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Dr. J. Rodman Williams

Theology Q&A

By Dr. J. Rodman Williams
Theologian

Dr. J. Rodman Williams answers theological questions, exclusively on CBN.com.

More from Dr. J. Rodman Williams


2. Scripture, Knowledge of God, Faith


Category Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 QA Index


 

 


My wife passed away from cancer and yet people prayed for her healing from when she was diagnosed until she breathed her last. She was in her early 40's, loved the Lord with all her heart, read the Bible daily, prayed for others and believed in divine healing. She stood on the word and believed her healing was coming and would be a testament to the power of God. Jesus has many stories of how God wants the best for us and that through faith all things are possible. Why are some healed and some not?

"For me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain." These words of Paul in Philippians 1:21 ring in my heart and mind as applying to your beloved wife. For hers was a Christ-like faith despite her long illness. For to her "to live was Christ," and though you doubtless grieve over her death, the second words surely apply…"to die is gain"---gain from the recurring sickness but positively that death meant ushering her in to heaven's joy and peace, being with Christ forever. So in the midst of your sorrow, you may rejoice with her. Praise the Lord!

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Is there such a doctrine called "Sola Scriptura" -- that the Bible is the sole/final authority of divine revelation? If so, could you show where in Scripture does it literally state that "the Bible is the sole/final authority of revelation?"

"All Scripture is inspired by God" (2 Timothy 3:16) -- literally "God-breathed" (as the NIV translates it). Sola Scriptura stems from the conviction that Scripture alone--not tradition, human experience, or anything else -- can occupy this singular position.

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Which version of the Bible is most accurate and true to the original documents? Is it true that the modern versions of Scripture, such as NIV and NASB, are leaving out important words and phrases that diminish the deity and Lordship of Christ?

I find both NIV (New International Version) and NASB (New American Standard Bible) to be helpful modern translations. The NASB is the more literal of the two, but the NIV is easier to read. Neither of these translations in any way diminishes the deity and Lordship of Christ.

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I've been reading your answers to the predestination questions, but I'm still having a hard time with God "hardening" Pharaoh's heart when Moses went to Pharaoh again and again to ask for freedom. Obviously it allowed for many miracles to be seen, but was that the only reason for hardening his heart?

Although Scripture says several times that God hardened Pharaoh's heart, it also states that Pharaoh hardened his own heart (see Exodus, chapters 7-9). Perhaps you have heard the saying, "The same sun that hardens clay melts wax." Ponder this in relation to the hardening of Pharaoh's heart.

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I have heard many theologians quickly dismiss the dictation theory of inspiration. Is it possible that this theory is correct?

A dictation theory of inspiration assumes that every word of Scripture was given directly by God. The human writer was no more than a secretary who transcribed the words given. This is far too mechanical a view of inspiration. Dictation would imply no human element. To be sure, dictation would apply in many places (for example, the Ten Commandments), but almost everywhere the biblical record gives evidence of unerring human input. This may be called a dynamic view of inspiration.

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I noticed your article on your web site defending Scripture as being inspired. I noticed that in your discussion of "all Scripture" you did not address extra-biblical writings. I consider the Asian cultures who have been fed from their scriptures for thousands of years and view what we consider Scripture through their lens. To not acknowledge that their scriptures contain truth closes communication. I would be thankful for any response.

My "all Scripture" discussion deliberately did not address extra-biblical writings whatever their merit. I do not believe them to be on the same level of inspiration. All Scripture, Paul says, is "inspired [God-breathed]" (2 Timothy 3:16) and therefore occupies a unique place of authority. This does not eliminate the value of many other religious writings of the world. They may well point the way to biblical truth.

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  How should I respond from a Bible perspective to a friend who believes that all truth is relative?

A simple but profound answer is what Jesus said: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life" (John 14:6). Not "a way." Not "a truth." Not "a life." There is nothing relative about the truth in Christ.

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  How do we convince people that Scriptures are genuine accounts and not, as some assert, merely stories?

One answer to this question lies in archeological findings that increasingly confirm the accuracy of scriptural data. Many names and places in the Bible that for a long time were viewed by some as non-existent (Sodom and Gomorrah, for example) have been discovered. Further, a noted archeologist, Nelson Glueck, writes: "It can be stated categorically that no archeological discovery has ever controverted a biblical reference." The Bible contains genuine historical accounts throughout.

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  I have often heard the statement that the Bible is "verbally inspired." What does that mean?

Verbal inspiration is the term frequently employed to attest that each individual part of the Bible is God's word. The Holy Spirit superintended the writing of Scripture down to the last details. Paul speaks of imparting truth "not in words taught by human wisdom, but those taught by the Spirit" (1 Corinthians 2:13). Thus the Scriptures while written by men and in human words are God's word in writing. They are verbally inspired.
(For more on this, see my paper entitled "Scripture: God's Written Word" here on CBN.com).

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   How can I prove to non-believers that God exists?

One cannot prove this. Rather "he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6). Faith precedes knowledge-the eyes of faith receive what goes beyond mind and reason. There are evidences of God in nature (see Romans 1:20) but not so much as to constitute proof.

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   What is the meaning and value of so-called "natural theology?

Natural theology is the effort to build a doctrine concerning the knowledge of God without appeal to special revelation in the Bible by utilizing only the data that may be drawn from nature, human existence, history, etc. Such natural theology may be intended as a substitute for revealed theology (theology grounded in special revelation) or as providing a kind of rational base therefor. In either event, the premise of natural theology is that there is a certain basic and objective knowledge of God that can be explicated, and that any rational person who is willing to think clearly will arrive at this truth. Thus natural theology, while admitting limits in what it can accomplish, claims to have positive value. Especially, so it is said, is this needed in a world that gives priority to reason over revelation.

In reply, natural theology fails to recognize two basic things. First, a person's knowledge at best is disproportionate to the knowledge of God: he may have ideas about God, but they are no more than human constructs extrapolated into infinity. Hence, man's knowledge capacity is insufficient to arrive at a full knowledge of God. Second, though there is a general revelation of God in nature, humanity and history, it is so perverted through mankind's sinfulness that people's minds are futile and incapable of discerning what God is disclosing. If people were godly and righteous, then surely what God discloses through general revelation could affords a basis for natural theology. But since they have turned from God, they cannot know God through natural understanding.

It should also be added, however, that when God comes to mankind in His special revelation and a person truly receives it, then his eyes are once more opened to the knowledge of God in the universe, human existence, and all of history. It is ultimately only the person who has faith who can cry out, "The heavens are telling the glory of God." Hence Christian theology is not based on natural theology but is based on special revelation, which will include far more than anything that natural theology could ever attempt.

(See Renewal Theology, 1: page 36.)

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