Think Tank 2012 Live-Blog: Two-ism and the Doctrine of Scripture (Ardel Caneday)
Speaker: Ardel Caneday (professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology, Northwestern College)
Session: Two-ism and the Doctrine of Revelation
My objective is to show you how Scripture presupposes a worldview that is contrary to all of the world’s other worldviews.
My mission is not to critique how competing worldviews against Scripture, but rather it is constructive: to speak of the transcendent God who reveals Himself through fallen creatures and the inspired, written word.
God’s Word speaks specifically of the Creator and of His relationship with creation. The Word spoke the Word that formed what was formless. The Word spoke the Word that filled what was void. Thus the Word, God’s Son is orignal. God’s Word (Scripture) is the copy that testifies concerning the original—the Word who became the Incarnate.
Paul explicitly says that God reveals Himself not just through creation but also to creation.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
The Creator mercifully has revealed Himself even more fully to His creation by condescending into creation to redeem Abraham’s seed (Hebrews 2:16). It is as St. Augustine eloquently said, “The New Testament is in the Old, concealed. The Old Testament is in the New, revealed.” In the last day, Jesus will consummate all things, especially our salvation. The reformers’ great mantra was “Sola Scriptura” – Scripture alone.
Many people today have exchanged Sola Scriptura for “Sola Experienca”. In other words, experience over Scripture. An emergent leader once said, “Scripture has no hierarchy over all other books. It is inspiring only like a physics book is inspiring.” Many people try to subvert Sola Scriptura because they believe that Scripture is not sufficient nor inerrant since it is written by fallen men. One man said, “Scripture’s human authors and the words that they wrote stand in need of redemption.”
Crucial to any doctrine of Scripture is the idea that there is a Creator-creature distinction. Attentive listeners will notice how the Creator-creature distinction will form right (or Christian) thinking.
As we probe the Creator-creature distinction in forming the worldview structure, we will take note of three things:
- Creator’s condescension to reveal himself
- Creator’s condescension to ascribe His Word through human writiers
- Creator’s condescension to incarnate his eternal word as the fullness of divine revelation to humanity
First, because of the gulf between Creator and creation, the Creator condescends to reveal Himself
More foundational to God’s revelation to us, is the fact that God created Adam to bear His image. The image of God is a link integrated into our being that gives human beings an intrinsic sense of the Creator’s deity and our dignity.
Calvin: “Without knowledge of self, we have no knowledge of God. Without knowledge of God, we have no knowledge of self.”
Paul: God is different from us, but He is also similar to us and stoops to us and reveals Himself to us (Romans 1:19-25). Paul indicts cultured and uncultured pagans alike. The chisel of the mind tries to craft God in our own image. These images are substitutions for the glory of God.
Post-enlightenent philosophers suppress the Creator’s condescension. Philosophers may thinkm it’s beneath themselves to acknowledge the condescended Creator. God, who is not human, reveals Himself to humans, as though He were human. Yet, we must never compare God to us. Kingship belongs to the Lord. Even humanity’s kingship over creation is given by the King – the Lord.
Our knowledge of God is derived from the fact that God created us in His image. For Adam and His descendants, we distort this image by which God created Adam. God created Adam with a position of glory and honor (Psalm 8). We must never conceive as humanity as though we were God. We must also never conceive as humanity as though we have no dignity.
Secondly, because of the gulf between Creator and creation, the Creator condescends in His Word through human authors.
This is a foundational presupposition that grounds our belief in God’s inspired and inerrant authority of God’s word. Ancient and modern philosphers subvert this. Since the Enlightenment, more evangelicals are following Kant down the road of seeing the Word as less and less inerrant and authoritative. Growing numbers of evangelical theologians are claiming that Scripture’s “reign” is over.
There are many contemporary scholars who question the church fathers and reformers and question Scripture as the final authority for truth.
We can know God truly even though we do not know him fully. Calvin: “We cannot measure the infinite God by humanity’s finite measurement” (paraphrase). What Calvin affirms is what church fathers proclaimed long ago. These church fathers understood the Creator-creation distinction and saw His condescension as divine mercy.
Because God formed Adam from the dust in the Earth, God also makes Himself known to His creatures in their likeness as though He wears their form and qualities, when in fact they wear His likeness.
Calvin: “men cannot open their eyes without being compelled to see him. Indeed, His essence is incomprehensible; hence, His divineness far escapes all human perception. But upon His individual works He has engraved unmistakable marks of His glory, so clear and so prominent that even unlettered and stupid folk cannot plead the excuse of ignorance.
Lastly, because of the gulf between Creator and creation, the Creator condescends to incarnate His eternal word as the fullness of divine revelation to humanity.
All of God’s anthropomorphic revelation in OT is a foreshadowing of the coming of Jesus Christ.
Jesus is the very image of the invisible God. We are made in God’s image and likeness. Jesus, however, is the very image and glory of God. God reveals Himself in Jesus, veiling His glory in flesh
Moses in Exodus 33: “Show me your glory…” John’s gospel: “We have seen His glory (in Jesus).
As full as God’s creation is, it cannot exhaust the glory of God. God is merciful. He has revealed Himself in the Scripture. Moreover, He has revealed Himself in the incarnate Word.