Questions and Answers on Special Revelation

|

These questions and answers are from the Student Catechism.

26.  Why is special revelation necessary?

Special revelation is necessary in order for us to know how God intervened in the world to bring about our salvation.

27.  What are three expressions of Special Revelation?

Three expressions of Special Revelation are: Revelation to and through individuals by miracles, angels, dreams, visions, and audible speech; Revelation through the Incarnate Living Word – Jesus Christ; and Revelation through the written Word of God.

28.  What is the difference between revelation and inspiration?

Revelation is the truth God makes known to us in order to bring about our salvation. Inspiration is the process by which God has revealed Himself and brought that revelation to written form.

29.  What do the neo-orthodox mean when they say that revelation is non-propositional?

The neo-orthodox believe that God only reveals himself experientially, not through propositions, or rationally understood truths.  To them, the “truths” in the Bible are merely people’s reactions to their own experience with God.  The Bible itself is not revelation.

30.  What is the problem with believing that revelation is non-propositional?

Believing that revelation is non-propositional makes truth subjective.  We could never know what was absolutely true.

31.  What is Verbal Plenary Inspiration?

The term ‘verbal’ has to do with “words,” and ‘plenary’ means “complete, all.” Verbal plenary inspiration means that all of the Bible is inspired, down to the very words. Matthew 5:18 indicates that the words of the Bible are the words of God, even to the jot (the smallest Hebrew letter) or tittle (the tiniest part of a letter).

32.  How was the Bible inspired?

God inspired the Bible by revealing truth to the Bible writers and superintending their thoughts and writings.  Using their vocabularies, personalities, writing styles, education, background, and historical research, God enabled the authors to write down the exact words He wanted in the Bible.

33.  How does Scripture support this view of inspiration?

2 Peter 1:21 says that the prophets spoke as they were moved (carried along) by the Holy Spirit. We could say that Divinity inhabited human language, in such a way that the final product (the original manuscripts) were not just the words of man, but the very words of God.  According to 2 Timothy 3:16, all Scripture is God-breathed.  This means that the Bible itself is revelation, not just a record of revelation.

34.  What is inerrancy?

Inerrancy means “having no errors.”  Infallibility, which means “having no tendency to fail a person, or lead him astray,” is a synonym of inerrancy.

35.  Is the Bible inerrant?

Inerrancy is a characteristic of all aspects of the Bible.  The Bible is absolutely errorless in anything it touches on, whether it talks about history, archaeology, natural science, philosophical principle, or spiritual doctrine or duty.

36.  How do we qualify this doctrine of inerrancy?

We say that inerrancy extends only to the original manuscripts.

37.  Why do we make this qualification?

We make this qualification because there are obvious discrepancies among various manuscripts of the Bible and there are obvious errors in translations. These problems in the manuscripts and translations are rare but real.  We also make this qualification because inerrancy was never promised to the copyists and the translators, though there is great evidence that God has providentially preserved his Word to an amazing degree.

38.  How would one argue logically for inerrancy?

One can make a case for inerrancy by arguing:

  • Premise A: All that proceeds from God is perfect.
  • Premise B: The Bible proceeds from God. (2 Timothy 3:16)
  • Conclusion: The Bible is perfect and thus inerrant.

39.  What is another way one can demonstrate that the Bible is inerrant?

One can make another case for inerrancy by arguing:

  • Premise A: If Jesus fulfilled prophecy and resurrected Himself, we must accept His claim to be the Son of God.
  • Premise B: If Jesus is the Son of God, we can trust his testimony.
  • Premise C: Jesus testified, as Son of God, that the Bible was God’s inerrant Word.
    Conclusion: The Bible is the inerrant Word of God.
Mark Bird
Mark Bird is Professor of Theology and Apologetics at God's Bible School and College.