Revelation And Biblical Authority In Eclipse -- By: Morris Ashcraft

Journal: Faith and Mission
Volume: FM 04:2 (Spring 1987)
Article: Revelation And Biblical Authority In Eclipse
Author: Morris Ashcraft


Revelation And Biblical Authority In Eclipse

Morris Ashcraft

Dean of the Faculty and Professor of Theology,
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

“The Bible is God in Print.”
“What Scripture says, God says.”

The first quote, “The Bible is God in Print,” appeared recently on a sign in front of a chruch in my region. While it may have been a sincere gesture on the part of some person who wished to do tribute to the Bible, it expresess a form of idolatry—God in objective form—known as bibliolatry.

The second quote, “What Scripture says, God Says,” appears to me to be scarcely less idolatrous than the first. It places the Scripture ahead of God, subordinates God, and to an extent, limits God to Scriptural expressions. The statement was the summary of B. B. Warfield’s lifelong work on the doctrine of the verbal inerrancy in the original writings of Scripture.

In 1973 John H. Gerstner published an essay entitled “Warfield’s Case for Biblical Interrancy” in a volume edited by John Warwick Montgomery entitled God’s Inerrant Word. Gerstner approvingly pointed out that War-field formulated this definition early in his career and spent most of his life developing and defending it. He concluded the section by noting that anyone “familiar with Warfield knows” that all of his works reflect “this classical Christian position that ‘what Scripture says, God says.’”1 Warfield hammered out his doctrine of the verbal inerrancy of the autographs during the Fundamentalist struggle with Liberalism.

The now-famous “Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy”2 repeats the same theology which Warfield developed. In section II Exposition, while discussing “Creation, Revelation and Inspiration,” we find “Thus what Scripture says, God says.” In the section on “Authority: Christ and the Bible,” we find Christ and Scripture coalescing “into a single fount of authority,” a repetition that “what Scripture says, God says” and a concluding statement “what Scripture says, Christ says.”3

On June 27, 1986, the editor of Faith and Mission asked me to write an article on “Revelation and Biblical Authority” for an issue on the theme of “Contemporary Issues in Southern Baptist Theology.” Certain events which have happened since that time make my task more difficult. What I believe on this subject, and consequently what I will write, has not been developed during the SBC controversy. It is what I have been teaching and writing about since I taught my first class in Sou...

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