The Inspiration Of The Bible -- By: Benjamin B. Warfield

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 051:204 (Oct 1894)
Article: The Inspiration Of The Bible
Author: Benjamin B. Warfield


The Inspiration Of The Bible1

Rev. Benjamin B. Warfield

The subject of the Inspiration of the Bible is one which has been much confused in recent discussion. He who, seeking to learn the truth, should gather about him the latest treatises, bearing such titles as, “Inspiration, and other Lectures,” “Inspiration and the Bible,” “What is Inspiration?” “How did God inspire the Bible?” “The Oracles of God,”2 —would find himself led by them in every conceivable direction at once. No wonder if he should stand stock-still in the midst of his would-be guides, confounded by the Babel of voices. The old formula, quot homines tot sententiæ, seems no longer adequate. Wherever five “advanced thinkers” assemble, at least six theories as to inspiration are likely to be ventilated. They differ in every conceivable point, or in every conceivable point save one. They agree that inspiration is less pervasive and less determinative than has heretofore been thought, or than is still thought in less enlightened circles. They agree that there is less of the truth of God and more of the error of man in the Bible than Christians have been wont to believe. They agree accordingly that the teaching of the Bible may be, in this, that, or the other,—here, there, or elsewhere,—safely neglected or openly repudiated. So soon as we turn to the constructive side, however, and ask wherein the inspiration of the Bible consists; how far it guarantees

the trustworthiness of the Bible’s teaching; in what of its elements is the Bible a divinely safeguarded guide to truth: the concurrence ends and hopeless dissension sets in. They agree only in their common destructive attitude towards some higher view of the inspiration of the Bible, of the presence of which each one seems supremely conscious.

It is upon this fact that we need first of all to fix our attention. It is not of the variegated hypotheses of his fellow-theorizers, but of some high doctrine of inspiration, the common object of attack of them all, that each new theorizer on the subject of inspiration is especially conscious, as standing over against him, with reference to which he is to orient himself, and against the claims of which he is to defend his new hypothesis. Thus they themselves introduce us to the fact that over against the numberless discordant theories of inspiration which vex our time, there stands a well-defined church-doctrine of inspiration. This church-doctrine of inspiration differs from the theories that would fain supplant it, in that it is not the invention nor the property of an individual, but the settled faith of t...

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