God, Revelation & Authority Vol. 1, Chapter 14 Part 2/5

Posted: February 10, 2011 in Uncategorized

If you are just joining in, I would recommend going back and reading the earlier posts or, at least, Chapter 14 1/6 for Henry is unpacking the main thesis of his work and obviously each will build on the other.  Thus, while I usually cover an entire chapter, I have broken down chapter 14 in 6 parts in order to do justice to Henry’s thesis, which is as follows,

Divine revelation is the source of all truth, the truth of Christianity included; reason is the instrument for recognizing it; Scripture is its verifying principle; logical consistency is a negative test for truth and coherence a subordinate test. The task of Christian theology is to exhibit the content of biblical revelation as an orderly whole.

That being said, let’s jump in…

Carl F.H. Henry continues to unpack the main thesis of his 6-volume work God, Revelation & Authority arguing  “3. The Bible is the Christian’s principle of verification.” 

Now, as in the 1970’s when Henry penned the above assertion, many feel the validity of religious beliefs are subject wholly to personal relevance.  In other words, if it works for you than it works.  Henry counters, “Christianity contends that revelational truth is intelligible, expressible in valid propositions, and universally communicable. Christianity does not profess to communicate a meaning that is significant only within a particular community or culture. It expects men of all cultures and nations to comprehend its claims about God and insists that men everywhere ought to acknowledge and appropriate them. If they reject the truth, or refuse to become Christians, it is not because the truth of revelation is unintelligible, incommunicable, or invalid.” 

Henry goes on to write, “Hence a verifiability or controllability postulate is wholly appropriate to Christian theology.” Henry argues that it is Scripture that is the instrument of verifiability. 

One may object upon a number of lines such as those argue that one cannot understand the Bible until the person is born again.  Henry responds, “If a person must first be a Christian believer in order to grasp the truth of revelation, then meaning is subjective and incommunicable. Regeneration assuredly creates new attitudes toward the truth of revelation and facilitates man’s comprehension of it, but the new birth is not prerequisite to a knowledge of the truth of God.”  If you are confused or have various objections at this point, I recommend going back to review earlier posts on Henry’s arguments as to why divine revelation must be clear, coherent and propositional.

Henry goes on to caution that this does not mean that we can subject the Bible to the arbitrary methods of modern science.  Following Gordon Clark, Henry asserts that he is only stating that all propositions should be open to testing by those who are sufficiently attentive and that theology is no different.  This leads Henry to reject, among other things, the illogical paradoxical reading of Scripture by Karl Barth and those who have followed in his wake.

Henry summarizes the third section of this very important section as follows, “…inspired Scripture is the divinely authorized attestation of God’s speech and acts, and as such is normative in all matters of religion and ethics. The Bible is not a textbook on science or on history. But attention to the Bible’s statements bearing on the physical sciences and history and on politics and sociology will enable its readers to avoid many misconceptions to which empirical inquiry remains ongoingly vulnerable. While revelation is the source of all truth, and reason the instrument for recognizing it, the Bible is the Christian verifying principle. “To the law and to the testimony,” to what “Scripture says,” to the prophetic word and the apostolic word, to the sacred writings as an inspired canon, the faithful Hebrew and Christian community unapologetically and tirelessly pointed when the issue at stake was the verification of legitimate beliefs.”

Tomorrow, Henry continues to unpack his thesis by arguing, “logical consistency is a negative test of truth and coherence a subordinate test.”  Stay tuned.

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