By definition, a high view of Scripture inheres in evangelicalism. However, there does not seem to be a uniform way to articulate an evangelical doctrine of Scripture. Taking up the challenge, Vincent Bacote, Laura Miguélez and Dennis Okholm present twelve essays that explore in depth the meaning of an evangelical doctrine of Scripture that takes seriously both the human and divine dimensions of the Bible. Selected from the presentations made at the 2001 Wheaton Theology Conference, the essays approach this vital subject from three directions.
Stanley J. Grenz, Thomas Buchan, Bruce L. McCormack and Donald W. Dayton consider the history of evangelical thinking on the nature of Scripture. John J. Brogan, Kent Sparks, J. Daniel Hays and Richard L. Schultz address the nature of biblical authority. Bruce Ellis Benson, John R. Franke, Daniel J. Treier and David Alan Williams explore the challenge of hermeneutics, especially as it relates to interpreting Scripture in a postmodern context. Together these essays provide a window into current evangelical scholarship on the doctrine of Scripture and also advance the dialogue about how best to construe our faith in the Word of God, living and written, that informs not only the belief but also the practice of the church.
“Beginning in the 1820s, the reticence to theologize about the Bible began to wane. Some theologians came to insist that the truly evangelical approach to Scripture includes the affirmation of verbal inspiration and biblical inerrancy, together with a literalist hermeneutic. The roots of this growing focus lay in the post-Reformation era known as Protestant scholasticism.” (Page 28)
“This raises a fundamental question: are the words or the authors inspired?” (Page 161)
“Two strands—the Pietistic and the scholastic, the warm-hearted and the right-headed, the experimental and the doctrinal—inhabit the evangelical psyche. As a result, some evangelicals view the Bible primarily as the means by which the soul is nourished, whereas others elevate its role in the process of determining right doctrine.” (Page 39)
“Formerly, inspiration was viewed as primarily vertical—God’s Spirit working in and through one individual. Today, it increasingly is being viewed as horizontal—God’s Spirit continuing to work for generations, even centuries, through a series of anonymous individuals and groups.” (Page 160)
“Nothing in an evangelical doctrine of inspiration excludes the contribution of inspired, even if anonymous, authors and editors to a book such as Isaiah, for we probably are in their debt for the production of most, if not all, of the Old Testament historical books.” (Page 167)
Vincent E. Bacote (Ph.D., Drew University) is assistant professor of theology at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois.
Laura C. Miguelez is assistant professor of theology at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois.
Dennis L. Okholm (Ph.D., Princeton Theological Seminary) teaches in the department of theology and philosophy at Haggard School of Theology, Azusa Pacific University. Previously he was associate professor of theology at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. He is also an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA), and an oblate of a Benedictine monastery (Blue Cloud Abbey, SD).