The View of the Bible Held by the Church: Calvin and the Westminster Divines

The following excerpt is from the book, INERRANCY by Norman L Geisler. Copyright© 1980 by The Zondervan Corporation. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

The Reformation was not a revolution. The intent of the Protestant Reformation was not to create new doctrine or establish a new church. Rather, the impetus of the movement was to bring into bold relief crucial doctrines obscured by the process of sacerdotalism within the medieval Roman Catholic Church. The doctrine of sola fide was not new, finding its classical expression in Augustine’s De Spiritu et Littera; neither was sola Scriptura, in principle, invented by Luther.

Inerrancy has been the classic view of Scripture throughout church history. To view it as the brain child of seventeenth century Protestant scholasticism or the de novo creation of the “Old Princeton” school is to distort history. To be sure, this assertion has been brought into question again and again in the twentieth century. In the first quarter of this century we saw the rise of neoorthodoxy, under the leadership of Karl Barth, Emil Brunnerand Paul Althaus. While this school sought a restoration of some semblance of the Reformed faith over against the excessives of nineteenth century liberalism, it also sought to “correct” orthodoxy at several points—most notably, the notion of inerrancy in light of modern conclusions drawn from negative higher criticism.



With the advent of neoorthodoxy, the attempt by some of its advocates to show that neoorthodoxy was not deviating from classical views of Scripture but was merely reforming views that crept in via a reification of the dynamic view of Scripture taught by Calvin and Luther. Protestant scholasticism allegedly had ossified the vitality of the sixteenth century. The dynamic Scripture was made “static” through theories of verbal inspiration and inerrancy. The chief culprit in making the pure Reformation century view obscure was supposedly the Old Princeton school, as embodied particularly in Benjamin B. Warfield.

Of late, many evangelical scholars have echoed the protest of earlier Barthians, maintaining that inerrancy indeed reflects a late development of, even departure from, the classical view. Some evangelical scholars not only favor a view of partial biblical inerrancy but insist that the historic Christian church believed it. I will attempt in this chapter to show that the main historic path of the Reformed tradition in particular has been that of full inerrancy.

It is significant that the current fourth edition of The New Columbia Encyclopedia1 recognizes the classical character of the concept of inerrancy. While this most massive and comprehensive one-volume encyclopedia in the world possesses a great deal of religious information, it is essentially secular in viewpoint and generally quite objective. Its matter-of-fact statement is therefore all the more impressive:

The traditional Christian view of the Bible is that it was all written under the guidance of God and that it is, therefore, all true, literally or under the veil of allegory. In recent times, however, the view of many Protestants has been influenced by the pronouncements of critics (see Higher Criticism). This has produced a counter-reaction in the form of fundamentalism, whose chief emphasis has been in the inerrancy of the Bible (italics added).2

The traditional Christian view is that the Bible is “all true.” What “Fundamentalism” has reacted to is deviation from the historic norm.

If secularists, outside the internecine struggles of church men, recognize the obvious thrust of Christian history, why then is the matter debated so strenuously within the church? Laymen especially are puzzled and bewildered when their trusted mentors, who are regarded as experts, differ about this matter of the church’s historic position on inerrancy. Why do men who have studied the subject thoroughly so often come to differing and even conflicting conclusions? How can lay people understand the matter if the scholars maintain exactly opposite interpretations of the very same data? Such confusion is quite frustrating to laymen and causes some to despair of ever being able to resolve the conflicts.

This problem is not so difficult to explain as it may appear at first glance. The trouble is rarely in the sources of information. Two chief factors are frequently at work when data are misinterpreted. One factor involves a weakness of character, namely, prejudice. The other factor involves weakness of deductive skill. The accumulation of data requires inductive skill. The analysis and interpretation of the data requires deductive skill. At times the two weakness factors just mentioned may be closely interrelated. People with normally great powers of deduction may fail if their minds are governed by prejudice.

There is a general tendency in church history for those who deviate from orthodoxy to try to prove that their deviation is, in reality, an exercise in restoration and reformation. To be sure, in some circles, radical novelty is regarded as the touchstone of progress and truth. But in other circles, most especially within the mainstream of Christendom, it is often regarded as the kiss of death. Most heretics in the history of the church have initially sought to defend their views by appeals at least to segments of Scripture. Only after their exegesis was seen to be faulty did they seek to attack the credibility of Scripture itself. Appeals to the Bible and/or tradition are a commonplace method for those who seek widespread endorsement of ideas or doctrines that in fact are contrary to the teaching of both.

In the current controversy over inerrancy let us not assume that we are dealing with sinister manipulations of the data commonly characteristic of rank heretics. I prefer to assume that the problem among evangelicals is not so much one of blind prejudice but of weaknesses and pitfalls in the area of deduction.

Some scholars of massive learning are not well skilled in drawing conclusions. Some laymen who know nothing of the subject matter, except what the experts tell them, can easily see that certain conclusions drawn by the experts do not follow from the data presented by the experts themselves. Thus they may be benefited by the scholar’s learning and not much harmed by his non sequiturs.

There are five very common non sequiturs (things that do not follow), in the field we are about to survey. If the reader will master them he will, we believe, avoid a great deal of misunderstanding.3

The phenomenal non sequitur: The Bible’s representing things as they appear (phenomena) has occasioned the leap of logic that concludes it contains error, because that is not the way things are. Obviously, this conclusion does not follow. If the Bible taught that things appeared one way, and they did not appear that way, that would be error. But for the Bible to teach that things appear one way when they actually are another way is not error. A simple illustration is assuming that the Bible is in error when it refers to a “sunrise” (a term that describes how things appear) because that is not the way things are (the sun does not “rise”).4

The accommodation non sequitur: The Bible’s representing God as accommodating Himself to human language has occasioned the leap of logic that concludes His Word contains error because accommodation to human language involves accommodation to human error. Obviously, this conclusion also is not right. It does not follow that, because God accommodates Himself to human language, He must accommodate Himself to human error. This would follow by logical necessity only if it were first proven that all human language could only err. This would not even be theoretically possible to prove for it would require the use of human language to prove that human language always errs. Accommodation may be coupled with the phenomenal non sequitur by asserting that God accommodates us by using phenomenal language. An example is the supposition that the Bible’s representing God as “repenting” (which is how it looks to us) is an error because of God’s unchangeableness (which is how it is).5

The emphasis non sequitur: The Bible’s emphasizing certain things has occasioned the leap of logic that concludes it contains error because it must be indifferent to other unemphasized things. But it does not follow that because the Bible stresses one thing, it errs in the things it does not stress. For example, it does not follow from the Bible’s stress on salvation that it may err with impunity in mere historical details.6

The critical non sequitur: The fact that theologians of the church perform the work of textual critics has occasioned the leap of logic that concludes that these critics must therefore believe the Bible contains error. But it does not follow that because a scholar examines a text to see whether or not it belongs to the Bible he therefore believes the Bible can err. For example, if Luther at one point denied that the Book of James belonged in the Bible it does not mean that Luther believed the Bible itself was errant.7

The docetie non sequitur: The Bible’s representing itself as the Word of God written by men has occasioned the leap of logic that concludes it is therefore errant. Obviously this conclusion does not follow. “To err is human” may be descriptive of the fact that people do err and that error is characteristic of them rather than of God. But it does not follow that people always err, even apart from the matter of inspiration. Certainly it does not follow that if God inspired men He would be incapable of keeping them free of human error in writing. For example, it does not follow from the Bible’s saying that God used Paul in the writing of the Epistles that God could not keep those Epistles free from error.8

Equipped with this logical geiger counter to detect hidden mines and booby traps in the field of sound reasoning, let us tread very carefully, though hastily, on the path of history since the Reformation in an attempt to ascertain the Reformed tradition concerning biblical inspiration and inerrancy.9

John Calvin

Though the Reformation begins properly with Luther, Dr. Preus in his excellent chapter has already adequately discussed this Reformer. I will begin, then, with the work of Calvin.

Karl Barth precisely summarized the Reformation view of Calvin on the Bible as follows:

In the Reformation doctrine of inspiration the following points must be decisive.

The Reformers took over unquestionably and unreservedly the statement on the inspiration, and indeed the verbal inspiration of the Bible, as it is explicitly and implicitly contained in those Pauline passages which we have taken as our basis, even including the formula that God is the author of the Bible, and occasionally making use of the idea of a dictation through the Biblical writers. How could it be otherwise? Not with less but with greater and more radical seriousness they wanted to proclaim the subjection of the Church to the Bible as the Word of God and its authority as such….Luther is not inconsistent when we hear him thundering polemically at the end of his life: “Therefore, we either believe roundly and wholly and utterly, or we believe nothing: the Holy Ghost doth not let Himself be severed or parted, that He should let one part be taught or believed truly and the other part falsely….For it is the fashion of all heretics that they begin first with a single article, but they must then all be denied and altogether, like a ring which is of no further value when it has a break or cut, or a bell which when it is cracked in one place will not ring anymore and is quite useless” (Kurzes Bekenntnis vom heiligen Sakrament 1544 W. A. 54, 158, 28). Therefore Calvin is not guilty of any disloyalty to the Reformation tendency when he says of Holy Scripture that its authority is recognized only when it…is realized that autorem eius essedeum. In Calvin’s sermon on 2 Timothy 3:16ff. (C.R. 54, 238ff.) God is constantly described as the author of Holy Scripture and in his commentary on the same passage we seem to hear a perfect echo of the voice of the Early Church….In spite of the use of these concepts neither a manticomechanical nor a docetic conception of Biblical inspiration is in the actual sphere of Calvin’s thinking.10

Though Barth saw a basic harmony between Luther and Calvin on Scripture, Brunner did not. Brunner did not see the inerrancy doctrine in Luther but saw it correctly at least in Calvin.

Calvin is already moving away from Luther toward the doctrine of Verbal Inspiration. His doctrine of the Bible is entirely the traditional, formally authoritative view. The writings of the Apostles “pro deioraculis habenda sunt [are oracles that have been received from God]” (Institutio, iv, 8, 9). Therefore, we must accept “quidquid in satris scripturis traditum est sine exceptione [whatever is delivered in the Scripture without exception]” (I., 18, 4). The belief “auctorem eius (sc: scripturae) esse deum [God is the author of all Scripture]” precedes all doctrine (i., 7, 4). That again is the old view. 11

In spite of Barth’s and Brunner’s, recognition of Calvin’s view of Scripture some have persisted in asserting that inerrancy was a later intrusion into the Reformed tradition. Though the Calvin corpus has been canvassed repeatedly to demonstrate the Reformer’s doctrine of Scripture, some have still balked at granting that he held to inerrancy. Nothing that modem opponents of inerrancy have presented, cited, deduced, or inferred in anyway whatsoever shows that Calvin held any other view of Scripture than that of absolute inerrancy. Brunner12 and Dowey13 find verbal inspiration in Calvin. Bromiley even finds dictation.14 Kenneth Kantzer’s doctoral thesis may be the most thorough demonstration of Calvin’s teaching of inerrancy,15 and John Murray16 and J.I. Packer17 agree with him, though they find problems.

If problems exist with Calvin they are basically related to the non sequiturs outlined above. To be sure, Calvin wrote no major formal treatise on Scripture. That is not at all surprising inasmuch as the doctrine was not an issue of his day. His debate with Rome was not over the inspiration or inerrancy of Scripture. Both sides tacitly assumed the position. When Calvin does speak explicitly on Scripture, his view is asserted unambiguously. He refers to Scripture as:

“The sure and infallible record”18

“The inerring standard”19

“The pure Word of God”20

“The infallible rule of His Holy Truth”21

“Free from every stain or defect”22

“The inerring certainty”23

“The certain and unerring rule”24

“Unerring light”25

“Infallible Word of God”26

“Has nothing belonging to man mixed with it”27


“Infallible oracles”29

Though Calvin does not employ the noun inerrancy he makes ample use of the adjectival form inerring. He also uses infallible. Thus for Calvin the Bible is an inerring, infallible book. That is what is generally understood to be meant by inerrancy.

Calvin’s classic statement on Scripture is important:

When it pleased God to raise up a more visible form of the Church, he willed to have His Word set down and sealed in writing….He commanded also that the prophecies be committed to writing and be accounted part of His Word. To these at the same time histories were added, also the labour of the prophets, but composed under the Holy Spirit’s dictation. I include the psalms with the prophecies….That whole body [corpus], therefore, made up of law, prophecies, psalms and histories was the Lord’s Word for the ancient people….Let this be a firm principle; no other word is to be held as the Word of God, and given place as such in the Church, than what is contained first in the Law and the Prophets, then in the writings of the apostles,…[who] were to expound the ancient Scripture and to show that what is taught there has been fulfilled in Christ. Yet they were not to do this except from the Lord, that is, with Christ’s Spirit going before them and in a sense dictating their words…[They) were sure and genuine penmen [certi et authentici amanuensis] of the Holy Spirit, and their writings are therefore to be considered oracles of God: and the sole office of others is to teach what is provided and sealed in the Holy Scriptures.30

Again, in Calvin’s comments on 2 Timothy 3;16 we read:

In order to uphold the authority of Scripture, he [Paul] declares it to be divinely inspired; for if it be so, it is beyond all controversy that men should receive it with reverence….Whoever then wishes to profit in the Scriptures, let him first of all lay down as a settled point this—that the law and the prophecies are not teaching [doctrinam] delivered by the will of men, but dictated [didatum] by the Holy Ghost….Moses and the prophets did not utter at random what we have from their hand, but since they spoke by divine impulse, they confidently and fearlessly testifIed, as was actually the case, that it was the mouth of the Lord that spoke [os Domini loguutum esse] …. We owe to the Scripture the same reverence which we owe to God, because it has proceeded from Him alone. 31

When Calvin speaks of the reverence we owe to Scripture, why do not modern critics of inerrancy rise up and accuse the Reformer of bibliolatry? So strong is this theme of reverence before the Holy Word that Calvin exclaims, “The full authority which they [the Scriptures] obtain with the faithful proceeds from no other consideration than that they are persuaded that they proceeded from heaven, as if God had been heard giving utterance to them.”32

With such strong explicit statements from Calvin, it may seem surprising, indeed astonishing, that anyone would ever challenge the statement that Calvin was an advocate of inerrancy. Yet the challenge has come. We see examples of the challenge in Fullerton, Doumergue, Schiverger,33 Painer, and De Grost, to name but a few.

Why does the challenge come? We could speculate that Calvin, like so many other scholars underwent a progressive development of thought in which ideas blossomed but were later corrected or discarded. For example, we can distinguish between “early Barth” and “later Barth” and between “early Berkouwer” and “later Berkouwer.” Thus, perhaps, the citations from Calvin indicate a careful process of “selection” from the massive fifty-nine volumes of the Corpus Reformatorum.

 This speculative procedure fails miserably, as every student of Calvin knows. We cannot find explicit statements of Calvin that would indicate such a “corrective” development. On the contrary, his view of Scripture is sprinkled through a wide variety of his works over a vast number of years. He went to his grave committed to a lofty view of Scripture. His deathbed utterance of 1564 has been recorded for us:

As for my doctrine, I have taught faithfully, and God has given me grace to write, which I have done faithfully as I could; and I have not corrupted one single passage of Scripture nor twisted it so far as I know….34

The primary basis of the challenge to Calvin’s view of inerrancy comes from an analysis of his exegetical practice. Though it is virtually universally agreed that Calvin held to a theory of inerrancy, that theory was thought by some to be belied by his practice as a critical exegete. Here the non sequiturs rear up and charge into the picture.

The phenomenal non sequitur appears with respect to Calvin’s comments regarding the Bible and natural science. He maintains that the biblical writers simply wrote in popular style, and popular style does not need to be and indeed cannot be harmonized with science. Popular style is one thing; technical style is another. Attention is called to an illustration from Calvin in which Moses called the moon one of the two great lights, whereas in fact it is much smaller than Saturn, as was known even in Calvin’s day. There is no problem of harmonization, however. As Calvin says, Moses is talking about things as they appear to the naked eye, and the astronomer about things as they are, as seen through the telescope (non sequitur no. 1). If the astronomer said that Saturn appeared to be bigger than the moon, he would be in error. If Moses had said that the moon is larger that Saturn, he would have been in error. But Moses is not in error, and Calvin is not implying error in Moses, though Rogers suggests that Calvin acknowledged scientific error in Moses and yet was indifferent to it.35 Here is what Calvin says in the matter:

Moses here addresses himself to our senses….By this method (as I have before observed) the dishonesty of those men is sufficiently rebuked, who censure Moses for not speaking with greater exactness….Moses wrote in popular style things which, without instruction, all ordinary persons, endued with common sense are able to understand ….But had he spoken on things generally unknown, the uneducated might have pleaded in excuse that such subjects were beyond their capacity…. Moses, therefore, rather adapts his discourse to common usage …. There is therefore no reason why janglers should deride the unskillfulness of Moses in making the moon a secondary luminary; for he does not call up into heaven, he only proposes things which lie open before our eyes.36 Closely related to phenomenal matters are questions arising from Calvin’s view of divine accommodation in revelation. Here care is needed in interpreting Calvin lest we slip into the pitfall of non sequitur no. 2, accommodation. At the heart of Calvin’s theology was his doctrine of the incomprehensibility of God. This doctrine sets the boundaries of divine-human communication. Calvin was zealous to maintain and preserve the difference between man and God as well as the points of similarity. When treating the matter of those dimensions of God’s being that are incomprehensible, Calvin speaks of accommodation. He says:

God cannot reveal Himself to us in any other way than by a comparison with which we know;…in order to know God we must not frame a likeness of Him according to our own fancy but we must take ourselves to the Word in which His lively image is exhibited to us.37

This accommodation by which God speaks to us in our language, according to our perspective, is not an accommodation to human error but to human levels of understanding.

If God, accommodating Himself to the limited capacity of men, speaks in a humble and lowly style, this manner of teaching is despised as too simple; but if He rises to a higher style, with the view of giving greater authority to His Word, men, to excuse their ignorance, will pretend that it is too obscure. As these two vices are very prevalent in the world, the Holy Spirit so tempers His style as that the sublimity of the truths which he teaches is not hidden even from those of the weakest capacity, provided they are of a submissive and teachable disposition, and bring with them an earnest desire to be instructed.38

Calvin saw no conflict between inerrant inspiration and accommodation. In fact, accommodation only stresses the point that Calvin regarded the Bible to be inspired, for the accommodation is divine accommodating. His favorite metaphor for accommodation is that of “stammering” or “lisping.” God is said to “prattle” to us in Scripture with a kind of baby talk in order to stoop to our level of understanding. Thus, while the Scriptures provide simple levels of understanding of the incomprehensible God, it does not follow from such simplicity that it is therefore errant. An infant may lisp, stammer, and prattle and at the same time be truthful about what he is stammering. No one was ever convicted of perjury simply for lisping.

Calvin’s textual criticism has also provoked charges of practice inconsistent with theory. Calvin allows for scribal errors by copyists of the original manuscripts. He allows for variations of chronological order in the Synoptics. He allows for round numbers and the proper use of hyperbole. He even acknowledges the use of intemperate language by the writer of the Psalms but quickly points out the truth of the Bible in all of this.39 Calvin rejected the Pauline authorship of Hebrews. Yet Calvin never made the leap of logic of some of his interpreters, who conclude that the practice of various forms of textual and canonical criticism implies a denial of inspiration or inerrancy. Calvin avoided non sequitur no. 4 (critical).


1. The New Columbia Encyclopedia, ed. William H. Harris and Judith S. Levey, (New York and London: Columbia University Press, 1975).

2. Ibid., p. 291.

3. I will refer to these non sequiturs throughout the article. The reader may wish to consult the list below. Incidentally, I wish to express my deep gratitude to R.C. Sproul for his critique of this chapter, without holding him in any way responsible for any of its defects.

4. A.H. Strong asks, “Would it be preferable, in the Old Testament if we should read: ‘When the revolution of the earth upon its axis caused the rays of the solar luminary to impinge horizontally upon the retina, Isaac went our to mediate’ (Gen. 24:36)?” Systematic Theology (Philadelphia: Griffith and Rowland, 1907).1:223. The great inerrantist Martin Luther was himself committing this non sequitur when he condemned Copernicus’s heliocentrism.

5. Arthur Lindsley, “The Principle of Accommodation,” an unpublished Pittsburgh Theological Seminary paper (1975), gives a sound current discussion and critique of this non sequitur.

6. George MacDonald carned this non uquitur to its logical conclusion when he wrote. “It is Jesus who is the revelation of God, not the Bible.” Cited by William A. Glover in Evangelical Nonconformists and Higher Criticism in the Nineteenth Century (London: Independent, 1954). p. 82.

7. Emil Brunner illustrates this non sequitur when discussing John Calvin in Revelation and Reason: The Christian Doctrine of Faith and Knowledge, trans. Olive Wyon (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1946), p. 275.

8. This has been a persistent non sequitur in neoorthodoxy generally, and Karl Barth has specialized in it; cf Church Dogmatics, vol. 1, The doctrine of the Word of God, second half-volume, ed. O. W. Bromiley and T.F. Torrance (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1956), pp. 523ff. Klaas Runia has astutely criticized Barth in Karl Barth’s Doctrine of Holy Scripture (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1962) in an adhominem manner by observing that Barth himself believed that Jesus Christ was true man, without his humanity preventing his sinlessness. See also R.C. Sproul’s critique of this non sequituron Barth in “The Case for Inerrancy: A Methodological Analysis” in God’s Inerrant Word, ed. J. W. Montgomery (Minneapolis: Bethany Fellowship, 1974), pp. 255–57.

9. The history of the doctrine of inspiration has been repeatedly and thoroughly researched. In addition to extensive studies in encyclopedias and histories of doctrine, innumerable monographs have appeared on the subject in general as well as on details such as “alleged discrepancies,” as in John Haley, An Examination of the Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible (Nashville: Goodpasture, 1951) and on individual theologians, as in A.D.R. Pohlman, The Word of God According to St. Augustine (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1961). It is sufficient here to note a few of the more important general historical works. Classical nineteenth-century studies included: William Lee, The Inspiration of Holy Scripture (New York: Robert Carter and Brothers, 1958); George T. Ladd, The Doctrine of Sacred Scripture: A Critical Historical and Dogmatic Inquiry, 2 vols. (New York: Scribner, 1883). More recent works are William Sunday, Inspiration: Eight Lectures on the Early History and Origin of the Doctrine of Biblical Inspiration (London: Longmans, 1903);G.D. Bart)’, The Inspiration and Authority of the Holy Scripture: A Study of the Literature of the First Five Centuries (New York: Macmillan, 1919); Daniel J. Theron, Evidence of Tradition (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1958); Johannes Beumer, Die Inspiration der Hemgen Schrijl (Freiberg, Basel, and Vienna: Herder, 1968); Brvce Vawter, Biblical Inspiration (philadelphia: Westminster; London: Hutchinson, 1972); Robert M. Grant, A Short History of the Interprttation ofthe Bible, rev. ed. (New York, London: Macmillan, 1972); Daniel Loretz, Das Ende du Inspirations Theologie: Chancencines Ntubtginns, 2 vols. (Stuttgart: Katholisches Bibelweric, 1974). Just before this volume went to the printer a copy of Stephen T. Davis, The Debate About the Bible (Philadelphia : Westminster, 1977) came into my hands. Though not a historical study, it is a most acute analysis of the contemporary debate. While attacking inerrancy and defending a so-called infallibilist position, it is one of the most judicious, balanced, fair critiques I have ever read. Davis avoids virtually 311 non Mquiturs, argues 10 the point, honors motives, recognizes differences, all the while unambiguously affirming orthodox doctrines himself. He admirably embodies the concept of a “worthy opponent.” Nevertheless, I believe his argument against inerrancy and for “infallibilism” fails utterly. His attack is unsuccessful because he admits that he cannot prove that “errors” actually do exist in the Bible (cf. chap. 5, p. 141), and this leaves him with only one feeble argument, namely, that the Bible does not explicitly use the word inerrant in its self-description. But if it calls itself God’s Word many times, thus indicating the inspiration not only of the writers but of the writings as well, what can a divine Word be but an inerrant Word? The mountain is laboring and not even bringing forth a mouse. Davis’s own infallibilist position self-destructs, for he admits that his Bible may even errancy crucial doctrine (though he hopes not and thinks it will not), and he admits that ultimate reliance for truth is on his own mind, Scripture notwithstanding (p. 70). Over two hundred years ago, Jonathan Edwards demolished this very argument found in deist Matthew Tindal as presented in his Christianity As Old As Creation, Miscellany 1340 in H.G. Townsend, The Philosophy of Jonathan Edwards (Eugene: University of Oregon Press, 1955) so thoroughly that I doubt that, if Davis had read that critique, his Debate About the Bible would ever have been written.

10. Barth, Doctrine of the Word of God, part 2, p. 520.

11. Emil Brunner, The Christian Doctrine of God, trans. Olive Wyon (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1959), p. 111. Brunner also admits that Calvin, like Luther, thought that scholars could compute on the basis of biblical genealogies (Revelation and Reason, p. 278, note 13). 12. This kind of thinking leads Grant to remark that “by his acceptance of the primacy of faith in exegesis Calvin opened the way for subjectivism even while he tried to exclude it” (Short History of lnterpretation, p. 134) and even Brunner thought Calvin was too subjective (Revelation and Reason, p. 269). Admittedly, Calvin’s phraseology at times suggests subjectivity.

13. Edward Dowey, The Knowledge of God in Calvin’s Theology (New York: Columbia University Press, 1952), p. 100.

14. Bromiley, Church Doctrine of Inspiration, p. 210.

15. This makes Kantzer’s assertion of Calvin’s inerrancy position in Inspiration and Interpretation, ed. John F. Walvoord (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1957), p. 137, all the more impressive.

16. John Murray, Calvin on Scripture and Divine Sovereignty (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1960).

17. James L. Packer, “Calvin’s View of Scripture” in God’s Inerrant Word,ed. J.W. Montgomery (Minneapolis: Bethany Fellowship, 1974), pp. 95–114.

18. Job, p. 744, as cited by Kantzer in Inspiration and Interpretation. The following quotes are likewise cited by Kantzer. Kantzer cites Calvin’s Institutes, the Beveridge translation, 3 vols. (Edinburgh: The Calvin Translation Society, 1845).

19. Institutes, I, 149.

20. Institutes, III, 166; Minor Prophets, II, 177.

21. Hebrews, p. xxi .

21. Minor Prophets, I, 506.

23. Psalms, II, 429.

24. Psalms, v, ii.

25. Psalms, iv, 480.

26. Institutes, II, 58, and III, 309.

27. II Timothy, p 249.

28. Minor Prophets, III, 200, and John, I, 420.

29. Catholic Epistles, p. 131.

30. Institutes, IV. viii. 8ff.; cf. I. vi, 2, as cited by Packer in God’s lnerrant Word.

31. Packer, “Calvin’s View,” p. 102.

32. Institutes, vii, I.

33. As cited by Kantzer in Inspriation and Interpretation, pp. 142–144.

34. CR, 9, 893b.

35. Rogers, “Church Doctrine of Biblical Inspiration,” pp. 28–29. Cf. Charles W. Shields, The Trial of Servetus by the Senate of Geneva: A Review of the Official Records and Contemporary Writings ((Philadelphia: MacCalla, 1893), p. 17; C.T. Ohner, Michael Servitus: His Life and Teachings (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1810), p. 49; Manzoni, Umonesimo ad Eresia: M. Serveto (Napoli: Guida Editori, 1974), p. 30.

36. Genesis, as cited by Lindsley, “Principle of Accommodation,” p.33.

37. Isaiah (40:18).

38. Psalms (78:3).

39. See Kanzter, Inspiration and Interpretation, pp. 144–146.

Dr. John Gerstner is a well-known and highly respected professor, lecturer and writer in Reformed and Presbyterian circles. He served pastorates in Pittsburgh, PA and Massachusetts, but the major part of his career was spent as Professor of Church History at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary from 1950–1980. He continues to minister as Visiting Professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Professor-at-Large for the Ligonier Valley Study Center, Adjunct Professor of Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary and Adjunct Professor of Theology at Knox Theological Seminary. His long list of writings include contributions to Christianity Today, Baker Dictionary of Theology and International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. He has produced many videotapes and audiotapes for Ligonier Ministries. His major scholarly specialization is on the thought of Jonathan Edwards about whom he has written prolifically. As a minister, Dr. Gerstner currently serves as Assistant Pastor at the Trinity Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) in Johnstown, PA.