Re-post, as previously mentioned…. Redefining a Word In the late 19th century, Benjamin Warfield of Princeton Theological Seminary changed the focus of theological discussion of inspiration. Warfield was a great theologian who was contending rightly for the authority and inerrancy of Scripture in the face of heretical challenges. Hodge in In this article Warfield signaled what the rest of his writings on inspiration were going to do, and he was quite clear about it. He was adopting a narrower definition of inspiration than that which had been used in the past — and narrower than the Scriptural usage.
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Re-post, as previously mentioned…. Redefining a Word In the late 19th century, Benjamin Warfield of Princeton Theological Seminary changed the focus of theological discussion of inspiration.
Warfield was a great theologian who was contending rightly for the authority and inerrancy of Scripture in the face of heretical challenges. Hodge in In this article Warfield signaled what the rest of his writings on inspiration were going to do, and he was quite clear about it.
He was adopting a narrower definition of inspiration than that which had been used in the past — and narrower than the Scriptural usage. Defending redefinition : The history of theology is full of parallel instances, in which terms of the highest import have come to be accepted in a more fixed and narrow sense than they bore at first either in scriptural or early ecclesiastical usage emphasis mine.
As long as a person is very careful to explain his terms, that is not necessarily wrong — but it is dangerous with a Scriptural term, because it runs the risk of creating confusion over terms as your technical definition and the Scriptural term get mixed up. Still later : We do not assert that the common text, but only that the original autographic text, was inspired emphasis mine. The redefinition is obvious.
Warfield refuted this false teaching. Warfield rightly argued that the Scriptures were a divine product from the very beginning. Warfield rightly refuted this error. It is on this foundation of Divine origin that all the high attributes of Scripture are built. When Warfield writes in the second half of this citation about the origin of Scripture, he is completely correct.
But his denial that theopneustos refers to the nature and effects of Scripture as well as the origin ignores the context, the connotations of the breath of God, and other evidence as well. There is no reason to charge Warfield with evil intent. In refuting a false teaching which minimised divine authorship, he rightly emphasised what theopneustos implies about the origin of Scripture. He erred, however, in adopting a false choice — a simple error in logic, which is rather surprising in a scholar of his ability.
We do not have to choose between origin, nature, and effect — we can choose two of them, or even all three. His opponents had created the false choice, saying in error that the word is only referring to effect, and Warfield unfortunately let them frame the terms of the discussion. Why did he fall into that logical trap? Very simply, he had adopted his own redefinition, and was now applying it to the Biblical term. He began by saying that he was adopting a technical term which was more narrow than Biblical usage, but before long he was arguing as in this article that the Biblical usage was identical to his redefined meaning.
This is very true, but again he constructs a false choice, between the divine origin of the Scriptures and an in-breathing of divine nature. We can certainly choose both. Warfield could not because he had adopted his own redefinition.
We should certainly agree with Warfield when he refutes any ideas of human origin for the Scriptures. Furthermore, he is correct in asserting elsewhere in this article that the word does not mean that God breathed into the writers. It is the Scriptures that are theopneustos, not the writers. But the valuable service he provided in refuting these errors does not logically force us to accept his limited definition of the word. No longer referring to both the divine origin and the divine quality or nature of the Scriptures, he now taught that inspiration meant only the divine origin.
He believed his own redefinition, and began to write that his definition was what the Scriptural writers had in mind. It became entirely a matter of history, relating only to the original autographs: We do not assert that the common text, but only that the original autographic text, was inspired.
The derivatives have been multiplied and their applications extended during the procession of the years, until they have acquired a very wide and varied use. Underlying all their use, however, is the constant implication of an influence from without, producing in its object movements and effects beyond its native, or at least its ordinary powers. The specifically theological sense of all these terms is governed, of course, by their usage in Latin theology; and this rests ultimately on their employment in the Latin Bible. In the Vulgate Latin Bible the verb inspiro Gen. In the development of a theological nomenclature, however, they have acquired along with other less frequent applications a technical sense with reference to the Biblical writers or the Biblical books.
B. B. Warfield
Bible[ edit ] During his tenure, his primary thrust and that of the seminary was an authoritative view of the Bible. This view was held in contrast to the emotionalism of the revival movements, the rationalism of higher criticism , and the heterodox teachings of various New religious movements that were emerging. The seminary held fast to the Reformed confessional tradition — that is, it faithfully followed the Westminster Confession of Faith. Warfield believed that modernist theology was problematic, since it relied upon the thoughts of the Biblical interpreter rather than upon the divine author of Scripture.
Archibald Alexander Hodge