The Future Of Cognitive Reverence For The Bible -- By: Robert W. Yarbrough

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 57:1 (Mar 2014)
Article: The Future Of Cognitive Reverence For The Bible
Author: Robert W. Yarbrough


The Future Of Cognitive Reverence
For The Bible

Robert W. Yarbrough*

* Robert W. Yarbrough, professor of New Testament at Covenant Theological Seminary, 12330 Conway Road, St. Louis, MO 63141, delivered this presidential address at the 65th annual meeting of the ETS on November 20, 2013, in Baltimore, MD.

This conference marks the 65th year of the ETS.1 Our theme is “Evangelicalism, Inerrancy, and the Evangelical Theological Society: Retrospect and Prospect.” It so happens that 2013 is also the 35th anniversary of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy, the meeting out of which emerged the both vilified and venerated Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy.2 It is therefore natural if not inevitable that the presidential address given at this historic juncture reflect on future regard for the Bible.

I. Regard For The Bible Present And Past

Present regard is too complex and dynamic to capture—witness the dozens of papers devoted to the topic over this three-day conference. A sense for how Scripture is regarded in some of our circles and elsewhere will emerge in this paper, but that will not be my primary focus.

Past regard for the Bible in this society is a matter of history, though like all history it can be interpreted in various ways. From our founding this society has affirmed, “The Bible alone, and the Bible in its entirety, is the Word of God written and is therefore inerrant in the autographs.”3 That statement was never a claim that only this view can sustain a redemptive knowledge of God or adequate representation of the saving gospel message. It was simply an affirmation thought to be grounded in Scripture, in the doctrines of God and of inspiration, in the history of the church, and in scholarship that all of the Bible, rightly interpreted, is true in all things it intends to affirm. This was above all an approach rooted in reverence for writings regarded as holy because of their ultimate origin from and disclosure of God.

In the era of the founding of this society, the mid-twentieth century, mainline Protestant religion in North America and Europe along with associated post-colonial regions had largely jettisoned the church’s historic view of Scripture. It

may have been reactionary, but it was not unjustified, that ETS founding members sought to create a learned society for mutual encouragement and support. Their aim was to investigate, uphold, and commend the truth of the Bible that had been abandoned or at...

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