The Bible and Science 


The Relation of Science,
Factual Statements and the
Doctrine of Biblical Inerrancy

Professor of Christian Theology
American Baptist Seminary of the West 
Covina, California

From JASA 21 (December 1969): 98-104.

Kinds of Objections

 There are three typical kinds of objection made against Holy Scripture either with the intention of discarding Scripture as a whole or of qualifying or modifying its range of authority. 

First, it has been alleged that there are contradictions in Holy Scripture. The most obvious reference here is to the various places in Scripture where two different numbers are given in two different passages. Stephen speaks of the Israelites being in Egypt four hundred years (Acts 7:6) whereas Paul says the stay was four hundred and thirty years (Cal. 3.17). Or else a contradiction is supposedly found in two divergent ways of explaining the same event. In holy communion Matthew and Paul state that the disciples partook of first the bread and then the cup. Luke reverses the order and puts the cup before the bread     (Luke 22:17-19). This is not a scientific problem per se but a literary or critical one. We are not concerned in this paper with this kind of problem, judging it as not a problem of science but of literary criticism. 

Second, it has been alleged that in certain matters the moral character of a supposed Word of God is in contradiction to man's moral sensitivity. The most common reference here is to the command given to Saul to slaughter all of the Amalekites (I Sam. 15: 1-5). In recent philosophical theology the problem is raised in a different context. It is asserted that the two propositions; (i) God is love, and (ii) there is evil in the world, are contradictory. This kind of problem is one which belongs to theology or apologetics or philosophical theology but not to science. 

Third, it is asserted that either the general view of the universe in Scripture or particular factual references are contrary to what we know the facts to be in the twentieth century. That is to say the "bowl picture" of the universe of the Old Testament or the "three-decker' view of the universe in the New Testament clash with our knowledge of astronomy. Or some particular factual reference is contrary to what we now  know to be the case from science. This is the kind of problem we wish to discuss as this does get us into the relationship of science and Holy Scripture. The problem of the relationship of Holy Scripture to scientific knowledge is much larger than our purposes here. We are intentionally cutting this problem down to the problem of factual error in Scripture, as such allegations refer to both science and Scripture.

 The Problem of Inerrancy

 The debates in the nineteenth century over the credibility of Scripture created by the growth of the sciences forced theologians to talk about the character of the perfection of Scripture as never before in the history of theology. Part of this discussion was the problem of inerrancy: (i) do the Scriptures teach their own inerrancy? (ii) are there contradictions in Scripture of a scientific nature?l To some theologians this is no problem at all. For example Rudolph Bultrnann accepts the authority of the New Testament in the Church but to him the New Testament is authoritative only in its existential layer. The fact that much of the New Testament may be mythological or historical fiction doesn't concern Bultrnann's theology at all because it is not in this kind of material that the authority of the New Testament rests. Barth believes that the Scriptures are a witness to revelation and to be heard they must be of the same order as our existence. There are then possible errors in Scripture, in fact and in theology, for these reveal that the Scriptures do have a human or worldly character. So even half-a-dozen errors in Scripture would not be any problem as far as Barth is concerned. 

However, evangelicals or conservatives or orthodox, have felt that if there is a divine revelation which in turn is given to us in Scripture by divine inspiration, then something must be said about the trustworthiness of Scripture of a very high order. To some evangelicals this meant the inerrancy of Scripture in all matters of fact and history as well as faith and morals. The Scriptures must possess this kind of inerrancy because faith and morals in Scripture are embedded in the historical or factual and it is confusion to state that there is inerrancy in faith and morals but error in fact and history. 

What has caused such agitation among evangelicals about Scriptural inerrancy in both the 19th and 20th centuries is that each in its own way challenged vigorously the complete inerrancy of Scripture (i) -so- called higher or destructive Biblical criticism; (ii) the developments of science and the restructuring of our concept of the universe in its every dimension; and (iii) the rise of religious liberalism at the beginning of the nineteenth century,2 which accepted the errancy of Scripture as a philosophical and/or theological and/ or critical necessity. 

However it must be pointed out that historically the inerrancy of Scripture is not the kind of perfection of Scripture the Reformers and post-Reformation orthodox theologians taught. They stressed what they called the attributes or the affections of Scripture. The theologians had no uniform list but they mention such things as: authority, clarity, effectiveness, truth and certainty, integrity, holiness and purity, perspicuity, necessity, efficacy, sufficiency.3 The Lutheran list was: authority, perfection, sufficiency, perspicuity and efficacy.4 The importance of this will be indicated later in this paper. 

The careful analysis and definition of such terms as error, contradiction and inerrancy belong to the logicians. In the spectrum of the faculties of a university it is the territory of the logicians to discuss the problem of error on a technical and theoretical level. This paper will be strongly oriented in this direction. (This is an altogether different question from whether Christianity is logical or rational. Logic deals with the relationship among propositions and this is the kind of relationship we are discussing here). 

In a general way anticipating what will be said later, the definition of an error and the assertion that there is a contradiction among propositions is an incredibly difficult matter. In almost all discussions on the errancy or inerrancy of Scripture there is little theoretical discussion of the logical character of an error and the logical problems of asserting a contradiction. 

It must be pointed out that historically the inerrancy 
of Scripture is not the kind of perfection of Scripture the 
Reformers and post-Reformation orthodox theologians taught.

 In logic the definition of an error (a contradiction) is not difficult: A proposition and its negation cannot both be true at the same time. The most obvious application of this to Scripture is to locate two different passages which are speaking of the same event and in which the numbers mentioned contradict each other. As already indicated we are not interested in this particular problem. This is a matter of literary criticism or of logic in its formal meaning and therefore not part of scientific considerations.

At this point I would like to make this observation. I am not a mathematician so I must take the word of other scholars. The mathematician, Godel, has shown that when a mathematical system reaches a certain state of complexity it becomes impossible in principle, not in just technical difficulty, to show that a given theorem is consistent with the body of the mathematical system.' In reading about Godel I asked my- self the theoretical question: is this purely a mathematical problem, or can philosophical of theological systems become so complicated or so complex that the detection of a contradiction is either impossible or unusually difficult? I do not know if we can go from mathematics to metaphysics and theology, but it at least runs up a red flag in my mind which says that affirming an error or contradiction in Christian theology may not be the simple thing or obvious thing that critics of Christian theology make it out to be. However this is a digression.

Detection of Error 

We are concerned directly with errors in fact. Here again the definition of error is not so difficult but the actual detection of error may be very difficult. If the content of a factual proposition differs from what we know the facts to be, then the proposition is in error. 

However when we come to apply this criterion to matters of fact (natural history, history, the sciences, etc.) we find in some instances that it becomes a wretchedly complex matter. Neither at the technical nor the popular level do we operate with a simple calculus of yes or no, true or false, right or wrong, coherence or contradiction, fact or error. We find that we must use a lot of other terms which indicate either how complex the materials are or bow sloppy our present ability to verify is. Concretely in our ex- positions or lectures we use such terms as tension, implausibility, contriety, paradox, the dialectical, problem, difficulty, obscurity, blunder, and probability. 

This means that as any scholar reads any document of a factual or historical nature these are the various logical counters in his head. He neither thinks nor writes with a simple system of right or wrong. But besides using such terms as error or contradiction he finds himself also using some of the words listed at the end of the previous paragraph. There- fore in many situations it is the subjective disposition or the prejudices or the cultural slant of a person which determines which of these logical counters he is going to use. Here is an example with reference to Scripture. A Unitarian may read the Bible and, coming to a certain passage, he says, "There is an error here". Out of the whole range of possible words he could use about the phenomenon he uses "error". As a Unitarian he has a subjective urge to find as many errors in the Scripture as he can, for that in turn is a kind of way by which his own case is reinforced. However, an evangelical scholar with a high regard for Holy Scripture will say that there is no error in the passage, but there is a problem or a difficulty. 

Our point here is simply a cautionary one: namely, it is not an easy thing to assert error in an ancient document. Frequently when the critic of Scripture affirms an error in Scripture, there may be more logical justification to call it a problem or a difficulty. We simply cannot assess the trustworthiness or integrity of Holy Scripture by restricting our logical apparatus  to a yes or no, a true or false. 

If a person doubts what is said in the above paragraphs let him tune in on a political debate or a debate about economics or philosophy. The attacker of a system finds that it abounds with errors and contradictions because as the attacker he wants to destroy the foundations of the opposition. He therefore speaks of very obvious errors and contradictions which any person with ordinary sense can detect. But the defender of the position thinks that these errors and contradictions are just problems and difficulties which he will eventually iron out even though at the moment he does not see how he shall resolve them. 

We do not wish to give the implication that the evangelical Christian can get off the hook any time he wants to by resorting to the complex character of asserting error. We are, rather, suggesting that the assertion of error in any kind of historical or factual or scientific literature is not an easy thing to do. There may be some errors in Scripture. If this is the case we cannot hide behind some casuistry of logic. We only wish to say that those scholars who set out to find error in Holy Scripture ought to have some idea of the complex range of logical terms one may use in dealing with documents or manuscripts or books, and further, which terms out of the possible list mentioned above cannot be divorced from the intent or prejudices of the scholar. There is an ineluctable subjective element here whether we admit it or not. 

Scholars who set out to find error in Holy Scripture 
ought to, have some idea of the complex range of logical term 
one may use in dealing with documents, manuscripts or books, 
and which terms cannot be divorced 
from the intent or prejudices of the scholar.

 Importance of Context 

Attempting to pick out the word which accurately describes a problem passage (e.g., difficulty, problem, ambiguity, or error, etc.) is only the beginning of the difficulties in dealing with error in any given document. The further complication is this: the special nature of a document reflecting certain intentions or goals of the author of the document means that error must be discussed within the context of the specialty of the document. Within a given context all of the following statements are true even though on the surface the statements appear contradictory: "the general declared war," "the president declared war," "the senate declared war," "the United States declared war" or "the people rose up and declared war on so-and-so." The historian picks out which expression he wishes to use as governed by the kind of historical explanation he is giving. 

Some Biblical Illustrations 

This thesis that the concept of error becomes somewhat free-floating in different kinds or species or genre of literature (an in many cases in the divergent levels of explanations of scientific theories) is not peculiar to Biblical materials but characterizes all literature and history. But for our purposes I shall use Biblical illustrations because I am most familiar with them.

 (i) The Hebrews used specific numbers for general quantities. Thus ten could mean some and forty could mean many. There are many more special ways that the Hebrews used numbers but this suffices for our purposes. So if the text says that a certain historical period lasted 40 years or 40 days and we know by independent means that the actual number was 38, there is no contradiction. Even though the text gives a specific number, by literary custom it intended only to express a general quantity.

 (ii) Genesis I has a series of lists of different sorts such as astronomical bodies, creatures in the sea, creatures on land, as well as lists of plants. These are not intended as exhaustive lists. There is no mention, for example, of comets, planets or galaxies. However there is no error here in the Hebrew listings because the intention of the author was to expression totality in the manner and custom in which he understood totality, namely, God is Creator exhaustively of everything. An actual scientific set  of lists, if such in itself even in the 20th century, would add nothing to the author of Genesis I wished to convey.

 (iii) Luke gives two different accounts of Paul's conversion, which are given in the text as if Paul were speaking directly (Acts 22 and Acts 26). The situations were different, some of the intentions were different, and perhaps other factors were present known by Paul and Luke but not to us. Thus Paul is speaking to a given situation in which he must adopt his presentation. If this is the true state of affairs then one account cannot be pitted against the other. There are other autobiographical remarks in the Epistles which may on the surface seem quite different from what is said in Acts (especially in Galatians I and 2) but here again if we get the whole situation in perspective, the accounts are supplementary and not contradictory. 

(iv) The manner in which the Scriptures speak of the cosmos is from man's standpoint, meaning his concerns, his relationships, his responsibilities, his spirituality, and his worship of God. They are not intended as objective, impersonal, accounts from which everything anthropic is eliminated.

 Kinds of Explanation 

At this point the issue gets a little more complicated as there is a good deal of material in philosophy about what constitutes an explanation. The Encyclopedia of Philosophy (eight volumes) has a number of very special articles on the different kinds of explanations there are. The phenomenon of sexuality illustrates the multiple character of explanation. Sex can be explained anatomically, physiologically, psychologically, and sociologically. Granted there is some overlap in each explanation, but in general each one of these disciplines will have its own unique configuration in explaining sex. Such matters as suicide and divorce have very different kinds of explanations when we approach them on the one hand psychologically and on the other hand sociologically. 

Similarly the cosmos can be explained from many different perspectives. The philosopher Heidegger has called them Entwurfe-sketches. The Biblical view of the cosmos is a sketch based on man as the central actor and the point of reference; the scientific sketch of the universe is impersonal, abstract and deals more with laws an models. The two do not conflict, for as sketches they each have a different function. 

We must again restate what we are attempting to do. We are affirming that some kind of investigation must be made about error in the realm of symbol and in the realm of fact before we can really speak to the point of possible errors in Scripture. We have further attempted to point out that in some instances the affirmation that there is error may be very difficult-and we are referring here to scholarship in general, not just to Biblical materials. Nor are we attempting to provide an easy out for Biblical difficulties. We are demanding that the critic take a look at the whole problem of error and realize its complexities before he starts assigning errors in Scripture. 

Possible Errors Related to Science

 There are two kinds of possible errors in Scripture which are related to science. The first is that the general way in which the universe or the world or some part of it is represented is contrary to our present scientific understanding of these things. Right now the "hot copy" item is Bultrnann's rejection of the New Testament picture of the universe as a three-story house. The second is that in some specific reference to fact there is contradiction between what Scripture asserts and what science claims to now know. Let us look at each in turn. 

General Representations of the Universe 

The first objection we have already partially answered in our above discussion of the difference between the sketch of the cosmos made by science and the sketch or sketches we have in Scripture. However I think it is possible to make a distinction between the structural and cultural forms that revelation comes through, and the revelation itself. The revelation does not dignify the structure into the category of the revelational. 

I will present what German scholars call a "thought-experiment." I think it is possible to teach the doctrine of creation from the point of view of the cosmological systems of Ptolemy, Newton or Einstein. I think the kinds of things Scripture wants to say can be said in context of any of these three theories without dignify- i,19 the theories as such as revealed truth. I know that there are always difficulties with "husk and kernel" theories or divisions between "form and content." I am aware of how dangerous this can get when we see the way in which Bultrnann (in my opinion at least) destroys genuine New Testament theology when he makes a distinction between mythological form and existential content, or between what is said (Gesagt) and what is meant (Gemeint). However if revelation comes in a pre-scientific, pre-critical period in history some sort of distinction has to be made. A revelation couched in terms of perfected science as of the year 3,000 A.D. would have been a meaningless and con- fusing revelation. Therefore it is valid to make a distinction between the structural or literary forms in which a revelation comes and what the revelation itself teaches. We make this distinction in the New Testament when we learn the revelatory content of a parable without stating that a parable is the perfect form of teaching because Jesus used it. As a matter of fact it was used by the rabbis before Jesus. One of their common expressions was: "I will parable to you a parable."

 The point at which I am driving is this: when we make a distinction between the modality in which a revelation comes and the teaching of the revelation itself, there is no contradiction between modern scientific pictures or models and Biblical revelation. Hence there is no scientific error at this point. How far we can push this I do not know; I at least suspect that if a pre-scientific world view were strongly animistic or polytheistic or mythological, it could not serve as a structural form through which a true revelation could come. 

Statements of Fact 

There are some difficulties, however, with reference to particular statements of fact. I can suggest only a few. 

A revelation couched in terms of perfected science 
as of the year 3000 A.D. would have been a
 meaningless and confused revelation. Therefore it is valid 
to make a distinction between the structural or literary forms 
in which a revelation comes and what the revelation itself teaches.

These are the kinds of materials where Biblical statements may clash with modern scientific knowledge. 

How does an evangelical react to this? There are a few things that can be said. 

   (i) Not everything the Scripture records is what the Scriptures teach. Or as Charles Hodge put it in the last century, we must make a distinction between what the writers believe as persons and what they wrote as Scripture. Maybe all of the Hebrew authors of the Old Testament thought that the heavens were an inverted bowl supported by pillars. But they did not teach this as God's revelation. With reference to mandrakes the Scripture does not approve or disapprove of mandrakes, It simply records how the patriarchs felt about mandrakes. So there is no factual error here as there is no Biblical teaching about man- drakes that would clash with our modem knowledge of botany. 

   (ii) Perhaps we do not know either exactly what certain Hebrew words mean or perhaps we don't know all the thought-patterns of the Hebrews. The word elep translated by thousands may also be translated by "family" or "tent group." So instead of 600,000 warriors in Israel, demanding a total population of some figure over 2,000,000, we arrive at a figure of about 27,000 which then is a reasonable number. 

Or else the Hebrews used inflated numbers to ex- press the power of the glory in the action of God (cf. here also the large numbers in Genesis 5). It is a common expression in English to say that "a million people were there" in referring to a parade or a fair or a sports contest when we all know that maybe only 10,000 were there. Hence such occasional use of large numbers in the Old Testament may not have been intended to be taken literally but may have been, rather, "mathematical hyperbole". 

   (iii) There are two possible solutions to the four rivers of Genesis 2. The older solution is that the four rivers are four great canals dug out by the ancient Babylonians or inhabitants of Mesopotamia to facilitate the irrigation of the land. In recent years Renckens, a Dutch scholar,6 has presented a different solution. He claims that the chapter is not expressing literal fact or straightforward prose history. It is a chapter written according to our modern expression of "poetic license". Water in the Middle East is very scarce compared to such states as Washington or Oregon or tropical countries with their daily downpour. About 75% of the land in the Middle East is desert or semi-desert. Egypt is 95% desert. Therefore one of the ideas of heaven itself in the Middle East is a glorious supply of water. So Genesis 2 is not literally about four ancient rivers or four ancient canals but a reference to the unusual supply of water given to the first man to show the goodness of God and the wonders of Eden. If Rencken's interpretation is correct then there is no conflict between Genesis 2 and its four rivers and our modem knowledge of the geography of the Middle East. 

   (iv) With reference to other problems of factual statements of Holy Scripture and their alleged contra- diction by modern science we can say "wait and see." This is not a question-begging procedure or a theological "cop out." Modern archeology is usually dated as of the year 1798 when Napoleon invaded Egypt and bad with him not only soldiers but a number of scholars who investigated many of the great antiquities of Egypt and published their findings upon their return to France. The great American archeologist, Albright, said that it was not until at least 1920 that we could really begin an intelligent correlation of archeological materials with Holy Scripture. I have no idea what sort of number to cite here, but certainly a great number of problems of the Hebrew Bible have been cleared up by archeological research. To be honest we have to say that at the present time archeology has also created some problems with the Old Testament. But in view of the past one hundred years or so in which so many Biblical conundrums were resolved it is not asking too much or shirking real scholarly responsibility to simply say "wait and see." This does not mean that of a necessity Scripture will be vindicated but it does claim that any judgment made now with a spirit of finality may be embarrassed by future discoveries. 

If there are errors in Scripture or if there are no errors in Scripture
 is essentially a factual question, not a theological one. 
And therefore this issue is going to be settled eventually by empirical, factual studies 
and not by theological presuppositions.

Science and Inerrancy 

I must say in summary that my concern about science and inerrancy is not the same concern as that of many of my evangelical friends. They believe that the assertion of Biblical inerrancy is a theological must. A number of reasons are given for this. "If Scripture is the truth of God it must be true in all that it says." "If there is error in Scripture then it becomes impossible to tell what is truth and what is error." "If God truly reveals himself and his plans in Scripture and this is certified by verbal inspiration, then no error can exist without impugning both the doctrine of revelation and inspiration." "If we can't trust all of the Bible perhaps we therefore cannot trust any of the Bible-just as a witness caught in one lie while on the dock will then be suspected with respect to everything else he says." 'If the inerrancy of Scripture is denied then we have started a theological program that will eventually lead us to a great deterioration of orthodoxy so that we will end up as some sort of liberal or modernist or existentialist." 

I think very differently at this point. To me whether there are some errors or not in Scripture is something determined empirically. We cannot dogmatize facts into or out of existence. They are just "there." If there are errors in Scripture or if there are no errors in Scripture is essentially a factual question, not a theological one. And therefore this issue is going to be settled eventually by empirical, factual studies and not by theological presupposition. 

Furthermore an inerrant document is not thereby a divinely inspired document. It is possible to write a text in mathematics or symbolic logic which contains no errors. This does not make these books divinely inspired. An inerrant Scripture would say only that error cannot be charged against Scripture and so challenge its divine inspiration, but as such it does not prove that Holy Scripture is divinely inspired. For this, other categories and other kinds of reasoning are necessary. Furthermore I think the "all or nothing" way of putting the issue is not the way we would really react. Suppose, for example, after ransacking all possible evidence, we come to the conclusion that Paul's figure of 23,000 in I Cor. 10:8 is in error with the report in Numbers 25:24 which reports 24,000. (I have read the usual explanations or harmonizations of this passage). I think that less than 1% of the body of evangelical believers would renounce their faith if this were substantiated as an error or if any other error of this kind were shown in Holy Scripture. The reason to me is quite obvious. Christians do not really stick with the Christian faith because of the inerrancy of Scripture but because of their experience of Christ and of the Holy Spirit and of the spiritual content of Holy Scripture which has so effectively spoken to their own hearts. 

Furthermore, the problem is not this simple. We cannot assert "I believe there are no errors in Scripture," and then pretend that all is settled or all is at rest. There are some very difficult problems with the text of Scripture. We know from reading the Latin Vulgate and the Greek translation of the Old Testament that some words or Phrases have been dropped from the Hebrew texts we now use. In some cases just the reading of the text indicates that something has been dropped out. We have the difficult problem of deciding on the canonicity of certain books such as Esther. Or in the New Testament we really do not know who wrote Hebrews and so we cannot say with historical certainty that Hebrews is apostolic and therefore part of the canon. I will not extend these remarks, but apart from the allegation that there are errors in Scripture there is an immense amount of material in Scripture that is very ambiguous for one reason or other-historical, moral, factual, or in meaning. Therefore the assertion that the Scriptures are inerrant does not really settle the critical dust. It does not immediately make the Scriptures free from all problems or ambiguities. And these other kinds of problems may be more disturbing with respect to the integrity of Holy Scripture than any incidental error in a matter of fact. Supposing the critics are right that the Gospels are not really historically reliable accounts of the life of Christ, but are about 90% invention of the early Christian Churches; or that Acts has very little history in it but is primarily a propaganda document written to reconcile conflicting parties in the 

I am somewhat bewildered by some of my evangelical friends 
who think all is safe if they can show that all the proposed errors 
or contradictions in the Scripture can be challenged 
and shown to be problems or difficulties rather than errors. 
Nobody can play the game of infallibilities in the 20th century and win.

 Church or to vindicate Paul to later congregations; or that Colossians and Ephesians are really at least second or maybe third generation documents and not Pauline at all; or that 11 Peter is a purely second century fabrication; or that John's Gospel is some sort of literary mutation drawn from many non-Christian sources (which is about the position Bultmann takes in his commentary on John which is supposed to have sold more copies in Germany than any other single volume that is a commentary on some book of the Holy Scripture). All of these things could be said without claiming that there is any error of fact. Yet if such theses were generally true, they would destroy any evangelical or orthodox version of Christianity. 

Problems, difficulties, ambiguities, etc., can do far more damage to faith and to one's belief in the integrity of Scripture than a sheer contradiction 1-iere and there. So I am somewhat bewildered by some of my evangelical friends who think all is safe or all is well if they can show that all the proposed errors or contradictions in the Scripture can be challenged and shown to be problems or difficulties rather than errors.

The Game of Infallibilities

Nobody can play the game of infallibilities in the twentieth century and win. The Roman Catholic Church thought they had it won with an infallible Tradition (Scripture and tradition with the small "t"), and with an infallible pope, and with infallible ecumenical councils. But now all is in turmoil because historical science has caught up with the Roman Catholic Church. All of these infallibilities must eventually be conveyed in the fallible language of a bishop or a priest to the laity; or, the theologians who study these infallible documents come up with alternate interpretations illustrating that the infallible document is subject to many fallible interpretations; or, as many "concessionist" Roman Catholic theologians are saying nowadays, all the papal utterances and decrees of councils must be seen in their historical context and so corrected or adjusted. For example, the position of justification taken by the counter-Reformation Council of Trent is hard to square with the latest Greek studies of the New Testament. So we are told the decree of the council of Trent was meant to neutralize the one-sided forensic view of the Reforiners and therefore must be interpreted in that light. All decrees of popes and councils are historically relative. So the game of in- fallibilities has really been lost in the Roman Catholic Church. 

The affirmation of an inerrant Bible must not lead us to imitate the game of infallibilities. Our exegesis may be good but we can't assume that it is all in- fallible. Our doctrinal statements may be, in our mind, exactly what Holy Scripture teaches, but we cannot say they are infallible as the Roman Catholic Church pronounces about her de fide dogmas. There is an ambiguity in all of life. We are hedged in by all kinds of probabilities and obscurities in our earthly pilgrim- ages. There are sufferings, tragedies, cataclysms, and accidents which perplex all of us when we attempt to correlate these with divine province. It is therefore a mark of spiritual maturity, theological maturity, and emotional maturity when we can learn to live with that which is expressed in Luther's famous phrase, "the theology of the cross." 

For my own faith the divinity in Scripture is that it is the bearer of revelation. But how this revelation comes through to me and holds me and grips me and sustains my faith in Holy Scripture is that which was mentioned previously: the perfections or affections of Scripture. I find the Holy Scripture is functionally the Word of God to me because of its divine authority, its sufficiency [or "perfection' in the sense that it teaches all we need to know in this life for salvation, Christian living, and the hope to come], its clarity, and its efficacy. These are the qualities whereby we really are factually and effectively held to Holy Scriptures, for in these matters the Scriptures do function as the written Word of God.


1 H. D. McDonald, Theories of Revelation; An Historical Study, 1860-1960.

2 Schleiermacher, 1768-1834, being the reputed founder of it in his  Speeches [Reden] of 1799.

3. Heppe, Reformed Dogmatics, p. 21ff.

4. H. Schmid, The Doctrinal Theology of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, P. 51.

5. For a summary and technical discussion of Gbdel's theorem see the discussion by J. Van Heipenoort in The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 111, 348-357 which also contains a rather large bibliography on the subject.

6. Renckens, The Theology of Genesis 1-11I.