The Authority Of The Hebrew Prophets -- By: Francis B. Denio

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 062:246 (Apr 1905)
Article: The Authority Of The Hebrew Prophets
Author: Francis B. Denio

The Authority Of The Hebrew Prophets1

Professor Francis B. Denio

The foregoing discussion has been needful for the elucidation of important considerations subsidiary to the answer of the question which constitutes our theme. As I stated it, it was “the origin of the authority of the prophets of Israel to speak for God.” The course of thought followed leads me to restate it: How did the Hebrew prophets arrive at their certainty that they had received the mind of God and had also received authority to declare his mind to men?

I have already sketched in meager outline the process by which we attain to personal knowledge of God. It is not a swift process. Did the prophets come into their knowledge of God in the same way in which we do? We have the Bible, Jesus Christ, the Christian church, for the Holy Spirit to employ. The many devout men of the past and the present who have an insight into the meaning of their experiences are our helpers. By virtue of all these we have that knowledge of God and our relation with him which enriches our lives. What aids had the Old Testament prophets?

It is only in the person of Jesus Christ that the revelation of the personal nature of God has been so presented as to make men at large know God so as to strive after a friendship with a holy God. What did the Hebrew prophets have in the place of the personal presence and words of Jesus Christ?

What also did they have in the place of the Bible? We cannot easily measure the power of the Bible in our religious life. In the words of the late Professor Stearns, “There is no reason to believe that Christianity would for any long time continue to exist as an active power in the world were the Bible to be blotted out of existence.”2

It used to be thought that the law of Moses was this substitute. The present trend of criticism would take that support away. Suppose that the prophets subsequent to Moses had that law, how much of a substitute was it for the entire Bible and Jesus Christ. How account for Moses, his knowledge and authority? If we had no external standard fixed and constantly open to appeal, the majority of earnest souls would have little or no safeguard against fanaticism. So far were the prophets from leaning upon a Bible that they were the principal agents in the production of the Bible.

Although the Old Testament prophets had not our wealth of external helps for coming to a personal knowledge of God and the personal relation with him, they were granted a degree of certainty, in their knowledge of God and of their relation with hi...

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