The Holy Spirit and the Defense of the Faith -- By: John Warwick Montgomery

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 154:616 (Oct 1997)
Article: The Holy Spirit and the Defense of the Faith
Author: John Warwick Montgomery


The Holy Spirit and the Defense of the Faith

John Warwick Montgomery

[John Warwick Montgomery is Professor Emeritus of Law and Humanities, University of Luton, England, and Professor of Apologetics and Law, Trinity College and Theological Seminary, Newburgh, Indiana.]

Many evangelicals express the view that evidences for the truth of Scripture or for the saving events recorded in it are never adequate in themselves; only through the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the unbeliever will such evidences carry conviction.

Particularly in traditional Calvinist circles (though by no means limited to those in the Reformed camp), this theological judgment is embraced in the concept of the testimonium internum Spiritus Sancti (“the inner testimony of the Holy Spirit”). Calvin expounded this teaching in a chapter of his Institutes titled, “Scripture Must Be Confirmed by the Witness of the Spirit.”

4. The witness of the Holy Spirit: this is stronger than all proof
…If we desire to provide in the best way for our consciences—that they may not be perpetually beset by the instability of doubt or vacillation, and that they may not also boggle at the smallest quibbles—we ought to seek our conviction in a higher place than human reasons, judgments, or conjectures, that is, in the secret testimony of the Spirit…. The testimony of the Spirit is more excellent than all reason. For as God alone is a fit witness of himself in his Word, so also the Word will not find acceptance in men’s hearts before it is sealed by the inward testimony of the Spirit. The same Spirit, therefore, who has spoken through the mouths of the prophets must penetrate into our hearts to persuade us that they faithfully proclaimed what had been divinely commanded.
5. Scripture bears its own authentication
Let this point therefore stand: that those whom the Holy Spirit has inwardly taught truly rest upon Scripture, and that Scripture indeed is self-authenticated; hence, it is not right to subject it to proof and reasoning. And the certainty it deserves with us, it attains by the testimony of the Spirit. For even if it

wins reverence for itself by its own majesty, it seriously affects us only when it is sealed upon our hearts through the Spirit.1

The great Rostock theologian Friedrich Adolph Philippi expressed this position in the following terms in his posthumously published Symbolik:

That the Word is self-evidencing is equivalent to saying that the Spirit of God, of Whom the Word is the bearer, shows the truth of the Word to man’s spirit. No one...

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