The Behavioral Sciences Under The Authority Of Scripture -- By: J. Robertson Mcquilkin

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 20:1 (Winter 1977)
Article: The Behavioral Sciences Under The Authority Of Scripture
Author: J. Robertson Mcquilkin

The Behavioral Sciences Under The Authority Of Scripture

J. Robertson Mcquilkin*

As a basis for interaction and further probing together of a very important topic, I would like to suggest three questions along with tentative answers:

I. What does “under the authority of Scripture” mean for the behavioral sciences?

II. To what extent do the behavioral sciences among evangelicals give evidence of being under the authority of Scripture?

III. How can the functional authority of Scripture over behavioral scientific theories be established and maintained?

Before we consider these questions, it may be helpful to define certain terms as I use them.

By “under the authority” I mean that when the teaching of Scripture conflicts with any other idea, the teaching of Scripture will be accepted as truth and the other idea will not be accepted as truth.

By “functional control” I mean that the principle of Biblical priority over contrary non-Biblical opinion is not merely a doctrine to which one swears allegiance but is actually put into practice thoroughly and consistently.

By “derived from Scripture” I mean concepts that are determined to be the meaning of the original author through common-sense principles of understanding language (scientific, historico-grammatical interpretation).

By “the teaching of Scripture” I mean everything the Bible affirms as true.

Man created in the image of God is capable of gleaning a great deal of truth from natural sources altogether apart from written revelation. But because man is finite and sinful, his understanding of truth revealed in nature, and in Scripture as well, is always limited and distorted. Nevertheless, an infallible written revelation of some of God’s truth makes accessible to man a clear understanding of the basic truths concerning God, man, and salvation. Such propositional truth is somewhat subject to varying interpretations, but the possibility of variation is often unduly stressed. If Scripture is viewed as a book with some error, it no longer stands as an independent authority, and the person who decides what is true and what is in error becomes the real authority. For such people the possibility of variation in understanding is enormous. But for those who place Scripture above human judgment the range of possible variation in understanding is greatly narrowed.

*J. Robertson McQuilkin is president of Columbia Bible College, Columbia, South Carolina.

Of course, it is quite possible to give assent to the idea of Biblical infallibility and...

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