Once upon a time, a serpent questioned God’s authority.
Of course, this took place in the third chapter of Genesis. While that attack on God’s Word was unique, it was also the first of many that have come down throughout the ages.
This remains true even into our own day, where the assaults on Scriptural integrity have been focused on the doctrine of inerrancy, the veracity of the canon, and even the use of language to convey ideas (i.e., is it possible for God to communicate to us in the words of Scripture?).
Some of these attacks are new, while others seem to resurface once every few decades, or even centuries. Either way, Christians can be thankful that God has always raised up men suitable to the task of defending His Word.
Seven such men are featured in the book, Did God Really Say? Affirming the Truthfulness and Trustworthiness of Scripture. Each one is a reputable theologian/scholar who articulates and/or defends the Bible as God’s inspired and inerrant Word from different angles.
In the first chapter, Scott Oliphint gives an exposition of the first chapter of the Westminster Confession of Faith, which summarizes the Reformed doctrine of Scripture. While some of his verbiage might be out of reach for most laymen, Oliphint nonetheless sets forth an excellent introduction to this subject, and reminds his readers that in order to first defend a proposition (in this case, that the Bible is God’s revealed Word), one must first define his terms, and what’s at stake. Oliphint very much rises to the occasion.
In chapter two, Michael Williams summarizes the doctrine of inerrancy as set forth by Benjamin Warfield, arguably its greatest articulator and defender. Warfield’s articulation of this doctrine needs to be re-introduced every decade or so, and Williams does so quite capably.
In chapter three, Michael Kruger shows how the canon of Scripture has been attacked in recent years. Then, he demonstrates how each of these arguments actually fails to make its case. Hence, he gives ample reasons why Christians can take heart that the canon is exactly as God intended it to be.
The fourth chapter might be the weakest of this volume, simply because of its uneven nature. In the first half, Robert Yarborough summarizes the 1978 Chicago Statement on Inerrancy. In the second half, he talks about seven challenges to the doctrine of inerrancy. However, they seem to focus more upon ethical issues that are in some cases only tangentially related to the topic on hand.
In chapter five, Vern Poythress defends the proposition that God can (and does) communicate to His people via the written word in the Holy Scriptures. I found this chapter to be very helpful in that he shows how language is a gift from God, and the conduit by which we might know about Him.
In chapter six, John Frame presents an analysis of N.T. Wright’s theology of Scripture. This essay differs from the others in that it is neither a statement of orthodoxy (like Oliphint’s essay), nor an apologetic (a la Kruger); rather, it is a review and mild critique of how one of the most intriguing (and at times infuriating) scholars of our time views God’s Word. That said, it is worth reading.
In the final chapter, editor David Garner confronts some of the modern criticisms of Scripture coming out of academia. He counters the claims of postmodernism that we can know anything at all via language, and then succinctly restates the doctrine of revelation, and why people need to be illumined, or transformed, before they can truly grasp the truths of the Bible.
All told, “Did God Really Say?” is a worthy read. While each of the topics broached in the seven chapters could be more fully dealt with in their own volumes, they are each treated here with very capable hands. I highly recommend it.