Part 5: Bibliology -- By: Lewis Sperry Chafer

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 095:378 (Apr 1938)
Article: Part 5: Bibliology
Author: Lewis Sperry Chafer

Part 5:

Lewis Sperry Chafer

(Continued from the January-March, 1938, Number)

III. Canonicity and Authority


The investigation of the Canon of the Bible is an attempt to discover the true basis of its authority. The Scriptures of the Old and New Testament form a canon because of the fact that they are authoritative Oracles. By the term authoritative it is implied that the Bible in all its parts is the voice of God speaking to men. Its authority is inherent, being, as it is, no less than the imperial edict-“Thus saith the LORD.” When the Scriptures are deemed to be authoritative because of decrees by ecclesiastical councils or laws enacted by human governments, they may be considered to be binding only insofar as human influence extends. But, in contradistinction to such a conception, the Scriptures go so far as to declare God’s will to ecclesiastical councils and human governments. Similarly, as worthy authority presupposes the ability to execute decrees, God’s Word not only proclaims His assured purposes, but also sets forth the penalty which must follow whenever and wherever men are not amenable to it.

Since the Scriptures are imbued with the legitimate and wholly justifiable authority of God and since they were written at the hand of men and since the Canon was, to some extent, determined by men, it is pertinent to inquire as to the nature of that divine authority and as to how it resides in these Oracles. Since doubt has arisen concerning the full inspiration of the Scriptures because of the human share in

the authorship, so, and in like manner, doubt has arisen regarding the authority of the Scriptures because of the part the human share has exercised in determining what writings should enter the Canon. It has been demonstrated in connection with the study of the doctrine of Inspiration that God has used human authors in the writing of the Scriptures and in such a way as to preserve those writings from the imperfections which human limitations might impose. It now remains to exhibit the truth that God, though having used men in the formation of the Canon, has used them in such a way that only those writings have been chosen which comprise the divinely constituted Oracles with their perfections of unity and balance and completeness of their parts.

The problems related to the formation of the Canon are greatly simplified by a certain actuality, namely, that the Bible is present, and in evidence with its exhibition of divine perfection. Thus the problem becomes one only of tracing back from the starting point which the infallible Scriptures provide. There is no occasion to theorize as to whether it is po...

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