Check out this new standard work on the authority of Scripture from D.A. Carson & Co.!
Table of Contents
- The Many Facets of the Current Discussion
D. A. Carson
- “The Truth Above All Demonstration”: Scripture in the Patristic Period to Augustine
Charles E. Hill
- The Bible in the Reformation and Protestant Orthodoxy
- Natural Philosophy and Biblical Authority in the Seventeenth Century
Rodney L. Stiling
- German Pietism and Scriptural Authority: The Question of Biblical Inerrancy
John D. Woodbridge
- Wesleyan Theology and the Authority of Scripture: Historic Affirmations and Some Contemporary Issues
Thomas H. McCall
- The “Old Princetonians” on Biblical Authority
Bradley N. Seeman
- Accommodation Historically Considered
Glenn S. Sunshine
- The Answering Speech of Men: Karl Barth on Holy Scripture
- Roman Catholic Views of Biblical Authority from the Late Nineteenth Century to the Present
Anthony N. S. Lane
BIBLICAL AND THEOLOGICAL TOPICS
- The Old Testament Canon, Josephus, and Cognitive Environment
Stephen G. Dempster
- “Competing Histories, Competing Theologies?” Reflections on the Unity and Diversity of the Old Testament(’s Readers)
V. Philips Long
- Ehrman’s Equivocation and the Inerrancy of the Original Text
Peter J. Williams
- E pluribus unum? Apostolic Unity and Early Christian Literature
- Why a Book? Why This Book? Why the Particular Order within This Book? Some Theological Reflections on the Canon
Graham A. Cole
- God and the Bible
Peter F. Jensen
- God and the Scripture Writers: The Question of Double Authorship
Henri A. G. Blocher
- Myth, History, and the Bible
Bruce K. Waltke
- Biblical Authority and Diverse Literary Genres
- The Generous Gift of a Gracious Father: Toward a Theological Account of the Clarity of Scripture
Mark D. Thompson
- Postconservative Theologians and Scriptural Authority
- Reflections on Jesus’ View of the Old Testament
Craig L. Blomberg
- The Problem of the New Testament’s Use of the Old Testament
Douglas J. Moo and Andrew David Naselli
- May We Go Beyond What Is Written After All? The Pattern of Theological Authority and the Problem of Doctrinal Development
Kevin J. Vanhoozer
PHILOSOPHICAL AND EPISTEMOLOGICAL TOPICS
- Contemporary Religious Epistemology: Some Key Aspects
- Non-Foundational Epistemologies and the Truth of Scripture
R. Scott Smith
- Authority and Truth
Michael C. Rea
- The Idea of Inerrancy
- To Whom Does the Text Belong? Communities of Interpretation and the Interpretation of Communities
- Science and Scripture
COMPARATIVE RELIGIONS TOPICS
- Knowing the Bible Is the Word of God Despite Competing Claims
- Qurʾanic Challenges for the Bible Reader
- Can Hindu Scriptures Serve as a “Tutor” to Christ?
Timothy C. Tennent
- Buddhist Sutras and Christian Revelation
Harold Netland and Alex G. Smith
- Take, Read
Daniel M. Doriani
- Summarizing FAQs
D. A. Carson
by D.A. Carson
In the past, evangelicalism has often been said to turn on a formal principle and a material principle. The formal principle is the authority of the Bible, from which everything else derives. As necessary as the formal principle is, however, it is not sufficient to define evangelicalism. After all, many other groups and movements adhere to some sort of high view of Scripture: consider (to go no further) the Jehovah’s Witnesses. So coupled with the formal principle is the material principle — a right understanding of the gospel.
This volume focuses on the formal principle. Few topics touch more issues than the topic of biblical authority: the nature of revelation, different ways of understanding truth, the locus of authority (located in the text or in the teaching office of the church), historical-critical considerations, continuity and discontinuity between the Testaments, the use of the Old Testament in the Old and in the New, the relationship between Scripture and canon, the formation of the canon, epistemology, the nature of inspiration, the notion of double authorship, the claims of Scriptural authority in an age dominated by a vision of science that widely presupposes philosophical materialism, Jesus’ own view of the authority of antecedent Scripture, assorted hermeneutical challenges, the impact of certain intellectual giants (e.g., Calvin, Barth), complex histories of the doctrine of Scripture, the Bible’s relation to history (and what “history” means), the coherence of certain shibboleth words like “inerrancy,” the Western cultural suspicion of all voices of authority in what Charles Taylor calls “the age of authenticity,” the perspicuity of Scripture, the way Scripture should and should not be used in the formation of doctrine, and, in an age of globalism, how the Christian doctrine of Scripture is and is not like the way other world religions view their sacred writings. To make matters still more complex, all of these related fields that bear on the nature and authority of the Bible have their own conceptual minefields. Not surprisingly, then, they too throw up challenging debates. Moreover, to survey the topics just listed is to remind oneself how the formal principle can never be completely isolated from the material principle: e.g., if one is wrestling with hermeneutical challenges, the discussion is bound to intrude into the territories of both principles.
About thirty years ago, some of the writers in this volume worked together and with others to produce a pair of volumes that is still in print: Scripture and Truth (1983) and Hermeneutics, Authority, and Canon (1986 — both edited by D. A. Carson and John D. Woodbridge, and both published by Zondervan). The two volumes played their parts in the then-current debates. Some of today’s topics are similar, even though the debates have moved on; others are new. Recognizing that Scripture and its authority are being challenged and defended with renewed vigor, a handful of us put our heads together and laid down the topics you will find in this volume. Funded by the Henry Center for Theological Understanding (one of three Centers operated by Trinity Evangelical Divinity School), the project took on life. Scholars agreed to write these essays, and then their papers were circulated among the contributors. In June 2010, thirty-three of the thirty-seven contributors flew to Chicago from their various posts around the world, and spent an intense but hugely enjoyable week working through their essays. On every topic there were at least two or three people in the room who were competent on that subject, and sometimes more. This led to many debates, corrections, modifications, and to much subsequent rewriting. The hours were long, the discussions candid, but a rare camaraderie developed. Most of us went away, I think, holding to the opinion that we had never enjoyed theological discussion more. Not a few new friendships were forged.
For various reasons, rewriting (some of it major) and the writing of a couple of new essays that were not ready at the time of the conference took up three years. The final major revision showed up in January 2015. Probably I should have pushed harder; the blame for some of the delay must be placed squarely at my door. Nevertheless most of these papers are sufficiently weighty and robust that they will not quickly become dated.
It remains to thank the Henry Center for the funding that made this project possible, and for the logistical competence that smoothly and expertly arranged the details of the week of discussion, from transportation to food to acoustics. Special mention must be made of the skillful work of Hans Madueme, then a doctoral student at TEDS, who took detailed notes of these discussions and circulated them to all the participants, making it possible to follow up certain points with ongoing exchanges and clarifications. Warm thanks go to Eerdmans not only for taking on this project, but because (if I may resort to an expression now eclipsed), while they waited and encouraged, they composed their souls in peace. And abundant thanks to Daniel Ahn, Daniel Cole, and Wang Chi-Ying, who prepared the indexes, without which this volume would have been far less useful than it is.
“These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit and who tremble at my word” (Isa. 66:2).
Soli Deo gloria.
D. A. Carson
Note: Don’t miss our interview with Carson on this book.
Buy the books
The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures