Blogroll: Sussex Parson
I read blogs, as well as write one. The 'blogroll' on this site reproduces some posts from some of the people I enjoy reading. There are currently 80 posts from the blog 'Sussex Parson.'
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Now, strictly speaking, I'm not convinced.
(1) Prayer in the Bible always seems to be talking to God. (I would be interested to hear any counter examples). Jesus says, "When you pray, say..." and gives the Lord's Prayer as something to say and as a model for our praying. When we pray we talk to God. Simple.
(2) The Reformed consensus is that God's Word to us is final and sufficient in Scripture. The Bible is God speaking today. He does not give new extra words. Listening to God is engaging with the Scriptures.
it pleased the Lord, at sundry times, and in divers manners, to reveal himself, and to declare that his will unto his Church;c and afterwards, for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the Church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing;d which maketh the holy scripture to be most necessary;e those former ways of God’s revealing his will unto his people being now ceased.f The Westminster Confession of Faith (part of chapter 1, of the Holy Scripture)
We all know that prayer is not a vending machine and it is good if our prayers are not just shopping lists for ourselves but include Adoration of God, Confession of Sin, Thanksgiving and Supplication for others and ourselves (ACTS). We want to pray in the light of and in response to the Scriptures.
But we can go further.
Just because prayer is talking to God and reading the Bible is listening to God, it does not mean that either should be a speedy barrage of words. It might do us good to slow down and pause. We are not only to read and study the Bible but to think and meditate on it - to chew the cud, the murmur it over to ourselves. We do well to stock our minds with it. We have the blessing of printed Bibles we can read and of audio Bibles and so on, but what might our spirituality look like if we depended more on the Old Testament, Psalm, Epistle and Gospel we had heard read and proclaimed on Sunday? Would there be gains as well as losses?
Maybe we could slowly, thoughtfully, deliberately remember God and his presence with us and consciously enjoy him. We could pause to think of his majesty and goodness and love and to praise him. We could pray the Psalms we know. Or dwell on a single line from the teaching of Jesus.
And maybe we could even simply be with him. We need not bring our agenda. If our thoughts are racing and distracted, fine. He wants to hear about all that. We can talk to him freely. But maybe we could also learn to be quiet and still and wait in his presence.
It's worth a go, anyway.
... if in one point the Vulgate were in error the entire authority of Holy Scripture would collapse, love and faith would be extinguished, heresies and schism would abound, blasphemy would be committed against the Holy Spirit, the authority of the theologians would be shaken, and indeed the catholic Church would collapse from the foundation.
Quoted in Jenkins and Preston, Biblical Scholarship and the Church: A Sixteenth-Century Crisis of Authority (Ashgate, 2007) p27 from Bainton (1972) pp167-8
You will be pleased to know this is of course not true, by the way!Marc Lloyd
William Whitaker, A Disputation on Holy Scripture Against the Papists, Especially Bellarmine and Stapletonis a classic of its kind, which is readily available in English.
I do not claim it should be your go to book on the doctrine of Scripture. In my view, Warfield and others have improved on the Reformed doctrine of Scripture they received from the tradition with fundamentally departing from it.
Whitaker’s Disputation is very much of its time. The structure sometimes leads to unnecessary repetition and makes things hard to find as Whitaker divides up refuting his opponents’ views and stating his positive case, and so on. It is not exactly encouraging when the translator feels the need to warn the reader about the author's tedious prolixity! Perhaps I might give a flavour of something of the style by this quotation from p348, Question 3, Argument 15, "As to [my opponent Stapleton's] first equivocation, I return a fourfold answer."
But I think it is of more than historical interest and possibly worth persevering with. It contains much that is interesting and useful. It would have been of most benefit to the openminded late 16th Century Papist but a 21st Century evangelical could no doubt profit from wrestling with it. You will have to search for the gems. Most of us are probably already persuaded, for example, that the original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts are preferable to the Latin Vulgate and will not need 100 pages of demonstration of the fact. Here I have attempted to extract, organise and summarise the most useful and interesting bits of its 700+ pages for today’s evangelical.
 (Latin original 1588; The Parker Society Edition, Translated and Edited by William Fitzgerlad, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, MDCCCXLIX = 1849) Forgotten Books Reprinting, London, 2015  This should probably be Tim Ward’s Words of Life Marc Lloyd
Goldingay comments that "Most readers of this commentary therefore have to see themselves as the people who are being prayed against." (p184)
One can see where he gets this from, but to my mind it is absurd. What is fundamental to my identity? Not how rich or powerful I am, but whether or not I am humbly trusting in Yahweh. That this the basic dividing line in the Psalm and it tells you whether you can pray this prayer or cop it. Marc Lloyd
(2) duration and wonderful preservation
(3) with regard to its instruments and amanuenses, the human authors, their sincerity and candor
(4) its adjuncts, the number, constancy and condition of the martyrs who sealed it with their blood (p63). And the many miracles God worked to induce belief in the divinity of the Bible. (p63). The consent of all people in receiving these books
(1) the matter – wonderfully sublime mysteries e.g. Trinity, Incarnation; the purity of its precepts; predictive prophecy fulfilled
(2) style – majesty, simplicity, boldness etc.
(3) form – divine agreement and entire harmony between books, writers etc.
(4) the end – the glory of God and the salvation and holiness of people
(5) its effects – light and efficacy in generating faith and piety, triumphing over the kingdom of Satan
(IET, vol 1, pp63-64)
"Yet even among Christians of this age, there are too many atheists and libertines who endeavour in every way to weaken this most sacred truth [the inspiration of Scripture]." (IET, vol 1, p62)Marc Lloyd
Turretin uses the categories of substance and accidents from Aristotle familiar from the doctrine of transubstantiation to speak of the Word of God (substance) in its forms (accidents), written and unwritten. (Institutes of Elenctic Theology, vol. 1, p58)Marc Lloyd
“This attribute [of the perfection or sufficiency] of Holy Scripture also must be correctly understood. It does not mean that all that has been said or written by the prophets, by Christ, and the apostles is included in Scripture. Many prophetic and apostolic writings have been lost…. [list of citations] …. [Jesus and the apostles said many more things] … Nor does this attribute imply that Scripture contains all the practices, ceremonies, rules, and regulations that the church needs for its organization but only that it completely contains “the articles of faith” (articuli fidei), “the matters necessary to salvation. Neither does this attribute of Scripture mean that these articles of faith are literally and in so many words contained in it. Rather, it only [claims that], either explicitly or implicitly, they are so included that they can be derived from it solely by comparative study and reflection, without the help of another source.” (p488)
“this perfection of Holy Scripture must not be interpreted to mean that Scripture was always the same in degree of its perfection (quod gradum) with respect to its length.” (p488) In each period God’s word was sufficient for the time (p488)
Scripture “the total and sufficient rule of faith and morals” (p488) No other principle of knowledge
“the sufficiency of Holy Scripture results from the nature of the NT dipensation. Christ became flesh and completed all his work. He is the last and supreme revelation of God, who declared to us the Father (John 1:18; 17:4, 6). By him God has spoken in the last days (Heb. 1:1-2). He is the supreme and only prophet.” (p490)
“the idea that some writings were lost and the issue of whether they were inspired or not are not at all the point. The question is only whether the present Bible contains everything we need to know for our salvation and not whether it contains everything the prophets and apostles ever wrote and Christ himself said or did. Even if still other prophetic and apostolic writings were found, they could no longer serve as Holy Scripture…. For our salvation Scripture is sufficient; we do not need any more documents, even if they came from Jesus himself. That is the teaching of the Reformation. Quantitatively revelation was much richer and more comprehensive than Scripture has preserved for us; but qualitatively and in terms of substance, Holy Scripture is perfectly adequate for our salvation.” (p491)
“Scripture is sufficient and … the nature of the NT dispensation logically brings with it and demands this sufficiency of Holy Scripture. Christ has fully – personally and orally, or by his Spirit – revealed everything to the apostles. Upon this word we believe in Christ and have fellowship with God (John 17:20; 1 John 1:3). The Holy Spirit no longer reveals any new doctrines but takes everything from Christ (John 16:14). In Christ God’s revelation has been completed. In the same way the message of salvation is completely contained in Scripture. It constitutes a single whole; it itself conveys the impression of an organism that has reached its full growth. It ends where it begins. It is a circle that returns into itself. It begins with the creation of heaven and earth and ends with the recreation of heaven and earth.” (p491)
“The canon of the OT and NT was not closed until all new initiatives of redemptive history were present. In this dispensation the Holy Spirit has no other task than to apply the work of Christ and similarly to explain the word of Christ. To neither does he add anything new.” (p491) – Christ does not need to be supplemented or succeeded (p492)
“The Roman Catholic doctrine of tradition is the denial of the complete incarnation of God in Christ, of the all-sufficiency of his sacrifice, of the completeness of his Word.” (p492)
“however clear the Bible may be in its doctrine of salvation, and however certainly it is and remains the living voice of God, for a correct understanding it still often requires a wide range of historical, archaeological, and geographical skills and information.” (p493)
“Tradition in its proper sense is the interpretation and application of the eternal truth in the vernacular and life of the present generation. Scripture without such a tradition is impossible.” (p493)
RD vol 1Marc Lloyd
The point is perhaps strengthened now that we have seen a pope retire. Marc Lloyd
Bavinck, RD, vol 1, p483Marc Lloyd
Psalm 9 / & 10 ? notes
Summary: Praise God for his justice and judgement, for punishing his enemies and delivering his people
Praising / trusting God especially in the face of enemies / injustice
Seeking God’s justice and deliverance
Outlines / structure:
Prayer and Praise for God’s Just Rule of the Nations
A Individual praise (vv1-2)
B Judgement on the wicked (vv3-6)
C Hope in God’s Just Rule (vv7-10)
A’ Communal praise and individual prayer (vv11-14)
B’ Judgement on the wicked (vv15-18)
C’ Hope in God’s Just Rule (vv19-20)
Wilson, NIV Application Commentary
Anticipation of thanksgiving (9:1-3)
Judge of the nations (9:4-8)
A Refuge for the Oppressed (9:9-14)
Judgement on the Nations (9:15-20)
The Arrogant wicked (10:1-11)
Plea for Deliverance (10:12-15)
Yahweh as Eternal King (10:16-18)
Goldingay, Baker Commentary
1. Something familiar
2. Something new
3. Technique and inspiration
4. Grammar and facts (9:1-12)
5. The other side of the picture (10:1-11)
6. A prayer in the light (9:13-20)
7. A prayer in the dark (10:12-18)
God: Judge and King
9:1-12 Vision after victory
1, 2 – Thankful praise
3-8 – Thine is the kingdom
9-12 – The champion of the weak
13-20 – Vision in adversity
13, 14 – One man’s plight
15-18 – Justice for the world
19, 20 – Put man in his place!
Dale Ralph Davis, The Way of the Righteous in the Muck of Life
Pray in remembrance
Pray in context
Pray in anticipation
What I have been through (vv1-6)
Rehearsal of God’s deliverance (vv3-6)
Where it’s going (vv7-8)
What you can count on (vv9-12)
What the Psalmist learns from it all (vv10b, 12)
Pray for the kingdom (vv19-20)
Acrostic poem together with Psalm 10. Pss 9 & 10 = one Ps in LXX.
See Goldingay p162 for how the acrostic works – v1, v3, v5, v7 etc.
Or Wilcock p42, footnote 73
For the director of music / choirmaster / The leader’s
The girls / Secrets / Eternities / On dying / The son’s
To Muth-labben - “The Death of the Son”
A Psalm of David / David’s
Ps 10 has no title, strengthening the idea that they should be taken together
Ps 10 follows on from Ps 9 beginning with the 12th letter but then drops the alphabetic scheme until vv12-18 where the last 4 letters reappear (Kidner) – Psalm 10 a broken acrostic
Also change of mood in Ps 10v1
Ps 9 and 10 like a diptych
Davis: vv7-8 the key verses of the Psalm
Vv1-12 – all affirmation, the fruit of reflection on a great deliverance
Vv13-20 – prayer, arising out of suffering
9vv1-12 answer to 10vv1-11
9vv13-20 answer to 10vv12-18
9vv1-12 chiastic pattern with the Lord judging at the centre 9:5-8 (Wilcock, p42)
The opening echoes the final v of Ps 7:17
V1b – God’s actions
V2a – God’s person
God’s wonders his great redemptive miracles – 106:7, 22 but also 71:17 and 119:18
What david has seen and what the prophets have foreseen (Wilcock, p42f)
The big picture – the nations mentioned 5 times vv5, 15, 17, 19, 20 – and v8, the world / peoples
V5f = past tenses prophetic perfects anticipating certain future judgement – as good as done
V7f – present or future?
Vv9-10 actually in the form of an exhortation – let the lord be a stronghold, let those who know…
V9 – times of trouble also 10v1
V12 – he who avenges, lit. seeks / requires – denied by the wicked in 10v13b – God won’t call me to account – Gen 9:5; Dt 18:19; 2 Chron 24:22; Ez 33:6
V13 – change of tone
Vv13-20 from personal entreaty to confident prophecy then bold appeal for action
Vv13-14 – the gates of death cannot keep him from the gates of Zion
V14 – lit. daughter Zion not daughter of Zion
V16 = higgayon from haga, 1:2, 2:1 – plot - cf. 19:15; 92:4. Recitation / meditation
Vv19 – 20 – man suggests frailty
V20 – appoint someone fearful mora, object of fear / moreh, teacherMarc Lloyd
Psalm 8 notes
Praise the LORD for the majesty of creation and for crowning human beings
Praise of the Lord for creation and his purposes for humanity
When feeling insignificant
Repentance over neglect or misuse of creation or forgetfulness of God
Longing for the new creation and the fulfilment of all things in the Last Adam
O Lord, our LORD, I praise you for the majesty and glory of your name, which is so wonderfully displayed in all you have made.
I praise you for your power and infinity, the scale and intricacy and variety of your creativity.
I acknowledge my finitude, my weakness and mortality.
Thank you that your power is made perfect in weakness, that you delight to use the weak to shame the strong.
I confess to you my sin.
I know that I deserve nothing from you except your judgement.
I marvel that you give human beings a second thought.
Thank you for your care, that you think of me and attend to my prayer.
Thank you that you know me thoroughly and that though you are greater than I can imagine, the details of my life and my sometimes trivial concerns matter to you.
I praise you for your purposes for human beings, for the role and responsibility that you have given to your people.
I’m sorry for times that I have forgotten you or that vocation, when the calling to represent you in the world and to rule the world under you has meant nothing to me.
Forgive me for my rebellion, my self-absorption, my neglect and misuse of creation.
Help me to more fully and truly reflect your image in the world, to live as a faithful steward of your world, seeking to play my part in your great purposes to bring creation from one degree of glory to another.
May your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
I praise you for the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, the Last Adam, your image and glory, the Proper Man who was always faithful to you.
Thank you that your glory which was above the heavens came down and tabernacled amongst us and was seen and heard by the witnesses you had chosen.
Thank you that you have placed all things under your perfect Son, for his government of the world, that he is working out all things in conformity to your will.
Thank you that Christ has triumphed, defeating sin and death and Satan and that you are putting all his enemies under his feet.
Thank you for the prospect of his full and perfect rule.
May more and more people bow the knee to him and serve him with gladness.
Expand my vision of your glory.
Make your name known to all the nations.
May all creation resound with your praises.
O LORD, our Lord, I praise you for the majesty of your name.
Outlines / structure:
Goldingay, Baker Commentary
Humanity’s position in creation
Vv1-2 – Praise Yahweh as the powerful, majestic creator
Vv3-4 – wonder whether this God would be involved with mere human beings
Vv5-9 – marvel that Yahweh has bestowed glory and honour on humans by giving them dominion over creation
The story so far
The joyous slaughter of sacred cows
The first and the last man
Crown of Creation
The praise of his glory (vv1-2)
What is man? (vv3-8)
The praise of his glory (v9)
The Crown of Creation
V2 – God and human instinct
Vv3-5 – God and human dignity
Vv6-8 – God and human responsibility
Benediction (vv1, 9)
God’s rule v. human rule (vv2-3, 6-8)
Human insignificance v. human significance (vv4, 5)
Dale Ralph Davis, The Way of the Righteous in the Muck of Life
The irony of your strength (vv1b-2)
The mystery of your care (vv3-4)
The clarity of your revelation (vv5-8)
The certainty of your plan (v6 – Heb 2:5-9)
Alan Harman, Mentor Commentary
Vv1-2 God’s majesty
Vv3-5 Man’s insignificance
Vv6-8 Man’s role in creation
V9 God’s praise renewed
Allen P. Ross, Kregel Exegetical Library
God’s Condescending to Mankind
I. Introductory refrain: The psalmist extolls the excellency of the nature of the LORD (1a)
II. The Psalmist praises the LORD’s greatness in confounding the enemy with children and his grace in giving human beings dominion over creation (1b-8)
A. It is marvellous that this majestic LORD should use “children” to confound the mighty (1b-2)
1. The majesty of the LORD is displayed in the heavens (1b)
2. The LORD uses the words of children to silence the enemy (2)
B. It is marvellous that this majestic LORD who created the universe should regard humans enough to entrust his dominion to them (3-8)
1. The work of creation is God’s finger work (3)
2. God endowed man with glory and entrusted him with dominion (4-8)
a. It is amazing that God even thinks of a mere mortal (4)
b. It is marvellous that God granted mortals glory and dominion over creation (5-8)
III. Concluding refrain: The psalmist extols the excellency of the nature of the LORD (9)
Gittith – something from Gath, in the SW of Israel – 2 Sam 15:18 – Goliath! – feminine form for a person or thing from Gath – Ibn Ezra links it with Obed-edom the Gittite, a Levitical singer – 1 Chron 13:13-14; 16:4-5 (Goldingay)
Gittith – also Ps 81 & 84 – all joyful songs of thanksgiving
Gittite cf. gat, winepress
Man matters because God matters. Man matters; God matters more. Matter tells us God matters!
The first proper song of praise in the Psalter – form and subject untypical (Goldingay)
The last v of Ps 7 vowed to praise Yahweh. This Psalm fulfils that promise. The suffering and enemies of the previous psalms do not make this Psalm any less true.
Harman: This Psalm is the latter part of Genesis turned into a song
The only praise Psalm wholly addressed to God – no invitation to praise, no reasons for praise in a because clause (Goldingay)
Kidner: “This psalm is an unsurpassed example of what a hymn should be, celebrating as it does the glory and grace of God, rehearsing who He is and what He has done, and relating us and our world to Him; all with a masterly economy of words and in a spirit of mingled joy and awe.” (p65f)
Inclusio - Begins and ends with God’s majestic name – vv1a and 9 – the packaging / wrapping of the Ps, cf. product packaging aiming to create an impression
The Psalm brings to mind God’s surprising ways in the roles he has assigned to the strong and the weak (v2), the spectacular and the obscure (vv3-5), the multitudinous and the few (vv6-8). (Kidner, p66)
The Psalm takes us above the heavens (v1) and back to the very beginning (vv3, 6-8) and the NT points out to the very end (v6). (Kidner)
Wilcock: Remember / be mindful – 6:5
Glory 3:3; 4:2; 7:5
The avenger – 7:3-5
Enemies in all Pss 3-7 and here
Les individualistic than preceding Pss ???, not especially autobiographical – our – though the speaker is an individual “I” (v3) he is representative – the title indicates it is intended to be used in public worship – David speaks for us and wants us to join with him
Cosmic and prophetic scope recall Ps 2
V1 – Lord, sovereign – honorific plural
Our Lord, personal trust and relationship of course crucial – not just Lord in general or in theory or of others
V1 – adder, splendid, majestic, usually with the implication of might / power – 76:4; 93:4; 136:18 – deferent submission
V1 – hod – majesty, awesome power and authority – 1 Chron 29:11; Job 37:22; 39:20; Is 30:30; Hab 3:3
V1 – ardent, intimate, reverent
This great God is our covenant God
The God of Israel the only true God
V1 – tnh (acclaim) – MT tena - The Hebrew constantaly could allow “Thou whose glory is *chanted* above the heavens” – Is 6:3 – natena – he gave / put
God greater than all created reality and in authority over it
Names more than mere labels to the ancient Hebrews – suggest character
V2 – Lit. from the mouth – Jer 36:4, 6, 17, 27
V2 – contrast the threatening enemies and the helpless children – God makes them a strength / stronghold / bulwark / fortress – what seems inconsequential has overwhelmed the mighty (cf. the apparent insignificance of humanity and of Christ)
Davis: praise packs a lethal punch – toddlers wallop God’s enemies!
V2 – the praise of cradle and nursery is acceptable to this great God (Kidner)
Mt 21:16 quotes LXX
Rising discord in v2 – foes, enemy, avenger – cf. the enemies of the previous psalms – they even get a mention in this hymn of praise
V2 – oz – strength / might – implication of praise for God’s overwhelming strength and majesty
Quoted by Jesus in Mt 21:15f – the children shouting his praise
God’s use of the weak to confound the strong – 1 Cor 1:27
V3 – change to “I”
V3 – David the shepherd boy contemplating the night sky? On a clear night, he could see maybe 2000-3000 stars. With a good pair of binoculars, we can see up to 10 000.
If the Milky Way were the size of North America, our solar system would fit in a coffee cup. And the milky way is perhaps one of 100 billion galaxies in the universe. (Davis, p97)
Of all creation, only human beings could ask the question of v4
Vv3-5 – both the smallness and the status of humanity – might seem insignificant, but highly significant in God’s purposes – of all creatures, humanity is both great and small
Almighty God who set the stars in place, also set human beings over the creation
Vv3-5 – contrast the puniness of human beings and the immensity of the cosmos (Tidball)
V4 – enos suggests human frailty – ben adam – the sons / descendants of Adam, adamah, earth or ground
V4 – David’s question, “What is man?” is really a way of saying “What a God!” (Davis)
What other answers do people give to the question “What is man?”
The answer of paganism – fate – man an accident / prisoner / slave of the gods
The answer of nihilism
The answer of humanism
(see Davis p99f)
Scientific materialism – how much of each chemical in man – a wet machine – a sack of stuff
Cf. Lk 12:24 – God even cares for the ravens!
Is 40:26ff; 45:18; 51:16
Job 7:17f quotes v4 rather negatively – Job’s suffering as a loss of glory
Care – lit. you attend to – Jer 23:2
V5 slows to a stately emphasis – virtual synonyms: What is man that You should note him / human creature, that you should pay him heed?
V5ff – especially suitable for David the king
V5 – Gen 1:26
MT Elohim - God
LXX takes Elohim in its rarer generic sense to mean supernatural beings, angels – 1 Sam 28:13; Ps 82:1; 6f – Heb 2:7, 9
“Little” (v5) could mean “for a while” in both the Hebrew and the Greek
Human beings were put between the world and God
Human beings little gods (Tidball) – cf. the scientific anthropic principle – humanity at the centre of creation – though overall in content if not exactly in form the Psalm is of course theocentric – humanity is enveloped in God’s praise, established by God, cared for by God, responsible to God etc. Human powers of dominion are to be used for God’s praise. Selfish exploitation or pretended autonomy are disordered.
1 Cor 15:27f
Godlingay: The 2-fold all in vv6-7 corresponds to the 2-fold all in vv1 and 9
V6 – masal, ruler, used of God in 22:28; 66:7; 103:19 and elsewhere
Cf. Is 11
Vv6-7 – the prominence of the monosyllable, kol, all, draws attention to the central motif of the Psalm
We don’t see a perfect world functioning well under man’s good rule – human beings have messed up the world – creation is out of sorts – we can’t manage our own lives let alone the whole world!
Cf. X – 1 Cor 15:27; Eph 1:22; Heb 2:6-8
V9 – Humanity and its dominion takes second place to God and his – a very strong focus on God despite the attention given to humanity – human beings put in their place, which is under God, in relation to him, faithfully serving and praising him
We can say human being only after we have learnt to say God
Name of the Lord – Ex 33:18f
(Henry Law, Daily Prayer and Praise: The Book of Psalms Arranged for Private and Family Use (Banner of Truth, 2000, orig. pub. 1878)
(Derek Tidball, Signposts: A devotional map of the Psalms (IVP, 2009)
Walter Brueggemann & William H. Bellinger, Jr., Psalms, New Cambridge Bible Commentary (CUP, 2014)Marc Lloyd
Thumbs: your family and friends and all those closest to your heart
The index / pointing finger: all those who lead and direct others, the clergy, teachers, the media etc.
The tallest finger: those in high places, HM The Queen and all in authority
The next finger is the weakest: all those in special need
The little finger: little old me!
(One thing I learned in church today!)
Reformed Dogmatics, volume 1, chapter 13, The Inspiration of Scripture
“From the beginning Holy Scripture was recognised as the Word of God by all Christian churches. There is no dogma about which there is more unity than that of Holy Scripture.” (p402)
In later times, the Jews called the Torah the wisdom, image, daughter of God, the highest good, the way to life (p402)
“If Israel had not sinned, it [the Torah] would have been sufficient.” (p403)
“Nothing in it [the OT] is superfluous: everything has meaning – every letter, every sign, right down to the very form and shape of the word – for everything comes from God.” (p403)
“The church was never without a Bible. It immediately accepted the OT, with its divine authority, from the hands of the apostles. From the beginning, the Christian faith included belief in the divine authority of the OT.” (p403)
“The apologists of the second century compare the authors of Scripture to a cither, lyre, or flute that the divine musician employed as his instrument.” (p404 – with citations)
Jerome: “Each and every speech, all syllables, marks and periods in the divine scriptures are full of meanings and breathe heavenly sacraments.” (p404)
The self-consciousness of the writers in inspiration stressed (p404f) – prior investigation, differences in intellectual development, uses of sources and memory (p405)
Celebration of the physical object of the bible in the middle ages (p407)
Calvin “assumes the presence of an error in Matthew 22:9 and 23:25 but not in the autographa.” (p415) [??? What error did he think was in them]
The Reformed view (p415)
“Occasionally one can discern a feeble attempt at developing a more organic view of Scripture.” (p415) – The authors used their own intellect, memory, judgement and style (p415) Writers not authors but scribes (p415)
Differences in style sometimes attributed to the Holy Spirit wanting to write in a different way (p415)
“Inspiration is possible because the Spirit of God is immanent in creation” – but a special work of God (p388, editor’s summary)
“Scripture teaches us that the world is not independent, does not exist and live by itself, but the Spirit of God is immanent in everything that has been created. The immanence of God is the basis of all inspiration, including divine inspiration (Ps. 104:30; 139:7; Job 33:4). Existence and life is conferred upon every creature from moment to moment by the inspiration of the Spirit. More particularly, that Spirit of the Lord is the principle of all intelligence and wisdom (Job 32:8; Isa. 11:2); all knowledge and skill, all talent and genius proceeds from him….” (p426) The Spirit’s inspiring of Scripture “accordingly, is not an isolated event; it is linked with all his imminent activity in the world and the church. It is the crown and zenith of it all. The inspiration of the authors in writing the books of the Bible is based on all those other activities of the Holy Spirit.” (p426) – creation, upbringing, education etc.
Inspiration is possible without regeneration (Num 23:5; John 11:51; cf. Num 22:28; 1 Sam 19:24; Heb 6:4) (p427)
God is the actual speaker and primary author (p428)
Not just impressions etc. but God speaking in human words so that the words of the human writers are his words (p429)
Critical of mechanical views of inspiration which fail to do justice to the activities of the secondary human authors (p430)
It is not necessarily impersonal for people to receive a message from outside themselves that they do not fully understand (p430)
Rejects the disregarding of human personality of the authors as if God lifted them out of history and time and used them “only as mindless, inanimate instruments in the hands of the Holy Spirit.” (p431)
Though the Fathers would speak of the human writers as like musical instruments or pens, “they firmly and unanimously rejected the error of Montanists, who claimed that prophecy and inspiration rendered their mouthpieces unconscious, and often clearly recognized the self-activity of the biblical authors as well.” (p431)
The historical and psychological mediation of revelation more fully appreciated in modern times and that the mechanical view has increasingly given way to a more organic one (p431)
God “confirms and strengthens” “the self-activity of human beings” and does “not destroy” it (p432) – God maintains the distinct though dependant nature of his creatures and allows them to function according to their own nature, personality, rationality and freedom (p432)
God does not obliterate but restores, strengthens and purifies created humanity (p432)
The Bible citations of the human authors shows that “Moses, David, Isaiah, and others, though led by the Spirit, were in fact in the full sense of the word the authors of their books (Matt. 13:14; 22:43; John 1:23, 45; 5:46; 12:38). … the Spirit of the Lord, so far from suppressing the personality of the prophets and apostles, instead heightens the level of their activity…. Their native disposition and bent, their character and inclination, their intellect and development, their emotions and willpower are not undone by the calling that later comes to them… Their whole personality with all their gifts and powers are made serviceable to the calling to which they are called.” (p432)
“the prophets and apostles, as they write, completely remain themselves. They retain their powers of reflection and deliberation, their emotional states and freedom of the will. Research (Luke 1:1), reflection, and memory (John 14:26), the use of sources, and all the ordinary means that an author employs in the process of writing a book are used.” (p433)
As they write they “retain their own character, language and style.” (p434)
“the theory of organic inspiration… is the working out and application of the central fact of revelation: the incarnation of the Word. The Word (logos) has become flesh (sarx), and the word has become Scripture; these two facts do not only run parallel but are most intimately connected…. [Like the incarnate Christ] the word … entered the world of creatureliness, the life and history of humanity… right down into that which was humanly weak and despised and ignoble. ” (p434) – whole passage worth reading! – weakness, lowliness, a servant form in Scripture (p435)
“just as Christ’s human nature, however weak and lowly, remained free from sin, so also Scripture is “conceived without defect or stain”; totally human in all its parts but also divine in all its parts.” (p435)
An organic view of inspiration “more historically and psychologically” (p438)
“Included in the thoughts [which the Spirit inspired] are words; included in the words are the vowels.” (p438)
“Scripture may not be viewed atomistically as though every word and letter by itself is inspired by God as such and has its own meaning with its own infinite, divine content.” (p438)
“Inspiration has to be viewed organically, so that even the lowliest part has its place and meaning and at the same time is much farther removed from (p438) the center than other parts.” (p439)
The Battle against / for the Bible is primarily ethical – as people have always opposed Christ so they oppose the Bible (p439) – Heb 4:12
“It [Scripture] not only was inspired but is still “God-breathed” and “God-breathing”. (p439) “The Holy Spirit does not, after the act of inspiration, withdraw from Holy Scripture and abandon it to its fate but sustains and animates it and in many ways brings its content to humanity, to its heart and conscience.” (p440)
“Scripture is the handmaiden of Christ” (p440) – The ungodly react to it with opposition as they did to Christ
“ignorance of the Scriptures is automatically and proportionately ignorance of Christ (Jerome).” (p440)
“the Holy Spirit, in the inscripturation of the word of God, did not spurn anything human to serve as an organ of the divine. The revelation of God is not abstractly supernatural but has entered into the human fabric, into persons and states of being, into forms and usages, into history and life. It does (p442) not fly high above us but descends into our situation; it has become flesh and blood, like us in all things except sin. Divine revelation is now an ineradicable constituent of this cosmos in which we live and, effecting renewal and restoration, continues in operation. The human has become and instrument of the divine; the natural has become a revelation of the supernatural; the visible has become a sign and seal of the invisible. In the process of inspiration, use has been made of all the gifts and forces resident in human nature.” (p443)
Differences of language and style between the human authors perfectly natural (p443)
“grace does not cancel out nature but perfect it” (p443)
“ordinary human life and natural life… is made serviceable to God” (p443)
“Even if a book on geography, say, was inspired from cover to cover and was literally dictated word-for-word, it would still not be “God-breathed” and “God-breathing” in the sense of 2 Timothy 3:16. Scripture is the word of God because it has the Word-made-flesh as its matter and content. Form and content interpenetrate each other and are inseperable…. Christ counted nothing human as alien to himself; and Scripture does not overlook even the most minor concerns of daily life (2 Tim 4:13). Christianity is not antithetically opposed to that which is human but is its restoration and renewal.” (p443)
(1) The position of disciples - welcoming and receiving Jesus into their home, sitting at his feet and listening to him
(2) The potential for distraction / The pressure of duties and service, often good and useful service
(3) The priority of listening to Jesus - we need another "D" for that, of course!
(1) the power of God by which he creates and upholds all things
(2) special revelation by which God makes something known to the prophets
(3) the content of revelation
(4) the gospel
And then he waxes lyrical:
Christ as the Word of God: “He is the Logos in an utterly unique sense: Revealer and revelation at the same time. All the revelations and words of God, in nature and history, in creation and re-creation, both in the Old and the New Testament, have their ground, unity, and centre in him. He is the sun; the individual words of God are his rays. The word of God in nature, in Israel, in the NT, in Scripture may never even for a moment be separated and abstracted from him. God’s revelation exists only because he is the Logos. He is the first principle of cognition, in a general sense of all knowledge, in a special sense, as the Logos incarnate, of all knowledge of God, of religion, and theology (Matt. 11:27).” (Reformed Dogmatics, vol. 1 p402)
“we are often surprised by the meaning that the NT authors find in the text of the OT … [list of examples] In the case of Jesus and the apostles, this exegesis of the OT in the NT assumes the understanding that a word or sentence can have deeper meaning and a much farther reaching thrust than the original author suspected or put in it.” (p396) – similarly with Goethe and other classical authors! “In Scripture this is even much more strongly the case, in the conviction of Jesus and the apostles, it has the Holy Spirit as its primary author and bears a teleological character.” (p396-7, Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, vol. 1)Marc Lloyd
“All that can be said is that the recognition of these writings in the churches occurred automatically, without any formal agreement. With only a few exceptions, the OT and NT writings were immediately, from the time of their origin and in toto, accepted without doubt or protest as holy, divine writings. The place and time at which they were first recognized as authoritative cannot be indicated. They have authority of themselves, by their own right, because they exist. It is the Spirit of the Lord who guided the authors in writing them and the church in acknowledging them.” (Reformed Dogmatics, v1, p401)Marc Lloyd
Bavinck argues that there is a striking difference in the way the phrase “the word of God” is used between the testaments. In the Old Testament it is used in the sense of God’s special revelation making something known to the prophets. On almost every page, over and over we read: “the word of the Lord came.” “In the NT we find it in this sense only in John 10:35; now the word does not “come” anymore; it does not come now and then from above and without to the prophets but has come in Christ and remains.” (Reformed Dogmatics, v1, p402)