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Archive for the ‘bibliology’ Category

John Frame. The Doctrine of the Word of God.  Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, November 1st 2010. 684 pp.

5 out of 5

Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

This is the final volume in John Frame’s “A Theology of Lordship” series.  I recommend all four volumes.  In this volume theologian John Frame focus on a theology of the Bible. Readers who are familiar with his other works would appreciate the same rigor and clarity in the way Frame argues that is both sound and creative.  Frame is truly one of the most sophisticated and philosophical defender of the classical Protestant Conservative view of the Bible.

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Michael Kruger

We have in the past posted on our blog Michael Kruger Faith to Life Lecture on the Self-Authenticating Scripture and his Four Lectures on the Canon by Michael J. Kruger (Free MP3s!).  Dr. Kruger is a Seminary president, New Testament Scholar, Presuppositional apologists and author who has made his contribution towards the work of the Lord in more ways than one.  Here’s a short video on “What It Means That the Bible Is Self-Authenticating:”

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lie or truth

This is my sixth posts in a series responding to some arguments against inerrancy presented by a certain blogger.  Today we shall look at the following paragraph:

I believe that the doctrine of inerrancy was conveniently brought in by the Church to protect the Bible as a consecrated canon of scripture, with the authority to teach and convict.  With this, the false doctrine of “papal infallibility” was also established.  However, the assertion of inerrancy is a lie on both counts, considered to be the lesser of two evils; the other being chaos!  Now, what started as a lie is now a deeply entrenched doctrine that every professing Christian is compelled to accept as true or be branded as a heretic!  But how can we claim to have the truth in Jesus, when we are forcing many to believe a lie?!  It shows a lack of faith in God’s ability to protect His Church and reveal His Word to true believers.

Here is my response:

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error

This is actually my fifth posts in my series responding to some arguments against inerrancy.  I was mistaken last week to say that I only had two posts.  Today’s objection we shall look at is as follows:

However, no where is it written, in any verse of any chapter of any book of either Hebrew or Christian Bible that ‘scripture’ equals ‘infallible’ or ‘inerrant’!  What it does say is that God’s words are flawless (Psa 12:6), His Law is perfect (Psa 19:7), that His word will not return to Him void (Isa 55:11), that His words will all be fulfilled (Matt 5:18) and that all scripture is profitable for teaching (2 Tim 3:16).  However, it should be crystal clear that not every word written in the scriptures (whether Jewish or Christian) were the very words of God, so they do not all have the same claim to flawlessness.

Here’s my response:

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silly objection to inerrancy

Last month I wrote two posts in which I evaluated some arguments that a woman presented for the rejection of Inerrancy.  My first post was titled “Does 2 Timothy 4:13 undermine the Doctrine of Inerrancy?” followed by a second that was titled “.”  Today’s post I want to look at another criticism offered against inerrancy:

 I believe the teaching of Biblical inerrancy has hurt more than it has helped the Christian faith.  I think it could be responsible for the stunted growth among Christians, who do not develop their relationship with God through the Holy Spirit.

Here’s my response:

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when i hear put god in a box argument

Last Saturday I wrote a post titled “Does 2 Timothy 4:13 undermine the Doctrine of Inerrancy?” in which I evaluated an argument from an internet discussion that attacked the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy from a professing Christian.  As I stated in that previous post there was a lot of things this individual said that I want to respond to but I don’t have the time to respond to them in full concerning the matter of inerrancy.  Here in this post I want to respond to another argument given by the individual attacking inerrancy which I shall call the “God-in-A-Box-Argument-Against-Biblical-Inerrancy:”

The problem with referring to the Bible as the COMPLETE and inerrant word of God is that we limit the ministry of the Holy Spirit and the gift of prophecy.  By so doing, God has been gagged, and cannot reveal a new word, for fear of false teachers and prophets.  In light of this, I do believe we are in danger of repeating the mistakes of the Pharisees, and will brand as heretics true prophets of God and ministers of His Word.

Elsewhere in this person’s post the individual talk about putting “God in a box.”  How shall we respond to this argument against Biblical Inerrancy?

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Michael Kruger

Michael Kruger has given a lecture at Clearwater Christian College on February 13th, 2015 on the Self-Authenticating Scripture.  This is an important lecture.  I appreciate his nuance and distinction between Self-Authentication versus Self-Attestation of Scripture.  Self-Authentication is not just merely self-attestation which refers to what Scripture has to say about itself although it does not conflict with it.  Self-Authentication refers to the quality, attribute and character of Scripture that bear out it’s own Divine Origin.  It is synonymous with “self-evidencing.”

Watch it:

Hope you learn from it!

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Inerrancy Summit 2015

I’ve been to nearly a decade worth’s of Shepherd’s Conference and this one was definitely the best personally.  I really enjoyed the Inerrancy Summit.

Here are the videos!

There are some more videos they haven’t had it up yet but I will put it up as soon as they make them available.

Enjoy!

 

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southern seminary

A doctrine of Scripture that has been under-utilized in apologetics has been the historic belief in the self-attestation of Scripture.  There is a Doctoral Dissertation on the topic: “The Self-Attestation of Scripture as the Proper Ground for Systematic Theology” by Matthew Scott Wireman.  Dr. Wiseman completed this thesis in 2012 through Southern Seminary, best known with its president Al Mohler.

Southern Seminary and Dr. Wireman has made the dissertation available as a PDF.  You can download it by clicking HERE.

Here is the description of the dissertation broken down by chapters:

This dissertation examines the Protestant doctrine of Scripture’s self-witness of divine authority. Chapter 1 examines the current evangelical milieu. The doctrine has become nearly obsolete in the discussion of systematic theology. Consequentially, wherein lies authority has been greatly misunderstood in Protestant circles.

Chapter 2 surveys the doctrine through the history of the church. Particular note is made of Augustine, John Calvin, John Owen, and Herman Bavinck. This chapter evinces the near consensus of the church that the authority for the Church is found preeminently in the Scriptures.

Chapter 3 summarizes post-conservative, Stanley J. Grenz and John R. Franke, attempts to ground theology in Scripture plus culture and tradition. This chapter does not offer a critique as much as it aims to represent post-conservatives in their own words.

Chapter 4 looks at how the Old Testament viewed itself–particularly through the ministries of Moses and the prophets. YHWH chose representatives who would speak to the covenant community and write down the stipulations and history of YHWH’s relationship with Israel for posterity.

Chapter 5 looks at the New Testament, which follows the paradigm instituted by the Old Testament. In the person and work of Jesus Christ, God’s promises find their fulfillment, which foments his commissioning of the Twelve Apostles to be his spokesmen.

Chapter 6 ties together the threads that cohere in the two testaments of Scripture. It makes explicit the claims of Scripture that God is a se, he communicates with his creation, he uses spokesmen, and his written Word is its own witness for its authority.

Chapter 7 defines the doctrine of Scripture’s self-witness and applies it to tradition, culture, and the task of apologetics. The chapter explicates the thesis of the dissertation that Scripture’s self-witness must be the ground of systematic theology.

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John_Frame

What is the role of Scripture and extrabiblical data in light of the sufficiency of Scripture?

I appreciate John Frame’s definition of the sufficiency of Scripture not as “sufficiency of specific information but sufficiency of divine words” with the note that “Scripture contains divine words sufficient for all of life.” (John Frame, Doctrine of Christian Life, 157).  I think this definition is helpful because it allows us to delineates the use of Biblical and extra-biblical data in knowing and doing things as Frame explained in this extended quote:

If you remember that the sufficiency of Scripture is a sufficiency of divine words, that will help us to understand the role of extrabiblical data, both in ethics and theology.  People sometimes misunderstand the doctrine of sufficiency by thinking that it excludes the use of any extrabiblical information in reaching ethical conclusions.  But if we exclude the use of extrabiblical information, then ethical reflection is next to impossible.

Scripture itself recognizes this point.  As I said earlier, the inscriptional curses does not forbid seeking extrabiblical information.  Rather, they forbid us to equate extrabiblical information with divine words.  Scripture itself requires us to correlate what it says with general revelation.  When God told Adam to abstain from the forbidden fruit, he assumed that Adam already had general knowledge, sufficient to apply that command to the trees that he could see and touch.  God didn’t need to tell Adam what a tree was, how to distinguish fruits from leaves, or what it meant to eat.  These these were natural knowledge.  So God expected Adam to correlate the specific divine prohibition concerning one tree to his natural knowledge of the trees in the garden.  This is theology as application: applying God’s word to our circumstances.

The same is true for all divine commands in Scripture.  When God tells Israel to honor their fathers and mothers, he does not bother to define ‘father’ and ‘mother’ and to set forth an exhaustive list of things that may honor or dishonor them.  Rather, God assumed that Israel have some general knowledge of family life, and he expects them to apply his commands to that knowledge.”

(John Frame, Doctrine of Christian Life, 163).

Some of the highlights I put in bold font.

I think Frame is building upon the observation that I first read from the apologist Cornelius Van Til of the need of general and special revelation being inter-dependent.  God’s Special Revelation always interpret His General Revelation and extrabiblical information; but note here that Special Revelation assumes that there are extrabiblical information out there; moreover, it will never contradict God’s special revelation.

For more quotes from John Frame, I invite you to “like” our blog’s face book page which will be featuring daily morning quotes from Frame’s book, The Doctrine of the Christian Life.

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how-can-i-know-for-sure

 

Two weeks ago I posted videos related to a booklet series of Christian Answers to Hard Questions Series by Westminster Theological Seminary.  I’ve enjoyed reading these booklets and hope to eventually review them all.  I find them to be helpful tools as introductory discipleship on a Christian worldview from a Reformed and Van Tillian perspective.

It can be purchased for a discounted cost if you click HERE.

Here’s my review of David Garner’s How Can I know for Sure?

The book begin by noting the problem with how philosophy and religion often fail to answer the most fundamental questions in life.  Concerning philosophy, the author observed the difficulty of rationalism with trusting in our intellectual powers that suffer insurmountable limitations while with empiricism it leaves us trusting in our experience but then we can’t experience everything.  Religion, like philosophy has often failed to give answers that transcend mere human speculation.

The book then addresses our need for God’s revelation in order to answer life’s important questions.  I was happy that the author approached the issue of epistemology theologically and managed to talk about the concept of man’s suppression of the truth, and the self-attesting revelation of God.  Here we find in the book a very good definition of self-attesting:  “we mean that is authority cannot be measured by comparison to something outside itself, because as God’s voice it possesses final authority.”  I also appreciated the book bringing the doctrine of illumination to bear in answering the question of how we can know for sure what Scripture has to say.  Of course handling the subject of certainty and theory of knowledge from a Reformed and Van Tillian perspective will inevitably lead to the discussion of circular reasoning.  The author notes here that the certainty we get from Scripture isn’t a “woodenly” circular reasoning (I just thought of the adjective “woodenly” right now); but theologically the position is more nuance, in that it’s the Spirit’s testimony to the Scripture.  I also appreciate the author’s discussion of circularity in terms of a moral dimension in which he noted that the sinful circularity of unbelief that reasons in darkness and autonomously.

In terms of constructive criticism I wished the author could have spent more time showing how empiricism and rationalism failed.  The booklet has great footnotes.  When he made passing reference to the fact of the Bible’s fulfilled prophecies, fulfilled prophecies of the Messiah and the basic reliability of the Bible, I don’t think it’s fair to demand he fleshed that out for a small booklet (not to mention it would become another book than on certainty of knowledge for a Christian); but I think it would help footnoting further references.  I heard the author’s interview of this booklet over at Reformed Forum and felt the interview covered other grounds people might be asking that the limitation of a booklet presents.  It might be helpful to read the book and listen to the interview.

NOTE: This book was provided to me free by P&R Publishing and Net Galley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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18475501

I have been looking forward to this book for several weeks now.  The author Kevin DeYoung addresses the important topic of the doctrines of Scripture and he writes in an accessible way that’s friendly toward those who might be new in the faith.  DeYoung will be one of the speakers for next year’s Shepherd’s Conference (2015) that is on the topic of inerrancy and I look forward to what he has to say beyond this book.

There are many books out there on the Bible.  How is this one different?  In the beginning of the book DeYoung makes it clear what this work is not:  It is not a book on personal Bible study, interpretation, apologetics per se or even an academic book with lots of footnotes covering philosophical, theological and methodological issues.  That is, DeYoung explicitly says that this work is neither a systematic or historical theology nor is it an attack piece against some of the recent works from certain quarters of Evangelicals that question the authority of the Bible.  Instead DeYoung’s goal for the book is a lot more modest:  He wants to unpack what the Bible has to say about itself as the Word of God (hence the title).  This is done out of the conviction that the Bible as God’s Word often bring people to faith concerning itself when one allows the Bible to speak.

We do need a simple and direct book that calls this current generation of Christ followers to be faithful to God’s Word and not compromise.  It seems this is what the publishers and author wants to do with this book.  The strength of this book is its straightforward simplicity of truths that are biblical.  Younger Christians need will benefit from reading this and it is perfect for discipleship.  Older seasoned saints can benefit from this book by being reminded of what God’s Word is and its characteristics.  For those who are involved with much academic reading on bibliology, I believe they will find it refreshing as a summary of the doctrines of the Word of God.

There are eight chapters in the book plus an appendix.  All the chapters are expositions of passages that talks about the Word of God.  The bulk of the book covers the characteristics of God’s Word.  I appreciate DeYoung’s intent for application here with even the way he titled the chapters.  For instance, rather than merely say God’s Word is sufficient DeYoung titled chapter three as “God’s Word is Enough.”  Rather than say the authority of Scripture we see chapter five is titled “God’s Word is Final,” etc.  I appreciate the book drawing out implications for the Christian life from a solid bibliology.  My favorite chapter is chapter four’s topic of how God’s Word is clear.  There is so much discussion today about how to interpret the Bible with various new tools that one may start believing one has to graduate with advance degree before we can interpret the Bible for ourselves.  DeYoung notes that this is an issue of one’s view of God, of whether God can reveal Himself or whether He is gagged (to borrow the title of Carson’s book).  This chapter is a great encouragement for believers to know that God’s Word is “knowable” contrary to the problematic claims of some critic.

I also appreciated the appendix as well with its list of thirty significant books on the Bible.  DeYoung even labeled each work as either beginner, intermediate and advanced.  I do disagree with DeYoung calling John Frame’s Doctrine of the Word of God as “beginner.”

I give this book a four out of five since I wished he could have interacted with some of the recent critics more nevertheless I recommend it for believers as a good summary.

Go here for 35% discount.

Or you can also order this book on Amazon

NOTE: This book was provided to me free by Crossway and Net Galley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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Two weeks ago I wrote about a problematic statement agnostic Bart Ehrman made in his recent book Did Jesus Exist?.  While I appreciate the main thrust of Ehrman’s work, which argues for the historical existence of Jesus, there are nevertheless logical problems such as the one we shall examine  below.

did-JESUS-exist-book

Here I want to focus specifically on his misrepresentation of the fundamentalists/conservative Christians’ position on inspiration and the Bible, and how Ehrman ends up contradicting himself when he criticizes the fundamentalists/conservative position on the Bible’s historicity/factuality.

Bart Ehrman stated that there

are certain agnostics and atheists who claim that since, say, the Gospels are part of Christian sacred scripture, they have less value than other books for establishing historical information.  As odd as it might seem, the nonbelievers who argue this are making common cause with the fundamentalists who also argue it.  Both groups treat the Gospels as nonhistorical, the fundamentalists because the Gospels are inspired and the atheists (those who hold this view) because the Gospels are accepted by some people as sacred scripture and so are not historical.” (Page 72; Emphasis not in the original)

Note what is stated in bold.  Ehrman here is asserting that the fundamentalists’ understanding of the Gospel means:

Inspiration=nonhistorical

Ehrman really said this and it’s not just a quotation out of context.  Earlier in the previous page Erhman writes:

Sometimes the Gospels of the New Testament are separated from all other pieces of historical evidence and given a different kind of treatment because they happen to be found in the Bible, the collection of books that Christians gathered together and declared sacred scriptures.  The Gospels are treated in this way by two fundamentally opposed camps of readers, and my contention is that both of them are completely wrong.  However else the Gospels are used–for example, in communities of faith–they can and must be considered historical sources of information.” (Page 71;  Emphasis not in the original)

Here the two camps refer to the same polarizing groups of Christian fundamentalists and secularized skeptics mentioned on page 72.  Ehrman is going against the fundamentalists because he thinks the fundamentalists’ view of inspiration means the Bible is taken as nonhistorical.  Readers who are fundamentalists/conservatives or even familiar with the works of fundamentalists will no doubt find Ehrman’s claims rather strange.

Point 1: Ehrman should have footnoted and cited some example of fundamentalists who ” treat the Gospels as nonhistorical,” “because the Gospels are inspired.”  As a Reformed Conservative Evangelical, I am not familiar with any fundamentalists who holds to Ehrman’s claim that the Bible’s inspiration means it is nonhistorical.

Point 1a: The demand here in point 1 that Ehrman should provide some kind of citation for his claim is reasonable.  The burden of proof is on him to demonstrate a claim which he even acknowledge is counter-intuitive: “As odd as it might seem, the nonbelievers who argue this are making common cause with the fundamentalists who also argue it” (Page 72; emphasis not in the original).

Point 1b: Again, the demand that Ehrman should have provided a reference to support his description of fundamentalists’ view of inspiration is reasonable.  Throughout the book Bart Ehrman does a really good job documenting and footnoting the position of the Jesus mythicists he is refuting, even when he considers them “nonscholars.”  On page 132 Ehrman himself acknowledges that the fundamentalists camps does have capable scholars. If he is able and willing to footnote and cite the nonscholars he opposes, how much more so then, should he be able to document and give references to fundamentalist scholars and their view of inspiration that he is rejecting.

Point 2: A survey of fundamentalists’ literature would reveal that their doctrine of inspiration presupposes the Bible to be historical rather than nonhistorical in it’s truth claims.  A good case in point can be demonstrated by citing The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, a key document expounding a conservative bibliology.

Point 2a: “Being wholly and verbally God-given, Scripture is without error or fault in all its teaching, no less in what it states about God’s acts in creation, about the events of world history, and about its own literary origins under God, than in its witness to God’s saving grace in individual lives.” (The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, Summary Statement 4; emphasis is not in the original).

Point 2b: “We deny that Biblical infallibility and inerrancy are limited to spiritual, religious, or redemptive themes, exclusive of assertions in the fields of history and science. We further deny that scientific hypotheses about earth history may properly be used to overturn the teaching of Scripture on creation and the flood.” (The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, Article XII).

Point 2c: “When Adam fell, the Creator did not abandon mankind to final judgement, but promised salvation and began to reveal Himself as Redeemer in a sequence of historical events centering on Abraham’s family and culminating in the life, death, resurrection, present heavenly ministry and promised return of Jesus Christ.” (The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, Explanation A; emphasis is not in the original).

Point 2d: “No hermeneutic, therefore, of which the historical Christ is not the focal point is acceptable.” (The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, Explanation B; emphasis is not in the original).

Point 2e: The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy is concern with history, since the word history appears a total of 12 times throughout the document.

Point 3: Oddly enough elsewhere throughout the book Ehrman’s criticism of fundamentalists’ view of the Bible contradicts his claims that fundamentalists does not take the Bible to be historical.  In fact, whether explicitly or implicitly presupposed, Ehrman’s other criticisms of fundamentalists is that they take the Bible in it’s entirety to be historical rather than nonhistorical.  It’s as if Ehrman’s criticism of fundamentalists’ view of the Bible is Schizophrenic.

Point 3a:  After Ehrman claim that fundamentalists ” treat the Gospels as nonhistorical” on page 72, he then contradicts this understanding of what fundamentalist believes about the Bible just two pages later when he wrote: “Once it is conceded that the Gospels can and should be treated as historical sources, no different from other historical sources infused with their authors’ biases, it starts to become clear why historians have almost universally agreed that whatever else one might say about him, Jesus of Nazareth lived in first-century Palestine and was crucified by the prefect of Judea.  It is not because ‘the Gospels say so’ and that it therefore must be true (the view, of course, of fundamentalist Christians)” (Page 74; emphasis not in original).

Point 3b: If fundamentalism did not subscribe to the historicity of the Bible which includes the Gospels, how could he have said the following: “But in a historical and worldwide perspective, highly conservative Protestant Christianity, whether fundamentalism or hard-core evangelicalism, is a minority voice.  It is the voice that says that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, with no contradictions, discrepancies or mistakes of any kind.  I simply don’t think this is true” (Bart Ehrman, Did Jesus Exists?, 36; emphasis not in original)?

Point 3c: As mentioned in Point 1b, Ehrman acknowledges that scholars who are fundamentalists exists in the area of historical Jesus studies and Pauline studies.  In the chapter arguing that Paul’s epistles contain historical content concerning the historicity of Jesus, Ehrman notes the scholarly consensus about the contribution of the Apostle Paul’s writing to the study of the historicity of Jesus:  “I personally know scores of scholars who have spent twenty, thirty, forty, or more years of their lives working to understand Paul.  Some of these are fundamentalists, some are theologically moderate Christians, some are extremely liberal Christians, and some are agnostics and atheists.  Not one of them, to my knowledge, thinks that Paul did not believe there was a historical Jesus” (Bart Ehrman, Did Jesus Exists?, 132; emphasis not in original).  Yet if Ehrman is correct that the fundamentalists’ doctrine of inspiration means that Scripture (including the Pauline epistles) are nonhistorical in character, how can they participate in the consensus with other scholars that the Apostle Paul believe in the historical Jesus?

Point 3d: There are more examples one can cite in Ehrman’s book and the corpus of his work of his criticism that fundamentalists believes in the literal and total historicity of the Bible.

Conclusion

Ehrman’s criticism that the fundamentalists’ doctrine of inspiration makes them view the Gospels as nonhistorical suffer from the problem of (1) not being proven by Ehrman, being asserted despite the absent of evidence, (2) is contrary to the evidence found in fundamentalists’ literature and (3) contradicts Ehrman’s own criticism of fundamentalists’ view of inspiration for assuming the Bible to be thoroughly true and historical.  In essence, his misrepresentation of the fundamentalists’ view of inspiration and historicity of the Bible is unfounded and irrational.

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Purchase: Amazon

As we approach the end of 2012, in light of the 200 year anniversary of Princeton Theological Seminary I thought it would be appropriate to review this book. There is no doubt that the legacy of Princeton Theological Seminary has been important and it’s impact acknowledged by those across different theological spectrum, though what that legacy is debated. In light of the debate of whether the contribution of “Princetonian Theology” has been positive or not, this book is part of that greater conversation, though it addresses the very specific concern of historical theology. Some have advocated that it was through Princeton and specifically B.B. Warfield that the concept of Biblical infallibility and the incipient form of inerrancy was formed. However, if this thesis were to be true, the author of this book, Ronald Satta, points out that this must mean we would not see those before Warfield to have the same bibliology, or even his contemporary from other different theological camps and ecclesiastical convictions. This monograph documents how the theological and intellectual elites of Protestant Christians around the time of Warfield and before Warfield did hold to the same view of Princeton when it comes to infallibility. It does a fine job of the historical leg work documenting sources that question how some see the doctrine of biblical infallibility as nothing more than an invention of Princeton Seminary. This book is an adaptation of the author’s doctoral dissertation.

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Wow, Vern Poythress has done it again this year!  Another free book that he has written that he has made available online for free on PDF!  We are thankful for this Christian apologist, theologian and philosopher!

 

For your copy, click HERE.

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