29 May 2006

Pitts' Creed: The Scriptures (1)

As I have said before, a major part of the purpose of this blog is the solicitation of wisdom. “For waging war you need guidance, and for victory many advisers” (Prov 24:6). Having just finished my statement of faith, I would like to submit it here for review before the concrete dries too thoroughly. I’ll do it in small chunks, so you don’t have to read the whole thing, and I’ll do only do it once a week so that it doesn’t drown out everything else.

The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience (2 Tim 3:15–17, Eph 2:20). Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, so as to leave men without excuse (Rom. 1:19–20), they are not sufficient to give the kind of knowledge of God and his will which is necessary for salvation (Rom 1:16–18). Therefore God was pleased, at many times and in various ways, to reveal himself and to declare his will to his people (Heb 1:1). He was also pleased to commit his will for the present time wholly to writing in order to better preserve and propagate the truth. He committed it to writing in order to establish and comfort future generations of believers (Rom 15:4) against the corruption of the flesh and the malice of the world (1 Cor 10:11).
     These Scriptures include all and only the 66 books of the Protestant canon. [Here I insert a comment in the margin: Canon=fixed collection of inspired books; canonicity=identifying criterion which all inspired documents evidence; canonization=human role in the recognition of canon.] All and only these documents in the final form of the original autographs partake of verbal plenary inspiration. Therefore, they alone are without error in all that they affirm on whatever subject to which they speak. They are as wholly true, accurate, and reliable as God himself (2 Tim 3:16). Proceeding from inspiration and inerrancy are five implications or corollaries: self-authenticating authority, preservation, sufficiency, perspicuity, and progression in revelation.
      (1) The authority of the Holy Scriptures, for which they ought to be believed, does not depend on the testimony of any man or church, but wholly on God their author (who is truth himself). Therefore, it is to be received because it is the Word of God (1 Thess 2:13). Although the Scriptures are self-authenticating, men, in their depravity, will not be fully persuaded of its infallible truth and divine authority except by the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in their hearts (1 Cor 2:10–12; 1 John 2:20, 27).
     (2) The inspiration of the Bible implies its preservation (Ps 119:152, 160). Preservation is through providential means, not perfect but substantive (e.g. 1 Sam 13:1), not in a particular text type or family of manuscripts, but in the totality of manuscripts.
     (3) The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith, and life in this age is either expressly set down or necessarily contained in the Holy Scripture (2 Tim 3:15–17, esp. v. 17). God’s former ways of revealing [Comment: Scriptures not all directly revealed: Luke 1:4 and Numbers 21:14, 1 Chronicles 29:29, Josh 10:13.] himself have been completed for the present age (Eph 2:20), so nothing is to be added to the Scripture at any time, whether by new revelation of the Spirit, or traditions of men. Nevertheless, the inward illumination of the Spirit of God is necessary for the saving understanding of the things which are revealed in the Word (John 6:45–46). In addition, some circumstances concerning the worship of God and the government of the church are common to all human actions and societies. These circumstances are to be ordered by the light of nature (1 Cor 11:13–14) and according to the general principles derived from the Scriptures (1 Cor 14:26, 40).

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