God along ways of His choosing to ends of His appointment. The difference between the two conceptions may not appear great when the mind is fixed exclusively upon the nature of the resulting product. But they are differing conceptions, and look at the production of Scripture from distinct points of view--the human and the Divine; and the involved mental attitudes toward the origin of Scripture are very diverse. The term "inspiration" is too firmly fixed, in both theological and popular usage, as the technical designation of the action of God in giving the Scriptures, to be replaced; and we may be thankful that its native implications lie as close as they do to the Biblical conceptions. Meanwhile, however, it may be justly insisted that it shall receive its definition from the representations of Scripture, and not be permitted to impose upon our thought ideas of the origin of Scripture derived from an analysis of its own implications, etymological or historical. The Scriptural conception of the relation of the Divine Spirit to the human authors in the production of Scripture is better expressed by the figure of "bearing" than by the figure of "inbreathing"; and when our Biblical writers speak of the action of the Spirit of God in this relation as a breathing, they represent it as a "breathing out" of the Scriptures by the Spirit, and not a "breathing into" the Scriptures by Him.

    11. General Problem of Origin:

    God's Part:

    So soon, however, as we seriously endeavor to form for ourselves a clear conception of the precise nature of the Divine action in this "breathing out" of the Scriptures--this "bearing" of the writers of the Scriptures to their appointed goal of the production of a book of Divine trustworthiness and indefectible authority--we become acutely aware of a more deeply lying and much wider problem, apart from which this one of inspiration, technically so called, cannot be profitably considered. This is the general problem of the origin of the Scriptures and the part of God in all that complex of processes by the interaction of which these books, which we call the sacred Scriptures, with all their peculiarities, and all their qualities of whatever sort, have been brought into being. For, of course, these books were not produced suddenly, by some miraculous act--handed down complete out of heaven, as the phrase goes; but, like all other products of time, are the ultimate effect of many processes cooperating through long periods. There is to be considered, for instance, the preparation of the material which forms the subject-matter of these books:

    in a sacred history, say, for example, to be narrated; or in a religious experience which may serve as a norm for record; or in a logical elaboration of the contents of revelation which may be placed at the service of God's people; or in the progressive revelation of Divine truth itself, supplying their culminating contents. And there is the preparation of the men to write these books to be considered, a preparation physical, intellectual, spiritual, which must have attended them throughout their whole lives, and, indeed, must have had its beginning in their remote ancestors, and the effect of which was to bring the right men to the right places at the right times, with the right endowments, impulses, acquirements, to write just the books which were designed for them. When "inspiration," technically so called, is superinduced on lines of preparation like these, it takes on quite a different aspect from that which it bears when it is thought of as an isolated action of the Divine Spirit operating out of all relation to historical processes. Representations are sometimes made as if, when God wished to produce sacred books which would incorporate His will--a series of letters like those of Paul, for example--He was reduced to the necessity of going down to earth and painfully scrutinizing the men He found there, seeking anxiously for the one who, on the whole, promised best for His purpose; and then violently forcing the material He wished expressed through him, against his natural bent, and with as little loss from his recalcitrant characteristics as possible. Of course, nothing of the sort took place. If God wished to give His people a series of letters like Paul's, He prepared a Paul to write them, and the Paul He brought to the task was a Paul who spontaneously would write just such letters.

    12. How Human Qualities Affected Scripture. Providential Preparation:

    If we bear this in mind, we shall know what estimate to place upon the common representation to the effect that the human characteristics of the writers must, and in point of fact do, condition and qualify the writings produced by them, the implication being that, therefore, we cannot get from mark a pure word of God. As light that passes through the colored glass of a cathedral window, we are told, is light from heaven, but is stained by the tints of the glass through which it passes; so any word of God which is passed through the mind and soul of a man must come out discolored by the personality through which it is given, and just to that degree ceases to be the pure word of God. But what if this personality has itself been formed by God into precisely the personality it is, for the express purpose of communicating to the word given through it just the coloring which it gives it? What if the colors of the stained-glass window have been designed by the architect for the express purpose of giving to the light that floods the cathedral precisely the tone and quality it receives from them? What if the word of God that comes to His people is framed by God into the word of God it is, precisely by means of the qualities of the men formed by Him for the purpose, through which it is given? When we think of God the Lord giving by His Spirit a body of authoritative Scriptures to His people, we must remember that He is the God of providence and of grace as well as of revelation and inspiration, and that He holds all the lines of preparation as fully under His direction as He does the specific operation which we call technically, in the narrow sense, by the name of "inspiration." The production of the Scriptures is, in point of fact, a long process, in the course of which numerous and very varied Divine activities are involved, providential, gracious, miraculous, all of which must be taken into account in any attempt to explain the relation of God to the production of Scripture. When they are all taken into account we can no longer wonder that the resultant Scriptures are constantly spoken of as the pure word of God. We wonder, rather, that an additional operation of God--what we call specifically "inspiration," in its technical sense--was thought necessary. Consider, for example, how a piece of sacred history--say the Book of Chronicles, or the great historical work, Gospel and Acts, of Luke--is brought to the writing. There is first of all the preparation of the history to be written:

    God the Lord leads the sequence of occurrences through the development He has designed for them that they may convey their lessons to His people: a "teleological" or "etiological" character is inherent in the very course of events. Then He prepares a man, by birth, training, experience, gifts of grace, and, if need be, of revelation, capable of appreciating this historical development and eager to search it out, thrilling in all his being with its lessons and bent upon making them clear and effective to others. When, then, by His providence, God sets this man to work on the writing of this history, will there not be spontaneously written by him the history which it was Divinely intended should be written? Or consider how a psalmist would be prepared to put into moving verse a piece of normative religious experience: how he would be born with just the right quality of religious sensibility, of parents through whom he should receive just the right hereditary bent, and from whom he should get precisely the right religious example and training, in circumstances of life in which his religious tendencies should be developed precisely on right lines; how he would be brought through just the right experiences to quicken in him the precise emotions he would be called upon to express, and finally would be placed in precisely the exigencies which would call out their expression. Or consider the providential preparation of a writer of a didactic epistle--by means of which he should be given the intellectual breadth and acuteness, and be trained in habitudes of reasoning, and placed in the situations which would call out precisely the argumentative presentation of Christian truth which was required of him. When we give due place in our thoughts to the universality of the providential government of God, to the minuteness and completeness of its sway, and to its invariable efficacy, we may be inclined to ask what is needed beyond this mere providential government to secure the production of sacred books which should be in every detail absolutely accordant with the Divine will.

    13. "Inspiration" More than Mere "Providence":

    The answer is, Nothing is needed beyond mere providence to secure such books--provided only that it does not lie in the Divine purpose that these books should possess qualities which rise above the powers of men to produce, even under the most complete Divine guidance. For providence is guidance; and guidance can bring one only so far as his own power can carry him. If heights are to be scaled above man's native power to achieve, then something more than guidance, however effective, is necessary. This is the reason for the superinduction, at the end of the long process of the production of Scripture, of the additional Divine operation which we call technically "inspiration." By it, the Spirit of God, flowing confluently in with the providentially and graciously determined work of men, spontaneously producing under the Divine directions the writings appointed to them, gives the product a Divine quality unattainable by human powers alone. Thus, these books become not merely the word of godly men, but the immediate word of God Himself, speaking directly as such to the minds and hearts of every reader. The value of "inspiration" emerges, thus, as twofold. It gives to the books written under its "bearing" a quality which is truly superhuman; a trustworthiness, an authority, a searchingness, a profundity, a profitableness which is altogether Divine. And it speaks this Divine word immediately to each reader's heart and conscience; so that he does not require to make his way to God, painfully, perhaps even uncertainly, through the words of His servants, the human instruments in writing the Scriptures, but can listen directly to the Divine voice itself speaking immediately in the Scriptural word to him.

    14. Witness of New Testament Writers to Divine Operation:

    That the writers of the New Testament themselves conceive the Scriptures to have been produced thus by Divine operations extending through the increasing ages and involving a multitude of varied activities, can be made clear by simply attending to the occasional references they make to this or that step in the process. It lies, for example, on the face of their expositions, that they of New Testament looked upon the Biblical history as teleological. Not only do they tell us that to "whatsoever things were written afore-time were written for our learning, that through patience and through comfort of the scriptures we might have hope" (Romans 15:4; compare Romans 4:23,14); they speak also of the course of the historical events themselves as guided for our benefit:

    "Now these things happened unto them by way of example"--in a typical fashion, in such a way that, as they occurred, a typical character, or predictive reference impressed itself upon them; that is to say, briefly, the history occurred as it did in order to bear a message to us--"and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages are come" (1 Corinthians 10:11; compare 1 Corinthians 10:6). Accordingly, it has become a commonplace of Biblical exposition that "the history of redemption itself is a typically progressive one" (Kuper), and is "in a manner impregnated with the prophetic element," so as to form a "part of a great plan which stretches from the fall of man to the first consummation of all things in glory; and, in so far as it reveals the mind of God toward man, carries a respect to the future not less than to the present" (P. Fairbairn). It lies equally on the face of the New Testament allusions to the subject that its writers understood that the preparation of men to become vehicles of God's message to man was not of yesterday, but had its beginnings in the very origin of their being. The call by which Paul, for example, was made an apostle of Jesus Christ was sudden and apparently without antecedents; but it is precisely this Paul who reckons this call as only one step in a long process, the beginnings of which antedated his own existence: "But when it was the good pleasure of God, who separated me, even from my mother's womb, and called me through his grace, to reveal his Son in me" (Galatians 1:15,16; compare Jeremiah 1:5; Isaiah 49:1,5). The recognition by the writers of the New Testament of the experiences of God's grace, which had been vouchsafed to them as an integral element in their fitting to be the bearers of His gospel to others, finds such pervasive expression that the only difficulty is to select from the mass the most illustrative passages. Such a statement as Paul gives in the opening verses of 2Co is thoroughly typical. There he represents that he has been afflicted and comforted to the end that he might "be able to comfort them that are in any affliction, through the comfort wherewith" he had himself been "comforted of God." For, he explains, Whether we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or whether we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which worketh in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer" (2 Corinthians 1:4-6). It is beyond question, therefore, that the New Testament writers, when they declare the Scriptures to be the product of the Divine breath, and explain this as meaning that the writers of these Scriptures wrote them only as borne by the Holy Spirit in such a fashion that they spoke, not out of themselves, but "from God," are thinking of this operation of the Spirit only as the final act of God in the production of the Scriptures, superinduced upon a long series of processes, providential, gracious, miraculous, by which the matter of Scripture had been prepared for writing, and the men for writing it, and the writing of it had been actually brought to pass. It is this final act in the production of Scripture which is technically called "inspiration"; and inspiration is thus brought before us as, in the minds of the writers of the New Testament, that particular operation of God in the production of Scripture which takes effect at the very point of the writing of Scripture--understanding the term "writing" here as inclusive of all the processes of the actual composition of Scripture, the investigation of documents, the collection of facts, the excogitation of conclusions, the adaptation of exhortations as means to ends and the like--with the effect of giving to the resultant Scripture a specifically supernatural character, and constituting it a Divine, as well as human, book. Obviously the mode of operation of this Divine activity moving to this result is conceived, in full accord with the analogy of the Divine operations in other spheres of its activity, in providence and in grace alike, as confluent with the human activities operative in the case; as, in a word, of the nature of what has come to be known as "immanent action."

    15. "Inspiration" and "Revelation":

    It will not escape observation that thus "inspiration" is made a mode of "revelation." We are often exhorted, to be sure, to distinguish sharply between "inspiration" and "revelation"; and the exhortation is just when "revelation" is taken in one of its narrower senses, of, say, an external manifestation of God, or of an immediate communication from God in words. But "inspiration" does not differ from "revelation" in these narrowed senses as genus from genus, but as a species of one genus differs from another. That operation of God which we call "inspiration," that is to say, that operation of the Spirit of God by which He "bears" men in the process of composing Scripture, so that they write, not of themselves, but "from God," is one of the modes in which God makes known to men His being, His will, His operations, His purposes. It is as distinctly a mode of revelation as any mode of revelation can be, and therefore it performs the same office which all revelation performs, that is to say, in the express words of Paul, it makes men wise, and makes them wise unto salvation. All "special" or "supernatural" revelation (which is redemptive in its very idea, and occupies a place as a substantial element in God's redemptive processes) has precisely this for its end; and Scripture, as a mode of the redemptive revelation of God, finds its fundamental purpose just in this:

    if the "inspiration" by which Scripture is produced renders it trustworthy and authoritative, it renders it trustworthy and authoritative only that it may the better serve to make men wise unto salvation. Scripture is conceived, from the point of view of the writers of the New Testament, not merely as the record of revelations, but as itself a part of the redemptive revelation of God; not merely as the record of the redemptive acts by which God is saving the world, but as itself one of these redemptive acts, having its own part to play in the great work of establishing and building up the kingdom of God. What gives it a place among the redemptive acts of God is its Divine origination, taken in its widest sense, as inclusive of all the Divine operations, providential, gracious and expressly supernatural, by which it has been made just what it is--a body of writings able to make wise unto salvation, and profitable for making the man of God perfect. What gives it its place among the modes of revelation is, however, specifically the culminating one of these Divine operations, which we call "inspiration"; that is to say, the action of the Spirit of God in so "bearing" its human authors in their work of producing Scripture, as that in these Scriptures they speak, not out of themselves, but "from God." It is this act by virtue of which the Scriptures may properly be called "God-breathed."

    16. Scriptures a Divine-Human Book?:

    It has been customary among a certain school of writers to speak of the Scriptures, because thus "inspired," as a Divine-human book, and to appeal to the analogy of Our Lord's Divine-human personality to explain their peculiar qualities as such. The expression calls attention to an important fact, and the analogy holds good a certain distance. There are human and Divine sides to Scripture, and, as we cursorily examine it, we may perceive in it, alternately, traits which suggest now the one, now the other factor in its origin. But the analogy with our Lord' s Divine-human personality may easily be pressed beyond reason. There is no hypostatic union between the Divine and the human in Scripture; we cannot parallel the "inscripturation" of the Holy Spirit and the incarnation of the Son of God. The Scriptures are merely the product of Divine and human forces working together to produce a product in the production of which the human forces work under the initiation and prevalent direction of the Divine:

    the person of our Lord unites in itself Divine and human natures, each of which retains its distinctness while operating only in relation to the other. Between such diverse things there can exist only a remote analogy; and, in point of fact, the analogy in the present instance amounts to no more than that in both cases Divine and human factors are involved, though very differently. In the one they unite to constitute a Divine-human person, in the other they cooperate to perform a Divine-human work. Even so distant an analogy may enable us, however, to recognize that as, in the case of our Lord's person, the human nature remains truly human while yet it can never fall into sin or error because it can never act out of relation with the Divine nature into conjunction with which it has been brought; so in the case of the production of Scripture by the conjoint action of human and Divine factors, the human factors have acted as human factors and have left their mark on the product as such, and yet cannot have fallen into that error which we say it is human to fall into, because they have not acted apart from the Divine factors, by themselves, but only under their unerring guidance.

    17. Scripture of New Testament Writers Was the Old Testament:

    The New Testament testimony is to the Divine origin and qualities of "Scripture"; and "Scripture" to the writers of the New Testament was fundamentally, of course, the Old Testament. In the primary passage, in which we are told that "every" or "all Scripture" is "God breathed," the direct reference is to the "sacred writings" which Timothy had had in knowledge since his infancy, and these were, of course, just the sacred books of the Jews (2 Timothy 3:16). What is explicit here is implicit in all the allusions to inspired Scriptures in the New Testament. Accordingly, it is frequently said that our entire testimony to the inspiration of Scripture concerns the Old Testament alone. In many ways, however, this is overstated. Our present concern is not with the extent of "Scripture" but with the nature of "Scripture"; and we cannot present here the considerations which justify extending to the New Testament the inspiration which the New Testament writers attribute to the Old Testament. It will not be out of place, however, to point out simply that the New Testament writers obviously themselves made this extension. They do not for an instant imagine themselves, as ministers of a new covenant, less in possession of the Spirit of God than the ministers of the old covenant:

    they freely recognize, indeed, that they have no sufficiency of themselves, but they know that God has made them sufficient (2 Corinthians 3:5,6). They prosecute their work of proclaiming the gospel, therefore, in full confidence that they speak "by the Holy Spirit" (1 Peter 1:12), to whom they attribute both the matter and form of their teaching (1 Corinthians 2:13). They, therefore, speak with the utmost assurance of their teaching (Galatians 1:7,8); and they issue commands with the completest authority (1 Thessalonians 4:2,14; 2 Thessalonians 3:6,12), making it, indeed, the test of whether one has the Spirit that he should recognize what they demand as commandments of God (1 Corinthians 14:37). It would be strange, indeed, if these high claims were made for their oral teaching and commandments exclusively. In point of fact, they are made explicitly also for their written injunctions. It was "the things" which Paul was "writing," the recognition of which as commands of the Lord, he makes the test of a Spirit-led man (1 Corinthians 14:37). It is his "word by this epistle," obedience to which he makes the condition of Christian communion (2 Thessalonians 3:14). There seems involved in such an attitude toward their own teaching, oral and written, a claim on the part of the New Testament writers to something very much like the "inspiration'' which they attribute to the writers of the Old Testament.

    18. Inclusion of New Testament:

    And all doubt is dispelled when we observe the New Testament writers placing the writings of one another in the same category of "Scripture" with the books of the Old Testament. The same Paul who, in 2 Timothy 3:16, declared that `every' or `all scripture is God-breathed' had already written in 1 Timothy 5:18:

    "For the scripture saith, Thou shall not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn (grain). And, The laborer is worthy of his hire." The first clause here is derived from Deuteronomy and the second from the Gospel of Luke, though both are cited as together constituting, or better, forming part of the "Scripture" which Paul adduces as so authoritative as by its mere citation to end all strife. Who shall say that, in the declaration of the later epistle that "all" or "every" Scripture is God-breathed, Paul did not have Luke, and, along with Luke, whatever other new books he classed with the old under the name of Scripture, in the back of his mind, along with those old books which Timothy had had in his hands from infancy? And the same Peter who declared that every "prophecy of scripture" was the product of men who spoke "from God," being `borne' by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21), in this same epistle (2 Peter 3:16), places Paul's Epistles in the category of Scripture along with whatever other books deserve that name. For Paul, says he, wrote these epistles, not out of his own wisdom, but "according to the wisdom given to him," and though there are some things in them hard to be understood, yet it is only the ignorant and unsteadfast" who wrest these difficult passages--as what else could be expected of men who wrest "also the other Scriptures" (obviously the Old Testament is meant)--"unto their own destruction"? Is it possible to say that Peter could not have had these epistles of Paul also lurking somewhere in the back of his mind, along with "the other scriptures," when he told his readers that every "prophecy of scripture" owes its origin to the prevailing operation of the Holy Ghost? What must be understood in estimating the testimony of the New Testament writers to the inspiration of Scripture is that "Scripture" stood in their minds as the title of a unitary body of books, throughout the gift of God through His Spirit to His people; but that this body of writings was at the same time understood to be a growing aggregate, so that what is said of it applies to the new books which were being added to it as the Spirit gave them, as fully as to the old books which had come down to them from their hoary past. It is a mere matter of detail to determine precisely what new books were thus included by them in the category "Scripture." They tell us some of them themselves. Those who received them from their hands tell us of others. And when we put the two bodies of testimony together we find that they constitute just our New Testament. It is no pressure of the witness of the writers of the New Testament to the inspiration of the Scripture, therefore, to look upon it as covering the entire body of "Scriptures," the new books which they were themselves adding to this aggregate, as well as the old books which they had received as Scripture from the fathers. Whatever can lay claim by just right to the appellation of "Scripture," as employed in its eminent sense by those writers, can by the same just right lay claim to the "inspiration" which they ascribe to this "Scripture."

    LITERATURE.

    J. Gerhard, Loci Theolog., Locus I; F. Turretin, Instit. Theol., Locus II; B. de Moor, Commentary in J. Marckii Comp., cap. ii; C. Hodge, Syst. Theol., New York, 1871, I, 151-86; Henry B. Smith, The Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures, New York, 1855, new edition, Cincinnati, 1891; A. Kuyper, Encyclopedia der heilige Godgeleerdheid, 1888-89, II, 347, English translation; Encyclopedia of Sacred Theology, New York, 1898, 341-563; also De Schrift her woord Gods, Tiel, 1870; H. Bavinck, Gereformeerde Dogmatiek2, Kampen, 1906, I, 406-527; R. Haldane, The Verbal Inspiration of the Scriptures Established, Edinburgh, 1830; J. T. Beck, Einleitung in das System der christlichen Lehre, Stuttgart, 1838, 2nd edition, 1870; A. G. Rudelbach, "Die Lehre yon der Inspiration der heil. Schrift," Zeitschrift fur die gesammte Lutherische Theologie und Kirche, 1840, 1, 1841, 1, 1842, 1; S. R. L. Gaussen, Theopneustie ou inspiration pleniere des saintes ecritures2, Paris, 1842, English translation by E. N. Kirk, New York, 1842; also Theopneustia; the Plenary Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures, David Scott's translation, reedited and revised by B. W. Carr, with a preface by C. H. Spurgeon, London, 1888; William Lee, The Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures, Donellan Lecture, 1852, New York, 1857; James Bannerman, Inspiration:

    the Infallible Truth and Divine Authority of the Holy Scriptures, Edinburgh, 1865; F. L. Patton, The Inspiration of the Scriptures, Philadelphia, 1869 (reviewing Lee and Bannerman); Charles Elliott, A Treatise on the Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures, Edinburgh, 1877; A. A. Hodge and B. B. Warfield, "Inspiration," Presbyterian Review, April, 1881, also tract, Philadelphia, 1881; R. Watts, The Rule of Faith and the Doctrine of Inspiration, Edinburgh, 1885; A. Cave, The Inspiration of the O T Inductively Considered, London, 1888; B. Manly, The Bible Doctrine of Inspiration, New York, 1888; W. Rohnert, Die Inspiration der heiligen Schrift und ihre Bestreiter, Leipzig, 1889; A. W. Dieckhoff, Die Inspiration und Irrthumlosigkeit der heiligen Schrift, Leipzig, 1891; J. Wichelhaus, Die Lehre der heiligen Schrift, Stuttgart, 1892; J. Macgregor, The Revelation and the Record, Edinburgh, 1893; J. Urquhart, The Inspiration and Accuracy of the Holy Scriptures, London, 1895; C. Pesch, De Inspiratione Sacrae Scripturae, Freiburg, 1906; James Orr, Revelation and Inspiration, London, 1910.

    Benjamin B. Warfield
    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.

    Bibliography Information
    Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Entry for 'INSPIRATION, 8-18'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". 1915.