As most of you know by now, Westminster Theological Seminary (WTS) posted a precis for each of the two sides (HTFC Precis; HFC Precis) in the debate along with all the other formal documents they had released earlier (see my earlier blog post). I liked the tone and emphasis of the “Statement on Scripture” (Appendix 2) so much that I thought it was worth quoting in full here.
The Westminster Theological Seminary biblical studies department believes the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be God’s inerrant written word to human beings, the only infallible rule of faith and practice. In the light of this affirmation, we understand ourselves to be:
- Pre-committed to receive as truth all that Scripture is found, upon careful study and reflection, actually to teach.
- Awed by the wisdom and condescension of God in giving a word that is both a product of and a witness to his redemptive activity in human history—an activity in history that culminates in the “summing up of all things in the Messiah.”
- Bound to a study of scripture that is diligent, humble, receptive, and honestly descriptive, recognizing that God has providentially given us information about the environment in which the books of the Bible originated, information that at times enables us to deepen our understanding of the scriptures.
- Convinced that the central message of the Bible is clear without knowledge of the historical and cultural background of the biblical books. In this we find ourselves in full accord with WCF I.7: “All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all: yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation, are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.”
- Aware that we, like all other fallen human beings, are quite capable of erroneous interpretation, of drawing invalid inferences, of imposing on Scripture constructs of our own making, or in other ways falling short of a full discovery of God’s truth.
- Grateful to God for the aid of his Spirit and the interpretive wisdom of his church though the ages.
- Confident that it is only in the light of Christ and the Gospel that the majestic coherence of the Old and New Testaments will be fully displayed.
In all this we view ourselves as upholding, for our own time and place, the affirmations outlined in the Westminster Confession of Faith, chapter 1.
ADDITIONAL NOTE: The Historical and Theology (HT) precis is written after their main document, and the Biblical Studies before their 70+ page response (Hermeutics Field Committee – HFC response). While these two short documents (six and eleven pages) don’t shed much more light on the content of the debate, the HFC Precis says a lot about the process and tone – notably the the shock and disappointment at the initial turn of events in the production of the initial HTFC document. (Read it in full.) The rest of my comments died along with my old hard drive.