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Friday, October 27, 2006

F&WOG--Genuine Truth

Typically, I do a book review after I have read an entire book. However, I do not seem able to restrain myself until after I complete this book. So, rather than the typical review (which may still happen), I've decided to provide excerpts from the book. The book is Fundamentalism and the Word of God by JI Packer.
The Word of God consists of revealed truths. This is nowadays an unfashionable notion. It is commonly said that there are no revealed truths; God revealed Himself, not by words, but by the redemptive works through which He became the world's Saviour. Revelation is by action, not by instruction. The Bible is not revelation, but memorial and legacy of revelation: a record of observations, impressions and opinions of godly men involved in redemptive history. It has the relative authority of a first hand account, written with thought and care by men of good faith and great insight, but it has not the absolute authority of the truth.
Again, that was his take on the climate in 1958. Now groups that do not call themselves "liberal" adhere to the above mindset. But Packer counters...
But according to Scripture, God reveals Himself to men both by exercising power to them and by teaching truth to them. The two activities are not antithetical, but complementary. Indeed, the biblical position is that the mighty acts of God are not revelation to man at all, except in so far as they are accompanied by words of God to exlain them...Therefore, verbal revelation--that is to say, propositional revelation, the disclosure by God of truths about Himself--is no mere appendage to His redemptive activity, but a necessary part of it.
Those who want to reject propositional truth swing the pendulum too far, claiming that those who hold to it see the Bible as nothing more than a systematic theology proof text. But that is not so.
Not that the text of Scripture is made up entirely of formal doctrinal statements; of course, it is not. The Bible is not a repository of isolated proof-texts, as the Mediaevals, unconcerned about the literal sense of passages, were prone to think...It should be clear, therefore, that when we assert that what Scripture contains is a body of truths, embracing both matters of fact and general principles about God and man, and that these truths together constitute His Word, we are not prejudging the literary character of Scripture as a whole, or of any part of it. There is nothing in this position to cramp one's exegetical style, as some of the critics of Evangelicalism seem to fear. We do not suggest that every passage should be treated according to the same prearranged formula (as the Mediaevals did by putting all texts through the same allegorical mincing-machine), but rather the very opposite--that we must recognize the complexity of Scripture, and do full justice to all the varied types of literary material which Scripture contains.


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