For Those Who Don’t Like the Bellingham Statement’s Articulation of Inspiration

Posted By on March 25, 2009

If you don’t like the way I’ve described inspiration, notably: (1) my denial that God gave the words to each writer and (2) the subsequent notion that humans are the immediate source of Scripture while God is the ultimate source (and so BOTH are sources), then you need to read this article on one of the scholar-warriors who defended inspiration and inerrancy: “B. B. Warfield on the Humanity of Scripture” by A.N.S. Lane.

Professor Warfield and I would get along just fine.  I’ll bet he could sign the Bellingham Statement, too.

I wasn’t aware of this article until it popped into my blog reader today. I deliberately try to articulate what I think without appeal to others until I’m well into the task. I’m old enough, trained enough, and seasoned enough to feel like I ought to approach such tasks as a scholar.  When I think I have something, then I look to the wisdom of others (scholars or not) for correction or refinement or support. I’m (again) glad for that method here, since some of Warfield’s quotations (I have highlighted some things) sound like what I’ve been blogging. I’m not saying we’d agree on every jot and tittle, only that Warfield’s words are quite consistent with the view I’ve been working to spell out.

So, if you want to accuse me of denying something, you can now put B. B. Warfield in your cross-hairs. Who’da thunk that?  Warfield vs. the Westminster addendum?!

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8 Responses to “For Those Who Don’t Like the Bellingham Statement’s Articulation of Inspiration”

  1. Mike A. says:

    It kind of makes you wonder, how would Warfield have felt about the Chicago Statement?

  2. MSH says:

    @Mike A.: Yes, it does.

  3. cwmyers007 says:


    Since I have followed you so closely, it is very easy for me to pick out exactly where you and Warfield diverge. Let me paste some quotes and see how I fare:

    “Warfield, in SSW, 606f, demonstrates that his claim is in fact greater than that made by dictationists because for him God influences not just the pen but the whole personality
    of the biblical authors.” –Would you say God also influences their personality?

    “He cannot take seriously Warfield’s claim that God and man are co-authors of scripture because he cannot see the coherence in the claim that God COMPLETELY controls the course of history through his providence.” –You have argued before that God does NOT control COMPLETELY, you argue that he controls only what he wants to control–leaving aside many “mundane” things (you would say).

    “Pinnock, Scripture Principle, 101f, rightly sees a connection between Warfield’s view of inspiration and the Calvinistic doctrine of providence.” –The way Warfield would define providence would not by synonymous with yours. Warfield extended God’s providence to every mundane thing–this is the classical Calvinistic view–there is nothing that is not touched by God’s providence in some way. Your view that says that Providence does not need to attend to many mundane things is not Warfield’s view.

    I believe the last point is the heart of the divergence (and perhaps the only one) between you and Warfield. Would you agree?

    (I believe Warfield would have consented to the Chicago Statement and refined the Bellingham statement by defining what it means by providence.)

    Grace be with you,

  4. Jonnathan Molina says:

    “In other words, the Bible is to be seen as both a human and a divine book. This does not mean that the Bible is partly human and partly divine.”–A.N.S. Lane

    Amazing description seeing that Jesus Christ, who we also know as The Word, is described by us now the same way, both human and divine. Just a thought!

  5. Jonnathan Molina says:

    And I guess I got ahead of myself, here’s what page 8 had to say about this Word/Jesus analogy:

    Warfield indicates the points where the analogy does not hold. But no analogy holds at every point and Warfield is stating that the analogy is weak rather than rejecting it.

    “The analogy holds good a certain distance… But the analogy with Our Lord’s Divine-human personality may easily be pressed beyond reason… Between such diverse things there can exist only a remote analogy; and, in point of fact, the analogy in the present instance amounts to no more than that in both cases Divine and human factors are involved, though very differently.”

    But, he continues, ‘even so distant an analogy’ can help us to see that just as Jesus was truly
    human yet without sin, so the scriptures can be truly human yet without error

    (This is what I was thinking, but then there are errors (or what else to call them) as we have seen in the copies, etc… so I guess this is where the analogy would end This is a great paper, Dr. Heiser).

  6. MSH says:

    @cwmyers007: Chris – did you not read the end of my post? I said that I wouldn’t agree with everything Warfield said or wrote. What wasn’t clear about that?

    Nevertheless, here are your questions:

    “Would you say God also influences their personality?”

    MSH: yes – I have never excluded that in the providential process. The writers were what they were under providence. The events and circumstances of their lives molded them into who they were, preparing them in mostly unseen ways to write.

    Your second note seems to ask whether I would agree with the degree of Warfield’s calvinism (I guess). No, Warfield was more of a calvinist that I am. Not sure why that matters – do we all have to be the same degree of any such peripheral (and modern) doctrinal formulation? You cannot be in line with everyone since everyone does not agree.

    You seem to have ignored the specific items in Warfield’s writings that disagree with the recent Westminster language.

  7. MSH says:

    @Jonnathan Molina: This is a statement I have no problem with. But it is also subject to interpretation (HOW is the Bible completely divine? – I’d say, in the sense that God is its ultimate author through providence).

  8. MSH says:

    @Jonnathan Molina: Right – the analogy “doesn’t hold” since it is subject to interpretation – but it’s still valuable.

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