The Scotsman Contra Warfield

David Burchard Doctrine, Quotable Quotes Leave a Comment

But when all is said they are bound to admit [Warfield and his advocates] that the attribute of formal inerrancy does not belong to the Scriptures which we now have, but to what they call … the original autographs of Scripture …. It follows that the Scriptures as we now have them are neither infallible nor inspired in their use of these words. This is not an inference drawn from their writings by a hostile critic. It is frankly and courageously said by themselves, ‘We do not assert that the common text, but only that the original autographic text was inspired.’ The statement is deliberately made by Dr.Hodge and Dr. Warfield. This is a very grave assertion, and shows to what lengths the School are driven to maintain their theory, and it is one which cannot fail, if seriously believed and thoroughly acted upon, to lead to sad conclusions both in the theological doctrine of Scripture and in the practical work of the Church …. Where are we to get our errorless Scripture? In the ipsissima verba of the original autographs? Who are to recover these for us? I suppose the band of experts in textual criticism who are year by year giving us the materials for a more perfect text. Are they to be created by-and-by when their labours are ended into an authority doing for Protestants what the ‘Church’ does for Roman Catholics? Are they to guarantee for us the inspired and infallible Word of God, or are we to say that the unknown autographs are unknowable, and that we can never get to this Scripture, which is the only Scripture inspired and infallible in the strictly formal sense of those words as used by the Princeton School? I have a great respect for textual and historical Biblical critics, and have done my share in a humble way to obtain a recognition of their work, but I for one shall never consent to erect the scholars whom I esteem into an authority for that text of Scripture which is alone inspired and infallible. That, however, is what this formalist theory is driving us to if we submit to it. I maintain, with all the Reformers, and with all the Reformed Creeds, that
the Scriptures, as we now have them, are the inspired and infallible Word of God, and that all textual criticism, while it is to be welcomed in so far as it brings our present text nearer the ipsissima verba of the original autographs, will not make the Scriptures one whit more inspired or more infallible in the true Scriptural and religious meanings of those words than they are now (Lindsay 1895:291-293).

Thomas Lindsay

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