The threat [of theological liberalism] was great, but so was the challenge.
God raised up many individuals to defend the faith against liberalism’s attack on the authority of His word. The chief of them was Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield. Warfield, along with his Princeton Theological Seminary colleagues, is sometimes accused of inventing the doctrine of the inspiration and authority of the Bible. However, believers have always embraced the authority of Scripture. It is often the case, though, that a particular doctrine is articulated in a more detailed and exhaustive manner when it comes under attack. Warfied convincingly and articulately argued that the Bible is authoritative by its very nature as the word of God. It is an authority that exists outside of man, yet it calls man to faith and repentance in and before God. The God of the Bible is one who is transcendent and knowable. He is infinitely holy and independent, yet one who speaks to man and reveals Himself to man in a genuinely knowable way. Another truth that Warfield argued for is the infallibility of Scripture. Since Scripture does not merely contain the word of God, but is the word of God, it is without error. God does not lie, and He cannot lie. The Scripture is infallible and inerrant in all it says, including what it says on matters of science and history.
What is remarkable about Warfield’s many works on the subject of the Bible’s inspiration and authority is that they still remain the benchmark on the issue. His efforts helped stem the tide of theological liberalism and remain to this day a valuable resource to the church. And there is an irony as well. Warfield’s contributions to the historic understanding of the authority of Scripture are as relevant today as they were in his day. Despite modernism and postmodernism’s claim that the traditional doctrine of God, Christ, the gospel, and Scripture are no longer relevant, the reality stands that they are most relevant. Like Warfield, we should seek to defend historic truth faithfully in a way that speaks to our generation. The answer to the unbelieving world’s view of relevancy is not to shrink back into obscurantism. The answer is to embrace biblical revelation uncompromisingly and relevantly. Man’s need today is the same as it has been since the fall—to hear the good news of what God has done in Christ. There is no more relevant need than that.