JACKSON, Tenn. – Dec. 4, 2001 – At a recent meeting of more than 2000 theologians and scholars in North America during the Evangelical Theological Society’s (ETS) annual conference, Union University President David S. Dockery gave the plenary address, clarifying the evangelical view of the nature of scripture and the full inerrancy of the Bible.
Addressing the issue of evangelical identity, Dockery said that there is a great importance for understanding biblical inspiration and authority so that truth may be passed on to the next generation.
“Contemporary culture is being overtaken and submerged by a new spirit, postmodernism, which declares that there is no such thing as objective truth,” said Dockery. “While inerrancy itself is never a single issue, it does represent something far larger in scope as well as significance. The foundational issue is, and ever will be, the nature of truth and the understanding of divine revelation.”
That understanding of the inspired and authoritative scripture is a foundational teaching that Dockery and Union faculty and staff are passing on to their students. Greg Thornbury, director of the Carl F.H. Henry Center for Christian Leadership and assistant professor of Christian studies at Union, believes that the authority of scripture is greatly important to Christian higher education and stresses the authenticity and reliability of the Bible in all of his classes, including Old and New Testament, both core classes required by all Union students to take.
“Postmodernity has recently cast a shadow, mainly an anti-supernatural bias which says that miracles cannot occur and that human text cannot be the Word of God,” explained Thornbury. “And so I emphasize to all of my students, even on the introductory levels, why I believe that the content of the Bible is worthy to be believed.”
According to Dockery, scripture’s purpose is to place men and women in a right relationship with God and to enable believers to seek God’s glory in all of life’s activities.
“Scripture, however, is not just concerned with a person’s spiritual needs, but also with humanity’s nature, history, origin and destination, their past and future,” said Dockery. “The Bible teaches us to understand all of life sub specie Dei.”
At Union, students are learning just that.
“I’ve always believed in the Scriptures, growing up in a Christian home, but it’s definitely reinforced here,” said Ann Clendenen, a senior French major from Brentwood, Tenn. “Just seeing how the faculty live out their daily lives based on the word of God has been a great example as well as an encouragement.”
Josh Gilmore, a junior business major, agrees.
“The faculty and staff at Union not only talk about the Christian walk but they also encourage a call to action by living out the Christian walk in their own lives and by encouraging us to do the same,” said Gilmore, who is from Gallatin, Tenn., and a member of College Heights Baptist Church.
Thornbury, who is co-editing a book with Dockery titled Shaping a Christian Worldview, due out this spring, said that evangelicals have every right to believe that the Bible is the fully true and authoritative Word of God.
Kristin Wicker, a 2001 graduate from Union and native of Naples, Fla., who is pursuing her master’s of divinity in Christian ministries at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, says that the integration of faith and learning was one of the biggest things stressed in her classes, based on the inspired Word of God.
"Like that verse in II Timothy that says all scripture is God-breathed,” said Wicker. “It teaches that God is perfect so whatever God breathes – as a liberal arts college Union is equipping, as the verse says, people to be ready to do good works – not just in Christian studies, but biology, business, nursing, and art. There’s a continued thrust that everything in our life revolves around scripture.”
Sara B. Horn,