Abraham Kuyper on Scripture, Part 2

This is a continuation of material from the previous post on Kuyper’s approach to the inspiration of God’s word.

Although the Holy Spirit spoke directly to men, human speech and language being no human inventions, yet in writing He employed human agencies.  But whether He dictates directly, as in the Revelation of St. John, or governs the writing indirectly, as with historians and evangelists, the result is the same: the product is such in form and content as the Holy Spirit designed, an infallible document for the Church of God.

Hence the confession of inspiration does not exclude ordinary numbering, collecting of documents, sifting, recording, etc.  It recognizes all these matters which are plainly discernible in Scripture. Style, diction, repetitions, all retain their value.  But it must be insisted that the Scripture as a whole, as finally presented to the Church, as to content, selection, and arrangement of documents, structure, and even words, owes its existence to the Holy Spirit, i.e., that the men employed in this work were consciously or unconsciously so controlled and directed by the Spirit, in all their thinking, selecting, sifting, choice of words, and writing, that their final product, delivered to posterity, possessed a perfect warrant of divine and absolute authority.

“Inspiration,” in The Work of the Holy Spirit, Pgs. 77-78. (Bold emphasis mine.)

Kuyper’s description of the work of the biblical writers (sifting, collecting of documents, etc.) is very similar to expressions used in present day formulations of the organic growth of the biblical text.  That he essentially describes the task of prophetic editing and redacting exhibits remarkable sensitivity to the Bible’s compound nature at the human level.  And yet, whether the biblical writers/editors were conscious or unconscious about what they were doing in their arrangement of the texts, Kuyper insists that everything they did was “controlled and directed by the Spirit.”

That the Scriptures themselves present a number of objections and in many aspects do not make the impression of absolute inspiration does not militate against the other fact that all this spiritual labor was controlled and directed by the Holy Spirit.  For the scripture had to be constructed so as to leave room for the exercise of faith.  It was not intended to be approved by the critical judgment and accepted on this ground.  This would eliminate faith. Faith takes hold directly with the fulness of our personality.  To have faith in the Word, Scripture must not grasp us in our critical thought, but in the life of the soulTo believe in the Scripture is an act of life of which though, O lifeless man! art not capable, except the Quickener, the Holy Ghost, enables thee.  He that caused Holy Scripture to be written is the same that must teach thee to read it. Without Him this product of divine art can not affect thee.

“Inspiration,” Pg. 78.

It seems to me that the things described here by Kuyper are some of the most difficult for believing readers to get their minds around.  After all, if we concede too much to critical assessments of the text, we would seem forced to take a leap of blind faith when affirming the inspiration of the Bible.  To take such an approach, however, is misguided.  Kuyper does not cast this argument in terms of faith vs. reason, but in terms of belief vs. unbelief.  Yes belief that this very Bible is God’s word is rational, but it is not something that fallen humans are willing to admit as rational.  After all, they reject the premise of the argument: that human reason itself is fallen in sin.

Kuyper presents us with what I believe is a helpful model for use when evaluating the finds of historical-critical studies.  Rather than agreeing with the fundamentalists and unbelieving-critics that such textual features are unbecoming of God’s word, believing-critics do better to recognize that the Bible – yes, this very Bible – is God’s word!

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Andrew