Hodge and Warfield: Our View of Inspiration Reflects Our View of God

Great beard. Great theologian.

Great beard. Great theologian.

Based on Twitter it seems like everybody is talking about the doctrine of Scripture at this year’s gather of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS). It seemed fitting then to highlight this little gem from the modern grand-daddies of the doctrine of Inspiration, Archibald Hodge and B.B. Warfield:

…it is also evident that our conception of revelation and its methods must be conditioned upon our general views of God’s relation to the world, and His methods of influencing the souls of men. The only really dangerous opposition to the Church doctrine of Inspiration comes either directly or indirectly, but always ultimately, from some false view of God’s relation to the world, of His methods of working, and of the possibility of a supernatural agency penetrating and altering the course of a natural process. But the whole genius of Christianity, all of its essential and most characteristic doctrines, presuppose the immanence of God in all His creatures, and His concurrence with them in all their spontaneous activities. In Him, as an active, intelligent Spirit, we all live and move and have our being. He governs all His creatures and all their actions, working in men even to will, and spontaneously to do His good pleasure. The currents, thus, of the divine activities do not only flow around us, conditioning or controlling our action from without, but they none the less flow within the inner current of our personal lives confluent with our spontaneous self-movements, and contributing to the effects whatever properties God may see fit that they shall have.

–INSPIRATION, by Archibald Hodge and Benjamin Warfield, The Presbyterian Review 6 (April 1881), pp. 225-60.

As Vanhoozer* never tires of pointing out, the God question and the Scripture question can’t be separated. What you think about one is bound to affect what you think about the other.

Soli Deo Gloria

*I’ve been busy so this will have to serve as a place-holder for my “Engaging KJV” series. Should be back to it next week.

3 thoughts on “Hodge and Warfield: Our View of Inspiration Reflects Our View of God

  1. I just read another somewhat related post about this subject – from the complete opposite end of the spectrum (neo-orthodoxy). Interesting timing. I’ve never been impressed with Warfield, mostly because I despise – strong language, but necessary, in this case – his rationalism, especially in relation to the view of inspiriation that he defended. There’s a lot that can be said about this and it’s a big subject, though – and I don’t want to be too much of a downer :p

  2. I guess my basic view of God is that I don’t think He died or stopped speaking after the canon was completed. I do think we need a canon and I’m not about to argue that we should add to the canon, but I think that the spirit within the canon can point us to revelations that are happening now, even potentially those which involve the Sabbath healing and sacrificial meat issues of our day. I don’t think the abolition of slavery and equality of women could have happened except as a discernment process ultimately rooted in Christian values even though both processes appeared to contradict Biblical texts considered in isolation. I’ve started reading Vanhoozer. If the Bible is the script for our drama, then what happens if someone comes to audition who has a different body than the 1st century thought was possible? Do we tell them they don’t really exist? Or do we try to help them fit into a Biblically prescribed role that is as faithful to both the Bible and their identity as possible? I’m only one person, but the Holy Spirit seems to be telling me the latter, and I think I’m supposed to speak up honestly about it so that if the community starts to discern the same, then the tradition continues to develop.

    • Well, I can’t get into all of that, but as for Vanhoozer, I think he clarifies that towards the back end of the Drama of Doctrine. Also, in his essay in the 4 views on moving from the Bible to Theology (which happens to be on sale on kindle right now!).

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