Tuesday, February 16, 2010

What Does the Self-Authentication of Scripture Mean?

Roman Catholic blogger at Catholic Champion, Matthew Bellisario, has responded to a post from Jeff Downs (link to Jeff's post) which featured a video from Dr. Tony Curto (video below this introductory paragraph) introducing the topic of the self-authenticating nature of the Bible (link to Bellisario's post).
Mr. Bellisario doesn't interact directly with any Reformed arguments on the subject, but he does pose what he seems to view as a challenge for the position:
Well, I would just love to stick this Doctor in a room with all of the ancient manuscripts that we have including the Old Testament, New Testament, and the Apocryphal books with no punctuation, no labeling of the manuscripts, mix them all together with texts that were rejected and see if the brilliant doctor can put together the Canon of Scripture. We will see how self authenticating the text is.
One wonders if Bellisario really thinks it works that way - as though self-authentication were a sort of glow that the documents give off under an ultraviolet (UV) light or something like that.

Bellisario should read up on the doctrine of the self-authentication (also called the self-attestation) of Scripture. Greg Bahnsen has written an article worth reading on the subject (link to article). Some of Dr. Bahsen's explanation is as follows:

Throughout the history of redemption God has directed His people to find His message and words in written form. Indeed, God Himself provided the prototype of written revelation when He delivered the tablets of law upon Mount Sinai. And when God subsequently spoke by His Spirit through chosen messengers (II Peter 1:21), their words were characterized by self-vindicating authority. That is, it was evident from their message that they were speaking for God -- whether the claim was explicit (e.g., "Thus saith the Lord...") or implicit (the arresting power or demand of their message as a word from the Lord of the covenant: e.g., Matt. 7:28-29).

Moreover, their messages were of necessity coherent with each other. A genuine claim to inspiration by a literary work minimally entailed consistency with any other book revealed by God, for God does not lie ("...it is impossible for God to lie," Heb. 6:18) and does not contradict Himself ("But as God is faithful, our word to you is not yes and no," II Cor. 1:18). A genuine word from God could always be counted upon, then, to agree with previously given revelation -- as required in Deut. 13:1-5, "If there arises among you a prophet..., saying `Let us go after other gods...,' you shall not hearken unto that prophet....You shall walk after Jehovah your God, and fear Him, and keep His commandments, and obey His voice...."

Hopefully the reader can see that this kind of self-authentication or self-attestation isn't a matter of simply sorting through a bunch of manuscripts. That kind of picture would be a caricature of the doctrine, not an accurate representation of the doctrine.

- TurretinFan

6 comments:

natamllc said...

Well, some things then!

"....Well, I would just love to stick this Doctor in a room with all of the ancient manuscripts that we have including the Old Testament, New Testament, and the Apocryphal books with no punctuation, no labeling of the manuscripts, mix them all together with texts that were rejected and see if the brilliant doctor can put together the Canon of Scripture. We will see how self authenticating the text is....".

This guy lives "within" creation. His spirit is not connected or conjoined to Christ's Spirit. It becomes evident with his words there.

To underscore what I am getting at I will use some of Dr. Bahsen's explanation to do that:::>

".... A genuine word from God could always be counted upon, then, to agree with previously given revelation -- as required in Deut. 13:1-5,...".

As we have learned, Our God likes to "talk", to "speak" and, one can go so far as to say this about Our God, God does nothing until after He has "Spoken it into existence".

Just consider yourself, Elect, Called of God and Chosen? What has God said about you?

Eph 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,
Eph 1:4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love
Eph 1:5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,
Eph 1:6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

Our God reigns and does not have to nor will He "....mix them all together with texts that were rejected and see if the brilliant doctor can put together the Canon of Scripture....". Seeing we are His children, we don't have to either! We have the Word of God. We have received the Holy Spirit. We are born again, Spirit filled Believers in the Truth, of the Truth and united to the Truth Himself.

My God teaches me that that is exactly what the devil, Satan, that old red dragon, toothless lying liar lion does and also his agents on earth do as well. The devil mixes up the Word of God with his own and by a fallacious argument tries to get us to respond to what is false. We don't have to respond to what is false. He has to submit to our Word of God. We don't have to submit to his word of god! If we do, that's our mistake. Repent and move on. Haven't you read how he used the Word of God and mixed it up with some of his own to tempt and deceive Jesus, cf, Mat. 4, Luke 4?

It is just plain stupidity what this guy has suggested here!

steve said...

Notice that Bellisario is using exactly the same argument as Bart Ehrman. The canon is an arbitrary collection of books. The only thing holding it together are the machinations of the church.

Scratch a Catholic epologist, and out pops Ehrman. They're identical twins.

Turretinfan said...

Yes - there are a lot of similarities between the two approaches. The externally directed (only) radical skepticism is another commonality.

natamllc said...

Another tell tell lie that may be missed over at Bellisario's blog, is in the body of the text that he uses to smear a "True Brother", Dr. Tony Curto and the phrase about
what Christ Himself gave us.

When you deconstruct that phrase you end up at their presupposition which is the firm promotion of the infallibility of the Pope, the papacy and the magisterium as the "authenticators" of who is and who is not "the Church member" of "the Church".

As I recall, the Apostle Paul wasn't just instantly greeted as a brother in Christ. Christ had to help the brethren realize and see the Grace of God at work in him and that didn't happen over night. There were a lot of years between the Damacus Road experience and Acts 15.

The Scripture teaches us a lot about the blood line and lineage and inheritance and who is in and who is out. The "who" is in part is now a matter of the Work of Christ and the Holy Spirit. It is the work of the Church to nurture those being born again and "added" into a particular fellowship.

We have tests that we can apply with new converts of any logic reasoning age. Of course, for me, babes being born from within is one sure way of Church growth! :)

We are happy too when the Holy Spirit adds outside people to our numbers. As we learn from the Apostle Paul's experience, there is a period of detoxification that goes on as one grows in Grace and the Knowledge of the Truth by the Spirit of God.

Besides God's Hand and Spirit there is within the Church two other authentications that I recall. One is the self test Paul prescribes in 2 Corinthians 13 and then the other one I am thinking of is the one that is prescribed and applied by those who carry the "charge" and "care" of souls, in the book of Titus, Titus 3:10-11.

Paul also exegetes a test of sorts from Old Testament verses whereby we can come to know we are saved, at Romans 10. John does something similar in his Epistle too, "test the spirits", does the person confess that Jesus came in the flesh?

This ploy of the devil is simply to rob you of true spiritual fellowship with your brethren who you are in communion and community with and to try to twist you away from God and the Word of His Grace and True Communion in the True Household of God by the True Grace and the Faith once delivered to the Saints.

Again, I come back to that exhortation of Paul's at Philippians 4:9 or Acts 20:32 or his benediction at 2 Corinthians 13:14.

As these days draw to a close, it seems to me this sort of attack by the Anti-Christ will increase and is where the battle will be won!

1Jn 5:4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith.
1Jn 5:5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
1Jn 5:6 This is he who came by water and blood--Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.
1Jn 5:7 For there are three that testify:
1Jn 5:8 the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree.
1Jn 5:9 If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son.
1Jn 5:10 Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son.
1Jn 5:11 And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
1Jn 5:12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

zog said...

Listening to Tony's video it made me realize that "the word of God" is really just God talking to me. I know this is elementary for you theologians but it changed the way I have always looked at Scripture. Think about it...God talking to me.

Turretinfan said...

And prayer is you talking to God. So, read and pray.