Karen and I were blessed to be with the kind folks from Westminster Seminary this weekend. The teaching and the fellowship were terrific. I was encouraged by the vision and commitments of Dr. Lillback and the faculty. The theme of the event was "Full Confidence" - a reference to the inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture. Lord willing, Church of the Saviour will be hosting this event for the Philadelphia area sometime next year.
The sessions were...
* Greg Beale addressed the inerrancy of God's written word. Specifically Dr. Beale dealt with the question, "Can the Bible be completely inspired but still contain errors?" This is precisely what a number of evangelicals are saying. Some of them even use the term inerrancy to describe the Bible while at the same time claiming that the Bible contains error and myth. "But not to worry," they reason, "God inspired those errors and myths." In response, Dr. Beale gave an impassioned defense of the historic, and biblical view of the Scripture's inerrancy.
* Dr. Bill Edgar gave a fascinating talk which reflected on the connection between the complete reliability of Scripture and the shifting reality of culture. Addressing events as varried as Luther nailing his 95 theses to the church door at Wittenburg to Woodstock to the fall of the Berlin Wall Dr. Edgar made the case for the place of inerrancy in apologetics. Don't ask me how he did it, but he did it. Leave this to the experts kids!
* Dr. Richard Gaffin, professor emeritus at WTS addressed the Christ-centeredness of Scripture. One claim made by some so-called "evangelicals" is that the New Testament (Jesus included) misinterpreted and misused the Old Testament and forced upon it a Christ-o-centric reading that was not originally intended. This of course is a failure to understand the grand narrative of the Bible and displays the lack of confidence on the part of the errantists that God fully inspired the Scriptures.
* Dr. Carl Trueman rounded out the event by dealing with Martin Luther and the clarity of Scripture. Carl is the most engaging church historian I have ever heard. He demonstrated, among other things, how the debate between Luther and Erasmus, while on the surface dealt with the nature of human will, was really a debate about the clarity of Scripture. Erasmus (along with the Roman Church) believed that Scripture is clouded in mystery and therefore requires the Magisterium to tell the people what it means. Luther certainly believed in the important role of preachers trained in biblical languages and theology. However, he also believed in the basic perspecuity (clarity) of Scripture so that the average layperson is able to read it and understand its basic meaning. What is more, because of the Scripture's clarity the studied layman is able to evaluate the faithfulness of the preacher to those very Scriptures. This was not mere lecture. It was a profoundly encouraging message that God's inerrant Word is not locked away in mystery waiting to be explained by the experts but is basically clear and ready to be read and understood by God's people.