Guest Editorial -- By: Gordon H. Clark

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 012:2 (Spring 1969)
Article: Guest Editorial
Author: Gordon H. Clark


Guest Editorial

Gordon H. Clark

Butler University
Indianapolis, Indiana

In the Evangelical Quarterly of January-March, 1969, pp. 19-29, Professor George I. Mavrodes of the University of Michigan launches an attack against the fundamental, the “formal” principle of Protestantism, viz. Sola Scriptura. He claims that the evangelical view of inspiration “appears to engender a number of perplexing internal problems, i.e. problems concerned with the meaning or consistency of the doctrine itself, or if its coherence with the theological system in which it is embedded.” In his closing paragraph the author concludes “The restriction of inspiration to the autographs, then, appears to involve one in a dilemma.” In spite of the polite use of the word “appears,” it “appears” that Professor Mavrodes: thinks there is an internal, logical inconsistency at the foundation of evangelical Christianity.”

To justify this logical accusation it is necessary to find in the evangelical system two propositions that cannot both be true. The two propositions must of course be necessary parts of the theological system. If they are not parts of the system at all, the latter is not convicted of inconsistency.

I wish now to show that Professor Mavrodes has not found two such propositions. To produce his inconsistency or dilemma he has imported into the system a proposition no evangelical in the past has held. It is only with the help of his importation that he can produce his desired inconsistency. Let us see how he does so.

In opposition to the statement of the Evangelical Theological Society restricting inspiration to the autographs, Professor Mavrodes commences by asserting that some biblical books do not have autographs, “books as they came from the pen of the sacred writers,” as J. Gresham Machen put it. Probably the professor has in mind such epistles as Philippians, supposedly written from Rome by Epaphroditus, and Colossians, supposedly written by Tychicus and Onesimus. Since Paul dictated his letter to secretaries, there is no autograph. Hence the evangelical view of the Bible cannot be maintained.

One is immediately tempted to dismiss this as trivial fogging. But Professor Mavrodes is skillful enough to make something out of this toehold.

First he insists that since the Bible does not explicitly deny the use of secretaries, the evangelical cannot proceed as if there were none. The actual inference is questionable, however, because the evangelical need not admit secretaries unless the Bible definitely asserts their presence. To produce an inconsistency in the evangelical

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