Translated by Andrew A. Boomhower
The Synodical Conference treated in five sessions concerning
Theses on the Divinity of Holy Scripture
The doctrine, that the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are of divine origin in their contents and wording, is a doctrine the surrender of which dissolves the foundation of the Christian faith.
The doctrine of the divinity of Holy Scripture is itself an article of faith and can thus be recognized simply in Scripture itself and accepted or believed with full confidence by use of the same.
The doctrine of the divine origin of Holy Scripture is plainly and clearly revealed in Scripture in many ways:
First, the speaker, Prof. A. L. Gräbner of Milwaukee, WI, justified the first thesis as follows:
The holy Apostle Paul declared to the Christians in Ephesus in Eph. 2:19-22 that they were built on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, of which Jesus Christ is the cornerstone. These words form the basis of a picture that is repeatedly applied to depict the Holy Christian Church. Thus 1 Cor. 3:9, where the Christians are called God’s building, and 1 Cor. 3:15 and 2 Cor. 6:16, where they are God’s temple. In 1 Pet. 2:5, the Apostle invites the Christians to be built up as a spiritual house. Of these true Christians, Paul says, “they are built on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets.” How does he understand this foundation? Does he mean to say that the Apostles and Prophets themselves are the foundation on which the Christians are built? In older and in more recent times, it has been frequently interpreted this way. To cite just one, who counts himself among the Lutheran theologians, von Hofmann writes, “as the cornerstone is Christ Jesus personally, as the stones laid on the foundation are Christians, so also, if the Apostle would be consistent with his image, the foundation consists in persons (Der Brief Pauli an die Epheser, p. 101).”
But Paul never says that he is the foundation, but that he helped to lay the foundation, and as a wise master builder he did not lay a human foundation, but an everlasting foundation. This interpretation of von Hofmann’s, however, is not therefore valid, because Christ himself is not the foundation of the Church in that He is a person, but insofar as He is the Savior of those who believe in Him. So also the Christians are not built on the foundation as living stones in that they are persons, but insofar as they believe in Christ. Compare Gal. 3:26, “ For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” 1 Pet. 2:7, “Unto you therefore which believe he (namely the cornerstone Christ) is precious.” Col. 2:7, “[Ye are] rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith.” Col. 1:23, “ If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister.” In this last verse, the Gospel, which Paul preached and would preach to the end, is depicted as the foundation on which the Christians are founded in faith and shall remain founded in faith. The Gospel is also the foundation on which the whole of Christianity rests. This is also the case with other theologians.
Thus Balduin, when he writes, “the foundation of the house is the Apostolic and Prophetic doctrine from which alone one can determine how one is to live aright and lead a godly life… So from this foundation the godly in the Church have the certainty of their faith and their salvation because their faith if won from the writings of the Apostles and Prophets and their salvation also is founded thereon (Comm. in omn. epp. Pauli, p. 887).”
Here this stands not the least bit in disagreement with 1 Cor. 3:11, where we read, “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” For right in the preaching of the Apostles and Prophets, as he should know, is Christ the Lord, the Alpha and Omega. Acts 3:18, “But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.” Acts 10:43, “To him (Jesus) give the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” Acts 26:22, “Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead.” 1 Cor. 1:23, “But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness.” 1 Cor. 2:2, “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”
Now, what goes for the oral preaching of the Apostles, namely, that they are the foundation of the Church of Christ, also goes for the words written by the same. As much follows from Eph. 2:20, when they are referenced: “And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.” Here the Prophets of the Old Covenant are cited, who would soon be dead and so would no longer preach orally, but through their writings instead. The New Testament Christians are also built on the foundation of the Prophets as well as God’s people in the Jewish Church of the Old Covenant. Compare Rom. 16:26, “But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith.” Rom. 15:4, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning.” Please note, for us, the New Testament Christians, is written what was written aforetime. It says in 2 Pet. 1:19, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed.” Here, he does not say, “the Fathers of the Old Covenant had also a more sure word of prophecy; but ye in the New Testament do well that ye take heed of us,” but, “take heed as well, ye New Testament Christians, of the writings of the Prophets: thereon ye do well.” Thus Christ our Lord also pointed out the writings of the Prophets to those who would believe in Him. John 5:39: “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” When the Lord said this, none of the New Testament Scriptures had as yet been written. To John’s disciples, who doubted and whose faith was to be firmly founded through Christ, He pointed out in Mat. 11:5 the Prophet Isaiah, 61:1 and 35:5. To His own disciples, who had lost all the ground under their feet in His death and had buried their hope with Christ in the grave, the first thing He did after the Resurrection was not to show his hands and feet, but rather, to revive the flames of faith, He opened up for them the writings of the Prophets. They certainly felt how their hearts grew warm by this. Luke 24:32, “And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?” Compare also Luke 24:44-5, “And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures.” Yes, the fact, that the unbelieving Jews did not believe the words of the Messiah sent by God, Christ put down to the fact that they would not believe in the Scriptures of the Old Testament, as He says in John 5:46-7, “For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?”
With the Apostles, we find the same practice that Christ the Lord presents to us. In regards to Paul, it is said in Acts 17:2, “And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures.” Thus, he did not do this in order to adapt himself to the circumstances of the time, but rather, it was his habit everywhere. We hear the same in Acts 28:23, “And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.” And in chapter 26:22, the Apostle himself says, “Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come.” However, he preaches in writing the same way he orally preaches according to Scripture, as he says, for instance, in 1 Cor. 15:3, “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures.” We find this in all the epistles of the Apostles, in which they were always showing how they based what they set before us to believe and to teach on the writings of the Old Testament, hence the frequent and repeated appeals to the words of the Prophets. The holy Evangelists too were always careful to show from the Old Testament the divine plan of the holy narrative of the New Testament, of the great deeds of God in the birth, passion, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, as we encounter especially often in the passion narrative according to John in chapter 19:24, 28, 36, and 37; where it always says, “that the scripture might be fulfilled.”
Indeed, this is exactly the purpose of writing the New Testament Scriptures, that the Christians would be strengthened and assured in their faith in Christ. Thus, St. Luke composed his Gospel, as he himself explains in chapter 1:4, “That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.” And John writes in his Gospel, chapter 20:31, “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” He also composed his letters with the same purpose, as we read in 1 John, 5:13, “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” Therefore, the Christians, while they do stand in faith, are to win the continuation of their faith through the writings which the Apostle delivers to them.
Now knowledge is the first part of faith. By ourselves we could hardly have any knowledge of divine truth. For without the Spirit of God, no one knows what is in God. Without divine revelation, we are completely ignorant of divine things, as is written in 1 Tim. 6:3-5, “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.” Hence the Savior declares about the ignorance of the unbelieving Jews and all who remain blind to the saving truth of the Gospels, that they do not know the Scriptures, as He says in Mat. 22:29, “Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.” From this, there is a connection between error and ignorance of divine things and knowledge of the Scriptures; and the fact that this connection is causal follows clearly from the parallel passage in Mark 12:24, where it says, “And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God?” On the other hand, we see from 2 Tim. 3:16 how Paul refers his son Timothy to Scripture for the development of spiritual knowledge in which Timothy was raised up from youth. Therefore, whoever takes Scripture from us takes the fount of spiritual knowledge, without which we can know nothing of divine things and will come to nothing.
Hope belongs to the true faith as well according to Heb. 11:1, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Insofar as faith is hope, we found it on the Word of Scripture. Only on the foundation of Scripture, we say in 2 Tim. 1:12, “For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” Chapter 4:8, “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” Rom. 8:38-9, “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Likewise, the saints of the Old Covenant founded their hope on the Word of God. Psa. 119:49-50, “Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope. This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me.” Verses 92-3, 95, “Unless thy law had been my delights, I should then have perished in mine affliction. I will never forget thy precepts: for with them thou hast quickened me… The wicked have waited for me to destroy me: but I will consider thy testimonies.” Jer. 15:16, “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart.” David asked God that this would also be the case in the future in Psa. 119:133, “Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me.” The same went for the first Christians, as we read in Acts 17:11, “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” The godly Bereans were convinced, no doubt about it, that God had announced his gracious will to them through Paul. Irenaeus writes about the Christians of his day, “We know of the will to deliver us only through those who brought us the Gospel. First, they orally preached the same, but later, as it pleased God, they left behind the same in the Scriptures so that after them, the same would be cornerstones of the Faith.”
We draw our knowledge from Scripture and found our hope on Scripture, and in the same way, we judge all doctrine according to Scripture. The fact that Christians and especially teachers should do this is shown in Titus 1:9, where St. Paul exhorts Titus to make sure that the man chosen as bishop “[hold] fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.” We are told about Apollo and how he used Scripture to separate truth from falsehood in Acts 18:28, “For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.” The first Christians used Scripture so much that the false teachers themselves, in order to get a hearing from the people and to show themselves in a good light, also quoted Scripture. This is what Irenaeus says of the Valentinians, “by means of thoughtless interpretation they draw their evidence from the evangelical and apostolic writings.” Our Lutheran forefathers followed in these fathers’ footsteps, Luther first of all, and we, as their posterity, follow in the same way. By Scripture we judge, when necessary, whether a doctrine is from God or is only a human opinion. We know from Scripture and only from Scripture and teach according to Scripture that God is triune, the world was created in six days through God’s almighty Word, man was made in God’s image; that Christ, Son of God and Son of David, has delivered all mankind, rose on the third day, ascended into heaven, is seated at the right hand of God, and one day will judge the world. We know from Scripture and only from Scripture and teach according to Scripture that the Holy Spirit wishes to lead all to Christ by His powerful call and keep them in the faith, and just as many are called but few are chosen, so only the chosen will be saved, will quite certainly be saved, not because God took their works or conduct into consideration and so saved them, but out of pure grace and mercy.
Everything that stands against these teachings of Scripture, be it Arianism or Socinianism, Rationalism or Calvinism, or Synergism in all its myriad forms down to the present day: we reject it happily and wholeheartedly as falsehood, lies, and deception. We recognize no one as a brother in faith who knowingly fails to accept a truth clearly written in God’s Word. Indeed, we study the words of Holy Scripture and spend time and effort on them so that we might come to an ever better understanding of the individual words. Why else would we erect schools and institutions than to train up ever more orthodox expositors of Scripture? We commit our preachers to the Confessions because they are in concord with Holy Scripture.
However, all this can only be warranted if Holy Scripture is a completely firm foundation for faith and doctrine, and according to 2 Pet. 1:19, it is a firm foundation: “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts.” And in Tit. 1:9, it says, “Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.” However, Holy Scripture can only be such a firm foundation if it is God’s own Word. For this book deals with God’s intentions and his decisions concerning fallen man, and if a man can barely know, according to 1 Cor. 2:11, what is in man except the spirit within him, how can a man know what was and is in God’s heart from eternity! It comes down to this: only divine promises of grace can bring peace to the poor, sinful heart, for the heart’s accuser also rests on a divine foundation, the Holy Law of God, and as far as that goes, he is right. Therefore, the poor heart wants to have a divine foundation for the absolution of sins. That is why the Apostle writes in Rom. 10:17, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” 1 Cor. 2:5, “That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” What good would it do if only Peter or Paul promised us that our sins were forgiven, that God had peaceful intentions for us, or that the Lamb of God bore our sins and in Him we have an advocate with the Father? God Himself must tell us. What audacity would the teachers of Christianity have to carry out their offices if they could not stand on any divine foundation that would prove to be such? The Prophet Micah writes in chapter 3:7, “Then shall the seers be ashamed, and the diviners confounded: yea, they shall all cover their lips; for there is no answer of God.” Regarding himself, he continues, “But truly I am full of power by the spirit of the Lord, and of judgment, and of might, to declare unto Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin.” Hence, the Lord says to Jeremiah in chapter 1:7, “But the Lord said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak.” How could we dare to step up to grave and coffin and tell the mourners about the Resurrection of the Dead and eternal salvation if we did not have any divine foundation to do so? If someone asked us, “how do you know that?” How many tears would it dry if then we had to say, “that’s my opinion,” “that’s what I think,” or “that’s what I feel in my heart”? How could we dare to declare to a restless, awoken conscience in terror of God’s wrath when it is standing on death’s doorstep, “believe that God forgives your sins out of grace for the sake of Christ. Believe that no death can kill you,” if we could not say, “God says so Himself, and before this consolation ceases to be, God would first have to cease to be the Truth”? Only if we can say, “thus saith the Lord!” Only then can we also oppose strange doctrines, unexamined persons, and sophistry. Only then can we happily reject false doctrine. Therefore, this is not smoke-and-mirrors or know-it-all. Yes, only when we can say, “thus saith the Lord!” can we practice right Christian discipline in our parishes justifiably and with right firmness and oppose every spirit that rises up against God.
But what if Scripture were of divine origin only largely and holistically, only primarily and not in every part nor individual phrase; what if it contained sections of human origin; if it could be that Scripture is afflicted with falsehood or the individual words were chosen and placed by men -- how then could Scripture pretend to be of any practical use in faith and life? It would all be over. An example might help to illustrate this. Suppose a probate court accepted a human last will and testament even though the same were set down partly by the testator and partly by the heirs and others who had an interest in it, and was unable to differentiate what had been written by the testator himself and what had been written by the heirs and others. Would not the court look at such a document as a useless scrap of paper? No heir would be able to take or recognize anything as his inheritance that was promised to him in such a will and testament. No, it would be made sure that the testator, fully aware, acknowledged it with his signature word for word as his own will and had it witnessed to make sure that it was certain. Where any doubt reigns after the death of the testator, the validity and force of such an earthly last will and testament collapses. These matters only concern what “this life possesses, but a handful of sand that the heart distresses.” We have two testaments from God in which the assets are of greater value than heaven and Earth, and these would be given to us in such a state that the divine and human in them would be blended until they could not be differentiated into what was divine and human? -- Furthermore, if two persons make a contract, they do not leave it up to others to set up the document as they please; rather, they see to it that it is carefully drawn up word for word according to their (the signatories’) wishes. This is also the case when drafting laws; the wording is considered in exactly the same way so that the law actually says and stipulates what the legislators want it to say and stipulate. No authority could be pleased when told, “the law is alright in the major points, but not in the minor ones, for there are elements in it that are not binding.” How careful we are with congregational minutes so that each word conveys the facts! Where else can one find out the contents of a document if not from the wording?
So, whoever takes away from us this certainty or surrenders this conviction that the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments in their contents and wording are of divine origin, he takes away the foundation of the Christian faith and surrenders himself.
Simple Christians can say in this instance, “I thought it was a sure-fire thing that the Bible is God’s Word. I’ve never doubted it.” Happy is the man who can say that! Of course, the Bible is certainly God’s Word. We are sure of that. We have no wish simply to confirm this, nor do we simply seek to convince our listeners who have found comfort, peace and hope in Scripture, of the fact that Holy Scripture is only from God; rather, it is because this doctrine is beset from so many sides that we stand up for it. Just think: all these attacks are directed against the fortress of our faith. This fills us with great sadness. We know that they will not reach their ultimate goal, for the Lord is with us in the fight, but it makes us sad for one thing that the enemies are so blind, and for another that they cause any damage at all. With David in Psa. 11:3, we must cry, “they are tearing down the foundation!” Since with a fortress the attackers do not only assail the walls here one moment and there the next, but once in while also try to undermine the entire fortress instead to blow it up in one fell swoop, the same goes for the enemies of Christianity. They happily attack this doctrine one moment and that doctrine the next, but they also seek above all else to destroy the foundation of the Christian faith, for if this doctrine of the divine inspiration of Holy Scripture falls, nearly the entire faith will be lost in the process. Unfortunately, this assault against the foundation of the Christian faith is not only carried out by blatant unbelievers, but by members of other church bodies; indeed, since rationalism came along, by those in the middle of the Lutheran church. Right up to our century, theologians, whose name had a good ring in the Lutheran church for a time, snipped apart and dismembered Holy Scripture in the interests of science. They do admit that God’s Word is contained in Scripture, yet there are also some human parts, and it is the job of science to separate the one from the other. But if that were the case, on what then can our faith rest? For who can say with certainty what in Scripture is divine and what is human? That is why we stand up and confess, “Holy Scripture is God’s Word from beginning to end. We are called to this testimony; our job is to strengthen ourselves in it, especially because there are currently so many who do not have any firm foundation for the Faith and cannot say with David in Psa. 119:120, “My flesh trembleth for fear of thee; and I am afraid of thy judgments,” for only he who can believe that Scripture is of divine origin will be afraid of God’s judgments; in the same vein, Luther says that for him, each word of Scripture could encompass the world.
A foundation for the fact that we must raise our voices up in warning against this overthrow of the foundation of faith is that our local American adversaries seek the friendship of the Modern Theologians. If this Modern Theology gets into our people, every basis for Christianity will thereby be lost. This pious talk of God’s Word being in the Bible is bewitching many. However, such gossip is nothing but deceit. If there is just one falsehood in the Bible that the Spirit of God Himself has not marked as such, the Bible is lost. If someone highly recommended a book to me and said, “truth and falsehood are in here, but it is up to you to pick them apart yourself,” I would have to believe that he wanted to pull my leg, all the more so when he says, “that’s God’s Word in there.” What could I ask of such a Bible that brings me truth and falsehood mixed together! I would put such a Bible in the oven. It would be quite a dangerous book. I would always have to fear that I would be rejecting God’s Word if I said, “this is false,” or that I would have to backpedal from committing idolatry if I took something as God’s truth when it was actually the word of man. Therefore, it is nothing less than a veiled, complete rejection of Holy Scripture if one says, “Scripture contains God’s Word, but it is not itself God’s Word; it contains the right religious system, but with it false ones; and the office falls to the theologians as scientific men to investigate what in there is divine and what is human.” We cannot and must not go along with this, or our congregations would have to disavow us as wolves.
Oh, it is frightening what is cropping up in our time! They have now come so far, that they are daring to come right out and say, “fundamentally, the Bible is not for the Laity at all; it is not intended to be a devotional book at all,” “the true religion has been orally propagated in the Church,” and “the Bible is nevertheless a weighty book for theological studies, for in it, one would have in any case, among other things, a charter from which one could infer the emergence and, according to the same, the continuance of the Church.” Until now, the professors of the modern faith had only told their students what they made of the Bible in their lecture halls; they were afraid of the people, by whom they wanted to be seen as the leaders of the faithful. Now, however, in Tartu, they have openly declared before a lay audience that the Bible is essentially not for the people at all, but for the theologians instead, who alone are qualified to study its divine contents.
Another especially important point is the fact that the written Word is likewise the Word spoken through the Apostles and Prophets, as demonstrated above. For this, the following points may still be noted. Abraham said to the rich man in Luke 16:29, “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.” But the Prophets were not there at all, but long since dead. From this we see then that the Jews did have the Prophets when they read their writings. Furthermore, it says in Mark 16:15, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” The Apostles did not orally preach the Gospel to every creature, but through their writings they still preach to us today. Therefore, what the Prophets and Apostles said and what they wrote is exactly the same thing. Finally, John writes in his first epistle, 1:4, “And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.” Previously, he had enumerated everything he had taught, and now he also wrote the same. Hence, it counts for nothing when the New Theologians say, “of course we know why the Apostles wrote letters; in Corinth a lot had happened that was too illuminating, so Paul wrote to them, and he also wanted to establish a rapport between himself and the Roman Christians.” Indeed, if there were no God, that would make sense. To be sure, it looks as if it is done by chance and happenstance in the writing of the holy books. However, God the Lord had even all these happenstances in his hand. The Apostles may often have written without knowing quite everything that drove them to write what they wrote, but God wanted them to leave behind a source, rule, and guide for the Church for all time.
If the Tartuans, after announcing themselves so openly in their newest writings, read this first thesis of ours, they would say, “proving this (namely, that the foundation of the Christian Faith is surrendered when one gives up the doctrine of the divinity of Holy Scripture) is a futile endeavor, for Profs. Volck and Harnack say, ‘the Bible is not the foundation of the Faith at all.’” Volck says, “we are Christians, not because we believe in the Bible, but because we believe in Christ (Die Bibel als Kanon, p. 53).”
On page 47, Volck ridicules the people who found their Christianity not on Christ, but on a book, for he writes, “the facts which he (Prof. F. Mühlau) presented may be very uncomfortable to those who found their Christianity not on Christ, but on a book in which every letter enjoys an immutable, infallible authority (loc. cit., p. 47).”
Prof. Th. Harnack writes that he is concerned that “it (Holy Scripture) is not itself the foundation (specifically, of Faith), which is Christ, the eternal Word made flesh (John 1:14), outside of and next to which no one can or should lay another foundation (1 Cor. 3:11), and we do not want anything else but to remain a habitation of God through the Spirit (Eph. 2:20 ff) (Ueber [sic] den Kanon und die Inspiration, p. 9).”
Furthermore, Harnack writes, “we do not believe in a book, but in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. He alone is the foundation and cornerstone of the Church and the rock on which the Church and the individual believer are being built and are building themselves (loc. cit., p. 6)”
These theologians are like the enthusiasts, who cry, “the Spirit! The Spirit must teach us the truth!” Likewise, the New Theologians cry, “No, Christ is the foundation of the Faith, not Scripture!” However, with that, they completely contradict Eph. 2, “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets,” that is, upon the witness, upon the writings of the Apostles and Prophets. To this, they come right back and say, “he who teaches this misleads the youth; that is a foundation of sand. Oh, the evil Foe is very serious about robbing us of the foundation of our faith.” It really does sound nice when they say, “No! Christ is the foundation of the Christian Faith!” But this is nothing more than a superb illusion. We only have Christ insofar as we draw Him from Scripture. Hence, it is quite frightening to talk the way the New Theologians do. Woe to Christendom, if no one is serious about opposing those people! Never before has anyone who wanted to be considered a believer been so bold as to say, “it is not the Bible that is the foundation of the Christian faith.” It exceeds everything that those who do want to be believers have ever said. As long as it was only unbelievers saying this, there was no danger, but now those who would be pillars of the Church are saying it. However, from this we should also recognize how important it is that an orthodox church which fights such Spirits always endures. The Christ who is presented to me outside of the Bible is nothing more than a fantasy. The Christ of the twelve Apostles alone is the true One. Hence, it behooves us to consider the fact that outside of the Bible we know very little of Christ the Lord. We have no other reports that warrant credibility from the time in which the Apostles wrote.
The evidence which the Tartuans provide for their outrageous propositions is also lazy. A synod in the Baltic Governorates attacked the above proposition of Volck’s. To this he exclaimed, “so has a Lutheran synod not read Rom. 10:17, ‘So then faith cometh by hearing’?” Volck did not think at all to reconcile himself with the passage that immediately follows: “and hearing by the word of God.” This right here is very important, for what does it show? True faith comes from the Word that is preached, but not from just any preaching, but rather one that is wholly certain: namely, God’s Word. Preaching only gives rise to faith insofar as it is taken from the written Word of God, only so far as it conveys exactly the intent of Scripture. Volck also appeals to Luther. Luther would have gained the first inkling of faith through the comforting encouragement of a fellow monk. But why were the words of a fellow monk comforting? Because it was God’s Word that was spoken. “I believe in the forgiveness of sins,” is a divine truth revealed in Scripture, a Gospel concentrate, so to speak. The Church has no witness of Christ outside of the Word. Where the written Word does not speak, the Church should remain silent, and that she does. As Christ’s Bride, she avoids everything that the written Word does not say.
We see that the views of the New Theologians are haunting America too from an example within the so-called New York Ministerium. When one of them stood up and said, “faith flows from election,” another stood up and said, “show me a single place where it says that.” The former countered, “haven’t you read Act. 13:48, ‘and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed’?” To that the latter answered, “Oh, that’s just what Luke wrote; that’s Luke’s opinion!” -- This man obviously has something of the New Theology in him.
One can take this talk by the New Theologians as a genuine declaration of bankruptcy, for whoever takes this position no longer has, according to his doctrine, any Bible with which he can begin to the lay the groundwork of a Christian faith. There will still be people who believe, so something else must be given as a foundation for their faith. Thus, one Kahnis closes the first tome of his dogmatics in which he treats inspiration in detail with the following words: “not upon the inspiration or authenticity of Scripture, not upon dogmatic terminology, not upon academic debate, but upon the living fact of his real communion with God through Christ, the true Christian establishes his Christianity (Luth. Dogm. I, p. 674 per ult.).”
What does this mean, “the living fact of his real communion with God through Christ”? What that means, if it means anything, is “his Christianity.” This is therefore the rotten result which Kahnis has painstakingly arrived at, that the true Christian establishes his Christianity on -- his Christianity.
Previously, Philippi also had a formulation of the view that the faith of Christians was founded on the oral witness of the Church. He did want to accept Scripture as the sole norm, but not as the sole source; rather, next to Scripture he still placed the voice of Christendom. In later editions of his dogmatics he abandoned this standpoint, saying, “just as Scripture is the norm, so must it also be the source of Christian faith; the Church has no other voice than Scripture.”
In a recent, new piece, Prof. Kuebel of Tuebingen deals with the difference between positivist and liberal theologians and lets both have their say. For the liberals, he presents Lipsius, who says, “Holy Scripture is neither wholly nor in any certain part directly God’s word itself, but only the historical documents of the initial religious awareness of God’s word (Dogm. p. 199).”
According to Lipsius (p. 154), there is generally, “no directly divine doctrine that is infallible in form and content, but only ever a divine word clothed in fallible human words.” For him, Holy Scripture is the “collection of authentic documents of the Church’s initial spirit, selected through the historical judgement of the Christian Church (Dogm. p. 193).”
Schenkel divides theologians into two camps, as he writes, “down to the present day two views stand starkly opposed in regards to the four canonical Gospels. The first is the ecclesiastically biased one, which sets out from the premise that the same contain absolutely reliable news and are quite above every doubt in regards to their historical credibility as such. Lying at the foundation of this premise is the assumption that the authors of the Gospels (like the authors of Holy Scripture in general) in writing down their works were protected from every error by the completely supernatural influence of the Holy Spirit… the view opposing this is the scientifically impartial one. They look at the Gospels as living products of their authors and their time; they seek to understand them by the peculiarity of their actors and their contents, by their literary character, by their probable purpose, and by the presumable intent for which they were drawn up. They examine the credibility, the authenticity, the probability, and the internal cohesiveness of their statements… Nothing is clearer than the fact that these two standpoints are not mutually consistent… It certainly cannot be disputed that the precisely written scientifically impartial view of the Evangelical documents also leads to no small detriment for the composer of Jesus’ character study. Not only that, the impartial research into the historical worth and literary credibility of the Evangelical documents has led to fundamentally different results; indeed, there is no lack of researchers which have denied nearly all credibility to the same. If we were to share the latter view, then the attempt to draw up a character study of Jesus would be a wasted effort from the start. We, however, have not been able to convince ourselves that those documents are quite so unreliable. As all initial source accounts about fact, which passionately evoke the one-sided and thrilling interest of a close circle of contemporaries, the same are occasionally personally colored and have inflamed vehement factions; their reports are of unequal historical worth (Das Charakterbild Jesu, 2nd ed., p. 14 f).”
He examines what is credible about the Gospels and in doing so, takes it for granted that the holy writers could not be unpartisan in their accounts, namely of their master’s death by crucifixion. This opinion logically leads to the conclusion that an account by Pilate would have been of greater weight, because he would not have been so inflamed by passion!
When hearing how impartial these theologians pretend to be who hold us to be very biased, we recommend that taking a somewhat closer look at this scientific impartiality. Then we will find that as far as this extolled impartiality goes, there is certainly not much to speak of. Scientific impartiality allowed Schenkel to come to the assumption that the Gospels arose from a Proto-Gospel that all the authors of the three synoptic Gospels had made use of. This view, which has been called “critics screaming like teething children,” has been rejected as untenable by other scientifically impartial people who have maintained on the other hand that the Evangelists had copied from each other and that the later writers know of the earlier works and tried to correct them. However, it is curious where the scientific impartiality has ended up. In answering the question of which was the first, which was the second, and which was the third, six different groupings of the three synoptic Gospels were possible. And how many of these groupings do we find advocates for? All of them. Here they are:
After all this, we will be quite content with our own bias for the time being.
Unfortunately, the Positivist Theologians have nothing substantially different from the liberals. They are all, if one looks closely, biased towards unbelief on this point. This is quite plainly the case with Rothe when he writes, “I honestly know nothing of this. Did I want to press those who were historically already in possession of the revelation to assume its miraculous origin? Should I have made my confidence in its credibility dependent on this assumption? It is something big if the light of the revelation only shines on such people when Christian ideas dawn on them. The main thing is that they go their way in life in the light of this Sun. If they should stumble upon miracles in doing so, I say this to them: ‘friends, I will not impose upon you the belief in miracles; beneficia non obtruduntur. If you cannot reconcile yourselves with miracles, well then, you are sidelining yourselves. Then you can see for yourselves how you cope with history without them, how without them, you manage a pragmatic declaration of the historical results that have been established as factual, for which the rest of us hold the key in miracles. As for me, I do not assume miracles out of some sort of dogmatic covetousness, but on behalf of history, because I cannot manage without using them as historical explanations in light of sure, undoubted historical facts -- not because they shoot holes in my history, but for the very purpose of overcoming the gaping holes therein.’ Therefore, in spite of my determined belief in miracles, I still sincerely agree with Weisse’s warning not to alienate completely the generation of our day from the Christian faith by the appearance of accepting the miracles of the Bible. That is certainly the case, as he writes, ‘among the no-small (praise God!) number of our contemporaries in whom warm and real Christian piety still lives, the great majority has an instinctive apperception against miracles, which, of course, is understandable enough due to the spiritual development among us during the last century’ (in Philippi I, p. 328f.).”
Here we see plainly and openly expressed what one will do if one takes out this and that in Holy Scripture as not belonging to the things that a Christian would have to accept and in doing so, detracts from the divinity of Holy Scripture. One will make concessions to human reason to the generation of our day riddled throughout with unbelief, but does not consider in the process that through such concessions at the cost of the truth no true victory is ever achieved, that unbelief just demands one passage after another, destroys one Scriptural truth after another, until no more concessions can be made because nothing more is left. Also, Rothe does not accept the miracles of the Bible because they are in Scripture but because he “cannot manage without using them as historical explanations.” Schenkel, however, acknowledges quite frankly that with the surrender of any part of Holy Scripture, with concession, if the holy writer erred in any point, the divinity of the whole of Scripture would be forfeit. As he writes, “as only the smallest error in the Evangelical Scriptures is admitted, so the condition for their infallibility at once collapses in on itself. The excuse that the Holy Spirit could certainly be mistaken in a less important point, and that it is enough if this is not the case for more important points is just as unfortunate as it is unbecoming. It fails to take into account the fact that, if an error is admitted in one point, it is admissible everywhere and that he who is not trustworthy in small matters neither has any right to demand belief in his trustworthiness in great matters (loc. cit., p. 14).”
However, the so-called Positivist Theologians in Germany have also abandoned the old doctrine of the divinity of Holy Scripture across the board. In his paper, On the Difference Between the Positivist and Liberal Schools of Modern Theology, Kübel has no qualms in saying, “the doctrine of inspiration held by the orthodox Lutheran dogmaticians in its strictest sense is not shared by any modern Positivist Theologian. ‘It has fallen,’ says Kahnis, ‘and rightly so’ (p. 288).”
Certainly, in this camp, they do still keep up the appearance of teaching a divinity of Holy Scripture and may fool themselves and others who do not see so deeply. Thus, they make sure to distinguish between the spirit and the form of Scripture in order to get a divine and a human side of Scripture. Kübel writes about this, “they (the Positivist Theologians) distinguish the spirit and the form. To this form, however, only the actual phrasing really belongs strictly speaking; for example, the character of the language, the distinction of poetic and prosaic imagery , whereupon only some ‘pictures’ can be counted from the category of ‘pictures’ of Holy Scripture as the mere vessel which holds the divine contents, such as possibly psychological, definitely physical, geological, and the like ‘pictures’ (and these only with set limits as far as the consistent positivists are concerned). The modern positivists have more or less abandoned this form as subjective, individualistic appropriation of the human authors, and with this, they have been known to cross the line of the older orthodoxy, for which all later such distinctions simply did not exist and everything in the Bible, right down to the letters, was divinely infallible alike (loc. cit., p. 105 f).”
Beck writes, “it (theopneusty) extends over divine secrets; over the external and the human it extends only so far as it stands in essential agreement with the first (Einl. in das System der christl. Glaubenslehre.[sic - Lehre not Glaubenslehre, see page 242]).”
Twesten: “they finally went too far when they ascribed an unconditional infallibility to each and every thing in the Scriptures such that not only could no error be admitted in significant (emphasized in the original source. It would seem that insignificant errors are to be admitted in matters of faith!) matters of faith and life, but also no lapse of memory could be acknowledged in the smallest of chronological, topographical, or other details (Vorlesungen über die Dogmatik der ev.-luth. Kirche, p. 414.; [page 390 in vol. 1 of 1838 4th edition]).”
Tholuck: “as we finally take a look at the results for the dogmas of inspiration and revelation yielded from these investigations, so we cannot, after the results gained here, maintain a view of inspiration which ascribes a universal rightness (emphasized by Tholuck) to the words of Scripture or a theory of revelation which attributes the same to every word of the Apostles (Das Alte Testament im Neuen Testament. 6th ed., p. 48.).”
Dieckhoff: “it must be acknowledged that the way they grasped the inerrancy of the word of Holy Scripture in the old orthodox dogmatics is untenable and that they cannot overcome the negative critics if they keep from conceding this point (Kirchliche Zeitschrift, 1858., p. 757).”
Here it comes out again what they press and push for in their unhealthy position on Holy Scripture: their tiresome fear of science, so-called, which they would like to overcome scientifically, and on its behalf they make “concession” after concession, to which they have no right before God. However, what they achieve and do not achieve in doing so has already been expressed above.
Modern Theology is itself evidence for the fact that with those distinctions and concessions, they are only getting themselves into new troubles of which so-called science has yet to find them any way out. Thus, as soon as one has distinguished between the divine and the human side of Scripture, the question arises what is to be counted as the divine side of Scripture and what as the human side. What do we hear as the answer for this question? If we are to be told by one of these theologians’ number, let us hear it from Kübel: “now it certainly must be conceded that, as the example cited shows, not only does no general unity of opinion prevail among the Positivists, but primarily, not a single one of the same, not even excepting Beck himself, can determine a firm, certain, and clear line between what in the Bible can be afflicted with errors and what cannot (emphasized by Kübel himself) (loc. cit., p. 107f.).”
We do indeed find attempts to give the necessary guidance for such a division between the divine and the alleged human in Scripture. Volck writes, “in order to be able to conduct the survey of the area of the infallible and divide it from those areas where error is possible, and furthermore -- the division of the essential and the non-essential in the Bible, the interpreter of every single bit of its contents must judge by each bit’s relevance to salvation, which is realized in the history reported by the Bible. He must see if and how it is connected to the same (Lehre und Wehre 32, p. 1).”
What desperate malice is hiding behind this so-called entirety of Holy Scripture! They want to drive this into the people. Volck spoke on the accusation that he should have kept silent before the people, “I do not want any duplicitous bookkeeping.” As far as his point of view is concerned, he has every right. There is no way Christians can, as he sees Scripture, adhere to the individual words and phrases of Scripture; they would have to fall into error. As an example for this, he cites the words of Psa. 14:1, “There is no God.” However, this is really not the question at hand, whether one should rip the Bible out of context. We would not do that either. We know full well that one must look at each passage in context, but Volck says, “even if I perfectly understand the words of a saying in its relevant context, I still know nothing at all, for I must first know what the sense of this saying is in the entirety of the Scriptures.” However, this would mean completely taking away the Bible, for how can one always hold the entirety of Scripture before his eyes? This exceeds all spiritual and mental powers. One would think, “I still want to be able to console myself in Scripture if my mental faculties fail. If I become weak in the death of my sense, this saying will be enough to strengthen and keep me in faith, ‘the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.’” Now all of a sudden it shall mean, “no, it can first be done from the organism of the entirety.”
Hence, our dear Christians should remember what is being served up to them here in the New Theology, which says to them, “if you want to know what God’s Word is, you must first read through the whole Bible, then you must look at the individual passage and see if it is necessary to the whole system. If it is necessary, then you have found God’s Word. If it is, as you think, not necessary, it is only a minor issue, and so is not God’s Word.” Is this not terrible? Who, I would just like to say, among the laity is guilty of this? O, how terrible are Satan’s plans for Christianity! He wants nothing less than to rob Christians of their salvation. Although we have no wish to maintain that the New Theologians knowingly have these intentions, the Devil, who disguises himself here in the form of an angel of light -- he has these intentions. Please note that not a single well-known theologian rebuked the Tartuans; instead, they all praised their remarks. The father of the New Theology, so far as it is new, is quite plainly the Devil, but the Father of the Old Theology is God. God once said in Paradise, “in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Eve had this Old Theology in her heart when Satan came to her, for she said, “indeed, God said so.” The Devil, however, came with his New Theology, “did God really want that to be understood so? You must look at the entirety, and then you can eat from the tree, rest assured.” That is also the motto of the New Theologians: “indeed, did God really say?” But our motto is, “heaven and Earth will pass away, but Jesus’ Words will not pass away.”
O, let us thank God, that He has led us here to this free land and founded the old Lutheran church, increased it, and strengthened it. O, now let us hold fast to what God has given to us out of grace! God has entrusted us with a great deal for our own sake and the sake of all Christendom. Yes indeed, for all Christendom too! For over there they certainly used to look down on us, as on people who are not at all competent to have a say in such highly learned issues and after whose opinions no reasonable person would inquire. However, things have now changed. Our simple witness to faith, which we may speak wholly in honor of God, has spread throughout all Christendom. O, therefore let us be true to our confession; then will ever greater blessings go out from our cheerful, joyous, and bold witness, for here one must not only look upon the damage that the Devil has caused while the doubt of Holy Scripture’s divinity still finds new nourishment through the New Theologians, but one also must consider what great use results from our remaining steadfast in God’s Word. If such people must think of us as certainly having a firm viewpoint in the same, it must first be taken away from us before we open up to the sure assaults of the philosophers. As a professor of philosophy once said to his believing opponent in a dispute over a point of Scripture, “you have every right from your viewpoint.”
Now if one of the theologians quoted verbatim above has articulated the proposition that not a single well-known theologian in Germany still accepts the old Lutheran doctrine of the inspiration of Holy Scripture, one would unfortunately have to leave it unchallenged. If there were someone over there who would want to knock over this proposition, they would barely let him get a word in edgewise. After all, Philippi, who now no longer lives among the living, was one himself, although it was best not to exclude him here.
To illustrate, some samples from famous contemporary theologians shall follow.
R. F. Grau writes, “the theologians of the 17th century taught a divine character and nature of Holy Scripture, which, as it is wrong in its human and historical realities, so too in no way proves to have a truly divine character. The divine in Jesus Christ proves to be truly divine through exactly the fact that it is really and truly adopted into human reality, into birth, human growth and development, indeed, into suffering and death, though it also had to relinquish divine appearance and glory. This is the case with Holy Scripture, which, in order to be the comprehensive and infallible source of truth for the Church and its entire development, did not originate in a purely divine manner in such a way that the Holy Spirit, as the sole Author, dictated contents and words alike to the human authors as mere scribes or instruments. On exactly those grounds high and divine qualities, such as completeness and sufficiency, clarity, and so on, were ascribed to Holy Scripture. This is the doctrine of inspiration of the 17th century [Entwickelungsgeschichte des neutestamentlichen Schriftthums, vol. 1, pg 11].”
Please note the ruse here, that the New Theologians talk as if discussing a generally recognized fact when they say that the doctrine of inspiration of our dogmaticians first appeared in the 17th century and that in contrast, Luther had a much more open view. They mix up namely what Luther says about the distinction between firstly the canonical books of the New Testament and those of second rank (the so-called deuterocanonical books). For example, they cite what Luther determined about the Epistle of James, namely, that he did not believe that the Epistle was written by the Apostle James. However, this question does not belong here, for it is a completely different question whether an epistle was written by one Apostle or another, and whether what an Apostle writes contains falsehood. Luther always maintained that every letter of the Prophetic and Apostolic writings is God’s very own Word.
Please also remember this from Grau’s quote, that the New Theologians do not even admit the completeness, sufficiency, or clarity of Holy Scripture anymore.
Grau goes on, “against this we can only say with the greatest textual researcher of our time” (namely, von Hofmann, who is, however, the greatest textual besmircher): “‘neither to questions growing from the composition of the text and language, nor to the literary characteristics of the authors, nor to the immediate purposes and the peculiarities of the individual texts originating therewith, nor to the multiplicity of teaching methods, nor to the difference of historical accounts could one do justice without coming into conflict with that dogmatic assertion of the divine inspiration of Holy Scripture: concerning the New Testament texts, it agrees only with a harmony of the Gospels, but not with the Gospels, and only with a collection of doctrinal proof-texts, but not with the Apostolic Epistles. A picture of the text built according to that assertion would have only a remote similarity to the reality of the same.’”
Even now, this is the sorry state of affairs: when the gentlemen read the Bible and get the impression that what is read betrays a human origin, they do not become frightened of their faithless heart, but rather follow the received impression. While the theologians are to make the Christian people certain of the divinity of Holy Scripture, they seem to hold their calling to be to make the same uncertain.
When von Hofmann talks here so scornfully of a collection of doctrinal proof-texts, one sees that the mere, individual passages of Holy Scripture mean nothing at all to the New Theologians anymore. “No,” they say, “if one wants to find the divine in the Scriptures, one must first go through the entirety of Scripture,” and in doing so, they do not understand, as the ancients did, the Analogy of Faith, which arises out of the clear passages of Scripture, but rather their own made-up system about Scripture.
So, Grau himself goes on, “the Godhead did not reveal himself on Earth in mock-human form, as the Docetists taught.” Quite true! But what mock-human form ignores the old doctrine of inspiration? Or do sin and falsehood belong to the true human form!? This warning against Docetism is a warning against a bogey.
Grau writes on, “in the same way, the humanity, the historical development of the Holy Scriptures is not mere appearance elicited through an external accommodation of the Holy Spirit to the nature of the human authors.” We say that indeed, it is true: when the Holy Spirit writes through Paul, He speaks differently than when He writes through Peter. It is a wholly different style when Isaiah, this genteel, finely cultured man, is God’s writer, than when Amos writes, who was a cowherd. However, God’s unending mercy subsists in exactly this: He set down His Word through all kinds of instruments. Now sounds a lovely flute in that beautiful image of an organ, then the strong tone of a trumpet, then also He weighs in with a kettledrum. Would we rebuke God for this? It is not just an illusion when the organ pipes sound different but are blown by one wind. Holy Scriptures is and remains in truth the majestic, most sublime book, for so sublimely, as, for example, John begins his Gospel, has no mortal yet written. Heathens themselves recognized this in the Bible. They said, “if one would have the most sublime model of rhetorical speech, let him find it with the Jews, namely in Genesis 1.”
Grau writes further, “here it is necessary to recognize that it is not in spite of the authorship of the Holy Spirit that Scripture has emerged and become truly human and historical; instead, it is because of exactly that origin. The Spirit of God is, as he who works in the world, a Spirit of history and development; and he is, as the Spirit of Christ, a Spirit of self-renunciation and humility (!),... No retreat to Quenstedt and Calov is possible any more… (so the gentlemen permit us no retreat either. Perhaps they will if we send a commission over there and most humbly petition them for permission).”
Grau: “The Holy Scriptures are no longer a codex of law sent down from heaven indexed by their individual paragraphs and proof-texts. We must reject such a belief for the sake of the faith as Docetic and for the sake of science as ahistorical.” During Christ’s temptation, the Devil grew anxious and uneasy when the Lord cited just one proof-text of Holy Scripture. According to the New Theology, that was unnecessary: Satan had only to say, “an individual proof-text proves nothing to me. Take your proof from the entirety of Scripture!”
Grau: “for us the Scriptures are a collection of texts grown through genuinely human and historical development. The nature of this collection does not contradict the the Holy Spirit at work in this development as the Spirit of Jesus Christ, the Son of Man and the Son of God, but rather fulfills it. The boundary of the divine and the the human in Scripture generally cannot be determined mechanically and quantitatively any more than in the person of Jesus (Entwicklungsgeschichte des Neutestamentlichen Schriftthums, Gütersloh 1871, vol. 1, pp. 11, 12, 18ff).”
Now, read the story (John 7:44-53) of the servants of the high priests sent out to arrest Christ. When they come to Jesus, He preaches. They arrange themselves and listen, thinking, “when he is done preaching, we can still lead him away.” But look, they are so struck that they quietly slink away without Christ. The high priests approach them, “why have you not brought the Christ here?” But they answer, “there has never been a man who talked like this man.” This enrages the high priests. Furiously, they yell at them, “are you also deluded? Do any of the authorities or Pharisees believe in him? Instead, the people who know nothing of the Law are accursed.” These men learned in Scripture were genuine modern theologians of their time.
Kahnis: “the old dogmatic inspiration rests on the basic idea that the Scriptures are God’s Word because God the Holy Spirit is the actual author. He is this, however, as far as he gave the impulse to the holy writers to write and dictated content as well as words to them… the untenability of the old orthodox doctrine of inspiration will become apparent to anyone who simply takes the effort to make a vivid picture of the same in detail. Is one to think that the Apostle Paul, as he wrote that tender, urbane letter to Philemon touched by a gentle humor only laid down what the Holy Spirit dictated to him?” One can see quite well how truly God’s Word speaks when it says, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2:14).” Now the little epistle to Philemon shall be a very humorous book!
Kahnis: “is a doctrine of inspiration really worthy of the Holy Spirit when it ascribes to the him every solecism and barbarism in the Apostolic Scriptures, every fumbled construction of Paul, every imprecise citation, differences in presentation (in fact at points where the wording matters, as with the Ten Commandments (what blindness Kahnis shows here!), the Lord’s Prayer, and the words instituting the Lord’s Supper), borrowings from other writings, purely personal judgements and expressions, and so on… If we have to accept a human factor with the Prophets and Apostles themselves in the reception of revelation, there is no way we could explain the unmistakable facts without the contribution of human peculiarities. This human side emerges still more decidedly in poets, in the lyrical and didactic, and in the chroniclers. Should one accept the idea that what David received in his heart was dictated to him by the Holy Spirit in the form of a psalm?” Does not every Christian have thoughts wrought in him by the Holy Spirit which later gush out of him in prayer? Is the Holy Spirit incapable of having brought David to put down his inspired thoughts in the form of a psalm?
Kahnis goes on, “if the Evangelist Luke just wrote down what the Spirit dictated, then why does he appeal to tradition and research?” A laughable objection! As if it were not a matter of the highest importance for the audience if he who claims to speak by the Spirit can likewise appeal to the fact that he also speaks as an eye- and ear-witness and one who has carefully established everything. Hence, when another Apostle was to be chosen to take Judas’ place, Peter said, “Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time… must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection (Act. 1:21-22).” Is it so pointless for an inspired writer to provide proof that what he reports is quite humanly credible? Rather, is not God to be thanked that He arranged for a holy writer who could also say, “I myself have seen and heard what I write to you”? Without a doubt, Luke especially interviewed the Virgin Mary, who knew the most. The Holy Spirit could have also revealed everything to Luke quite easily, just as He gave the Apostle Paul an exact account of the institution of Holy Communion. However, is it not so much more glorious that God also took care of human credibility? In explaining the truth of Holy Scripture, these questions are asked: 1. Could the Apostles speak the truth? 2. Would they speak the truth? 3. Did they also have to speak the truth?
Now, Kahnis writes on, “If the sayings of Solomon, as the stricter expositors themselves admit for their part, do not rest on revelation but on worldly wisdom, what an inconsistency lies in the assumption that the Holy Spirit dictated human wisdom! Do not these, which are very much cum grano salis, become serious principles and laws of the Holy Spirit? And to confer this doctrine of inspiration on a book like Ecclesiastes: what monstrosities would arise for us!... Among these writings, however, are differences in the viewpoint of the origin as well as of the contents. We cannot put Deuteronomy on the same level as the first four books. In the prophets, Obadiah and Jonah stand among Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. In the New Testament, the Pastoral Epistles (p. 531) and the Epistle to Philemon come in a second line” (What angel from the abyss taught them to make ranks in Holy Scripture?). “The Word of revelation, which is enacted within the kingdom of the Old and New Covenants, is only to be understood in the context of the same. Thus, the Books of History of the Old and New Covenants have their place, but a second-grade place. As the contents of the same are the cooperation of the divine and human in the Kingdom of God, so too the holy writers of history are not necessarily men of revelation, but men who stand in the spirit of the Kingdom of God. Hence, in the Old Testament, the prophetic books of history belong in the first line, the hagiographies of Ruth, Ezra, and Nehemiah in the second, and the books of Esther and Chronicles in the third (p. 285 ff). In the New Testament, in the second row fall the first three Gospels in the first line (p. 406 ff), and Acts in the second (p. 518). A third class consists of the Old and New Testament hagiographies, whose contents are neither revelation nor the history of the Kingdom of God, but life in the Kingdom of God, as it is portrayed in detail. Hence, in the Old Testament, the Psalms belong in the first line (p. 294 ff), the sayings of Solomon (p. 304), Job (p. 305), and Jeremiah’s Lamentations in the second, and the Song of Songs (p. 303), Ecclesiastes (p. 309), and Daniel in the third (p. 369 ff). in the New Testament, in the first line belongs the Epistle to the Hebrews and the second and third Epistles of John, which in all likelihood are not of Johannine origin and moreover have personal contents (p. 546), and in the second line, the remaining catholic Epistles and the Revelation (p. 537). If the figure is essential to the meaning of the first class, it takes a back seat in the second class, where everything depends on the objective truth and the spirit of the account. However, it is in the nature of the third class that the subject is the significant part. It is not irrelevant, whether a Psalm is by David or not, whether Proverbs is by Solomon or another, if Daniel is genuine or not genuine, and so on; however, with these third-rank scriptures, one must take care not to put too much on authenticity. It may be that this attempt, to divide the Scriptures into three classes in regards to inspiration, is faulty; in any case, a distinction in grades of inspiration within Scripture is how it has merit in older and more recent times for significant authorities (Die lutherische Dogmatik historisch-genetisch dargestellt, vol. 1, Leipzig 1861, p. 666 ff.).” What an angel it must have been that inspired in Dr. Kahnis such a classification of the Prophetic and Apostolic Scriptures!
Kahnis: “Protestantism stands or falls with the basic principle of the sole authority of Scripture; however, this basic principle is independent of the doctrine of inspiration of the old dogmatics. To conflate them again, as they were, can only happen with a hardening against the truth (Der innere Gang, etc. 2. Aufl. p. 241).” To call the persistence in the Apostolic witness, “all scripture is inspired by God,” hardening against the truth reveals only the fact that everyone who speaks this way has hardened himself against God’s truth.
Thomasius: “They (the Holy Scriptures) bear the imprint throughout of the individuality and autonomy of their authors, in the conception of the thoughts as well as in their execution and presentation. If only one gives himself up to them impartially, he will immediately convince himself that these scriptures are not dictated by the Holy Spirit (Christi Person und Werk, part 3, Section 1, p. 449 f.).” May God preserve in grace every pious Christian from such “impartiality”!
Von Hoffman: “The latter (the New Testament Scriptures) do not attest to how the former (Old Testament) arose, but to what they were about. For when we read about the Old Testament Prophets in 2 Pet. 1:21 that it was divine action, action of the Holy Spirit, by whose power they spoke, this is not even formulated according to the immediate text and context in all the individual components of the Old Testament Scriptures, not to mention in their summation in the integrated entirety of the same… Jesus does not appeal to something that was spoken sometime nor to something that is only contained in the Scriptures, but to the entirety of the Scriptures… So, if he cites individual passages of Scripture, it is for the purpose of demonstrating their fulfillment in his person and history or to use them for instruction, he does not refer to them in isolation; rather, it is the Scriptures as an integrated entirety by which he testifies to himself or to let God’s will be declared” (what a petitio principii!). “Likewise, the Old Testament writers do not appeal only to this or that word of Moses’, David’s, or Isaiah’s because these individuals spoke by the power of God’s Spirit; rather, because the Scriptures set them speaking, they can name that which said this or that, or did not… The fact that the Old Testament Scriptures are a work of the Holy Spirit, that they are inspired, our dogma does not stress this, but not just because of the fact that for us, there is a time to be clear to everyone that everything serving to continue the holy history is done by the power of the work of the Holy Spirit who for this purpose, rules decisively within the person concerning his natural life in such a way necessary each time for such working... Such action is not just taken on the writers, but also on those who assembled the individual components of Scripture, be it into books or into the totality of the same. Hereafter, the diverse actions of God’s Spirit, which are grouped together under the name of inspiration, will be described; so that one indeed ever keeps in mind how the individual part is always produced by the action of the Holy Spirit in its relation to the intended whole (Der Schriftbeweis, Nördlingen (1852), part 1, 567—573).”
Luthardt: “on the whole, faithful theology is still searching to find a formula in which it can pronounce the ‘theanthropic’ character of the Scriptures… Tholuck and Rothe have demonstrated the untenability of the old doctrine… The necessity and significance of the entirety of the Scriptures for the Church are to be expected, and, thence, both the inference of certainty, which firstly the Church as a whole has from the entirety of the Scriptures and its individual parts, provided that they are integral parts of this entirety, and the conclusion of the divine activity of their emergence in such a way that the individual part is always conceived of in relation to the whole; the psychological state, however, as it is understood by the unity of receptivity and spontaneity.” (this is vividly reminiscent of the Goetheism, “wherever a term is lacking, a word appears at the right time”). “The Scriptures are the norming Word of God (for the Church) and contain the saving Word of God (for individuals). Compare von Hofmann, Schriftbeweis, part 2, p. 98-109 (Compendium, 3rd ed., p. 255).” With this so-called entirety of the Scriptures, they naturally can also reject all the passages that handle inspiration, for one must first prove inspiration from the entirety of the Scriptures.
Delitzsch: “theopneusty is also a basic term which encompasses the quite manifold grades of the action of the Spirit, depending on whether the writer was productive and on-going for the revelation and history salvation, or unoriginal and intermittant. However, in either case, the divine shines amid the disorder of the human. In the latter case, errors in the reproduction of the historical and factual are even possible, as well as faults of memory, faults in compilation, and above all, such faults over which the single most spiritual, human activity is not absolutely elevated. Whoever denies this knows the Old and New Testament books of history only superficially, and whoever is angered by this sins against the Holy Spirit, whose entirely undocetic, affectionate condescension to humanity he should in fact admire and praise (System der biblischen Psychologie, Leipzig (1855), p. 319f).” The Holy Spirit, Who is a Spirit of truth (John 16:13), is therefore so humble that He even wrapped Himself up in lies and falsehood for the salvation of the world!
Kurtz: “we assert boldly and with sure confidence without treading the least bit too near the divine character of Holy Scripture and history, that the holy men of God in the Old and New Covenants whom the Spirit of God drove to divine works or words could really be mired in the errors that ruled in their time concerning scientific knowledge… Thus, even Moses could have quite a few erroneous views on the nature of the starry skies or the bowels of the Earth when he, in the Spirit of prophecy, took in the history of the creation of the heavens and the Earth without needing these errors to be taken away from him, for the Mosaic history of creation was not at all for the purpose of physical instruction, but rather just for religious instruction (Bibel und Astronomie, Berlin (1858), p. 8f).” So, apart from its religious purpose, Scripture teaches all sorts of errors in other areas!
Finally, Philippi touches on this matter when writes as follows, “connected with this one-sidedly divisive view is the assertion that really, in the Holy Scriptures, only the matters discussed, but not the words used to discuss them, are inspired. Indeed, the perversion and loss of divinely revealed things of truth themselves would have been prevented, if the indication of the same remained up to people, since false, twisted, or inadequate wording always alters its own contents; however, the matters are primarily there for the people only in thought, and the thought only in words, and this shredding of the internal and necessary relation of matter, thought, and word is just as arbitrary as it is unfeasible. The action of the marriage of divine and human spirit in theopneusty, be it in the admission or the pronouncement of divine revelation, is precisely the divine Word, not just divine thought in distinction from the Word, but the divine Word as a support, expression, and form of divine thought. Accordingly, the ancients were right to maintain not only a real, but also a verbal inspiration. The Apostles and Prophets, completely immersed, living, and composing in the divine Spirit, could speak in no other way than fully in the Spirit (Kirchliche Glaubenslehre, 3rd ed., part 1, p. 250f).”
Unfortunately, Philippi comes into real conflict with the above remarks when he writes, “however, as we defend the inspiration of the wording of the Holy Scriptures, we do not want to speak about any inspiration of the words in the process. The individual letters, syllables, and words, detached from content and context, are not to be regarded as being directly inspired or dictated from without, for the Scriptures do not contain words of God, and divine providence could not have permitted, in the course of time, these sanctified words to come in different variants to posterity (Kirchliche Glaubenslehre, part 1, p. 251ff).” Hence, the holy writers would, in the end, have been something more than mere quills used to write after the Spirit gave them utterance.
This representation of the Word of Holy Scripture did not remain with the theological practice of the highly gifted Philippi without harmful influence. Thus, in his commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, chapter 9:22, he makes the remark, “however, whatever is concerned by the suggestion that Paul, corresponding to κατηρτισμένα, and not ἃ προητοίμασεν in verse 23, wrote ἃ προητοίμασεν, the predestinarian exegete was always able to declare it a coincidence that proves nothing in and of itself (Commentar über den Brief an die Römer, 3rd ed., p. 453).”
However, we say, “one may not declare anything a coincidence in Holy Scripture; we allow no one the right.” It is intentional that the verse does not read, “which He has prepared.” Our entire Lutheran church vigorously repudiates that treatment of the passage, as it says in the Formula of Concord, “therefore, the Apostle distinguishes with special care the work of God (who alone makes vessels of honor) and the work of the devil and of people. By the instigation of the devil, not God, a person has made himself a vessel of dishonor. For it is written, ‘[God] endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of His glory for vessels of mercy, which He has prepared beforehand for glory’ (Romans 9:22-23). Here, then, the apostle clearly says that God endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath. But He does not say that He made them vessels of wrath. If that had been His will, He would not have required any great long-suffering for it. The reason that they are fitted for destruction belongs to the devil and to people themselves, and not to God (Solid Declaration, part 11, par. 79-80, p. 643 of Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions, trans. based on William Dau and Gerhard Bente, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House (2005)).”
It is noteworthy that Philippi, with all these statements, does not deliberately state a doctrine supposed to be right and valid; rather, he himself indicates that his position is a scientific speculation or theory. Specifically, he writes, “to reiterate, it is not vitally important whether we or the old dogmatic theory of inspiration turn out to be right, as the issue here is only theory. De hoc articulo agere poterimus cum doctis et prudentibus viris, vel etiam inter nos ipsos. However, what is important is that the unshakably certain fact, presupposed by both theories alike, which they serve to clarify, still stands. Namely, this is the fact that the canonical Scriptures, from beginning to end, are and remain the infallible revelation of God given by the Spirit of God to humanity or the truthful Word of God itself. The natural world is and remains the creation of God, regardless of the Ptolemaic or Copernican system, and the Bible, as a supernatural, revelatory world, remains a miracle of God, regardless of the correctness of the old dogmatic or any new theory of inspiration (Kirchliche Glaubenslehre, part 1, p. 330f).”
To that we say, “where two mutually contradictory theories about Holy Scripture are stated, both cannot be true. Either both are false, or one most certainly is.” If our old Lutheran (if I may say so) theory of the inspiration of Holy Scripture were false, we would scrap it. It is encouraging how Philippi, who previously admitted the possibility of an error in Holy Scripture, later in the third edition of his dogmatics completely left that notion. Specifically, he had written earlier that, “in doing so, they have to bristle from the outset at acknowledging the possibility that some subordinate differences actually do exist, and so, unresolved, they hold back, for here there is certainly an area of inconsequential chance in how the likeness of a portrait is not contingent on the exactly proportionate length of the nails and hair. How far inspiration also fully overcame human weakness here is apparent to us by historical means not dogmatically verifiable. Therefore, we would at least like to say, not a priori, with Carlov, ‘Nullos error, vel in leviculis, nullus memoriae lapsus, … ullum locum habere potest in universa Scriptura sacra (no error, even in the smallest trifle, no lapse of memory,... can have any place in all of Holy Scripture). Similarly, Julius Africanus expressed, with respect to historic-chronological difficulties in the New Testament, ‘τὸ μέντοι εὐαγγέλιον πάντως ἀληθεύει (the Gospel does indeed speak nothing but the truth) (Kirchliche Glaubenslehre, Stuttgart (1854), part 1, p. 208f).”
However, in the last edition of his dogmatics, Philippi wrote, “I myself now concede that according to my own theory of inspiration, even the possibility of errors in Scripture in secondary things and inconsequential chances is denial a priori (Kirchliche Glaubenslehre, added to the 3rd ed., part 1, p. 279).”
If one wonders what Philippi meant by inspiration of the wording and of the words, one certainly seeks to work it out. Referencing a lexicon, one does not say, “that book contains wording,” but rather “that book contains words.” In this distinction, words are articulated sounds without regard to the general context in which the word is found. Wording, on the other hand, are articulated sounds with the understanding they have in their sentence. Applied to Holy Scripture, the sense would therefore be this: God did inspire the holy writers to use wording that corresponded to their thoughts, but the holy writers chose the individually determined word on their own. Where the word “Lord” is found in the Bible, for example, there, one might say, the Apostle could just as easily have said “God.” However, we say, “No, it should and must have been exactly this word. That is how God wanted it.” “So, whether in the Scriptures this word or another like it should take its place, whether there should be a singular here or a plural, and so on, that,” one might say, “was left up to the writers of the Bible.” However, that is nothing but deception, and nothing is gained thereby, for one would be sure to think, “according to that distinction, all wording is always words, but not all words are likewise wording.” The distinction between inspiration of wording and of words makes absolutely no sense at all for Holy Scripture, for in Scripture, there are no words at all in the sense that they are considered outside of their context. What kind of nonsense would it be to say, “the Holy Spirit did indeed inspire an expression, but not the words”? Hence, one is certain to note, “it is characteristic of the modern doctrine of inspiration to make no sense.” One should not expect much logic in the modern theories, even though these scholars show off how logically and reasonably they supposedly go to work. Before hand, the dear Philippi (unfortunately!) did not want to bear the shame of not being up to date with his times, and it did him a great deal of harm.
It is quite true that they have lately given up dividing the contents and the wording in Scripture over there. They have admitted that the wording of Scripture cannot be split from the contents. Harnack rejects the separation of content and form in inspiration. He writes, “in the end, the universal, inspired character of Holy Scripture prohibits that mechanical, unnatural separation of content and form, spirit and speech… The Holy Spirit, who equips and determines the authors inspired by him to witness to salvation, even allows them, according to the measure of their individuality, to find the wording in the matter (loc. cit. P. 29).” However, this concession does not make the matter better for Harnack. He does not even believe in an inspiration of the “matter,” which is his actual meaning for the word “inspiration.” For him, Scripture is written only on the “basis of inspiration,” and the holy writers had so much “free movement,” that they could even err, turning out to be “children of their times (p. 27).” Indeed, Volck allows that Holy Scripture could have originated in just the same way the history of the Church came to be, “even the emergence of the Bible is the work of those two factors, the divine and the human. Consequently, it is divine and human… Now, if the Bible is a divine work composed by humans (!), its susceptibility to error arises from that fact (how far is the Bible to be attributed with the absence of error?) (p. 14).” By this, he can only mean that “the Holy Spirit ruled in the hearts of the holy writers, as in the Church in general. Of course God rules in the Church, but that does not prevent the members of the Church from doing much wrong and sin. Thus, the Bible is from the Holy Spirit, but that does not preclude the errors of the holy writers.” With that, the surrender of inspiration is complete.
Now, if the New Theologians are always speaking of errors in Scripture, some people would like to ask, “so, what kind of errors are these?” The answer to that is that by this they understand, among other things, that in Scripture, the right year is not always given. Specifically, if they see a different year given in any human book, in Herodotus for instance, or some other historian, they do not say, “whatever is in the Holy Bible is from the Holy Spirit, and hence, is always the truth;” rather, to them it means, “of course this is not right: Herodotus gives a different year,” thus preferring the old, blind heathen to Holy Scripture. When the phrase, “Sun, stand thou still,” is found to be in Scripture, they say, “that is false, for Copernicus maintains that the Sun is stationary.” So, it would be a false report to say that at the time of Christ’s birth, Cyrenius was governor of Syria because that does not confirm other research. Even so, just recently, it was proven again that Cyrenius was proconsul of Syria at just this time.
Those are the kind of things that they consider to be errors, although the gentlemen are always very careful to allege that there are errors. In fact, they claim that one should admit from the beginning that potential errors are found in Scripture. The search for errors comes later. So what is the result? That Scripture positively teems with errors in doctrine.
To the question of how we are to regard it when many teachers in the schools seek to teach the children the Copernican system, we would answer that such teachers do not dare to stand with the ancients, specifically with the Word of Scripture, because they fear being viewed as a pastor or teacher who is not up to date with the times. It has gotten so that scarcely one out of a hundred thousand has even made just the attempt to reconsider, “one follows, quite blindly, the men of so-called science. Who will be preferred by this means? God? Or will it not rather be the men of science?” What faith in authority! Therefore, when your reason says “no” in reading Holy Scripture, beware. Instead, it should have immediately perplexed you and moved you to sigh, “may God keep me from denouncing His Word according to my reason.” How many instead do what Eve did in Paradise! When the Devil said to her, “Ye shall not surely die,” etc., she looked at the tree and how lovely it was until the wicked desire was inflamed like an unquenchable fire. Then she took and ate of the forbidden fruit. This is also what the Christians are doing when they can be led into a false school and not into Luther’s. They say, “one cannot give the Bible much credit for letting the Sun move: they spoke naively in the way the matter was visualized back then.” No school-teacher should be permitted to lead our children to believe something like this, for the Holy Spirit is truly smarter than Copernicus. Of course, one cannot demand that everyone interpret the relevant Bible passages in exactly the same way that we do; however, if someone cannot be convinced that the passages are to be interpreted thus, he should shut his mouth before his students, keep the matter to himself, and not poison the children with his views.
However, even in the modern doctrine of inspiration, this is still figured on: if we or someone else says that with the denial of the divinity of Holy Scripture the foundation of the Christian faith is surrendered, the new theologians answer, “if that were true, the very first Christians would have had no foundation of faith, for how long did it take for the Canon to be established and all Christendom to come into possession of it! How long they argued about what belongs in the Canon and what does not! It was only gradually that they came to agree on which books should be held to be canonical. The first person we know anything about who claimed to be in possession of a New Testament canon, namely Marcion, was not even a Christian, but a heretic.” What a disgrace such assertions are! As for Marcion, who was born while the Apostle John still lived, he did indeed have a canon. The Christians who take him to task for his false doctrine accuse him of mangling the canon. Therefore, it must have already been in existence. They even accuse Marcion of changing the order of the New Testament books. Therefore, even back then they already had a definitive order for the Biblical books of the New Testament. Thus, it does not even hold water in the light of human world history to say that the Christians had no Bible for a century. True, the Pope has tried to steal the Bible from Christians. How is that working out for him? Holy Scripture has been the foundation of faith in Christendom down to the present day. Millions of copies have been spread throughout the whole world and will remain until the End of Days. We ask God,
Lord, Thy Word, the noble gift
Preserve this treasure for me,
For I prefer it to all possessions
And the greatest riches.
If Thy Word should cease to matter,
On what would faith rest?
Not a thousand worlds,
But Thy Word is my purpose.
Upon reflection, one would think that the very first Christians had the Old Testament, for when Paul tells Timothy, “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures,” and when Peter writes, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy,” and when Christ Himself declares to the Jews, “Search the Scriptures,” the Old Testament was meant at first. However, the books of the New Testament certainly looked at the Old Testament like a book sealed with seven seals. If the Christians had the Old Testament, that was how they had the New. It came to pass that the doctrine of the New Testament was presently given orally, for we do not at all maintain that they immediately had every writing of the Apostles. In those days there were not many good opportunities to send mail, nor was the Bible printed. Whoever wanted it had to copy it for himself by hand. Congregations did not give their Scriptures away so that these costly documents would be neither smudged nor altered.
Even Volck argues that Scripture could not be the foundation of faith because there was a church before all Scripture, even in the Old Testament. The first writer in the Old Testament was Moses. Before hand, they only had the oral Word. Specifically, he writes, “the opinion is always reemerging that the Holy Scriptures are the groundwork on which the Church rests its continued existence, yet this assertion is untenable considering the historical fact that the Christian Church already existed before even a single writing of the New Testament was produced just as there was an Old Testament community of God long before an Old Testament Canon existed (Die Bibel als Kanon, p. 13).”
Here it should be said that the foundation of the Church in this time is God’s revealed Word: in that life, we will see God face to face, but in this life, we wander in faith. A word belongs to faith, indeed, a divine Word, on which it can rest. Such a divine Word has always been available for the faith of the children of God. If there was not yet any written Word, there did exist the spoken Word of God in Paradise and through the Patriarchs. However, as soon as God let His Word be written, faith indeed accepted this written Word of God and abided by it. This was also the case in the New Testament. God spoke the Word through His Son first and then through the holy Apostles. Later, God let it be written down. God did not promise to give us still more divine Word. The divine Word written back then is and remains the foundation of faith until the Last Day because all Christian doctrine and preaching is merely the written Word set in motion.
Hence, we stand by our thesis, “the doctrine, that the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are of divine origin in their contents and wording, is a doctrine the surrender of which dissolves the foundation of the Christian faith.” Those who speak like Volck, Harnack, and others no longer stand in faith. Please keep in mind the saying in Matt. 5:19, “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” Here we read, “and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven.” With the New Theologians, men are placed over the Word of God. When Scripture is subjected to men, they judge it. Whoever takes something for God’s Word because he thinks it is God’s Word stands on himself and not on Scripture and therefore does not stand in the true faith. By that, we do not deny what our dear God can still do with such a man; however, it is an extraordinary miracle of God if such a theologian comes to and remains in faith. God must lead him to a felicitous inconsistency. However, to whom does it occur to say that, because God can do a special miracle for his faith, this new doctrine of inspiration is not a damning, ground-rending error? In the same way there might have been some follower of Arius who spoke errantly about the person of Christ with Arius and stood in faith! Nevertheless, Arianism is and remains a ground-rending error.
The doctrine of the divinity of Holy Scripture is itself an article of faith and can thus be recognized simply in Scripture itself and accepted or believed with full confidence by use of the same.
To be sure, Holy Scripture, humanly considered, may be appealed to in order to provoke thought. He has a book in front of him which has had, and still has, no equal at any time in the whole world. In addition, the natural man runs up against something in this book that he can never understand with his reason. Thus, our fathers have collected and drawn up sure human proofs for the divinity of Holy Scripture, not in order to bring the person thereby to a real conviction of faith, but so that the natural man may have no excuse if he scorns this holy book. The Fathers point out the miraculous simplicity combined with the most superb majesty of the holy words, and rightly so. The whole lot of the holy writers are true masters, their accounts unmatched specimens of historical description.
Furthermore, they point out the holiness that wafts through the whole Bible. Where is such a holy god to be found in the stories of the heathen apart from the true, living God of the Bible? What vices the gods of the heathen are afflicted with according to their own stories! Where is such a morality as in Holy Scripture, the contemplation of which must lead every mortal to confess, “weighed on this scale, you have been found too light: according to this, there is no man who is holy, but he who walked accordingly would have reached the highest levels of virtue.”
What power Holy Scripture exerts! It guides the sinner to his God as no guide has ever been able in the scriptures of the heathen, showing him a savior, the Lord Jesus, as no heathen Scripture ever has. What a fuss is made whenever they find an overtone of a deliverer of men in a heathen writer! This is perhaps only adulation of one of the princes living at the time; however, no human spirit has ever been able to contrive a savior as is depicted for us in the Bible. Through this doctrine, Holy Scripture calms the heart, comforts it in contestation, makes it joyful in gloom, and encourages it in death, as the holy martyrs bore their tremendous witness.
Where is there any other book that so rightly lays claim to being the Word of truth than Holy Scripture? How many have been wrecked on this book! Again and again, wherever one digs, even the stones extracted from the Earth cry out to bear witness before the unbelieving world and believing Christians for the truth of Holy Scripture.
The miraculous, literal fulfillment of prophecy in Holy Scripture also belongs to this. It is literally fulfilled in Christ Jesus what in the Old Testament was prophesied about the Son of a virgin, about the place where He was to be born, and about the lineage He was to stem from. So too is it with the prophecies of the New Testament whose fulfillment so improbably came to light: for example, about the Jewish people, who cried out “crucify him!” in regards to Christ, and who were to be expelled from the land and remain that way until the end of the world, restlessly and fleetingly wandering like Cain, after they crucified Him Whose blood cries out more loudly than Abel’s. Furthermore, the prophecy of the spread of the kingdom of Christ which everyone in the world held against himself and which no great scholar, no mighty general of the Earth preceded, but which was to be spread solely through the preaching of the Gospel and out of which mustard seed a tree was to grow which spreads its branches out through every land. How gloriously that has been fulfilled! The Kingdom of Christ stands like a vast tree under which the birds of the sky can live in its shade, and all of this in spite of persecution, hostility, jokes, and erudition, in spite of sword and stake, in spite of the gates of Hell.
How unanimous the holy writers of the most different times are in their accounts. Moses starts by saying, “In the beginning, God created the Heaven and the Earth,” and the same is taught by David, the Prophets, the Evangelists, and the Apostles, that all things are created through, by, and for God. Contrast that with the confusion found in the writings of the academics! What one has painstakingly constructed, the other mercilessly tears down again.
However, not only were the holy writers in their unanimous witness noteworthy people, but great throngs of witnesses emerge for their credibility.
Josephus writes, “because every one is not permitted of his own accord to be a writer, nor is there any disagreement in what is written; they being only prophets that have written the original and earliest accounts of things as they learned them of God himself by inspiration; and others have written what hath happened in their own times, and that in a very distinct manner also. For we have not an innumerable multitude of books among us, disagreeing from and contradicting one another, (as the Greeks have,) but only twenty-two books, which contain the records of all the past times; which are justly believed to be divine; and of them five belong to Moses, which contain his laws and the traditions of the origin of mankind till his death. This interval of time was little short of three thousand years; but as to the time from the death of Moses till the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, who reigned after Xerxes, the prophets, who were after Moses, wrote down what was done in their times in thirteen books (according to Jewish reckoning: 1. Joshua, 2. Judges together with Ruth, 3. Samuel, 4. Kings, 5. Chronicles, 6. Ezra together with Nehemiah, 7. Esther, 8. Job, 9. Isaiah, 10. Jeremiah together with Lamentations, 11. Ezekiel, 12. Daniel, 13. the twelve minor Prophets). The remaining four books contain hymns to God, and precepts for the conduct of human life. It is true, our history hath been written since Artaxerxes very particularly, but hath not been esteemed of the like authority with the former by our forefathers, because there hath not been an exact succession of prophets since that time; and how firmly we have given credit to these books of our own nation is evident by what we do; for during so many ages as have already passed, no one has been so bold as either to add any thing to them, to take any thing from them, or to make any change in them; but it is become natural to all Jews immediately, and from their very birth, to esteem these books to contain Divine doctrines, and to persist in them, and, if occasion be willingly to die for them (Contra Apionem I, par. 7-8, trans. William Whiston).”
According to Matthew 2:6, the high council at Jerusalem gives its king information from the Old Testament regarding where Christ was to be born. In an unassuming Synagogue over in Galilee, the Prophet Isaiah is read. According to Acts 17:17, the believing Jews in the diaspora search the Old Testament. His mother and grandmother teach little Timothy from Holy Scripture of the old covenant. The same goes for the New Testament as well. From the first days of Christendom down to our day, the witnesses have never ceased. Their witness was not born under the conditions where it could count as prudence to do such in order to attain honor, prestige, and riches, but under disgrace, mockery, martyrdom, and the threat of death, so that many who were called on to hand over Holy Scripture would sooner have their blood spilt.
Finally, how miraculous the preservation of the Bible is. According to Romans 3:2, the Jews are entrusted with what God has spoken, that is, the Old Testament; but what kind of an unreliable, intractable people they were, cleft into sects and parties; how it must have foreshadowed their eventual destruction! The Old Testament has experienced all these fortunes with this people, but wherever this Book is found, be it in India or China, Africa or this country, it is always exactly the same Book, even though it has been copied down a thousand times. The New Testament’s experience was quite the same. Today we have the Bible in its entirety, and it spreads further day by day. Thus, it is and remains the same old Word of God that shall outlast even the downfall of this world.
However, as much weight as all this carries, it is not the actual groundwork on which we found our certainty of the divinity of Holy Scripture. We can only thank God that these proofs are not necessary for the conviction of the divinity of the Bible, for then many dear Christians would be in a bad way who know very little of the historical process involved in the Bible or who do not know the names of the Church Fathers at all, or even the enemies of the Church who attest to the emergence of the same through their witness.
However, if all the writings of the Church Fathers were lost and we did not have even a single line affirming the divinity of Holy Scripture, but only Scripture itself, that would be enough to convince of their divine origin.
Certainly, no one is convinced when he sticks to his old spirit and being and has nothing worked within him, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2:14).” This doctrine, that the Bible is God’s Word, is also foolishness to the natural man. Of course, they say, “a person has to look at the Bible unpartisanly and approach it unpartisanly.” That is a Satanic claim. What a devil that must have been that would step up to the Bible and say, “it’s all the same to me, what this book is, whether God speaks in it or a man.” There has never yet been such a person who has approached the Bible unpartisanly, for the natural man is an enemy of God “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be (Rom. 8:7).” Holy Scripture is not right by any natural man, neither the old nor the young, neither the learned nor the simple. Whatever its contents say or claim about natural man angers the natural heart. It says, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him (1 John 2:15).” It is said of every man’s heart, “the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth (Gen. 8:21).” Scripture calls the natural man a fool. It wrecks his righteousness and rejects it as nothing but unrighteousness. In contrast, human ethics always leaves a little door open to everyone that makes it easy for him to follow his heart’s desires. Finally, Holy Scripture demands unconditional obedience of faith. The fleshly heart, God’s foe, rebels against that. The man does not want to come out as a lost and damned sinner who, as a poor beggar, is saved by faith alone. If Scripture were not configured so, if it gave the natural man his part, acknowledging his efforts and sacrifice, the man would be more ready to accept it. How little nonsense the natural man puts up with in his life! The Corinthians let themselves be enslaved and struck in the face, as Paul says, but in Holy Scripture, the impact of natural flesh is found at a glance. That is exactly how it went for Christ Himself. Consider the offence that the Jews took at Christ’s person, teaching, and preaching. Because the Lord said that He Himself is the Son of God, the high priest tore his robe. The fact that Christ claimed that He only and always spoke the truth and had no sin, that He stopped the Pharisees’ and Sadducees’ mouth: the Godless Jews did not forgive Him for that; therefore, they rejected Him and would not have Him rule over them -- therefore, they finally screamed, “crucify Him! Crucify Him, and give us Barabbas!”
Should someone come to the conclusion that he considers the Bible to be the Word of God, he must become a new creature through that very Word of God. That Word of God must prove its power in him. That is the power of a light that is not considered to be a light once another light from without shines its light on it from without, but rather illuminates itself and illuminates everything. Of course, he who shuts his eyes in denial will say, “it’s dark.” That is not surprising, but wherever God’s Spirit opens eyes, the living recognition of the divinity of Holy Scripture enters in.
This is what the following passages of Scripture teach us: 2 Pet. 1:19, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts.” Psa. 119:105, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Verse 130, “The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.” Psa. 19:8, “the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.” 1 Thess. 1:5, “For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance.” 2 Cor. 4:2, “by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.” Eph. 3:3-4, “How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ).” John 7:17, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” John 10:26f, “But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice.” John 6:68-9, “Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.” 1 John 5:9-10, “If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself.” 1 John 4:6, “We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us.” John 3:31-4, “He that cometh from above is above all… And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony. He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true. For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God.” 2 Cor. 4:3-4, “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”
(Recorded from here on by Pastor Burmester on Saturday morning) o, there is something high and costly about this witness of the Holy Spirit to the divinity of Holy Scripture! Through the same, a man gains not human, but divine certainty; a rock-solid conviction that in Holy Scripture, he has and hears God’s own Word; a certainty that is not shaken or upset by human arguments, that proves itself in all sorts of doubts, indeed, even in death. However, everyone should be sure to examine himself to see if he too has such a conviction that he is not just humanly, but divinely certain that Scripture is from God so that it does not become clear to him in doubt or some bitter hour that his faith in the divinity of Scripture was not a divine work, and therefore not a truth faith, but only a human opinion. Then it is very comforting to know that every Christian, from the wisest to the simplest, can have such a divine conviction, as a true Christian must, for he has Scripture which certainly and which alone can give and support such certainty. Therefore, it is necessary to read Scripture diligently in order to be and to remain convinced of their divinity, and it is necessary to stress Scripture diligently in order to convince others and to keep them convinced of their divinity.
Therefore, we are divinely certain that Holy Scripture is God’s Word. We are certain that in it, we have the witness of the Holy Spirit. When we read the Bible, we feel a voice in us that says, “what Scripture says is right.” The New Theologians certainly concede this divine witness, but it would cover only the doctrines of salvation contained in Scripture. If one is reading about other things in Scripture, years and dates for instance, he does not get this impression that this therefore has nothing to do with the witness of the Holy Spirit and that, as a result, with this witness, nothing is won for the divinity of all of Holy Scripture. That would be false, for even Scripture says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God,” and, “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth,” etc. If we deny that all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, then we must reject all Scripture, for it says about itself that its entire contents is God’s Word. It is not true that this witness covers only the system according to which God would save us. No, it covers all Scripture. This is what every Christian learns when he reads this Word. True, in the Bible, this or that issue which a Christian cannot resolve might get his attention, but whoever has this witness in his heart does not then say, “Scripture cannot be the Word of God;” rather, he says, “I may never be able to understand this, but that will not confuse me about the divinity of Holy Scripture.”
The doctrine of the divine origin of Holy Scripture is plainly and clearly revealed in Scripture in many ways:
A. Scripture teaches that the holy writers were not the actual authors of this
Scripture, but wrote as instruments of the Holy Spirit.
When St. Paul begins his letters, “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ… To all that be in Rome (Rom. 1:1, 7),” or, “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus (Eph. 1:1),” he is using a conventional formula of his time to indicate the writer of a letter and the person or persons to whom the letter was originally directed. The Apostle states in many passages that he is the writer of his letters. For example, he writes in Rom. 15:15, “Nevertheless, brethren, I have written the more boldly unto you.” 1 Cor. 5:9, “I wrote unto you in an epistle.” 2 Cor. 2:3, “And I wrote this same unto you.” Verse 4, “For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears.” Verse 9, “For to this end also did I write.” Gal. 1:20, “Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.” Eph. 3:3, “as I wrote afore in few words.” Phil. 3:1, “To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous.” 1 Tim. 3:14, “These things write I unto thee.” John indicates in the same way that he is the writer of his letters in 1 John 1:4, “And these things write we unto you.” Chapter 2:1, “My little children, these things write I unto you.” Verse 13, “I write unto you, fathers,” and so on. In the same way Moses and the Prophets, the writers of the Old Testament, are indicated to be the writers of their books when for example, it says in John 5:46-7, “For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?” Luke 3:4, “As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet” (Isa. 40:3ff). Mat. 13:14, “And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias” (Isa. 6:9-10). Mat. 15:7, “Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you” (Isa. 29:13). Luke 20:42, “And David himself saith in the book of Psalms, The Lord said,” and so on (Psa. 110:1).
However, we read in Rom. 16:22, “I Tertius, who wrote this epistle, salute you in the Lord.” In the beginning of the letter and later on, Paul calls himself the writer the letter, but Tertius says here that he wrote the letter. Is that not a contradiction? No. We know quite well how that works out. Paul dictated, and Tertius put the quill to paper. Other letters of the Apostle were made in the same way, in that the Apostle dictated to an assistant who handled the quill what was to be written and marked only his apostolic greeting with his own hand, as he says in 1 Cor. 16:21, “The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand.” Co. 4:18, “The salutation by the hand of me Paul.” 2 Thess. 3:17, “The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write.” Where he writes even more with his own hand, he takes care to emphasize it. Gal. 6:11, “Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand.” In the same way, St. Peter used an amanuensis to whom he dictated, as we see from 1 Pet. 5:12, where it says, “[Through] Silvanus, a faithful brother unto you, as I suppose, I have written briefly.” According to this, Peter did not write with his own hand, but through Silvanus, that is, so that in writing, Peter used him as a middleman to record the words spoken by Peter.
However, the preposition through, δια in the source text, signaling only mediation, is a regular expression in the New Testament indicating how the Prophets are related to their writings, as in Mat. 2:5 when it says, “for thus it is written [through] the prophet.” It does not say “by” the Prophet, but “through” him, as through a person from whom writing came as if from the actual Author of Scripture, and it was this Prophet whom Another, the actual Author, utilized to write Scripture. Also, in verse 17, where the translation says, “Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet,” the original text says, “through (δια) Jeremiah the prophet,” and in passages, which in earlier recensions of the Greek New Testament text had the preposition ὑπο, corresponding to the German “von [ English ‘by’],” reconstruction of the text according to the old manuscripts has resulted in the reading δια. Here, the following passages may be compared: Mat. 8:17, “That it might be fulfilled which was spoken [through] Esaias the prophet.” Chapter 12:17, “That it might be fulfilled which was spoken [through] Esaias the prophet.” Chapter 13:35, “That it might be fulfilled which was spoken [through] the prophet.” Chapter 24:15, “spoken [through] Daniel the prophet.” Chapter 27:9, “Then was fulfilled that which was spoken [through] Jeremy the prophet.” Verse 35, “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken [through] the prophet.” Luke 18:31, “all things that are written [through] the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished.” Acts 2:16, “But this is that which was spoken [through] the prophet Joel.”
This raises the question, “Who was it who spoke or wrote through the Prophets, who used them as his tools, and who was the actual author of their writings?” We do not search Holy Scripture in vain for the answer to this question. In Mat. 1:22, we read, “Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord [through] the prophet, saying,” and so on. There we have a clear and plain response: the Lord, our great God Himself, was the One Who prophesied through the Prophets that a virgin would become pregnant and bear a Son Whose name would be “God with us.” According to Acts 4:24f, the Apostles cried out to the Lord, the “God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is,” and said, “Who [through] the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage (Psa. 2:1-2)?” Once again, it is obviously not a psalm originally and actually authored by David that is invoked here; rather, God, the Lord, the Creator of Heaven and Earth is the One Who spoke through David as through a tool. In the same way, it says in Heb. 4:7 that God said through David in Psalm 95:7-8, “To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” According to Rom. 9:25, the Prophet Hosea was also a mere tool through which God spoke, “As he (God, verse 22) saith also [through Hosea].” The fact that generally, in the Holy Scriptures of the Old Testament, God spoke and thereby used His prophets as His tools is indicated by St. Paul in Rom. 1:2 when he says, “Which he (God, verse 1) had promised afore [through] his prophets in the holy scriptures.”
As in the old Nicene Creed the Holy Spirit is declared to be He “Who spoke through the Prophets,” so too in Scripture, this work is dedicated in particular to the Third Person of the Holy Trinity, for instance, as it says in Acts 1:16, “this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost [through] the mouth of David spake before.” According to Acts 28:25, the Holy Spirit spoke what is written in Isa. 6:9-10 “[through] Esaias the prophet.” Indeed, David, the man of God, says explicitly that the Holy Spirit spoke through him, for we read in 2 Sam. 23:1-2, “Now these be the last words of David. David… the sweet psalmist of Israel, said, The Spirit of the Lord spake [through] me, and his word was in my tongue,” according to which the words which were in David’s tongue were not his own when the Spirit of the Lord spoke through him, but were the words of the Holy Spirit instead. It was not left up to their will what the holy writers would write down, as St. Peter says in his second letter, chapter 1:19-21, where he speaks about the firm prophetic word, Holy Scripture, stressing that, “no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” They abandoned themselves to his will and drive. They wrote what He wanted how He wanted. It was actually the Spirit of God Who was in them Whom the ancient fathers heard and whom we hear in the promises of the Son of the virgin, the Child born to us, the Son given to us, the Lamb led to the slaughter, as the same Apostle teaches us in 1 Pet. 1:11f, where he says regarding the Prophets that they inquired “what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories,” according to which it was the Spirit of Christ Himself Who testified to the suffering of Christ beforehand. The Same was in the Prophets and through the Prophets made known to men what He would declare to them. However, in the same breath, the Apostle says about the aforementioned passage that in the New Testament as well that preaching effected by the Holy Spirit would be enacted through men, when he writes in verse 12, “in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you [through] the Holy Spirit sent from heaven.” Indeed, this is what we hear over and over again from St. Paul, that in him and through him, Christ Himself speaks, for instance, when he writes in 2 Cor. 13:3, “since you seek proof that Christ is speaking in me,” and in Rom. 15:18, “For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me,” for as he also writes in 2 Cor. 2:17, encompassing the other passages, “in the sight of God we speak in Christ.” If it were agreeable to the holy Apostles beforehand that the Holy Spirit would speak through them so that it would not actually be they who spoke, but rather just the Spirit of their Father, as their Lord and Master proclaims to them in Mat. 10:19f by saying, “take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh [through] you.” Compare Mark 13:11, Luke 12:12.
Therefore, it may be said, as it is in Scripture, about what the Apostles and Prophets spoke and wrote without naming the persons whom the Holy Spirit used, that, in short, God spoke it. This is what the Apostle writes about the Jews in Rom. 3:2-3, “unto them were committed the oracles of God.” In Mat. 22:31, the Lord says, “as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham?” and so on. In other passages, words of Holy Scripture are declared quotations of the Holy Spirit without specifying the tools used by the Same. This is what it says in Heb. 3:7, “Wherefore as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice (Psa. 95:7),” and in Heb. 10:15f, “Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts.” This is where every passage belongs in which the Word of the Prophets and Apostles is readily and simply called God’s Word. In Mark 7:10, the Lord Christ says, “Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother.” However, He does not reprove the fact that the Pharisees set this Word aside as a violation of Moses’ Word; rather, He says in verse 13, “Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition.” St. Paul calls his preaching the Word of God as well when he says to the Jews of Antioch in Acts 13:46, “It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you,” and when he writes in Titus 1:2f, “God… hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me.” When it is said in Acts 11:1, “the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God,” Peter’s preaching about the Savior of the world revealed in Christ Jesus is what is being referenced, for Cornelius with his whole house had just accepted the Word of God in the Old Testament about the Savior who was to come; otherwise, St. Luke would not have written about them that they were “devout and godfearing,” and his prayer and almsgiving would not have been pleasing to God. Compare Acts 10:2ff. St. Peter also called his preaching the Word of the Lord when he writes in 1 Pet. 1:25, “But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.”
It is self-evident that the declaration of the divinity of their written preaching to all the world until the End of Days counts as nothing less than their oral preaching. We have abundant witness to that effect in Holy Scripture. In 1 Cor. 14:37, the Apostle writes, “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.” In 2 Thes. 2:15, he exhorts, “Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.” According to this, both were to be equally binding and firmly held by the Christians at Thessalonica as divine teaching, the contents of his lectures as much as the contents of his letters. The Book of Revelation was written by “John to the seven churches which are in Asia (Rev. 1:4),” but in regards to what he wrote as he was commanded in verse 11, he says repeatedly that the Spirit speaks to the Churches, as he writes in chapter 2: 7, 11, 17, 29 and 3:6, 13, 22, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” St. John also shows at the beginning of his first letter that he and the other Apostles considered their oral preaching and their writing to have the same authority when he writes in verses 3 and 4, “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you… And these things write we unto you.” That is also how St. Paul in his letters refers to his oral preaching, for instance, in 2 Thes. 2:5, where he writes, “Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?” and in 1 Cor. 15:1, “I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you.” We find the same thing with St. Peter, when he writes in 2 Pet. 3:1f, “This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour.” In this, the holy Apostle takes everything together: his oral preaching, his first letter, the writings of the Prophets, and this second letter of his; indeed, before the end of this passage, he even adds the letters of his co-apostle and dear brother Paul with the other writings, and hands it all to the Christians so that they might hold it in sincerity and faithful memory as the precious Word of their God.
Thus, we see that our thesis is deeply and firmly founded in the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments.
Even so, it is true that we partially know the external circumstances which prompted the Apostles to write their letters, but they were nevertheless moved to write by the Holy Spirit. The new theologians say that it is dreadful when we say that the holy Writers were nothing but God’s writing utensils. In doing so, we make them into machines. However, would God not have understood how to write through men without turning them into machines in the process? When the Apostles stood and before princes and kings and spoke as God inspired them, they did not stand there like machines; rather, it was Peter, Paul, John, etc. who stood there. If they did not turn into machines in this case, then neither did they when they wrote. The children of God will, as long as they are spiritual, be moved entirely by God’s Spirit, but they do not become machines in the process! However, we will accept that the holy Writers of God were machines if one remembers that it is only a point of comparison. As long as the movement in a machine is the person or a force that is added to the machine, the motion of the Apostles in writing was God Himself. They did not write a single one of all their words without being moved by God. The Apostles were God’s writing utensils in the same way the Psalmist helped himself to the stylus of a good writer: as the Holy Spirit drove them, they had to write. Balaam wanted to curse the children of Israel, and he would have done it too, but the Holy Spirit captured him, and he had to bless: he could not do anything else. In the moment when he blessed, he also wanted to bless, but afterwards, he was the same as before. How the Apostles were moved by the Holy Spirit is a mystery that we cannot comprehend. Who can comprehend how the human spirit is associated with the body and interacts with it? And yet it is so. Because they cannot explain this, many have become materialists and maintain that there is no spirit at all, but only matter. This is logical result when the theologians pursue materialism all the way: they must completely deny the influence of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles (thus far as recorded by Pastor Burmester).
B. Scripture teaches that everything written in them, not only the contents but the
wording as well, is the work of the Holy Spirit.
Here, we state two propositions:
1. According to the doctrine of Holy Scripture, everything written therein is a work of the Holy Spirit. What goes for part of Scripture, specifically, that the same is God’s Word, goes for all of Scripture. When Christ and his Apostles appeal or refer to Scripture, they do so in such a way that they make no distinction between the individual books. They do not exclude any part of Scripture. In John 5:39, Christ says, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” Here, the Word is called “Scripture,” as is always the case when referencing God-breathed Holy Scripture. If there were any exception in this Scripture, if it contained any sort of human element not divinely reliable, it would be dreadful and inadvisable to point a person to the whole book, where eternal life is at stake. If someone takes human books as a basis for worldly science, he builds the result of his research on these books. If in a human book he is unwittingly mired in mistakes, his research will also go awry, especially if he has been scrupulous in using the book. That is how, in the last century, a renowned scholar came to a conclusion in the course of solving a mathematical problem that was commonly considered to be correct for a long time, but afterwards, with time, it turned out that those calculations were wrong and that the problem was actually correctly solved in the honeycombs of bees. The origin of the error lay in an error in the log books on which that calculation had been based and which the learned mathematician had used for that exact faulty passage. This is also the case when dealing with Holy Scripture. If everything in there were not rock-solid, completely reliably certain, we would necessarily always be walking in danger of making mistakes right on the foundation of Scripture, or we would have to concede from the outset that we could not gain any certainty about whether we had the truth or were going astray.
Furthermore, in Luke 24:44, when Christ says to his disciples, “all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me,” He testifies to the fact that the books of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms are written by God Himself, for what they wrote about Christ must be fulfilled. Who is it who fulfills all things or allows them to take place? It is God Himself Who sets His decrees in motion. However, in doing so, God will not consult human books. He will not carry out whatever plans Man has concocted. Instead, He will consult only what He Himself has spoken, promised, and written. Hence, He fulfills everything He has said in Scripture. Therefore, Christ points out everything to His disciples that the Prophets spoke; indeed, that is why He calls them fools in Luke 24:25-6 when they did not heed everything that was written about Him, “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?” He gives them a reading, but not something out of what just Moses or Jeremiah said; instead, He goes much further in verse 27, “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.”
This is also what Paul does in Acts 24:14 when he writes, “But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets.” Thus, if we believe all things on which our confidence is to be founded, and if we are not to be superstitious in doing so, the Word which we are to believe must be all divine without exception. Hence, Paul writes in the Epistle to the Romans, chapter 1:2, about the Gospel, that God “had promised (it) afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures (ἐν γραφαῖς ἁγίαις),” and in Rom. 15:4 that all “things were written aforetime (ὅσα γὰρ προεγράφη, εἰς τὴν ἡμετέραν διδασκαλίαν προεγράφη) were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope (τῶν γραφῶν τὴν ἐλπίδα ἔχωμεν).”
Everything that the New Testament writers spoke and wrote was spoken and written through them by the Holy Spirit, as Paul testifies in Rom. 15:18, “For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed.” The Apostle may not dare to speak anything where Christ did not speak through him. Thus, in every place without exception, it is not actually Paul, but Christ, who speaks. No word is from Paul himself, rather every word is from Christ through Paul. Hence Peter together with the writings of Paul and the rest of the writings of the New Testament all have the same authority. 2 Pet. 3:15f, “even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” Thus, there is no divine and human side that needs to be distinguished; rather, what Paul writes is only ever divine. Indeed, Paul downright rejects a human side in Gal. 1:11, “But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.” His writing is in no way human, either in whole or in part. He teaches the same in 1 Thes. 2:13, “when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God.” The Thessalonians did not simply not take Paul’s Word as human teaching or human preaching; rather, they did not even take it as human word. As far as Paul’s preaching is Word, it is not human.
Hence, we have established as certainly and undoubtedly firm what is written in Psa. 119:160, “Thy word is true from the beginning.” Compare John 17:17, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” Prov. 8:8, “All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing froward or perverse in them.” That can only be rightly and truly said if Holy Scripture is God’s Word from beginning to end. Of course, we preachers can and should say when we preach that we preach only the truth. We should not step down from the pulpit sighing, “God, forgive me for the falsehoods I spoke,” or even, as many sectarian preachers of our day are used to doing, including such a sigh in the pulpit prayer; rather, we should be certain of what we preach: “I have spoken the truth, and now, Thou my God, bless Thy Word to my hearers.” Why can we say this? Simply because we preach Holy Scripture. Were that not the case, it would be presumptuous to say about a pastor, “what he preaches is true, and you must accept it as if you had heard it from God Himself.”
The second part of our thesis states that everything written in them, not only the contents but the wording as well, is the work of the Holy Spirit. This point has already been touched on earlier, but this is the place where we have to delve into the same. In 1 Cor. 2:10-3, St. Paul writes, “But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which words the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” Here, Paul refers firstly to the fact that what no man might know, what is known by God alone, has come to his (Paul’s) knowledge, in fact through the revelation of the Holy Spirit. That is what we have to note in Scripture, namely the revelation of thoughts, of the contents of Scripture through the Holy Spirit. But that is not all, for the Apostle continues, “which we also speak,” and so on. Thus, when the time came for the Apostle to pronounce these revealed thoughts, when it was necessary to speak, to express what was revealed in words and expressions, the working of the Holy Spirit did not stop there: the Holy Spirit did not leave it up to the Apostle to choose the words to the revealed thoughts at his own discretion. No, this working of the Holy Spirit was also necessary to choose the words so that the Apostles would be reliable witnesses. We also consider the fact that Christ Himself called his disciples witnesses of everything they heard and saw, but in no way did He say that when the disciples talked about what they heard and saw, no more revelation would be especially necessary. No, even though they were with Christ in Gethsemane, even though they could testify to His crucifixion and resurrection with eyes and ears, they are still told that they will be endued for their oral witness with power from on high. That is the only way they would have been witnesses. Hence, when the day of Pentecost was fulfilled and they were endued with power from on high, they spoke in other languages after the Spirit gave them utterance in Acts 2:4. What do they speak about? The great deeds of God which they themselves had seen and heard. However, they do not speak it with their own, personally chosen words which the Holy Spirit gave them utterance. This was also promised to them in Mat. 10:19-20, “But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.” Here, they are not merely told, “take no thought what ye shall say, it will come to mind or be given unto you by your Father -- then talk away however ye think it best --.” No, “it will not even be your care which words ye shall use, even how ye shall speak, leave it to your Father. It is not ye in the least which speak, but it is your Father’s Spirit which speaketh through you.” The description conforms with how the Holy Spirit inspires speech. In Jer. 1:9, it says, “Then the Lord put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.” God therefore does not say here, “I will put my thoughts in thy mind and my will in thine heart,” but rather, “that organ of thy body, thy mouth, I shall take into my service and give thee the words which thou shalt speak.” So too in Jer. 30:2, “Thus speaketh the Lord God of Israel, saying, Write thee all the words that I have spoken unto thee in a book.” John was given the task to write in the same way, and what he wrote is to be untouchable, no word too much or too little, so that a terrible threat is pronounced in Rev. 22:18-9 over everyone who adds or subtracts a word, “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words (ἀπὸ τῶν λόγων) of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”
A principle passage giving rise to the doctrine that even the wording in Scripture is of divine origin is 2 Tim. 3:16, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God (πᾶσα γραφὴ θεόπνευστος), and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” Here, Scripture, especially the Old Testament, is said to be given by inspiration of God. It does not say, “all truths are given by inspiration of God,” but “all Scripture.” Therefore, this discussion is about divinely inspired Scripture. For example, if someone were to say that the composer of a melody was inspired by God Himself, everyone would understand that God inspired the individual notes, for the melody consists of notes. However, if you say, “He did not inspire the notes, only the melody,” that makes no sense, for then, at best, God could inspire only the motif of the melody, but not the melody itself. So too, if God inspired a painter to paint a painting, we must accept that God inspired the individual brush-strokes of the painting as well. Whoever denied that could not say that the painting is inspired, but at most, that God inspired the impetus to paint or a general outline. This is the case with Scripture. If we ask, “what does Scripture consist of?” It emerges from the fact that sounds are depicted by characters, and so a word is made up of them. Therefore, this is what Paul teaches: when these sounds of the Old Testament were depicted by these characters, when word was stringed together with word and sentence together with sentence, it was done by the Holy Spirit. Only then is Scripture actually inspired.
The proof is similar in 2 Pet. 1:19-21, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy… Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” Here too, everything leads back to God’s working: not only what the holy men of God thought, but also what they spoke, did under the influence of the Holy Spirit, and in such a way that they did not follow their own will anywhere.
However, the way the Lord Christ and the Apostles actually viewed and treated the wording of Holy Scripture as originating from God also comes from all the passages of Scripture where a referenced proof hinges on a single word. If the wording were not also inspired by the Holy Spirit in that case, all such proofs would fall apart: one would only need to say, “how do you know that this word was chosen by God Himself and not by the Apostles?” However, we read in John 10:34, “Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?” Here, Christ refers to Psalm 82:6, “I have said, Ye are gods.” The Lord holds this up to His adversaries who objected to His calling Himself God. “Even men,” the Lord wants to say, “ are called gods in Scripture. Ye cannot dislodge it, for Scripture saith it.” Hence, the Lord continues in verse 35, “If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken.” If the Jews had been able to say, “you cannot bind and convict us with an individual word in the Psalms: it does not come down to a single word,” Christ’s proof would have fallen apart. However, the Jews did not dare to say that about the Old Testament, for Christ was able to say to them, “Not even this individual word ‘gods’ can be broken. Ye must accept it as God’s Word.” This is how Christ refers to Psalm 110:1 to show that He is the Lord when it says in Mat. 22:43-4, “He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, The Lord said unto my Lord,” etc. Thus, the fact that David calls Christ “Lord” in the Spirit is the fact that Christ takes and uses to argue and shut His enemies’ mouths. That is how Paul deals with the word “Gentiles.” He quotes more passages from the Old Testament where the Gentiles are said to praise God. Rom. 15:9-12, “And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name. And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people. And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust.” He stresses this word “Gentiles,” and he founds his foregoing statement on it. Indeed, not only the word, but also the Form of the word, the case, the number, the inflexion, and the compound in which a word is found is determined by the Holy Spirit in just such a way and no other. In Gal. 3:16, it says, “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to [the] seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.” Here, the Apostle argues from the form of the word. From the fact that it does not say, “the seeds, thy seeds,” for which there would be one word in Hebrew, but “the seed, thy seed,” as through one, Paul shows that in this promise from the Old Testament, a person is being discussed, specifically Christ, and not the entirety of the descendents of Abraham. This is not the place to go into the various objections that are made against this exegesis of the Apostle by twisted interpreters. This much is certain: Paul attributes it to God Himself when a singular and not a plural is found in a passage of Scripture.
It goes on to say in Rom. 10:16, “For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our [preaching] (Isa. 53:1)?” Here, Paul argues from the combination of the words “believe” and “preach.” The Prophet Isaiah laments that he preaches, but the hearers do not believe. The Prophet could not lament if the preaching did not have the power to work faith. However, the Prophet rightly laments that this working has not occurred. Thus, the Apostle argues in verse 17, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” However, Paul can only use this as an argument if the words “believe” and “preach” there in Isaiah are divine expressions on which one can found a divine argument.
Similarly, it is important to the Apostle Peter that Sarah calls Abraham a lord, 1 Pet. 3:6, “Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord (Gen. 18:12).” This kind of argumentation from individual phrases is especially frequent in the Epistle to the Hebrews. Chapter 12:26-7, “but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven (Hag. 2:7). And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.” Here, the phrase “yet once more” is made out to be something significant that shows something. In Heb. 8:8, it says, “For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah (Jer. 31:31f).” Verse 13, “In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old.” Further, in Heb. 4:7, “Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” Finally, in Heb 7:20-1, “And inasmuch as not without an oath he was made priest: (For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec).” From the fact that “sware” is to be found in Psa. 110:4, he shows that Christ is bound through an oath. So too in Rom. 4:6-7, 9, “Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered... Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness.” Here, the Apostle reads out from the word “blessed” the precious truth that we become right and blessed without works through the reckoning of Christ’s righteousness alone. Furthermore, in Eph 4:8-9, “Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?” Here, Paul cites from the 63rd Psalm the word “ascended,” and uses it to demonstrate that the three Persons of the Godhead are not being discussed here, but rather Christ alone, for he argues thus: only He has ascended Who has first descended. Therefore, it is incontrovertible that God speaks here of His Son Jesus Christ Who had descended into the deepest depths of the humiliation of the curse and wrath of God, for neither the Father nor the Holy Spirit could have been elevated.
The Lord Christ refers to the names of people and places in Scripture in John 7:42, “Hath not the scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was? (Psa. 132:11, Mic. 5:1)” Hence, we learn from the story of the Three Wise Men how the Scribes are not dismayed when the name of the birthplace of the Messiah is stated. They are at peace, although they know that if they gave a false report to the bloody Herod, it could have cost them their heads. How they would be attacked over Christ when it would became apparent that Bethlehem was not the place of His birth. Indeed, if Scripture had stumbled like a book, it would not be reliable in the individual phrases. Thus, not even one of these words of Holy Scripture should be lost. Mat. 5:18, “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” Luke 16:17, “And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.”
They say, unjustly, that the Lutheran Church has not come out in favor of verbal inspiration: they would not be able to make use of the Lutheran Confessions to teach this, for in the Apology, it says, among other things, “do they think that these words fell thoughtlessly from the Holy Spirit?” In the Latin, “num arbitrantur excidisse Spiritui sancto non animadvertenti has voces (= these words or expressions)?”
What damage the New Theologians bring about by saying, “it is every phrase, not every word, of Holy Scripture that is inspired by God”! They teach the people to believe in the phrases, not the words. That is exactly why Christ chastised his disciples so severely, striking them as with a club in the face, when He said to them, “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken (Luke 24:25).” If even just one word of Scripture were from men, He could not have berated them so. However, the Disciples had been in His school a long time and had always seen what high worth their Lord and Master laid on Scripture. They knew what Christ Himself was concerned about, that every last prophecy of Him be fulfilled, for when the time drew near for Him to die, “that the scripture might be fulfilled,” He cried down from His cross, “it is finished!” And still the Apostles were so slow of heart to believe. Is someone had come up to them and said, “of course not every word in Scripture is from God,” what would have become of these poor disciples! Now, consider our times with the harmful doctrines of the New Theologians on Holy Scripture. Indeed, whoever follows them will have all spiritual life extinguished. What Paul says in Gal. 1:8 goes for the New Theologians as well: “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” This Gospel of Paul is composed in the New Testament and likewise teaches about itself that it is composed in words of divine inspiration. Therefore, whoever preaches anything other than the New Testament is accursed. Hence, we should and must curse the New Theology and tread it under foot.
We are not shy to acknowledge that even the astronomical and geological remarks in Holy Scripture are divine truths. The New Theologians say, “thus you make the Bible into a science textbook.” Volck, for example, comes out with this when he says, “there is a sentiment that is always coming up… as if it (Holy Scripture) is a book which gives information about everything one could possibly need to know. For example, they would teach science… The Bible gives no scientific information anywhere. It is not a textbook of cosmology, anthropology, or psychology (In Wie Weit ist die Bibel Irrtumslosigkeit Zuzuschreiben?, p. 7).” However, that is a distortion of the standpoint. We do not say that the Bible is a science textbook at all; rather, we say, “it is the book in which God shows us the way to salvation,” as it is written in John 20:31, “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” In 2 Tim. 3:15, it says that Scripture can make one wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. However, we add, whatever is said in Scripture about other things, even in passing, is inspired by God in its contents and wording.
We cannot be bewildered by the fact that they make a distinction between significant and less important things in Scripture. Even we say, “not everything in Scripture is of the same significance.” There can be something in Scripture that a person does not know and still be saved. However, this is not the question at all, whether something in Scripture is essential or nonessential, whether something is immediate or more distant in relation to salvation. This is about whether Scripture is completely, in the smallest and greatest matters reliable, that is, wholly inspired by the Holy Spirit, as it maintains. It is a childish scheme to say that, if one accepts that even the science in the Bible is inspired, one does not understand how to distinguish the spiritual and the worldly. Making this objection, Harnack thinks that if no scientific or historical errors were found in Holy Scripture, it would actually make inspiration suspect, for the complete prevention of errors in these things “would make the Holy Spirit known as one to whom… the spiritual and the natural are all the same (loc. cit., p. 28).”
When these gentlemen make the distinction between the essential and nonessential in Scripture, consider how much of the contents of Holy Scripture falls away as not being certain, divine truth. How many people have there been who knew little to nothing of Scripture and yet were saved! Everything not absolutely necessary for salvation would have to be counted as nonessential and not inspired by God. That is where Satan now wants to bring Christendom. He wants to take now this part, now that part from Christendom until finally nothing is left of it. Such terrible accusations will of course cause a great tumult. However, we draw comfort from Luther, who writes somewhere, “no more lament, no more advice. Such tumult was started by God, will also be continued by God, and will not cease until He makes the adversaries of the Word like dung in the streets.”
This is a good place to go a bit further into the presentable objections of the New Theologians against the verbal inspiration of Holy Scripture. One such objection is that Holy Scripture does not claim to be verbally inspired. It is almost unnecessary to refute this in light of what we have already heard. Here, we shall only mention that as proof of such an assertion, they refer to the preface or beginning of St. Luke’s Gospel and say, “Here, Luke speaks like someone who founds what he writes on human witness.” Specifically, the beginning goes like this: “Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus (Luke 1:1-3).” Whoever wants something to be divine in Holy Scripture in general cannot hold on to such arguments at all, for he shows too much. Specifically, he would show that the entire Gospel of St. Luke is not inspired by God, for Luke indeed says that he investigated everything he writes from the outset. However, in saying this, he does not deny that he writes as a tool of the Holy Spirit, for even the Lord Christ says that His disciples saw and heard everything. Indeed, he still makes them wise, and teaches them to understand the individual doctrines. He commanded them all to stay in Jerusalem until they would be endued with power from on high. Why? Because it was not enough for them to fulfill their task or write Holy Scripture that the Apostles were ear and eye witnesses. They were to speak as the Spirit gave them utterance.
A second objection is that there are some things that the Apostles just would not have known. What a simple objection! That is exactly why they were given the Holy Spirit in their hearts. That is exactly why not even the form of writing was left up to them. It is quite true that Paul did not know whom and how many in Corinth he had baptized. It follows from this that he was not omniscient. However, precisely because it was to be men through whom God wanted to lay the foundation of the faith, He had to work through them.
A third objection is that the writers of the Bible did not give the impression that they belonged to God: they were not blameless. Peter was rebuked by Paul because of his pretension, Moses was not allowed in the Land of Canaan because of his doubt, and David even fell into murder and adultery. The response to that is that Christ Himself made a distinction between doctrine and life with His Apostles. We are not to draw from the lives of the Apostles, but from their doctrine. They were not moved by the Holy Spirit in all of their actions; rather, they were moved by the Holy Spirit when they spoke. This objection therefore mingles things that Christ deliberately kept separate. Then one sees how Paul, who writes that the Holy Spirit speaks through him and permitted no one to change anything in his words, in contrast judges his life in Rom. 7. The Apostles were also poor sinners, but that does not make their teaching, their word, or their writing which the Holy Spirit authored through them human or defective.
A fourth objection is that if Scripture were dictated word for word by the Holy Spirit, everything would have to bear the same mark in diction, and in kind and manner of expression, but a great deal of difference prevails. Matthew writes quite differently than Paul, and he again writes quite differently than John, and so on. Also, the kind of argumentation is particular to the individual writers: certain expressions of the one are not to be found in the other. To that we answer, “just because the tool is human does not mean that what is done through the tool is also human.” If God had wanted a uniform style in Scripture, He could indeed have had everything written through Paul or through John or through another Apostle, but that is not what God wanted. He did not suspend the personality during writing either, so that would no longer remain Paul. It is precisely because God wanted to write through some in one way and through others in another that He wrote through these men.
When the dogmaticians speak of the different styles in Scripture, they compare this with an organ, as mentioned above, in which the pipes are constructed quite differently. The one pipe is tuned deep, and the other high. The one has a sharp note, and the other has a flat. However, it is always one and the same wind that blows through all of them and makes them sound according to their kind. This is a wonderful metaphor. The New Theologians like to mock it, but we do not envy them for this pleasure, for we also know that people do not imagine the Apostles as if they had stood there like dead organ pipes. For every metaphor, one may apply only the point of comparison and may not go beyond the same. The point of comparison in this image is that the one heavenly Wind, the Holy Spirit, ruled every holy writer alike and acts on the nature of each individual. This is not at all beneath Him. If a completely uneducated man goes to a scholar and asks him to draft a letter for him because he cannot write, and the scholar is ready and willing and in the process uses something like Low Saxon, which is all the uneducated man understands, and even affects a style that is understandable to the uneducated man, would that be beneath a scholar? Certainly not. On the contrary, the scholar would prove by doing so that he had a sensible head on his shoulders. This is what our dear God has done in the Bible. He writes the one in a high style and the other in a plain and simple style. Now when the Scripture is read by people, one will be especially embraced through John’s wording, the other through Paul’s wording, and so on. Scripture is prepared for every kind of person. This is divine condescension. Of course, we must be willing to be scolded by the German scholars for narrow-mindedness because of our use of such images. Indeed, because we can admit no human errors in Scripture, we are supposed to be some kind of Neo-Docetists, for as they would deny Christ’s true humanity, we deny anything human in Scripture. However, this comparison does not apply in any way. The Son of God had certainly taken on the weakness of human nature upon Himself and became a man, not even like Adam in Paradise, but like us, except that He had no sin. So it is with the Bible. It is human insofar as it is written in human language, the Old Testament in Hebrew, the New Testament in Greek. Matthew wrote in a style that Mark does not have, Mark again in a style that Luke does not have, and so forth. This is true; however, as Christ, the Son of God became human without sin, so the Word of God became human without error.
Fifthly, they raise a great cry over the fact that the Old and New Testaments have come to us in a form and condition completely inappropriate for a divine scripture. To do so, they point out the different readings, and they feel that if the entire Bible were God’s Word, God would have had to watch over it so that no different readings would exist. Firstly, however, it is not our place to say what God had to do, for then, is a doubt as to the divinity of Holy Scripture warranted if men ruined something in this book? If one of us writes a book, and the printer makes a typographical error, does it follow that the author did not write the book word for word? Besides, we also find much in nature that the Devil and Man misuse in their weakness. Does it follow that God is not the creator of the entirety of nature? It is quite astonishing that in Holy Scripture, in spite of the extant variants, not the least bit of doubt prevails as to whether or not a doctrine is substantiated in it. What is more, the very existence of variants is proof that next to others, we also have the original reading: only, the Holy Spirit has not told us, “this is the original.” Now, this is the glorious office of the theologian: to seek out the genuine reading. Even so, whatever readings one may choose as genuine, the doctrines of Scripture always remain the same. In no case does a doctrine undergo alteration. In no case are any doctrines abandoned in the process. In no case does Scripture become weaker on any point. Every scholar must admit this, even the most bitter enemy of Scripture. True, there are passages in which different readings occur and which, when one chooses a certain reading, no longer prove a certain doctrine. However, oddly enough, this is only the case when this doctrine is well established in many other passages of Scripture. If, on the other hand, only very few passages of Scripture exist to prove a doctrine, comparison shows that no different readings altering the sense are to be found in it.
Finally, they still say, “Holy Scripture does not propose any theory of inspiration at all. It does not give the How of its emergence.” It is true that it is never explained how the Holy Spirit acted on the holy Writers; however, Scripture teaches with express words the fact that the Holy Spirit Himself spoke and wrote through them. That is what we know and it is enough. Even the modernist theologians concede that they have not yet found a definitive theory which clearly shows in what proportion the composition of Holy Scripture actually consists of God and Man; however, it is no doubt up to our time to solve this problem. They cannot see the forest for the trees. The doctrine of inspiration is revealed so clearly in Scripture, as is, for example, the doctrine of justification if one will only hear and accept the witness of Scripture that it gives about itself. Of course, the New Theologians know nothing of this way of winning the doctrine of the inspiration of Scripture.
Volck has proposed an entirely new method. “My technique,” he says, “differs from the usual. Ordinarily, one begins with the statement, ‘Holy Scripture is inspired, that is, given by God’s Spirit,’ and then excludes various passages from this statement based on the quality which Scripture would have by virtue of such origins… The reverse way is the right one, namely, to check with God about how he did it. Examine Scripture first as we have received it, study its character, and seek to understand what it wants to be, and then decide on its origin (Die Bibel als Kanon, p. 32).” We know what is meant by this “checking with God,” this “examination”! The “theologians” would check what God is worthy and capable of. In front of everyone, they would substantiate the “self-contained organism” in Scripture and after that determine the worth and inspiration of the individual parts of Scripture. As a result, procedure becomes a judicial examination of Scripture.
No, we would do well to search Scripture, but not to examine it, not to level criticism at it, for it has absolute validity. We must humbly submit to it. These New Theologians, however, turn it into an object of criticism. We recognize no infallibility outside of Scripture, neither in the Pope nor in the councils, neither with reason nor with the so-called light of the enthusiast. Scripture alone is infallible. Now they want to take this Scripture away from us, the only infallible thing we have. Volck does say that no error is found in Scripture’s doctrine of salvation, but what help is that to us if according to what he says, one can first know what is the doctrine of salvation when one embraces the entire organism of Scripture and holds it before his eyes? Even Harnack says that the Church was on the right track for some time to get to the “self-contained organism” of Scripture. Consequently, everyone is still in uncertainty. They still cannot even determine with any certainty what is “the doctrine of salvation.” Truly, the New Theology is its own satire!
C. Scripture claims such validity and demand such restraint toward them as only Holy Scripture coming from God in their contents and wording (Ausdruck) can claim and demand.
In the same way that one can recognize from what Holy Scripture is, namely, from its divinity and authority, that when it says, “thus saith the Lord!” all flesh is to bow before this Word, one can also conversely recognize from the authority which Holy Scripture claims for itself just what character it claims by doing so. According to Scripture, it is a book whose authority is elevated over all creatures. When the Lord Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, He confronted the Prince of Darkness with the Word of Scripture and said, “It is written!” “It is written again!” “For it is written!” and cited three passages of Scripture. However, what if Christ had cited a saying of Aristotle the Great or Caesar Augustus or Tiberius, or if He had said, “King Herod said so”? Then Satan would have answered, “what does Aristotle have on me? He was my servant. What did Caesar Augustus command me? My name is not in his tax rolls. That does not leave me speechless. I will take your authority into question too. Prove to me you are God’s Son.” However, the Lord Christ set Scripture against Satan so that Satan did not know what to do against that except cite more words of Scripture.
We recognize the same authority of Scripture from Abraham’s speech to the rich man in Hell. Abraham points out to him nothing higher than the Old Testament. Luke 16:29, “Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.” With that, He says, “Holy Scripture is the source from which thy brothers are to recognize who they are and Who God is. From there alone are they to draw right knowledge of their sin and their salvation.” What a terrible reference this would have been if Moses and the Prophets were human books or if even the smallest error could occur in these books! Then these five brothers could have appeared on the Last Day and said, “we could not believe Moses and the Prophets, for in them we heard a word that is not right in this and that place, and from then on, our confidence and belief in such a word were gone. It is Moses and the Prophets’ fault that we were lost.” However, that is (praise be to God!) not the case with the Bible. God Himself points them to this Word. Therefore, a person must, if God otherwise wills that all be helped, truly be able to become divinely certain of his faith and God’s grace through this Word.
In the same way, Paul points out the high authority of Scripture to Timothy in 2 Tim. 3:15-7, “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” How highly Paul praises Scripture to Timothy here! It alone can make wise to salvation. It alone is the divine source of knowledge. It alone can perfect every man of God. What human book, even the most precious, could raise such a claim that it contains everything to make a person eternally happy and blessed, giving right, true comfort in every challenge and trial and striking the right note for every human heart?
Furthermore, Holy Scripture says of itself that it is also one source of knowledge of such things. 1 Cor. 2:9, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” Thus, the holy men of God wrote, moved by the Holy Spirit, and gave us a source of knowledge as only God can give it.
Hence, it is secondly also the sole rule and norm according to which all doctrine is to be judged and all teachers are to be rejected who do not teach in accordance with Scripture, as it is written in Jer. 8:9, “The wise men are ashamed, they are dismayed and taken: lo, they have rejected the word of the Lord; and what wisdom is in them?” and in Jer. 23:16, “Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord.”
On the other hand, Scripture commands in 2 Thess. 2:15, “Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.” Here, Christians are summoned to listen to what Scripture says and stay by it so that the situation can never arise in which they find anything that they would have to abandon; rather, they are to stay by everything in life and death. Paul testifies to the same when he writes in Rom. 15:4, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” Here, Paul is of course referring to the Old Testament and in doing so states that the authority of the Old Testament has not ended with the fullness of time; rather, it is also written for us who live in the New Covenant to teach us that we have a hope that will not be put to shame and rests on a divine foundation. However, if Scripture gives all this, it must be a divine foundation in every place. Nowhere may the foundation of the sand or mud of human opinion be found.
In Isa. 8:19-20, we see that the believers in the Old Covenant had such a rule in Scripture, “And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” So, if it was necessary back then to judge what was preached, no citation of anything had other validity, not a citation of the spirit of soothsayers or of dealings with the dead; rather, here the law and witness alone are valid, that is, the Bible. This is also how in the New Testament by the time of the Apostles everything spoken by God’s Spirit and all their speech was judged according to Scripture, as we read in 1 Cor. 14:37, “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.” If Christ urges His disciples to believe everything the Prophets spoke, without first considering whether they could accept it or not, it undeniably, certainly follows that if a prophet speaks, God Himself is heard, for no man, only God, can rightly claim such authority. That is why such a terrible sentence is passed on those who are not obedient to the Gospel of Christ, 2 Thess. 1:8, “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” When the Son of Man returns to judge the world, He will not judge according to a human book, but rather to a divine norm. This is the Gospel which He spoke and outlined in Scripture. That is why it is simply said in Acts 13:41,46 that whoever despises the Word of God thereby judges himself unworthy of everlasting life. “Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you.” “It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.” Only a divine Scripture can demand that no one ever deviate from it, and under penalty of divine wrath and curses at that. Such curses are not only for those who set themselves up against Scripture, but also for those who teach something different than Scripture. Gal. 1:8, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” There were people among the Galatians who maintained that they advocated the right doctrine, that they were the right followers of the Apostles, and that Paul, on the other hand, was no right Apostle at all. However, Scripture curses them as false Apostles because they taught something other than the Gospel preached by Paul.
In Deut. 12:32, Moses commanded, “What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.” The only person who can speak like this is whoever speaks God’s Word in the same way that the Holy Spirit moved Moses to speak. We cannot talk this way about our preaching. In Scripture, our illustrious fathers may come upon an interpretation here and there about which we have to say, “we do not go along.” However, wherever it is said, “no one add thereto nor diminish from it,” He must have spoken by Whom every word is divine truth. Hence, even Christ commanded His Apostles to teach men to keep everything He had commanded them. If on the other hand, we urge Christians to do this and reject that, they can rightly say, “where’s that written?” “The Apostles say something different,” we would respond. Then they could say, “you have to abide by this because we wrote it by the Holy Spirit.” Thus, Paul elevates his letters to a use in the Church that only God’s Word had when he gives his writings for the Churches to be read openly and adjures them, that is, commands them in God’s name, not to let them go unread, for in the Churches, God’s Word was read. How incredibly astonished these churches would have been if Paul had commanded them with such words to have a human book read so openly! In 1 Thess. 5:27, he writes, “I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren,” and in Col. 4:16, “And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.”
Furthermore, please note, if Christ were not true God, He would not even have been a pious man either, for He speaks about Himself the way only our great God can speak about Himself. This is the same case with the Bible. If it were not God’s Word, it would not even be a good book either, for it speaks about itself the way only a book can speak about itself if it has God Himself as its author. However, the Bible also proves this through the power of God which dwells in it and speaks to the heart of the reader. As one must say with Peter with every word of Jesus, “Lord, thou hast the words of eternal life.” so we must also recognize about the words of the Bible when we read it. Every true Christian will remember times where doubts crashed together over his heart like waves on the sea. What helped him out of it? Not taking up a book containing a defense of Christianity, but rather the Bible itself banished his doubt. Often, only a few sayings of the same let him feel immediately how his cold heart grew warm again so that he had to cry out, “no, my God, this book is Your Word, a Word of life, of power, of comfort, a light from heaven that no darkness can put out by which one can die comforted in faith even on the gallows.” All the martyrs joyfully shed their blood for the belief that the Bible is God’s Word. Woe to the time in which this belief ceases! Then the blood of the martyrs will flow no more.
The complete theses were unanimously accepted by the Synodical Conference.
 All quotations from other authors have been translated by the translator from the German passages found in the essay. Quotations of Scripture are from the King James Version. Exceptions to the above are indicated where they occur.
 Paul Gerhardt, “Why Should Cross and Trial Grieve Me?” in The Lutheran Hymnal, trans. composite, based on John Kelly from “Warum sollt’ ich mich denn grämen?”
 Sie reißen den Grund an! From Luther’s translation. King James Version: “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?”
 Known at the time as Dorpat.
 However, there are a few contemporary, extra-Biblical references to the fact that Christ had actually existed, but they do not reveal much else about Him.
 “Good deeds are not imposed”
 1 John 1:7
 Gen. 2:17
 “With a grain of salt”
 Paraphrase of 1 Tim. 3:16
 “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”
 “Begging the Question,” a logical fallacy wherein the conclusion is assumed in the premise.
 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
 “This point could be debated with learned and wise men, or even among ourselves.”
 Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf, Herr, dein Wort, die edle Gabe, first verse.
 2 Tim. 3:15
 2 Pet. 1:19
 John 5:39
 Allusion to 2 Cor. 11:20
 2 Tim. 3:16
 1 Cor. 2:13
 Apology Art. IV (II). par. 108. p. 126 of Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions. trans. based on William Dau and Gerhard Bente. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2005.