Trinity Western University

Core Values

Obeying the Authority of Scripture

TWU Core Values Statement Series No. 1 (January 5, 1999)

Summary

We believe the Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, to be the inspired Word of God, without error in the original writings, the complete revelation of His will for the salvation of men, and the Divine and final authority for all Christian faith and life.

In this provision of its doctrinal statement Trinity Western University affirms with conviction the full truth and authority of the Bible. The Bible is sourced in God in a unique way that cannot be said of other literature. As a final, finished product the biblical scriptures are "without error" and can be relied on with full confidence as an authoritative guide to God's message of salvation and the manner of living appropriate for Christian people.

God's existence and power are indeed disclosed in the created order and in the human conscience, even though marred by human sin and its consequences. However this general knowledge by itself is not sufficient to lead to salvation. We need a verbal divine utterance by which God not only supplements our knowledge of the created order, but by which he also corrects our interpretation of it. Thankfully, God has given us such an authoritative Word in Scripture, the "complete revelation of his will for the salvation of human beings."

The Bible's main and central purpose is "to make us wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus" (2 Tim 3:15). However, insofar as Scripture speaks, it speaks truthfully on whatever point it addresses, and its principles faithfully undergird all true knowledge. Scripture is the final and ultimate standard for all truth, the reference point by which every other claim to truthfulness is measured. Scripture must be the lens we use to evaluate our lives and the world.

Scripture will be of little value if it does not govern how we live out our lives both as individuals and as a corporate body. Therefore we gladly embrace it not only for our doctrinal commitments, but also for our daily lives. All that Scripture teaches in regard to our attitudes, behavior, and ethical commitments, must be wholeheartedly believed and lived out among us.

Therefore, the faculty and staff of Trinity Western University strive to encourage confidence in the authority of the Bible and respect for its beauty, truth, and unique and divine character. We deplore an indoctrination approach that discourages authentic investigation, but we are satisfied that the truth of the Scriptures can meet any challenge. Therefore, we teach and encourage understanding of and appreciation for the Scriptures among students, within the church, and even in the larger culture wherever possible.

As those who affirm the truth and authority of Scripture, we must strive to live faithfully according to its principles and in obedience to its commands. We commit ourselves to understanding the implications of the Bible's truth for the design and management of our educational programs, our relationships with students and employees, our interaction with the church and larger society, and indeed our decisions on all matters.

This core value could be summarized by saying that we hold "high view" of Scripture. It is our collective prayer that we would not only hold fast to our high view of Scripture but also honour it by living out our core value of being people who "obey the authority of Scripture."

TRINITY WESTERN UNIVERSITY'S STATEMENT OF FAITH

We believe the Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, to be the inspired Word of God, without error in the original writings, the complete revelation of His will for the salvation of men, and the Divine and final authority for all Christian faith and life.

Read the Statement of Faith

THE CANON AND INSPIRATION OF SCRIPTURE

We believe that the 66 books that make up the Old and New Testaments are uniquely inspired of God and by virtue of their inspiration are set apart from other writings. Although we recognize that many other writings from antiquity may be useful and informative, the Scriptures alone are inspired and authoritative.

Inspiration refers to being sourced in God in a unique way that cannot be said of other literature. We believe that God's Spirit worked together with the various human writers to produce inspired writings that are an accurate and trustworthy record of divine revelation. We attribute inspiration to the canonical Scriptures, the finished product. It is these that are inspired rather than the various human writers and editors. We believe in verbal inspiration of the whole of Scripture. The influence of the Holy Spirit extended beyond the thoughts of the biblical authors to their selection of specific words to convey God's message. However, we reject what is sometimes called the "dictation theory" which views the human writers as stenographers, as well as the notion that the Scriptures are "inspired" in the sense that classic literature, poetry, and music may be said to be inspired.

The phrase "without error in the original writings" refers to the final, finished product, not to the various sources or preliminary drafts that an author or editors may have produced; nor does it refer to copies and translations of biblical books. Nevertheless, inerrancy is important. Inerrant originals guarantee that God's written word is authoritative. Inerrant "originals" make possible accurate copies and reliable translations that faithfully convey God's message. Scribal errors in individual manuscripts do not invalidate our confidence in the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture any more than do translation errors in particular versions. We also promote the word "infallibility," which implies that the Scriptures infallibly disclose God's revelation.

Accordingly, the purpose of all spiritually sensitive Bible reading, study, exegesis, historical investigation, and scholarly criticism should be to illuminate as accurately as possible the sense of Scripture intended by its divine and human authors and to bring the truth of Scripture to bear on the human condition. Used by devout interpreters these methods are tools designed to clarify the teaching of Scripture, its importance, its meaning, and its relevance.

Identifying the genre of Scriptures constituent parts is a vital aspect of biblical interpretation because as readers we learn to read different types of literature differently. We do not read poems like we read editorials; we read them with different expectations. It follows, when we read the Bible, that we must read its laws, narratives, prophecies, proverbs, psalms, parables, and letters in light of the shared literary conventions that make each one a distinct type of literature. In other words, we read them for what they are. We treat history as history, poetry as poetry, hyperbole and metaphor, when we encounter them, as hyperbole and metaphor, generalization and approximation as what they are, and so forth. Furthermore, we take into consideration the differences between literary conventions in Bible times and our own. For instance, non-chronological narration and imprecise citation were conventional, acceptable, and violated no expectations in those days, and so we do not regard them as faults when we encounter them as we read the Bible today. The Gospels affirm many things about Jesus: his teaching and healing ministry, his death and resurrection in Jerusalem, and his prophecy of Jerusalems destruction and his personal return. But the Gospels may not always present these teachings and activities in a strict chronological order.

Finally, Scripture expresses God's message, but it does not necessarily answer all of our questions surrounding that message. As a result, we must be careful to distinguish our speculations from the message itself. Scripture affirms that God created the universe, but Scripture does not intend to fully disclose God's methods.

SCRIPTURAL AUTHORITY IN RELATION TO THE CHURCH AND SOCIETY

The great implication of affirming that only the Biblical writings are the Word of God written is that Scripture must be the "final authority for all Christian faith and life." If Scripture is necessary in order for human beings to know God, and Scripture as God's Word is centered in Jesus Christ, God's full and final revelation, then certainly it must be the final and ultimate standard of truth, the reference point by which every other claim to truthfulness is measured. In other words, Scripture must be our lens by which we view and evaluate our lives and the world.

Scriptures main and central purpose is "to make us wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus" (2 Tim 3:15). However, insofar as Scripture speaks, it speaks truthfully, and its principles undergird all true knowledge. Therefore, although Scripture is not to be used as a "textbook" for every discipline, we must never forget that it not only tells us of Christ and his work and the centrality of it, but it also gives to us a view of the world and our place in it by which we are "to bring every thought captive to Christ" (2 Cor 10:5).

Furthermore, affirming Scripture as the inspired Word of God means that we gladly embrace it not only for our doctrinal commitments, but also for our daily lives. Scripture will be of little value if it does not govern and affect how we live out our lives both as individuals and as a corporate body. All that Scripture teaches in regard to our attitudes, behaviour, and ethical commitments must be wholeheartedly embraced and lived out in both the church and society.

We live in a world that increasingly asserts and promotes pluralism not plurality in the sense of an increased demographic and cultural diversity in the nation which we embrace and welcome because all people are created in God's image but a philosophical pluralism that denies ultimate truth. Needless to say, this denial of truth has had a profound impact on our society. Increasingly we are facing a "crisis of authority" in every area of society which has resulted in a breakdown in such areas as government, business, educational institutions, the family, and even in the church. In contrast to this approach, our loyalty to Scripture requires us to reject the assumption that there is no absolute truth to which human beings must submit.

In the midst of such challenging times, as Christians we need to reaffirm our commitment to knowing the God who has graciously made Himself known to us. For it is He who speaks to us in Scripture, providing us with the foundation of truth that underlies Christian thought and reflection. In fact, without Gods gracious self-revelation, we would not only know very little about Him, but we would also have no unique vantage point from which to talk about God and provide answers to the questions of life. A view which proclaims ultimate truth of this kind requires nothing less than a Word-revelation from God, otherwise it is set adrift in the midst of the shifting sands of the latest fad to come our way.

This is not to deny that God's existence and power are disclosed in the created order and in the human conscience, even though marred by human sin and its consequences. However it is to say that this general knowledge in itself is not sufficient to lead to salvation. That is why we need a verbal divine utterance by which God not only supplements our knowledge of the created order, but by which he also corrects our interpretation of it. Thankfully, God has given us such an authoritative Word in Scripture, the "complete revelation of His will for the salvation of human beings."

TWU'S COMMITMENT TO ENCOURAGING CONFIDENCE IN THE BIBLE

The faculty and staff of Trinity Western University strive to encourage confidence in the authority of the Bible and respect for its beauty, truth, and unique and divine character.

As a community of faith, we encourage students to appreciate the intellectual, moral, and spiritual strength of Scripture. Through honest, scholarly, and enthusiastic teaching, TWU faculty work to build confidence in the truth and relevance of Scripture as God's inspired Word. Promoting respect for the Scripture among university students means neither that we engage in indoctrination nor that we avoid openly discussing the textual, hermeneutical, and alternative viewpoints that any honest view of Scripture must address. Rather, it means that we place these matters within a larger framework of confidence in the Scripture as God's inspired truth. We recognize that many students are in the process of developing a mature view of the Bible and that we therefore have a deep responsibility to exercise sensitivity and care as they grow in their understanding of the Scripture. As part of this task we affirm our commitment as a campus community to model in our own living a pattern of consistent obedience to the Scriptures that by example inspires students to adopt this same standard for themselves.

In common with our sponsoring and related church bodies, we have the highest confidence in the truth and authority of the Bible. Our library and community of scholars and staff constitute a rich resource for the interpretation and study of the Scriptures. Therefore, we strive to speak publicly with an articulate voice that builds confidence in the Scriptures among the leaders and people of the churches and denominations we serve. As a result of our efforts we hope that they will be able to more accurately understand, deeply trust, and effectively communicate the message of the Scripture from their pulpits as well as live it out with authenticity in their communities and places of work.

Our culture little knows and less appreciates the life-changing message of Scripture. Therefore, through ministries of personal speaking, teaching, and preaching, we hope to spread our message of confidence in the Scriptures to a wide audience. We delight in opportunities to encourage people within the larger society to consider the truth of the biblical message for the first time. We hope that those who are already acquainted with the Bible will more fully respect and appreciate its life-changing message. These goals are carried forward not only by those who teach in the areas of Biblical and related studies but also by others of our faculty and community members who work each in their own way to develop biblical perspectives that are academically honest and relevant to contemporary issues.

THE AUTHORITY OF SCRIPTURE IN DECISION-MAKING

According to the TWU statement of faith, Scripture should exercise authority over all aspects of Christian faith and life. This has specific application to decision-making processes at TWU in several ways.

Decisions about future university plans, programs and curricula should be based upon pursuit of the kingdom values of Scripture that are at the heart of TWU's mission. These values include providing an education focused on enabling students to fulfill the great commission and to serve humankind.

All decisions, whether they affect staff, faculty or students, should be based upon Scriptural principles of respect, fairness and love of neighbor. Leadership decisions should reflect Christs example of service and integrity and self-sacrifice.

Decisions should be communicated according to basic Biblical norms of honesty and truth-telling, both within the university community among faculty, staff and administration as well as in TWU's public relations.

SCRIPTURE, TEACHING AND SCHOLARSHIP AT TWU

Scriptural authority is to be recognized and expressed both in teaching and scholarship at TWU.

Teaching in the context of TWU should be characterized by relationships of Christian love and respect among professors and students, both in and out of the classroom. Recognizing the high and serious calling of the teacher (James 3:1), the quality of teaching at TWU should reflect integrity in preparation and skill in communication. The Scriptural themes of God's creation, the fall of humanity and Christs redemption should shape the basic perspective governing all classes. Believing that students are created in the image of God, professors should be sensitive to students various needs. They should strive to show patience and sensitivity to the needs of the struggling student, and to offer challenge and encouragement to the gifted.

As scholars, professors at TWU seek to pursue their research at the highest level, as a calling from God. They do their scholarship in a way that is academically rigorous and Biblically informed, and as a service of worship to God their Creator and Redeemer.

CONCLUSION

This core value could be summarized by saying that we hold a "high view of Scripture." As our doctrinal statement says, the Scriptures without error in the original writings are "the Divine and final authority for all Christian faith and life." It is our collective prayer that we would both hold fast to our high view of Scripture but honour it by obeying the authority of Scripture.

back to top