Did God Really Say?

Carlton Wynne
By questioning what God really said, the serpent infamously enticed Eve to do more than simply assess whether God's Word was trustworthy. The serpent's question lured Eve, and Adam in her wake, into a radical reordering of their relationship with the One who had spoken. The question enticed Adam and Eve to attempt an autonomous empirical investigation as to what the past really meant and what the future might hold, to assume that they and God were equal partners in a fundamentally unpredictable world, to think they could become, as it were, "like God" -- all on the basis of the groundless innuendo that God had not spoken clearly and reliably to His creatures. The Spirit's recording in Scripture of the satanic question and its devastating consequences reminds the church today that postmodern suggestions of new ways to handle God's perspicuous Word may not be innocent exercises of a new intellectual humility, but rather latter day echoes of an ancient and insidious voice.

Happily, Reformed Theological Seminary, Covenant Theological Seminary, and Westminster Theological Seminary, with editorial oversight by Dr. David B. Garner, have cooperated to provide the church with a new aid to resist that voice in Did God Really Say? Affirming the Truthfulness and Trustworthiness of Scripture. This collection of essays draws on seminar papers delivered by scholars from the contributing institutions at the 2011 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America. I had the privilege of attending nearly all of those seminars and knew then that this would be a book worth having. Here are some clips to give you a little taste of what you will find in this new volume:

"For the sake of the church, these studies present the historically Reformed understanding of the objective and inherent clarity and certainty of the Word of God" (Forward, Robert C. [Ric] Cannada, Jr., Bryan Chapell, Peter A. Lillback);

"To put it frankly, there is an unnerving sympathy within evangelical scholarship for seeking light in darkness, for synthesizing antithesis, and even for wedding belief and unbelief" (Introduction, David B. Garner);

"The confession is setting forth the notion here, radical in its context, that one determines what Scripture is not by going somewhere outside of Scripture, but by Scripture itself" ("Because It Is the Word of God," K. Scott Oliphint);

"To say it a bit differently, the doctrine of inerrancy is not only about the truthfulness of the Spirit-inspired Word but also about the trust a Spirit-led people invest in that Word" (B.B. Warfield's Church Doctrine of Inspiration," Michael D. Williams);

"The church's full affirmation of these books does not show that it created or constituted the canon, but is the natural and inevitable outworking of the self-authenticating nature of Scripture" ("Recent Challenges to the New Testament Writings," Michael J. Kruger);

"It is natural for the flesh to bridle when what we think is right is challenged. It is not so easy to care about the individuals and enclaves who are perceived or real opponents of Christian teaching" ("Grounds for Grace in the Debate," Robert W. Yarbrough);

"But we are made in the image of God, and the language God has given us as a gift is designed by God" ("God and Language," Vern S. Poythress);

"The question is simple. Given that God inspired the Bible, what effect did that inspiration have on the biblical text?" ("N.T. Wright and the Authority of Scripture," John M. Frame).

"Rather than viewing the Creator/creature distinction as an obstacle to understanding, we must rather see that our very creation in God's image establishes clear duty to God's Word, an ontological imperative, a religious obligation to obey the covenantal demands expressed in the perspicuous words of our Creator" ("Did God Really Say?" David B. Garner)

Let us feast on these essays, think deeply, and resolve to recognize and resist all echoes of the serpent's query.