On Inspiration of the Bible (Mennonite Church, 1959)

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On Inspiration of the Bible (Mennonite Church, 1959)

On Inspiration of the Bible

Whereas, The Bible has always held a central place in the history, faith and life of evangelical Christianity and particularly in our Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition, and

Whereas, There is abroad in Christendom today much confusion and uncertainty in regard to the nature, authority, and inspiration. the Bible, and

Whereas, many in our brotherhood are earnestly seeking for guidance in these important matters; therefore be it

Resolved,

  1. That we, the Mennonite General Conference in session Aug. 25-27, 1959, at Goshen, IN, reaffirm our belief that God has revealed Hirnself in history for our salvation; that this revelation consisted in saving deeds and in their authoritative interpretation in words by chosen men inspired by the Holy Spirit; that God's will, disclosure found supreme and final expression in Jesus Christ, His Son, and in the apostolic witness to Him; and that apart from such a revelation of God and His purposes to plan we would be lost in our ignorance and sin.
  2. That we reaffirm our faith that all Scripture is inspired of God and that men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God; that the Bible is a fully trustworthy, authoritative record of God's self-disclosure to man--a unique book, standing apart from all others in terms of its origin. content, and purpose.
  3. That since the Bible, according to its own declaration, is intended to hear witness to Jesus Christ in whom God's purpose of revelation and redemption is fully wrought out, we should seek to understand the nature, meaning, and function of the BIble in the light of this dominant purpose; that we gladly confess our firm conviction that the Bible is the infallible guide to lead men to faith in Christ, to nourish fellowship with Christ, to direct Christian conduct, and to inspire Christian service and witnessing.
  4. That we reaffirm our acceptance of the Bible's claim for itself to be divinely inspired, though written by men; that since the Bible nowhere fully illuminates the mystery of the precise relation of the divine and human factors in the production of Scripture as it also does not do in the case of the relation of the divine and human aspects of the person of Christ, we should, therefore, seek to understand the meaning of inspiration by a careful examination of the facts provided by the Bible itself.
  5. That we sincerely pledge ourselves as a brotherhood with the help of the Holy Spirit to deepen our love and reverence for the Bible as the Word of God, to study it diligently, to interpret it honestly, to teach it faithfully, and to obey it fully in order that we together may grow in our fellowship with Christ in our understanding and practice of Christian discipleship, and in our effectiveness in Christian service.

Context of the Statement

In the course of the Mennonite General Conference delegate session in 1959, Harold S. Bender, Dean of the denomination's Goshen Biblical Seminary, gave a presentation on the inspiration of scripture. The delegates responded positively to the presentation, and asked that it be published. The Resolutions Committee of the Conference (Richard Yordy, Howard H. Charles and John Drescher) also brought forward this resolution on biblical inspiration that was approved by the delegates.

Bender always strived to maintain a conservative theological position, while maintaining clear distance from the code language of Fundamentalist formulations on Biblical inspiration.

Statements by the Mennonite Church General Conference stated the understanding of the Mennonite Church at the time of the action. Statements had informal authority and influence in the denomination; they had formal authority as confirmed or endorsed by Mennonite Church area conferences and/or congregations.

Commentary written December 2005 by Sam Steiner

[edit] Bibliography

Thirty-first Mennonite General Conference [Proceedings]: Goshen College, Goshen, Indiana, August 25-27, 1959. Scottdale, PA: Mennonite Publishing House, 1959.

Bender, Harold S. Biblical Revelation and Inspiration. Focal pamphlet; no. 4. Scottdale, PA: Mennonite Publishing House, 1959.

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