The “Self-Attestation” of Scripture (Part 2)

In Part 1 the so-called “self-attestation” of Scripture was examined. The conclusion? The claim that Scripture is self-attesting is not nearly as controversial as people initially make it out to be. The claim taken on its own says little more than that Scripture makes some claims concerning itself. Examples are 2 Timothy 3.16 and John 17.17.

So far, so good. But there is much more to be said.

It is significant that Scripture makes claims concerning itself. Such claims are usually about the truthfulness and authority of Scripture. In short, the text of Scripture claims that it is the Word of God. Why is this significant? Because if a text is the Word of God, it is expected that the text will predicate the same of itself. If a book is the Word of God, then we should expect it to claim to be the Word of God. Or to put it another way, if a book does not claim to be the Word of God, then it probably is not. A book which claims to be something other than the Word of God, or even makes no such claim concerning itself, is most likelynot  the Word of God!

The Bible cannot be dismissed as a merely human book in virtue of the false notion that it never claims to be anything more, for it does claim to be more. It claims to be the Word of God. It satisfies at least one condition that any book claiming to be the Word of God should satisfy. Scripture claims to be the Word of God.

Note what does not follow. It does not follow from this argument that any book which claims to be the Word of God is the Word of God. That was not the argument. The argument was to the effect that if a book is the Word of God, then it should claim as much for itself. Or to put the claim the other way around, if a book does not claim to be the Word of God, then it probably is not. Unfortunately too many people hear the argument described above and believe that it is supposed to prove that the Bible is the Word of God. That is not exactly it. Scripture claims to be the Word of God. If it is the Word of God, then that is exactly what we would expect it to do!

The nature of self-attestation was examined in the previous post on this subject and it was concluded that the idea is nowhere near as controversial as it initially appears. Similarly, there should be few qualms with the thinking outlined above.

Yet Christians often do make a rather sweeping statement based upon the observation that Scripture claims to be the Word of God. Namely, Christians will sometimes argue that since Scripture claims to be the Word of God, then it actually is! Such a claim merits a closer look to be provided over the course of the next two posts on this topic of the self-attestation of Scripture.


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