The Bible is NOT Subjective Testimony

[This article remains posted, despite the author no longer holding a fundamentalist’s inerrant, plenary & verbal view of the Bible’s inspiration. The Bible’s texts indeed reveal communication that is inspired by the Spirit of God, yet delivered via fallible and finite humans, and so, contains the taint of their limited understanding and/or skews or biases (overt & blind, sinful or otherwise: ex. kinism, genocide, slavery, misogyny, hierarchy) upon God’s communication to them & the original audiences. Modern readers also make errors in interpretational approach to the texts, disregarding or else de-emphasizing the original 1st C setting (worldview & history, purpose, scope), literary elements (genre, immediate context, idiom, allusion, contour) & evidence of finite/fallible humanity present in the texts. These errors combined can be detected & filtered by utilizing a robust biblical theology based in a cruciform or cross-centered hermeneutic (i.e. comparison & contrast with the value found in Jesus’ passion upon the Cross & his being raised again from the dead, as that is God’s greatest and most definitive self revelation). For further discussion, please see this blog’s About page.]

By the evidences below, I will establish that through many means the Bible describes itself as an objective text, as revelatory truth, and not subjective testimony to God’s Word nor as a thing open to subjective interpretation. How is this subject relevant to today in the real world? In short, the Bible can be used to defend or support anything, and these days it is being (ab)used toward these ends. If the Scriptures are interpreted subjectively or overtly allegorically, instead of according to a normal literary, historical-grammatical approach to interpretation; then there’s no telling what one can “prove” as being “biblical.” Suddenly, “God” says anything we want him to say.

If one will simply recognize the historical setting in which each biblical text was written, that there are innate literary genres and contours to each text, and that one can find author-specific idioms, “key-words” or phrases to indicate importance (or change) within a passage, then he will also realize the Scripture as a whole speaks for itself quite objectively. [For further discussion, please see Context is King]

The Bible is inspired by God through men by verbal and plenary inspiration, and with inerrancy. Men whom God used to write His Word are Divinely chosen and groomed spokesmen for God, not merely witnesses to God’s Word. Some say that the concepts of the Bible were inspired, not the individual words. I would rather say, “Special Divine Revelation is more than the words but not without (or, apart from) the specific words.”

Just as the ancient Hebrews assimilated, scrutinized and accepted the books of the Hebrew Tanakh as Divine Writ, early century Christians accepted certain of the Apostle’s works as authoritative and affirmed the books as Divine, due to their having passed certain measures of scrutiny. These measures of scrutiny are known as canonicity. The tests of canonicity are:  Authority (Apostolicity); Acceptance in the Church (John 10:27); Uniqueness or Value (Didactic); Inspired – evidence of being the words of Deity (self-authenticated); authoritative – John 10:27; 1 John 5:6. [Please see The Inspiration and Authority of Scripture by B.B. Warfield & also F.F. Bruce’s The Canon of Scripture (free excerpt linked here)].

Collectively, all of the books which have passed the standards of canonicity form the genuine, authoritative Word of God, not merely a genuine and authoritative testimony to the Word of God. One must not confuse revelation with illumination.

Again, these aspects of the Bible’s innate nature and self-description demand one interpret it objectively as the very words of God, full of original and authorial intent:

  • Prophets and Apostles are objective spokesmen or heralds for God on pain of death. (Berkhof, 147-156)1 Kings 13:8; 1 Kings 13:20; Eze. 3:4; Jer. 28:12; 37:2, 6; 46:1; 46:13; 47:1; 49:34; 50:1; Dan. 9:2; Hag. 1:1, 3; 2:1, 10; Zech. 1:1, 7; 1 Cor. 2: 4, 13; 2 Cor. 13:3 – The Word of the Lord comes directly to or by a prophet or Apostle; Matthew 1:22; 2:15; Hebrews 1:1ff – The Word of the Lord is spoken of by the prophet.
    • The occurrence of Annunciation Phraseology is undeniable: “Thus saith the Lord” – 413 verses; “The Lord said…” – 219 verses; “The Word of the Lord came” – 92 verses ; “The Lord has Spoken” – 31 verses; “Hear the Word of the Lord” – 24 verses; “The mouth of the Lord has spoken it”
    • Warning for those who falsely claim to speak the Word of God or tamper therewith – Deut. 4:2; 13:1-5; 18:20, 22;  Jer. 23:28; Rev. 22:19
  • Inner Witness: New Testament Passages Dealing with Inspiration of Scripture – the God-breathed Word:Acts 1:16; Hebrews 3:7 – The Holy Spirit is the Ultimate Author
    • 2 Timothy 3:16 – “all scripture is given by inspiration of God”
    • 2 Peter 1:19-21 – “holy men of old spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost”
    • Matthew 5:18; Galatians 3:16 – Verbal Inspiration
    • Matthew 4:4; 2 Timothy 3:16 – Plenary Inspiration
    • Matthew 12:40 – Inerrancy of Scripture (Historical fact given authority by Christ as to its reality) Mathew 5: 17, 18; Matthew 23: 23-33; 42-46; John 10: 31, 35, 38; Ps. 110
    • 1 Corinthians 2: (understandingrevelationand also illumination)
      • God’s wisdom comes by revelation – 1 Cor. 2:9
      • God’s revelation comes by verbal inspiration — 1 Cor. 2:12-14
      • God’s wisdom is understood by illumination –1 Cor. 2:14; cf. Ps. 119:18
  • Inter-testamental Witness: Old Testament supplying New Testament content – New Testament Epistles seen as of the same authority as Old Testament – 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 1:23-25; 2 Peter 3:15, 16; 25 OT books are quoted in the NT (Berkhof, 154, 155)
  • Passages on perpetual preservation of the Word of God– Matthew 5:17, 18; Matthew 24:35; 1 Peter 1:23-25
  • Old Testament and New Testament verbs or nouns which define one’s divine calling as an objective spokesmen for GodNabi = Prophet (conveys the idea of one who pours forth or announces; involves the implication of being moved by divine impulse to prophesy.) Dt. 18:20 – authority (prophet) and obedience (to what God commands) is the focus. Jeremiah 23:21-29 –Numbers 11:25-29 The focus is on enabling. We see the Spirit in connection with prophesying.   The need for all men to have the Spirit’s enabling in declaring truth is also witnessed in verse 27ff. [see also Basar –  Isaiah 61:1; Psalm 40:9, Qohelet  – Ecclesiastes 1:1, Qara – Isaiah 61:1]kataggelw (10 times translated) – To announce, to declare, to make known publicly
    • euaggelizw (23 times translated preach; 22 times translated preach the gospel) – to bring or announce good tidings, good news, or good things; also, evangelize euangelizomai, evangelist euangelistes
    • khrussw (translated “publish” 5 times; translated “proclaim” 2 times; translated “preach” 51 times; translated “preacher” 1 time) to herald [lift up one’s voice to announce; to officiate as a herald; to proclaim after the manner of a herald:  it is always with the suggestion of formality, gravity, and authority.] …Emphasizes a God called preacher.
  • The Bible is self-authenticated and of objective proposition – John 10: 27, 35; 17:17; Psalm 119: 137, 138, 140, 142, 160; 1 John 5:6



Dempster, Stephen G. Dominion and Dynasty. (introduction and opening chapter – free)

Farrar, F. W. (1886). History of interpretation. London: Macmillan and Co.

Osborne, G. R. (2006). The hermeneutical spiral: a comprehensive introduction to biblical interpretation (Rev. and expanded, 2nd ed.). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Thomas, Robert. Evangelical Hermeneutics: The New Versus the Old. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2003. (chapters 1-8 and 12)

The Kingdom of Heaven and Its Keys

Virkler, H. A., & Ayayo, K. G. (2007). Hermeneutics: principles and processes of Biblical interpretation (2nd ed.). Grand Rapids,MI: Baker Academic.

Warfied, B.B. and his The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible

Zuck, Roy B. Basic Bible Interpretation 

Read on Google Books

Read on PDF

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