Skip to main content

Mere Orthodoxy exists to create media for Christian renewal. Support this mission today.

The Analogy of Jesus: The Hypostatic Union of Scripture

February 28th, 2007 | 2 min read

By Matthew Lee Anderson

Modern evangelicals have often formulated their doctrines of Scripture in dialogue with German higher criticism, which called into question the inerrancy of Scripture.

As a result, evangelical views of Scripture are often marked by two sometimes competing desires: on the one hand, maintain plenary verbal inspiration--the notion that the very words themselves are God's words--and on the other hand, maintain the individuality of the authors.

As a way of doing so, authors will sometimes point to Jesus as a model for Scripture. Just as Jesus had a Divine nature and a human nature, which were not conmingled, confused, or divided, so Scripture has a Divine Author and a Human author. Such a move is often associated with a view of revelation that posits that word must be tied with action for revelation to be effective.

Herman Bavinck (BAH-vink!) appeals rather strongly to this notion.

In view of all this, the theory of organic inspiration alone does justice to Scripture. In the doctrine of Scripture, it is the working out and application of the central fact of revelation: the incarnation of the Word. The Word has become flesh, adn the word has become Scripture; these two facts do not only run parallel but are most intimately connected. Christ became flesh, a servant, without form or comeliness, the most despised of human beings; he descended to the nethermost parts of the earth and became obedient even to the death of the cross. So also the word, the revelation of God, entered the world of creatureliness, the life and history of humanity, in all the human forms of dream and vision, of investigation and reflection, right down into that which is humanely weak and despised and ignnoble."

At some point, the analogy fails. After all, the human authors of Scripture were not (as far as we know) perfect as Jesus was perfect. It can also lead theologianas to make hyperbolic claims about Scripture (something, I confess, I am prone to doing). Bavinck at points makes it seem as though Scripture is a second incarnation of God, which is putting the analogy too strongly for my blood.

But there is a further (potential) difficulty: at some point, we must appeal to a paradox in the relationship of Jesus' Divine and Human natures. If we make the same appeal in Scripture, then we run the risk of adding miracle on top of miracle. As I am disposed toward miracles, theologically this isn't distressing to me, but it does raise the inexorable difficulty of the criterion: how many miracles in the history of salvation is too many?

Despite that, I am inclined to conceive of Scripture in this fashion, if for nothing else than that it grounds the Bible Christologically, as the Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus Christ and points back toward Christ. As such, it makes sense that he would act in analogous fashion to Christ.

Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is an Associate Professor of Ethics and Theology in Baylor University's Honors College. He has a D.Phil. in Christian Ethics from Oxford University, and is a Perpetual Member of Biola University's Torrey Honors College. In 2005, he founded Mere Orthodoxy.