Article I – Bibliology – The Doctrine of the Word of God
Section 1 – Revelation.
The Bible is the Word of God given unto man to reveal God and to show forth His eternal plan to mankind, including the meaning and purpose of our humanity, which is first and foremost to know, enjoy, worship, honor, and appreciate our Creator.
Section 2 – Inspiration and Authority.
We believe that all Scripture was given by inspiration of God, or “God Breathed” – (2nd Timothy 3:16). By this statement, we do not deny the participation of man in greater or lesser degrees in the writing of most of the Scriptures. The Bible came to us through a great variety of lowly methods, very few having the outward appearance of any supernatural content. In drafting his gospel, Luke interviewed people, read accounts, collected documents, and whatever else an historian would do in researching a work (Luke 1:2). Paul analyzed the Old Testament according to his disciplined training as a Pharisee, crafting carefully reasoned theological arguments (Romans 4:3-4). Paul also appears to take a popular expression, or a stanza from a popular hymn of the day and repeats it in one of his letters, thereby making it a part of Scripture (1st Timothy 1:15). In a similar manner, archeologists have discovered that some of the Psalms and Proverbs appear to have been adapted from known writings of pagan cultures. Paul advances one theological argument by quoting a pagan Greek poet (Acts 17:28), and Jude quotes from apocryphal Jewish writings (Jude 6). In each of these cases, the compilation of these thoughts into Scripture is indelibly etched with the fingerprint of man, and without the outward appearance of divine origin.
Yet regardless of the form of literature, or the outward method by which the author gathered the thoughts before writing them, Scripture affirms that, in every case, the authors were “born along” or “superintended” by the Holy Spirit as they put pen to parchment (1st Peter 20:21). Accordingly we believe that, after gathering data or formulating theological arguments, the Holy Spirit was active in guiding the author in the actual writing of Scripture so that every word and every statement penned in Scripture, whether spiritual, historical, or scientific, was without error.
We believe that the humble origins of Scripture mirror the humble origins of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, though born in a lowly stable as a descendent of Adam’s fallen race, was nevertheless preserved from sin by the Holy Spirit, and came to man as the incarnate Word of God. So also is Scripture, from its humble origins, is without flaw or error, fully of God, and fully of man, mirroring the divine union of God and man in the incarnate Word of God.
Section 3 – Lower Criticism
We believe that the inerrancy of Scripture extends only to the original manuscripts or “autographa.” We believe, however, that the Holy Spirit has been active in world history to preserve his Word (Psalm 12:7), and that through godly men who have been yielded to his Spirit in their analysis of the existing manuscripts, God has made available for believers today, Scripture that, in its essence, partakes in the inerrancy of the autographa. We believe, however, it is the duty of each believer, to the extent possible, to prayerfully and intelligently investigate the textual and philosophical basis of the various translations of Scripture that are available, and to select for study that which is a faithful and accurate rendition of the Word of God.
Section 4 – Canonicity
The canon of Scripture is a closed collection of all writings and only those writings inspired by God. The 39 books of the Hebrew Old Testament and the 27 books of the Greek New Testament comprise the whole canon of Scripture (2nd Timothy 3:16; Jude 3; Revelation 22:18-22). Because Scripture is God’s only written revelation to men, it is our sole source of infallible guidance for faith and practice. We do not accept the apocryphal books as canonical (Matthew 5:17-18; cf. Revelation 22:18-19; Jude 3).