Monday, October 19, 2009

Westminster Weekend recap...

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.


Kent Sparks said...

Yes. I understand that I was among those unceremoniously "bashed" during the festivities. I and others with whom I share both faith and ideas are deeply hurt by this, I will assure you.

Kent Sparks said...

Just to be clear, I mean to say that my views (and the views of those like-minded) were described in dark terms and described as dangerous.

Todd Pruitt said...


I don't ever recall you being mentioned.

Todd Pruitt said...

There is an ocean's difference between "bashing" someone and offering a critique of a scholar's published views. Have you not criticized and even diminished the views of those who hold to biblical inerrancy?

I am wondering what the proper response would be to those who teach that God inspired error and myth? Are evangelicals (in the historic sense of that word) to approve of such exotic theology?

Dr. Beale's excellent presentation addressed that very idea which certain scholars in the evagelical camp are advancing. To say that God has inspired error and myth at the very least borders on blasphemy. I would certainly call that dangerous. I know we disagree.

Todd Pruitt said...

I remember when I was kid playing a game at school called the whisper game. We'd sit in a line. One person would whisper a story in the ear of the person sitting next to him. He would then try to duplicate the story to the next person in line. On and on it went until the last person in line received the story in his ear. The fun was in hearing the story from the first person and then from the last person. The differences were always startling.

The point was to teach us that when a story is repeated and passed through human filters it inevitably changes.

That would be a good game for adults.