Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Reason & Revelation, Robert Milligan

Reason and Revelation:  Or, The Province of Reason in Matters Pertaining to Divine Revelation Defined and Illustrated; and The Paramount Authority of The Holy Scriptures Vindicated.  Robert Milligan 

As one can discern from the subtitle of this monumental work by Robert Milligan, the subject matter’s breadth is deep and weighty, dealing with the supernatural revealing of the will of God and the corresponding authority of the Bible.  Milligan produced this scholarly work in defense of the Bible while serving as President of the College of the Bible in Kentucky University.  Robert Milligan was widely known for producing no less than three monumental theological works including An Exposition and Defense of the Scheme of Redemption, Commentary on Hebrews and the present volume of this review.  His scholarship remains highly respected even to the present day and the present volume is considered to be one of the finer pieces of Christian apologetics of the 19th century.

The work begins in classic fashion with a presentation of evidences for demonstrating the Bible as a product of a supernatural mind.  Proofs from areas such as the Scriptures’ unity, harmony, supreme morality, fulfilled prophecy and others are brought to the forefront with a comparison to the principle of Cause & Effect brought to bear.  President Milligan weaves all these proofs into an impressive “effect” and then explains that the only plausible “cause” for such an “effect” is a supernatural intelligent being; i.e., God.  He challenges the reader to contemplate the two great proofs for God and His word with the principle of causality.  The first is the intelligent design of nature, and the second is the intelligent design of the Bible.  Both of which lead the honest seeker to the same conclusion—there is a God and the Bible is His book.  Some may read these arguments and attempt to deflect them with the retort of “I have heard all this before.”  One should keep in mind that the antiquity of an argument has little bearing on an argument’s validity.  When a critic deflects the force of material with the statement “I have heard this all before”, then an appropriate response would be “Well, since you have had so much time to examine the arguments, what is your refutation?”  Deflecting an argument is not the same as disproving it.

The text moves on to additional highly relevant matters relating to God’s revelation including the canonicity of both Old and New Testaments, plus a discussion of Apocryphal writings which do not pass the test of canonicity; i.e., are not the words of God but of uninspired men, thus subject to error.  Once canonicity has been addressed, Milligan naturally moves to the next area of investigation, the integrity of the Scriptures.  Robert Milligan offers a distinction about key terms which bear mentioning here:  “By the Integrity of the Holy Scriptures, I mean that their several books have been preserved pure and entire; by their Authenticity, that they relate the facts as they really occurred; and by their Genuineness, that they were written by the authors whose names they bear” (p. 213).  All three areas—integrity, authenticity and genuineness of the Bible are addressed in scholarly fashion by Milligan including citations by other works of scholarship for further research.  

While it is important to recognize the inspiration, canonicity, authenticity and genuineness of the books constituting the Bible, it is equally important that the type of inspiration be addressed.  Are the thoughts or words of the Bible inspired?  Milligan explains the various theories of inspiration and makes the case for the Scriptures being “God-breathed”; i.e., inspired by God to the very words of the text.  Once the infallibility of the Scriptures has been established to include both the thoughts and words, the next logical area of discussion moves to the proper interpretation of these inspired words; i.e., hermeneutics.  Milligan discusses principles of proper interpretation and exposition of the text which are as critical as the text itself.  Robert Milligan provides an analysis of both Romans and Hebrews to illustrate these principles.  There are other subjects covered in this work as well and while the material may be somewhat dated, there is still profit to be had from reading Milligan’s scholarly treatment of these matters.  In the final pages of the book, Milligan discusses various forms of infidelity including atheism.  Robert Milligan states the contest between Theism and Atheism clearly:  “…Atheism:  the greatest extreme of infidelity; the most monstrous and absurd negation that was ever uttered by human lips.  All other forms of infidelity concede something to Christianity but Atheism concedes nothing.  It dogmatically obliterates from the Bible, as a falsehood, every thing that is said in it respecting God, and Christ, and the Holy Spirit, and the Scheme of Redemption” (pp. 436-437).  Some things change over time, but some things do not.  As the Psalmist wrote, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” (Psalm 14:1a, NKJV).  Atheists are no longer content to hold these matters in their hearts, but now openly and arrogantly assert their insidious faith.  While their actions have become bolder, their classification by the Psalmist remains the same.

Copyright 2012 Warren Christian Apologetics Center.  Reprinted from Sufficient Evidence. 

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