What don't I like about it? Well, I'll tell you.
|I'm pretty sure this is what people mean by "original autograph".|
Second, more importantly, and more in line with what Evangelicals really care about, explicitly limiting the inspiration of Scripture to a supposed "original autograph" calls into question the authority of Scripture as it is present in the church today. It makes Scripture's authority in the church today definitively dependent on the human work of text criticism rather than the divine work of the Holy Spirit. Our confessions need to be statements of faith in God in his work of revelation and reconciliation, while of course including his use of creaturely media to accomplish his will, among which Scripture is essential. That is to say, our confessions need to be biblical! Scripture speaks of no such things as original autographs, so why make them an object of confession? (If you say, "the Bible doesn't have the word 'Trinity' in it either", I'll seriously punch you.) New Testament writers appeal to the Old Testament as authoritative without ever grounding those appeals on a distinction between original autographs and anything else. In fact, they freely cite the Septuagint, a translation of the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek, obviously not original autographs, yet there is no qualifying of its authority. Likewise, if we are to confess the inspiration of Scripture, which we certainly must do, we need to define that inspiration in terms broad enough to see the Spirit's work include the whole range of processes by which the books of Scripture were composed, redacted, collected, and preserved through the ages. (Actually, we first need to see the composition of the biblical books in coordination with the redemptive acts God has done in the foundation and life of Israel and the church in which Scripture has its authority and is to be interpreted).
The questions brought up by the admission of stages of composition or redaction, questions such as "if there were several versions of a book along the way, which version is God's Word", make the mistake of thinking of divine revelation entirely in terms of the verbal form of Scripture rather than in terms of the living God continually speaking of himself through those verbal forms by his Spirit. In other words, anxiety over such questions manifests a view of the Spirit's work in history so narrow and punctiliar as to be nearly deistic. If the Spirit doesn't speak now through Scripture as he spoke through it as it was first received, then it is of no use to us. If he does speak now through it, then our statements of faith out to reflect such a trust in Scripture in the unity of its original reception (if it even makes sense to speak of such a thing) and its present reception.
That being said, I am still willing to sign statements containing language about original autographs. It is not that I hold suspicion about the inspiredness of Scripture in any earlier version than we have now, its just that I see no reason not just say that we believe Scripture to be inspired and authoritative for Christian thinking and living. I see no benefit gained by the inclusion of "in the original autographs", only problems. Am I missing something?