John William Baier (1647-1694) on Inspiration, Versions, and Perspicuity

Chapter Two

Prolegomena

Faithful versions are “divinely [derivatively] inspired” and have “canonical dignity.”

34. The authority of Holy Scripture is canonical, or normative, as in part not only the sense, but also the words of those same divinely inspired Scriptures, or the original text [apograph], in order equally to the versions, recorded by human studies, and it has both the writings and the investigated doctrine, as in itself and absolutely proved, and the authority is founded in the inspiration of the God of truth, and Scriptures, by reason of the words of the original text [apograph], has a dependency on God; thus also in order to us, or that by divine faith we might believe, the books of Scripture under which, by which are shown to us, by the properties, that is by the choice of words in a certain language, by the order and context, to be divinely inspired, and thus to have that normative force, or canonical dignity, and since the testimony of the church alone does not suffice, truly also it is proper to engage this internal testimony of the Holy Spirit, or this operation of the Holy Spirit, which is effective through the same Scriptures. (italics added)

Regeneration is indissolubly united with the first act of immediate inspiration. God is the principle cause of regeneration, Scripture is the efficient cause of instrumentality.

39. To the affects of Holy Scripture pertains further its second effect, that it has a force or active power, supernatural and truly divine, for the producing of supernatural effects, namely the converting, regenerating and renovating of the minds of people, from the divine commands themselves, as far as can be seen, also intimately and indissolubly united by the first act of inspiration beyond the use made of it; and which, approaching it by reading, hearing, or meditating, by the second act it stretches itself out, thus that the effect of that supernatural grace, as from God, as the principle cause, and thus from Scripture itself, as by an efficient cause of instrumentality, at the same time and successively, those effects are produced effectively by one undivided power. (italics added)

Scripture’s perfect and complete instruction

40. Further third in the affects of Holy Scriptures is its perfection, or sufficiency, through which it is able to instruct us perfectly and completely about all things which are necessary for the acquiring, believing and doing of human salvation.

Scripture’s perspicuity by being led supernaturally through Scripture itself and its light.

41. Finally fourth among the affects of Scripture perspicuity has a place, or that thing, by which those things that are necessary for the believing and doing of people tending towards salvation, by the  words and phrases thus clear and by the received use of speech, are put forward in Scripture so that actually being able and directing attention to the words by a moderate understanding, the true sense of the words, as far as they are necessary by decree, it is possible to reach out for and to embrace the main points of doctrine simply by apprehension of the mind; as the intellect of humans, by apprehending the words and the signified things being offered, is led supernaturally through Scripture itself and its light, or through the divine strength joined to it, to the assent of faith. (italics added)

John William Baier, Compendium of Positive Theology, ed. by C. F. W. Walther, trans. by Rev. Theodore Mayes (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1686, 1877), Prolegomena, sec. 34, 39, 40, 41.

John William Baier (1647-1694): a Lutheran rector and theological professor of the University of Halle. He wrote, Compendium Theologie Positive (Jena, 1686); De Purgatorio (Jena, 1677); De Aqua lustrali Pontiffciorum (Jena, 1692); Collatio doctrince Quackerorum et Protestantium (Jena, 1694).

Published by Dr. Peter Van Kleeck, Sr.

Dr. Peter William Van Kleeck, Sr. : B.A., Grand Rapids Baptist College, 1986; M.A.R., Westminster Theological Seminary, 1990; Th.M., Calvin Theological Seminary, 1998; D. Min, Bob Jones University, 2013. Dr. Van Kleeck was formerly the Director of the Institute for Biblical Textual Studies, Grand Rapids, MI, (1990-1994) lecturing, researching and writing in the defense of the Masoretic Hebrew text, Greek Received Text and King James Bible. His published works include, "Fundamentalism’s Folly?: A Bible Version Debate Case Study" (Grand Rapids: Institute for Biblical Textual Studies, 1998); “We have seen the future and we are not in it,” Trinity Review, (Mar. 99); “Andrew Willet (1562-1621: Reformed Interpretation of Scripture,” The Banner of Truth, (Mar. 99); "A Primer for the Public Preaching of the Song of Songs" (Outskirts Press, 2015). Dr. Van Kleeck is the pastor of the Providence Baptist Church in Manassas, VA where he has ministered for the past twenty-one years. He is married to his wife of 43 years, Annette, and has three married sons, one daughter and eighteen grandchildren.

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