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Akin: Correct view of biblical inspiration found in Jesus’ words

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Southern Baptists searching for the correct view of biblical inspiration need to look no further than the words of Jesus, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary professor Danny Akin said Feb. 8.

Akin, dean of the seminary’s school of theology, said Jesus’ words in passages such as Matthew 5:17-18, Luke 24:25-27 and Luke 24:44-45 provide the foundation for the doctrine of biblical inspiration found in the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message, which was overwhelmingly adopted at last year’s Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Orlando, Fla. The only two other editions came in 1925 and 1963.

“This is a fine statement rooted both in Scripture and also in historic Baptist confessions,” Akin said of the 2000 edition. “However, from its initial presentation it brought about a firestorm of protest from a particular segment of our denomination. In particular, two issues concerned those who were unhappy with the statement.

“Instead of saying the Bible is the record of God’s revelation as did the 1963 statement, the new statement of the year 2000 says the Bible is God’s revelation. Instead of saying that Jesus Christ is the criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted as did the 1963 statement, the 2000 statement simply affirms [that] all Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is himself the focus of divine revelation.”

The corrections were needed, Akin said, in order to clarify what Southern Baptists truly believe.

“Both of these revisions were viewed by its authors and the convention as safeguards against neo-orthodox manipulation which had used the 1963 statement to say, [first], that some of the Bible is God’s revelation but not all of it is, and secondly, that sometimes the teachings of Jesus must be set in contrast to and even in opposition to other texts and writings of the authors of Scripture.”

Akin said Jesus himself believed all Scripture is perfect in detail and that all Scripture points to him.

In Matthew 5:17, “we are introduced to the view of Jesus concerning the Scripture, and it is indeed a very high view,” Akin said. “Now I am well aware of the fact that when Jesus made this statement, he had in view the Old Testament. But I would also submit to you … that what Jesus affirmed about the Old Testament he also promised concerning the New Testament.” Jesus made this promise, Akin said, in John 16:12-15.

Akin said that Jesus was just as emphatic in his view of Scripture in Matthew 5:18, where he said, “till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.”

The significance of the terms should not be overlooked, Akin said. “A jot, of course, is the smallest Hebrew letter, the yod,” he said. “The tittle is a little horn on certain Hebrew letters that, putting it into English, would distinguish between our ‘F’ and an upside down ‘L.’ That’s the closest I can come to showing you what the little protrusion is when he talks about a tittle.”

Akin noted that this language is found again in Luke 16:17, where Jesus said, “It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the law to fail.”

“In other words, Jesus in the strongest possible language affirms the reliability and truthfulness of the Scriptures,” Akin said. “He does not say the Old Testament [simply] contains God’s word. He does not say that it becomes God’s Word when you have some type of significant encounter with it. As he said in John 10:35, ‘The Scriptures cannot be broken.’ As he proclaimed in prayer to his Father in John 17:17, ‘Your word is true.'”

The fact that Jesus referred to Old Testament stories as fact and history is important, Akin said.

“Jesus consistently treated the historic narratives of the Old Testament as straightforward records of fact,” he said. “He referred to Abel, Noah, Abraham, Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot, Isaac and Jacob, the manna, the wilderness serpent, David, Solomon, Elijah, Elisha, Jonah and Moses, just to name a few. And when you read those passages in context, there’s no question [that] he did not doubt the accuracy or the integrity of the account in any fashion at all.”

Akin noted that Jesus also referred to biblical stories that are often regarded as mere myth by modern scholars.

“It is interesting to note that many of the stories … that Jesus based his teaching upon were the very stories that many modern skeptical theologians find unacceptable,” Akin said. “For example, the historicity of Adam and Eve, Noah’s flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, and Jonah. For Jesus it is clear: The Scripture was the final court of appeal. This was so in his dispute with the Pharisees, the Sadducees as well as the devil in the wilderness … .”

Akin closed his sermon by telling about a lunch conversation he had with a former seminary professor. Akin had just arrived in Louisville, and the professor wanted to know why Akin held to the doctrine of biblical inerrancy.

“I simply shared that when I was about 8 years old, I became a Christian, and Jesus Christ became my Lord and Savior,” Akin said. “As I grew over the years I came to understand that living under his lordship means [that] I’m to think his thoughts to the best of my ability about everything. If he’s Lord, I have no right at any place or any point to take a different view.

“So, to the best of my ability I went to the Bible to find out what Jesus said about everything, including the Bible. As I said to this [former] professor, ‘Living under his Lordship made it very self-evident to me that the Bible from its beginning to its end was absolutely true and trustworthy and without error. For me to live under the lordship of Jesus Christ, I could not have any other view of the Bible than that one.'”

Southern Seminary chapel messages can be heard online at https://www.sbts.edu/news/audio/speakers_chapel.html

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  • Michael Foust