Was it necessary for the word of God to be committed to writing? We affirm.

In framing the question Turretin writes,

“[T]he question is not whether the writing of the word was absolutely and simply necessary, but relatively and hypothetically; not for every age, but now in this state of things; nor relatively to the power and liberty of God, but to his wisdom and economy as dealing with man.”

Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, Second Topic, Q. 2, Sec. III.

The necessity spoken of here is a necessity determined for the church in our time. Indeed, God spoke in times past by the fathers and prophets. Yet in the writing of the canon God saw fit, and in this sense it was necessary, to reveal Himself through the inspired written propositions of Holy Scripture. Turretin goes on to add that the writing of the Scriptures was an act of obedience on the part of the penmen as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. As such, the writing of the Scriptures took placed under the observance of a command via the Holy Spirit bearing penmen along and in this sense the writing of Scripture was necessary.

The three proofs, according to Turretin, in support of this necessity are:

“(1) the preservation of the word; (2) its vindication; (3) its propagation.”

Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, Second Topic, Q. 2, Sec. IV.

Turretin explains,

“It was necessary for a written word to be given to the church that the canon of true religious faith might be constant and unmoved; that it might easily be preserved pure and entire against the weakness of memory, the depravity of men, and the shortness of life; that it might be more certainly defended from the frauds and corruptions of Satan.”

Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, Second Topic, Q. 2, Sec. VI.

Let me make a few brief notes here. First, “the canon of true religious faith” encompasses the whole of Christianity not just the salvific elements. Again, the potential of being saved out of this or that text is no test of Scriptural authenticity. Second, this “canon” remains constant and unmoved. Turretin’s confession here is important because clearly he is aware of the artillery rolled up against the doctrine of preservation: weakness of memory, human depravity, brevity of life, and the work of Satan himself.

Knowing these threats Turretin speaks of Scripture in the 17th century as “constant and unmoved.” Third, in light of the second point, Turretin goes on to infer that this same canon is and states that this canon will be “easily” preserved “pure and entire.” In this sense, given the foes of preservation, this easily preserved, pure and entire canon of true religious faith remains preserved thus proving that the Scriptures are indeed from God Himself.

And why would this preservation effort seem so strange. Certainly we see it in the sphere of man’s laws. Turretin writes,

“Nor for any other reason are the public laws, statutes and edicts of kings and decrees of the commonality inscribed upon brass or committed to the public tablets, except that this is the most sure method of preserving them uncorrupted and of propagating through many ages the remembrance of those things which it is important for the people to know.”

Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, Second Topic, Q. 2, Sec. VI.

Still, some Christians proclaim that their Bible is not yet complete and yet would not proclaim an incomplete view of the “canon” of human sexuality. They would assert without equivocation that sex belongs within the bonds of marriage and that marriage is between one man and one woman. They allow no incompleteness here but they do in the canon of Scripture.

Some Christians call for regular and constant revisions of the Scripture both in the original and in the translation but those same Christians seem reluctant to commit the law of the land [i.e., the U.S. Constitution] to revisions on a yearly basis. Turretin points out that kings emulate the God who made them by committing their works into writing, but it seems in many ways the Western Church is fine with biblical revisions and not so much for their own laws. Idolatry much?

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