Beegle On The Bible: A Review Article -- By: Gordon H. Clark

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 020:3 (Sep 1977)
Article: Beegle On The Bible: A Review Article
Author: Gordon H. Clark

Beegle On The Bible: A Review Article

Gordon H. Clark*

Dewey M. Beegle’s Scripture, Tradition, and Infallibility (second edition; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1973) is an all-out, no-holds-barred, always aggressive, sometimes insidious attack on the truthfulness of Scripture. Its basic thesis, used both as an axiom and as a conclusion, is the occurrence of indubitable errors in the Bible. This thesis is a conclusion when the author cites historical, archaeological and critical inductions to support it. It also serves the author as a premise from which he deduces theological conclusions concerning inspiration, the doctrines of the gospel, the purpose of revelation, the nature of truth and the attributes of God.

These subjects overlap and are repeated many times throughout the book. In spite of such intermixtures a sufficient separation can be made to give the criticism an appearance of logical form.

I. The Phenomena

Discussions on inerrancy in recent years have often distinguished between the theological teaching of the Bible and the so-called phenomena—i. e., historical, chronological, geographical and statistical data. Louis Gaussen in his Theopneustia conclusively and overwhelmingly demonstrated that the Bible claims inerrancy. Beegle wishes to disallow this claim on the basis of an inductive study of the phenomena. Of course, if the historical details are wrong, then the Biblical claim to inerrancy is false and is just another error. Thus the issue is joined.

1. Pekah

One of these inductive arguments concerns the reign of Pekah as given in 2 Kings 15. It occurs mainly on pp. 180-184 and is used again on pp. 267-268. The general idea is that “for some years now the figure 20 [in verse 27] has been known to be wrong,” because it does not fit Assyrian records. “Thiele has given sufficient evidence to clinch the matter … Archaeological evidence has confirmed beyond doubt [italics mine] that Samaria submitted to the Assyrians in 722. It is impossible, then, to give Pekah his twenty years after 739 B. C … II Kings 15:27 states quite unambiguously that Pekah reigned in Samaria twenty years after he became King of Israel, and this is precisely what did not happen” (pp. 180-182). Beegle explicitly rules out all attempts to support the truth of the Biblical text. He knows it is wrong; 2 Kings is unambiguously impossible; the Bible states precisely what did not happen.

*Gordon Clark is professor of philosophy at Covenant College, Lookout Mountain, Tennessee.

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