The most recent issue of the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society features an article by Vern Poythress who questions whether something is truly lost when conservative biblical scholars place their emphasis upon the divine author of Scripture rather than the human authors. Though critical scholarship claims that study of the human authors is more controlled and objective, Poythress demonstrates that this is not actually the case. The article is definitely worth reading:
Vern S. Poythress, “Dispensing with Merely Human Meaning: Gains and Losses from Focusing on the Human Author, Illustrated by Zephaniah 1:2-3,” JETS 57/3 (2014): 481-99.
After being impressed with Poythress’ article, I came upon the following quote from Edward J. Young’s contribution to the book The Infallible Word, which likewise struck me as an excellent reminder of the fact that the Scriptures of the Old Testament are authored primarily by God himself:
The Old Testament is the Word of the living and true God. It is not merely the national or religious literature of the ancient Hebrews. It is rather the life-giving oracles of God. It speaks of God the Creator, the Almighty One, who by the Word of his power, brought all things into existence. It speaks of man’s creation and transgression whereby he was brought into an estate of sin and misery. It speaks of God’s promise of deliverance through a Redeemer. it points forward, in its entirety and in its individual parts, to the coming of that one who said, “Search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have everlasting life, for they are they which testify of me.”
The fact that certain critical scholars choose to refuse to discuss the theological questions involved in the formation of the Old Testament canon need not deter us from so doing. When men endeavor to account for the Old Testament canon upon the basis of historical considerations alone, how unsatisfactory their attempts are! In reality they create more problems than they solve.
The devout Christian need not hesitate boldly to declare his belief in the Old Testament as the inspired Word of God. He need not fear to believe that the authority of these Scriptures resides in the fact that God is their author. True, there is difficulty in adopting this position but, apart from it, the Old Testament must ever remain a mystery. Why it has been preserved we can then never know. One man’s suggestion is as good as another’s. We are left in the hopeless abyss of agnosticism.
E.J. Young, “The Authority of the Old Testament,” in The Infallible Word: A Symposium by the Members of the Faculty of Westminster Theological Seminary. Eds. N.B. Stonehouse and Paul Wooley (2d ed.; Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 2002), 90-91.
As he notes, not all will be satisfied with this assertion. But for those of us who have heard God’s voice speaking in the Old Testament Scriptures, we find great comfort indeed, knowing that these words of promise, description, and instruction are the infallible words of God himself, not the error laden attempts of fallible humans.
R. Andrew Compton
Christ Reformed Church (URCNA)