THE INSPIRATION AND AUTHORITY OF SCRIPTURE, by Rene Pache, Moody Press, 1987. 349 pages, paper. (Reviewed by Prof. H. Hanko.)
Since this book first appeared in the English in 1969, it has gone through twelve different printings, abundant proof of its popularity and worth.
The book was translated from the French. The author taught in Lausanne University and was active for many years in the evangelical movement in France.
The book deals with all aspects of the inspiration and authority of Scripture: revelation, inspiration, plenary and verbal inspiration, inerrancy and infallibility, apparent contradictions in Scripture, the canon of Scripture, transmission of the text of Scripture—these are only some of the subjects with which the author deals. These questions are all dealt with from the viewpoint of faith, faith in the testimony of Scripture itself. The result is an excellent book which is a strong defense of Scripture and a powerful weapon in the arsenal of believers against the attacks of those who, more or less, want to make the Bible a human book. It is easy to read, not technical nor given to the difficult terminology of higher criticism, faithful to God’s own Word.
One aspect of the book is, however, exceedingly troublesome. This has to do with a question which arises in the current debate over the question of Scripture’s infallibility. The question is this: Why is it that the church has repeatedly to fight the battle in defense of the Scripture? Why does the question of Scripture’s absolute trustworthiness have to be repeatedly faced? One could conceivably answer this question by pointing out that the doctrine of Scripture is fundamental to the faith of the church and is, therefore, a doctrine which the devil is unusually intent on destroying. And such an answer would certainly be correct. But the same thing could be said of the truth concerning the trinity and the divinity of our Lord. Yet the battle for these truths was fought over a millennium ago, and, apart from the extremes of modernism, the church has not been unduly troubled by these heresies.
There is, I suggest, another factor that plays a role in this question. This has to do with the question of the so-called human factor in Scripture. While oftentimes the idea of a “human factor” was intended merely to emphasize that God used men to write His Word, nevertheless, this idea of a human factor has often been exalted to the point where the divine factor and God’s authorship is minimized and even ignored. I suggest further that the reason for this is a basic commitment to an Arminian theology which is found so commonly in fundamentalistic circles, an Arminian theology which also emphasizes a significant and finally determinative “human element” in the work of salvation.
What needs to be said to understand this properly is the fact that the preparation of Scripture as the infallibly inspired record of the revelation of God in Jesus Christ belongs to the work of salvation. It is an integral and inseparable part of that work. This is true not only because the Scriptures record for us the work of God in Christ as accomplishing salvation—although this is certainly part of it. Nor is this true only because the whole of Scripture finds its principle of unity in the fact that it reveals to us Christ in all its parts—although this also is true. But God prepared the Scriptures for the church, gave the Scriptures to the church, and entrusted the church with the Scriptures because the Scriptures are an integral part of that work of salvation which God performs through Christ to bring His church to glory.
All this means, therefore, that one’s view of Scripture must be the same as one’s view of salvation if either doctrine is to be preserved in all its purity. Characteristic of today’s church world is a blatant and God-dishonoring Arminianism which exalts the “human factor” in the work of salvation, ascribes to man powers which he does not possess, and makes salvation dependent in some measure upon man’s will. If this is one’s theology of salvation, it stands to reason that this erroneous view will soon carry over into one’s doctrine of Scripture. The human factor will also be exalted in the doctrine of inspiration, and the result will be that this human factor will be so emphasized that the divine factor takes second place. This is why in fundamentalist and evangelical circles the “battle for the Bible” has to be fought repeatedly. To put it positively, the truth concerning the Scriptures can only be maintained on the basis of the truth of sovereign grace, i.e., that salvation is the work of God alone without any contributing element from man.
Then, of course, it will also be maintained that Scripture is the work of God alone, that there is no more a human element in the, preparation of Scripture than there is in the salvation of lost souls. Does this mean that Scripture was written by dictation? that the mechanical theory of Scripture’s inspiration is the correct one? that the Bible miraculously “dropped out of the sky?” Of course not; and only a fool would charge the church with believing such nonsense. Inspiration surely means that God made use of men in preparing the Bible—just as He saves men and fits them for His service. Inspiration means that God makes use of men with all their own unique characteristics, abilities, and gifts; that God made use of them in the time in which they lived, in the relationships of life in which they were brought up, educated and did their work; that God made use of them through the calling entrusted to them in God’s church. But, as Gordon Clark points out in his book, God’s Hammer, this was all according to sovereign predestination, a predestination which determined everything concerning an individual man sovereignly. The result was that “holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” And the Scriptures are Gods work and His alone.
This book does not do justice to all this. And this strikes us as a fatal flaw. The book is thoroughly Arminian in its approach to revelation and salvation. We quote only the following paragraph to demonstrate this:
Can a heathen who has received only the revelations of nature and of conscience come to salvation? Paul expressly declares that everyone will be judged according to the light which he has received: “As many as have sinned without the law shall also perish without the law: and as many as have sinned under the law shall be judged by the law.”
We have seen that the revelations of nature and of conscience are sufficient to produce, on the part of the heathen, both worship and repentance and the Full responsibility for both. However, God, who is just and omniscient, knows perfectly whether a sincere yet ignorant man, given a chance to accept salvation, would take it or not. Christ died for the sins of the whole world, those committed before His coming as well as those in times and places not yet reached by the gospel. cf:
The Lord, then, will know how to treat every sinner according to His love and His righteousness (p. 18).
It is that kind of Arminianism which will eventually also affect one’s doctrine of Scripture. Allow for this human factor in the work of salvation and soon the human factor also in Scripture will open the door to every form of higher criticism. Let the church learn once and for all that the only way to defend Scripture’s absolute trustworthiness and integrity is on the basis of sovereign and particular grace in salvation.
GOD’S HAMMER, THE BIBLE AND ITS CRITICS, by Gordon H. Clark. The Trinity Foundation, 1987, 225 pp., $6.95 (paper). (Reviewed by Prof. H. Hanko.)
This book is without doubt the best book I have read on the question of the doctrine of Scripture’s inspiration and infallibility. There are several reasons why, without hesitation, I say this.
1) The book takes an unqualified and unambiguous stand for the absolute infallibility of Scripture and for its complete integrity and reliability. Clark has no time for those who, in one way or another, want to compromise this great truth, so important for the faith of the child of God.
2) The book is written in the straight-forward language of one who knows and sees that this truth is not complicated or difficult to understand, but that it is a truth which every child of God can know and comprehend. Clark wants none of the jargon of modern day defenders of redaction criticism and their interminable arguments which no one can follow unless he has some degree in modern Hermeneutics. The writing is clear, to the point, and straight from the shoulder. This immediately gives it the ring of truth. When discussions of Scripture’s inerrancy and authority are so complicated that only advanced students with degrees can understand them, one cannot help but suspect that they carry less than the truth. The truth is always simple and clear. Things get complicated and sticky when heresy is brought in.
3) Clark makes the emphatic point in chapter 1 that this truth concerning Scripture cannot be believed apart from grace because of sin which is present in every man. I appreciated this emphasis immensely, for it is so seldom heard in our day, and it puts the battle between those who hold to and those who deny infallibility where the battle belongs: in the arena of faith vs. unbelief.
4) But most of all, I appreciated this book because it is the only book I have ever read on the question of the doctrine of Scripture which has a correct view of organic inspiration. In at least two places Clark deals with this question. It is so important because critics of Scripture have often set organic inspiration over against the idea of dictation and, therefore, interpreted organic inspiration as referring to a certain liberty which the “secondary authors” possessed as they wrote the Scriptures – a liberty to write things in their own way, which resulted in a great deal of personal views and cultural conditioning creeping into the Bible. Clark speaks correctly of organic inspiration. He points out that, while from a certain viewpoint, Scripture was dictated because it was verbally inspired, nevertheless, inspiration is more than dictation because of the truth of predestination and providence. That is, all those whom God used to write the Scriptures were determined by God from eternity to fill that role and were prepared by God’s sovereign providence for that work. Thus all the circumstances of their lives were determined and sovereignly controlled. How good it was to hear this emphasis which is so sorely needed.
We have often discussed in Seminary (among the faculty and with the students) that an overemphasis on the human factor in Scripture is really an Arminianism which also introduces a human factor in the work of salvation. The analogy between Scripture and salvation is correct because Scripture belongs to the work of salvation in Jesus Christ. Clark, by insisting on predestination and providence, makes such an Arminian conception of Scripture impossible.
The book is a collection of essays on this subject which Clark wrote over the years. For this reason there is some duplication in the book, and some of the essays are rather philosophical, especially when Clark is analyzing and criticizing the views of the critics. But Clark holds that the truth of revelation is rational and that the whole body of the truth is an organic whole every part of which stands in logical connection with every other part. Clark’s powers of logical analysis are formidable and he subjects the critics’ attacks against the Bible to searching analysis and scathing criticism.
We urge our readers to get this book. And while you are ordering it, it would be worth your while to obtain a booklet of the publications of Trinity Foundation and to ask for their Trinity Review. The latter is a brief paper which usually carries an article or two of exceptional worth. An issue from last summer carried an excellent analysis of the free offer of the gospel. The address is: The Trinity Foundation, P.O. Box 169, Jefferson, Maryland 21755.