“He is not after those three points. He is after that woman’s job.”

In his talk at DG’s Calvin conference, Doug Wilson gives a great illustration of Calvin’s doctrine of the supremacy and self-authentication of Scripture.

One day, the schoolmarm in the one-room schoolhouse of modernity gave a test to all the little kids in her class. The schoolmarm’s name was Mrs. Enlightenment, and one kid was named the Bhagavad Gita, and there were the Vedas, and there was the Koran, and another was the Book of Mormon. And of course the test was also given to the best student in the class, the Holy Bible.

When the tests were graded and returned, it turned out that the Bhagavad Gita scored a 38, the Koran a 52, the Book of Mormon a 17… and our Scriptures, our Bible, scored an impressive 97.

What does this make all of us want to do? It makes us want to get up to the teacher’s desk pronto, and argue for the three points, that’s what! We have fallen for the trap of thinking that inerrancy requires us to be grade nerds: always the best student in the class, but one who cannot abide making a mistake and who will argue with the teacher over every last point.

But something is more fundamentally wrong with this picture than that unfair grading process. The problem is that the Bible never enrolled in that class to begin with, and never agreed to be tested by any Mrs. Enlightenment. The Scriptures do not take these tests; the Scriptures administer tests. The Bible is not that which meets the standard; the Bible is that which sets the standard.

So would Calvin have agreed that the Bible is like silver refined sevenfold, as in Psalm 12:6? Yes, certainly. Would he have agreed with a score of 97? Of course not. The Scriptures are not a possession of ours which we may put into the world’s balances to be weighed. Rather, the Scriptures are God’s scales, in which he places the entire world, and all the nations of men.

…[series of Calvin quotes and explanation]…

[Calvin] would have no trouble showing that the three points were rightfully ours. But he would also have no trouble showing Mrs. Enlightenment that unbelief ought not to be teaching that class or grading the papers. He is not after those three points. He is after that woman’s job.

Listen to the whole thing. (Don’t just read it; it’s not a full manuscript and some of the best parts are off-the-cuff.)

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Comments

  1. Wilson is so vivid. (I did “just” read it–no time!)

    His point is a critique, not only of liberal academia, but of the Norm Geisler approach: we can argue every point, reconcile every difficulty, it is all perfectly clear, you just need to do a good word study or archeological expedition. And anyone who disagrees is a liberal.

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