Date of Award

1997

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary

Program

Religion, Theological Studies PhD

First Advisor

Miroslav M. Kis

Second Advisor

Fernando L. Canale

Third Advisor

Richard M. Davidson

Abstract

This dissertation investigated Carl F. H. Henry's portrayal of the human role in his doctrines of revelation and inspiration. The study queried whether his depiction of that role in revelation is harmonious or consistent with the one given in inspiration. This question arises from a consideration of Henry's own formulation of his doctrines of revelation, inspiration, and man. The thesis of this dissertation is that inasmuch as man has the innate ability to receive, understand, and impart revelation without divine help, he should likewise be expected to exercise that ability at the level of inspiration without detailed or comprehensive superintendence of the Holy Spirit.

In the course of the investigation it was observed that man, during revelation, actively and independently uses his will, conscience, linguistic capacity, reasoning powers, memory, and verbal skills to receive, elucidate, or articulate revelation. Its nature is so adjusted to man that he does not need supernatural help to understand and communicate it. In fact his reasoning faculties can even discriminate between revelation and pseudo revelation.

When it comes to inspiration, however, man is portrayed as one lacking the natural capacity to carry out the task, namely that of inscripturating revelation. This incompetency is brought about by his inherent sinfulness. To solve the predicament, God had to subject man to a long period of comprehensive training. That preparation, however, does not qualify him to execute independently his role in inspiration. Thus, the man that is depicted as active, independent, and naturally competent and ready for revelation is now portrayed at the level of inspiration as one who is naturally incompetent, unready, passive, and totally dependent upon supernatural help. This is despite the fact that man inerrantly receives, understands, remembers, and has the linguistic capacity to articulate revelation. In fact, he had to be given the mind of the Holy Spirit, and even guided in the choice of words. That is, Henry does not allow the competent operation of the writer's natural faculties in inspiration as he does in revelation. And neither does he admit the weaknesses and limitations of man as depicted in inspiration to have a bearing upon his reception and conveyance of revelation. In view of his insistence upon revelation's lucidity, its propositional form, man's linguistic capacity, the content identity between revelation and inspiration, as well as the identicalness of the human agent in the two events, Henry's divergent portrayal of human role within these phenomena betrays inconsistency.

The study concluded by first pointing to Scripture's depiction of the human role in revelation and inspiration as being broader than that given by Henry. From that perspective, some suggestions were then recommended which hope to supply a degree of consistency in his portrayal of the human role in revelation and inspiration.

Subject Area

Inspiration, Revelation, Henry, Carl F. H. (Carl Ferdinand Howard), 1913-2003 -- Views on revelation

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