Four Favorites on the Doctrine of Scripture1

by John Frame

 

1. B. B. Warfield, The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible (new edition: Kessinger Publishing, 2008). Virtually the same as Revelation and Inspiration (Baker, 2000).

These essays are the most influential in forming the evangelical and Reformed view of Scripture in the twentieth century. They are around 100 years old, but the exegetical arguments still hold up. The book is a formidable work of godly scholarship. It is the starting point for most current discussions of biblical authority and inerrancy. Warfield’s view was not original, though some have claimed that it was. His was the traditional position of orthodox Christianity. But he was creative in his powerful defense of that position.

 

2. Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, volume one of four, on “Prolegomena.” English translation (Baker, 2003).

Bavinck’s theology is the most important work of Reformed systematic theology in the past century. The section on Scripture is marvelously comprehensive and nuanced. In my judgment, there is no difference between his position and that of Warfield, but his vocabulary and emphasis are different. He and Warfield give us “two witnesses,” coming from different cultures, testifying to the truth of Scripture as God’s word.

 

3. Meredith G. Kline, The Structure of Biblical Authority (Eerdmans, 1972).

This is the most important breakthrough in the doctrine of Scripture since Warfield. Shows that Scripture has the character of a written treaty, of which God is the author, and to which believers must be committed without reservation. I have disagreed with Kline on some other matters, but I believe this book contains a powerful argument. Kline shows that the idea of a written, authoritative word of God is essential to God’s plan of redemption.

 

4. Ned Stonehouse and Paul Woolley, eds., The Infallible Word (P&R, 2003).

These are cogent articles by the old (around 1946) Westminster Seminary faculty, dealing with various aspects of biblical authority. I keep coming back especially to John Murray’s “The Attestation of Scripture” and Cornelius Van Til’s “Nature and Scripture.” Murray gives a concise, definitive exposition of Scripture’s self-witness. Van Til shows that both general and special revelation are necessary, authoritative, clear, and sufficient for their respective purposes, and that they stand opposed to the worldviews of non-Christian philosophies.

 


[1] Published in New Horizons (Mar., 2003), 13.