Setting aside the fact that autographs are in one respect the words of God and the preaching of the word so long as it accords with God’s revealed words is also in one respect the word of God, in what sense do we say that men’s words are God’s words?
Before there ever was creation God knew and knows a form of the Scripture, or a blueprint if you will as He did with all revelatory particulars [heavenly bodies, plants, animals, and man]. In philosophy we speak of this particular kind of cause as the formal cause. Just as God had/has a blueprint of the makeup of a man or a woman so He had/has a blueprint of the word of God. With man, God determined what spiritual and physical aspects comprise a man. In the same manner, God determined what words of what language and in what order those words appear in comprising the written word of God. To stray from this blueprint, from this formal cause, is not to make some other good thing but to make of that thing something bad.
Take for instance a man who grows his hair out, endures hormone therapy, and has a bout of plastic surgery or two. Is that man still a man? According to many in the current wester ethos, that man is no longer a man, first because of his desires and second because of his chosen appearance. Indeed, we are told that he is a woman now and we are compelled to believe this under pain of ostracization in the USA and prison in Canada. But is this person a woman and by whose definition? If we take the position that a man is a man by God’s definition and according to His blueprint, then a man who tries to be a woman is not a woman but a bad man.
Now the word bad here can have several referents. Among them is a moral component and an aesthetic component. The moral component is that anyone who goes against God’s ordained law whether special or general is in violation of that law and has fallen short of God’s glory [i.e., has sinned]. The man’s soul is in rebellion against God’s ordained order. The aesthetic element is that if a man were to seek to change his sex/gender He can no more do that than a leopard can change his spots. As such, the attempt to make an aesthetic change is an attempt to change his very being. That is, the change attempted is not an attempt at accidental change [i.e., peripherals] but an attempt at substantial change [i.e., his very being] through aesthetics. His attempts have made His maleness less clear, less complete, and less symmetrical. And for these reasons he is a bad man both morally and aesthetically. But what has he really changed?
He has changed his hair, his nails, he now wears makeup, he has surgically altered his body, but he has not changed his soul he has not changed his being and so he has failed to change his being though he would like to but has only changed certain accidental elements. As such he remains a man, but a bad one both morally as well as aesthetically.
So now we come to the words of Scripture. We here at StandardSacredText.com maintain that there is not a single word of Scripture which is peripheral or accidental or a secondary substance or merely aesthetic. Every word is essential because every word is included in God’s blueprint for this particular structure – the structure called written inspired Scripture. And while we do hold that every word is essential to the teaching of Scripture at one point or another, that is not the emphasis I intend to dwell on here. The point I am making is that every word is essential in a substantive way. God is the formal cause of His revealed written word. God determined what words, in what order, and in what language count as the inspired infallible word of God.
Every word is essential because every word is part of the formal structure found in the divine mind, the substantive structure of the thing we call Scripture. And not because we say so but because God made and implemented the blueprint of revealed Scripture with certain verbal constitutive elements. If God calls for 1,721 rivets to build a sea-worthy vessel, then we get 1,721 rivets. If God’s blueprint calls for these words in this order in this language, then who are we to say that any element of God’s blueprint as formal cause is peripheral or doesn’t matter or doesn’t affect doctrine? If God is the formal cause of Scripture and as the formal cause He has called for certain words, in a certain order, in a certain language, then the claim that “Our build is good enough” does affect doctrine – the doctrine that God and not man is the formal cause of Scripture [2 Peter 1:20-21].
So, when modern evangelical text-critic after modern evangelical text-critic expresses doubt in their Greek text they are in effect saying that our build is good enough. In fact, in my experience, most evangelical textual critics will demur to claim that even a single word of Scripture is certainly the word of the original let alone a whole chapter or the Bible itself and still claim their build is good enough. Of course, we have to ask, who appointed man to say, “We admit our build is not according to God’s blueprint, but our build is good enough”?
What is more, our more critically inclined pastors across the fruited plain admit that their Bible is mostly God’s word and then proclaim every Sunday, “Hear the word of God.” They mean, in other words, “There is a high probability that we have God’s words, but we know that we don’t have some of them, and it is in this sense that I mean, word of God.” So, when do we call the words of men, God’s words? When we simultaneously claim that most of our Bible is probably God’s word and some of it probably is not only to turn around and say, “Hear the word of God.”