John Frame on the difference between liberal Bible critics and believing Christians in approaching the Scriptures, especially perceived errors in the Bible

From the chapter titled “Bible Problems” Frame is explaining why it is that readers often perceive errors in the Bible:

The other reason why we have problems with Scripture is sin. Romans 1, as we have seen, tells us that sinners “repress” the truth of God’s clear natural revelation, exchanging it for a lie. They do the same with Scripture, until or unless the Spirit causes a radical change in their outlook (Luke 24:25; John 5:37-40; 2 Cor. 3:14). Because of the Spirit, believers have the means to overcome the sinful distortion of Scripture. But we are not sinlessly perfect in this life, and we are subject every day to Satan’s temptation. Satan tempts  us to unbelief as well as wrong behavior. Indeed, unbelief is wrong behavior.

So sometimes believers think like unbelievers. Often believers will ascribe authority to liberal scholarship–scholarship committed, as we have seen, to read the Bible like any human book. Such scholarship regularly assumes that the biblical worldview cannot be true: that miracles cannot occur, that predictive prophecy is impossible, that God cannot speak words and sentences to human beings.

The would-be autonomous kind of scholarship is often arrogant in its claims. In the past, such scholars have often spoken of the “assured results of modern scholarship.” One does not hear that phrase so much these days; most all these “assured results” have been questioned. But one stands amazed at how easily modern scholars can claim that this portion of a verse in Genesis must have been written by a different author from that one, or that this sentence ascribed to Jesus in one of the Gospels must have originated in a setting different from that set forth in the Gospel itself. In reply to Rudolf Bultmann’s claim that the personality of Jesus was unimportant to Paul and John, C.S. Lewis, himself a scholar of ancient literature, replies:

“Through what strange process has this learned German gone in order to make himself blind to what all men except him see?”

And then:

“These men ask me to believe that they can read between the lines of the old texts; the evidence is their obvious inability to read (in any sense worth discussing) the lines themselves. They claim to see fern-seed and can’t see an elephant ten yards away in broad daylight.”

The difference between liberal Bible critics and believing Christians is not merely academic, a difference in point of view; nor is it merely a difference in presupposition (though it is certainly that). It is a moral difference. The liberal reads the text with an incredibly exalted view of his own competence to understand ancient cultures and writers in finest detail. Christians should remember that our faith divides us from the liberal tradition in the most profound way. We are often tempted to reply to their arrogance with more arrogance. We should avoid that temptation, by God’s grace. Often, as we will see, this means that we respond to Bible problems with an honest “I don’t know.”

John Frame, The Doctrine of the Word of God, 181-182

About cteldridge

A beggar trying to tell other beggars were the Bread is.
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