First, let me direct your attention to something I’ve added to the blog just below the blog’s name and tag-line:  a page entitled “Naked Bible’s Inspiration Discussion.” For those who are new to this blog, we’re in a discussion on inspiration — why, in the Naked Bible’s view — the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy has problems and we need something better. I will be referring new readers and those who complain about how heretical my views are (read: they don’t conform to some confession or doctrinal statement they are familiar with) to this page. I can’t take the time in replies to do the catch-up work for you, so this page will be your go-to place to get caught up if you really care about the discussion.

Now, back to the discussion.  When we last left off, some time ago, I had issued my third “Bellingham Statement”.  Here are the three statements to date:

1. Another Whack at Bellingham Statement 1

2. Moving to Bellingham Statement 2

3. Bellingham Statement 3

What I’d like to do at this juncture is start specifically comparing my thoughts to the Chicago Statement. After the third Bellingham Statement it occurred to me that it would be easier to issue more statements if I had first gone through the entire Chicago Statement and taken some notes as it were. Below are the first eight (of 19) Chicago Statement Articles and my thoughts on them. Subsequent posts will cover the rest.

Chicago Statement

Naked Bible

Article I.

WE AFFIRM that the Holy Scriptures are to be received as the authoritative Word of God.

WE DENY that the Scriptures receive their authority from the Church, tradition, or any other human source.

No issues with this in general. The affirmation is worded broadly enough so that someone who holds to a canon other than the Protestant canon could affirm it. The denial seemingly takes a swipe at that possibility, but doesn’t have to be read to rule out a wider canon. It certainly rules out the Church (read: Roman Catholic Church) as the originator of Scripture’s authority.

Article II.

WE AFFIRM that the Scriptures are the supreme written norm by which God binds the conscience, and that the authority of the Church is subordinate to that of Scripture.

WE DENY that Church creeds, councils, or declarations have authority greater than or equal to the authority of the Bible.

No issues.

Article III.

WE AFFIRM that the written Word in its entirety is revelation given by God.

WE DENY that the Bible is merely a witness to revelation, or only becomes revelation in encounter, or depends on the responses of men for its validity.

No issues with this either since I’m not neo-orthodox.

Article IV.

WE AFFIRM that God who made mankind in His image has used language as a means of revelation.

WE DENY that human language is so limited by our creatureliness that it is rendered inadequate as a vehicle for divine revelation. We further deny that the corruption of human culture and language through sin has thwarted God’s work of inspiration.

The affirmation is interesting. Who is “speaking” the language in the affirmation? Humans? If so, then the affirmation could be read in such a way that the idea of God GIVING the words to the writers violates the affirmation. This would work as follows: God gives humans language>humans use language to write the words of Scripture (the words aren’t given to them)>the result is “Scripture” (in terms of this being the beginning of the inspiration process). But does this refer to GOD using human language?  That would mean this part of the statement has God giving the writers the words, an idea that readers know I object to.  I think, though, that the denial portion favors the former option, since the denial clearly concerns *problems* that may occur in normal human communication – which problems would NOT occur if God were the speaker. As such, I think this affirmation could easily be in agreement with me that the words of Scripture originate with humans who use the vehicle of their language to write under Providence.

Article V.

WE AFFIRM that God’s revelation within the Holy Scriptures was progressive.

WE DENY that later revelation, which may fulfill earlier revelation, ever corrects or contradicts it. We further deny that any normative revelation has been given since the completion of the New Testament writings.

I have no issue with the affirmation. The denial is tricky. Where does analogical fulfillment of prophecy fit in here? Take Hosea 11:1 (“out of Egypt have I called my son”). The verse looks BACK into time to the exodus and refers to the nation of Israel (God’s son – called exactly that before Pharaoh [Exo. 4:23]). Yet Matthew applies it to Jesus. Hosea 1:11 isn’t predictive in any way, so Matthew sees an analogy. Fine. Does he then “correct” Hosea 11:1? No – Hosea never claimed anything; he just looked BACK and made an observation. Does Matthew “contradict” Hosea? No, again because Hosea makes no claim that Matthew contradicts (God did indeed redeem Israel from Egypt, and Matthew doesn’t say otherwise). My issue here with Article V is that it ought to account in some way for Scripture “updating” or “being applied” by subsequent Scripture (or subsequent editorial hands in the inspiration process). That would help distinguish certain phenomena in Scripture from what is being targeted in the denial.

Article VI.

WE AFFIRM that the whole of Scripture and all its parts, down to the very words of the original, were given by divine inspiration.

WE DENY that the inspiration of Scripture can rightly be affirmed of the whole without the parts, or of some parts but not the whole.

My issue here is the idea that the WORDS “were given by divine inspiration.” What I want from those who composed this language is an explanation of how this is NOT dictation (“subconscious dictation” is still dictation – it need not be audible) or how it is not a take-over of the writer’s mind. As this whole series of posts has documented, NO notion of dictation can be reconciled with the phenomena we find in the text – since the result  would render the “whisperer” (God) incompetent, schizophrenic, or mutable in disturbing ways. See the catch-up PAGE above for a list of earlier posts and readings that are fundamental to understanding my concern and view on this.

I have no problem with the denial portion.

Article VII.

WE AFFIRM that inspiration was the work in which God by His Spirit, through human writers, gave us His Word. The origin of Scripture is divine. The mode of divine inspiration remains largely a mystery to us.

WE DENY that inspiration can be reduced to human insight, or to heightened states of consciousness of any kind.

I have several issues with the language here, as anyone who takes the time to read the links on the catch-up PAGE above will understand. I do not believe it is correct to say God “gave” the words. The origin language is also vague. I would affirm that God is the ultimate originator of Scripture in the ways I have articulated in earlier posts. I would deny that God is the immediate originator of Scripture. That would be the human writers. The denial “mode” language is a cop out – the mystery results from NOT wanting (or being able) to distinguish the idea of God giving the words from any sort of dictation. Rather than appeal to mystery, the dictation language of words being given ought to be scrapped for something better.

I am in agreement with the denial statement.

Article VIII.

WE AFFIRM that God in His work of inspiration utilized the distinctive personalities and literary styles of the writers whom He had chosen and prepared.

WE DENY that God, in causing these writers to use the very words that He chose, overrode their personalities.

I agree with the affirmation and the denial – but how in the world does the person who wrote or assents to Articles VI and VII assent to Article VIII?  How (or why) would God give the different words to each synoptic writer? Why have writers quote the MT vs. the LXX and vice versa in the same book or passage? What about a later editor updating what God “gave”? Sure, we could say (and I do) that the editor was part of the inspiration process, but how is it that what GOD gave in need of updating? Didn’t God know via omniscience that part would need updating? If so, why not just take care of that need with better wording? Etc. Etc. This is all comprehensible if you just have Article VIII, but Articles VI and VII? I guess it’s a mystery.