(In the last article, we began our discussion of the views of Dr. Ralph Janssen. We noticed that Dr. Janssen basically denied the infallible inspiration of Scripture. In this article we are going to see exactly how he did this.)
Dr. Janssen said that the student of the Bible must come to Scripture just as he would come to any book. He had to come to Scripture in a scientific way, examining the book itself and all other evidence to decide on the true character of the book.
This involved various different questions. The Bible claims to be the Word of God and not the word of man. The Bible claims to be the Word of God because it claims to be inspired by God. But these claims have to be examined carefully and weighed scientifically to determine whether they are true or false.
Various books of the Bible claim to be written by various people. Paul claims, for example, that he wrote the epistle to the Galatians. But this cannot simply be accepted as true. It has to be examined in the light of all different kinds of evidence and has to be scientifically proven, if possible.
Now, generally speaking, Janssen came to the conclusion that the things which the Bible claimed for itself were true, the problem was that he came at it in the wrong way.
The way in which Janssen went about these things was wrong. The believing child of God must come to the Scriptures in faith. We come to Scripture believing that it is the Word of God and that what it says is true. This is the approach of faith. Faith comes to Scripture, believing that it is the Word of God, receiving as true all that Scripture says, and bowing humbly before Scripture, to be taught by Christ Himself.
The approach of Dr. Janssen was the approach of rationalism, which is ultimately that of unbelief. And if one comes in that way, setting up one’s mind above Scripture, then really it can never be proved that Scripture is the Word of God.
Supposing, for example, that you would want to prove that Scripture is the Word of God; how would you do that? Well, the way you would do that would be by appealing to those texts in Scripture which speak of that: II Timothy 3:16; II Peter 1:21. But immediately you face a problem. How do you know that these texts actually speak the truth? Well, you say: They speak the truth because they are infallibly inspired. But immediately your enemy will accuse you of arguing in a circle, for you say that the Bible is God’s Word because these texts say they are; and these texts speak the truth because the Bible is God’s inspired Word.
All of this does not trouble the child of God, for he comes to the Bible by faith. And that is the important thing. If we do not come in faith, then we will never believe what the Bible says.
But Dr. Janssen did not come in faith.
That was the first thing wrong with his teaching.
And coming that way to the Bible, he taught other wrong things.
Janssen’s view of inspiration was called by him, “organic inspiration.” The trouble was that Janssen believed organic inspiration to be thought inspiration, i.e., God put various ideas in the minds of men who wrote the Scriptures, and these ideas were incorporated into the Scriptures in their own way so that their thinking, beliefs, experiences, scientific views, etc. affected what they wrote. The Scriptures were then partly the Word of God and partly the word of man.
The result of this kind of inspiration, in which God only put general ideas into the minds of the Bible writers, was that much of what they wrote came from other sources than God. Some of it came from pagan sources and from influences outside God’s revelation to His people. Some of it came simply by reflection and pondering the mysteries of the universe. Some of it came from contact with nations outside Israel.
Let’s look at a few concrete examples of this.
Janssen taught that the Bible narrative which describes creation did not come from divine inspiration in which God told Moses how He created all things. The creation narrative came partly from old Babylonian myths and partly from the reflections of some unknown man who pondered the wonders and mysteries of the world and wrote down what he thought had happened.
It is not very difficult to see that this kind of notion immediately leaves room for mistakes in the creation narratives – mistakes made in all good faith because the wonders of science had not yet been discovered and put to use, but mistakes for all that. Now that we are much more scientifically aware, it is clear that Genesis 2 & 3 are all wrong and that evolutionism is, after all, the explanation for the origin of the creation.
The Lord so loved Zion, His people, that He graved them their image in the palms of His hands so that His people are always before him. Not once in all eternity does He take His eyes off them. They are before Him ever as chosen, called, justified and glorified in Christ and the beauty of their likeness is His eternal joy and refreshment.
-Rev. G. M. Ophoff, The Standard Bearer Vol. 29