Can We Trust The Bible? (The Doctrine of Inspiration)

Can one trust the bible as Gods word?

The doctrine of inspiration is the means by which God’s special revelation is communicated. Discrediting this Doctrine, inevitably, weakens or even badly eradicates God’s special revelation of himself, with its culmination in the incarnation of Christ.

Inspiration as Erickson puts it “is the supernatural influence of the Holy Spirit on the scripture writers that rendered their writings an accurate record of the revelation as God’s word”[1] This article will look at the theories of inspiration and the witness of inspiration in the Old and New Testament, and why the bible can be trusted as God’s word.

The various issues arising from how exactly the documentation or writing of these revelations were carried out has resulted in different views regarding the nature of inspiration. The intuition view sees the authors of scripture as men naturally giving high gifts and as such these men are geniuses in the realm of religion. The illumination view holds that the normal power of the authors, which is common to all humans, was just enhanced by the Holy Spirit. The dynamic view embraces both divine and human element; Holy Spirit gives the concepts and thoughts, the writer use his words and personality. The verbal view insists that the operations of the Holy Spirit goes beyond directing thoughts, but also involves the choosing of words. The dictation view sees the scriptural writings of the writer being under the direct dictation of the Holy Spirit. The final view of inspiration is called the verbal plenary. This view holds that the Bible is hundred percent inspired by God and that God incorporated hundred percent of human elements in the writing of his word. That is to say, every word of scripture and not just its teachings, and everything in the bible and not just its parts is written by God.[2]

It is evident that all but the dictation view agrees on the full humanness of the bible. This has led some to argue that the bible is the words of men and not God’s word. The human characteristics, to many people, accounts for errors and inconsistencies in the bible.[3]

It must be emphasized that the essence of the self- revelation of God is for relational purposes with humanity, and hence God may choose to incorporate fully human elements such as the language and culture to communicate himself as clearly as possible, to the end, whatever that will be written, is God guiding the writers, giving them His words. This I believe affirms the verbal plenary position which is the view I take on the subject. Inspiration can be compared to the two natures of Christ, the divine and human nature, which all points to God as the source.[4]

The Old Testament prophets appeared to be the messengers God sent to speak his words to his people. The prophet’s introduction of their message “thus says Yahweh” depicts the high degree of authority and how reliable the words the prophets spoke in God’s name were. It also shows how the prophets distinguished their own words from that which Yahweh communicates through them. All these show that God communicated with his people using actual human words, and not by simply giving thoughts or concepts.[5]

Apostle Paul in 2 Tim. 3:16 affirms that “all scripture is given by inspiration of God”, asserting the basic fact of scriptural inspiration. As Witmer in his interpretation of Paul’s statement puts it, “impregnated rock that it is, this verse is backed by a continuum of teaching of verbal plenary inspiration, scattered through the Bible”[6]

Jesus in Luke 24: 25 affirms the prophets’ writings as inspired by God and he again in John affirms that the holy spirit would direct the apostles into all truth. 2 Peter 3:2 confirms the apostolic writings at par with the Old Testaments prophets; as the readers are asked to not only remember the Old Testament prophets but also the “commandments of the Lord and savior through the apostles”.[7]

In conclusion, the Bible need not be under direct dictation of the Holy Spirit or fall directly from heaven for it to be regarded as Gods word, for the sovereignty of God requires that he overrules and operates even within human responsibility.

Whatever the writers wrote did not originate from them, but God working through the entirety of their elements communicated and preserved his words in the form of writings. As 2 Peter 1. 20-21 puts it

“No prophecy of scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation” and that “men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit”.

Therefore the Bible can be trusted as the word of God.

 

Bibliography:

[1] Millard J. Erickson. Christian Theology, 3rd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2013), 169.

[2] Erickson. Christian Theology, 174-75.

[3] Robert Saucy. Scripture: its Power, Authority and Reverence (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2001), 129.

 [4]John M. Frame, “The Spirit and the Scriptures” in Hermeneutics, Authority and Canon, ed.  D. A. Carson and John D Woodbridge., (Leicester, UK: Inter-Varsity Press, 1986), 218.

[5]Wayne A. Grudem,”Scriptures Self-Attestation and the Problem of Formulating a Doctrine of Scripture,” in Scripture and Truth, ed. D. A. Carson and D. Woodbridge (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1983), 19-20.

[6] John A. Witmer, “ Biblical Evidence for the verbal Inspiration of the Bible, “ Bibliotheca Sacra 121 no. 483 ( July 1964) : 483, accesed October 26, 2018.

[7] Grudem. Scriptures Self-Attestation and the Problem of Formulating a Doctrine of Scripture, 45-46.