Date of Award

5-1-1981

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Theology (ThD)

Department

Exegetical Theology

First Advisor

Won Yong Ji

Scripture References in this Resource (separated by semi-colons)

1 Timothy 2:2; 1 Corinthians 5:6; 1 Corinthians 8:13; 1 Kings 15:14; 1 Kings 22:43; 1 Timothy 3:2-4; 2 Chronicles 19:2; 2 Kings 18:4; Acts 10:42; Amos 4:12; Daniel 7:13,14; Deuteronomy 12:32; Deuteronomy 22:5; Deuteronomy 22:9-11; Hebrews 3:19; Hosea 10:1; Hosea 9:10; Isaiah 28:16; Psalm 112:6; Titus 1:7;

Abstract

This dissertation is a study of the doctrine of Biblical authority as believed and taught by the Westminster Assembly in its Confession of Faith, and this doctrine's application to the late twentieth century. Further, this dissertation will consider the definition of that doctrine, and how it was applied in the Westminster Confession. This study will also consider how the Westminster doctrine of Biblical authority is applied today in the Reformed Presbyterian Testimony of 1980. These issues will serve as the center of this study.

The issue of authority is one of the most important in Christianity, because it affects the salvation and life of every believer. Thus when one studies the authority of the Bible, one considers an issue at the heart of the Christian religion. For example, one's view of the Bible’s authority affects how and what one believes and teaches (doctrine),how one loves God and his neighbor (morals), and how one worships and governs his church (church practice). It affects both the corporate life of church members, and their individual and family lives as well. For God has chosen the Bible to be the means by which He teaches believers how to live as members of His family.

This dissertation will study Biblical authority in the Westminster Confession. Because they have been the historical standards of Presbyterianism, the Westminster Confession and its related Standards have served as one of the most influential sets of confessional documents in the western world. The Confession has also served, with minor modifications, some denominations of Baptists and Congregationalists. As a result, the Westminster Standards have had a great effect on Scotland, England, Northern Ireland, Australia, North America, and nations like Korea, where Presbyterian missionary efforts have been successful.

The doctrine of Biblical authority has great implications for all of theology, particularly Protestant theology. Because Protestants have historically done theology by collecting every Bible passage on a subject and attempting to summarize their teaching, the extent to which the Bible is authoritative, and the issues on which it is authoritative, are at the heart of Protestant theology. This study in the Westminster Assembly’s doctrine of Biblical authority will serve to increase our understanding of how and for what purposes the Bible is used among Protestants, and especially among those in the Reformed tradition.

Another reason for this study is the ecumenical discussions between Reformed and other traditions. It is this author's hope that a clear statement of the Reformed doctrine of Biblical authority can advance these dialogues.

A final reason for this study is the effect of liberalism on many denominations' understanding of the authority of the Bible. The divine inspiration of the Bible has been seriously attacked as a result of the historical-critical method. This method assumes the human authorship of the Bible with or most often without divine aid. As a result the3church now has a "Bible" in which the church "hears the word of God,"(note the intentional small "w" in word) instead of being God's infallible and inerrant Word. The effect of liberalism has been to undermine the authority of the Bible. Part of the debate between liberals and evangelicals also relates to the Westminster Confession, specifically whether the Confession teaches that the Bible is inerrant, what the Bible's purposes are, and whether it can be interpreted in a neo-orthodox manner.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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