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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Inspired, how?

For those who believe the Bible is inspired (II Tim 3:16, et al.), an interesting question is, "How did God inspire the Bible?" That is, what means did He use to accomplish his purpose. Some ideas:


1. Superintendence theory. In Identifying Missionary Baptist Distinctives, "The Bible: Inspired by God and Without Error", Robert Ashcraft wrote:

Missionary Baptists generally accept the "superintendence" view of the inspiration of the Scriptures. This view is in accord with II Peter 1:21 which states "...but having been borne along by (the) Holy Spirit, holy men of God spoke." Therefore, each writer used words and expressions reflecting his own personality, background and style, yet the Holy Ghost so directed that the writer would be prevented from error. The "superintendence" view has traditionally been contrasted with the "dictation" view which suggests that the actual words were pre­scribed (dictated) by the Holy Spirit.
2. Dictation theory. John Calvin wrote:
This is the principle that distinguishes our religion from all others, that we know that God has spoken to us and are fully convinced that the prophets did not speak of themselves but as organs of the Holy Spirit uttered only that which they had been commissioned from heaven to declare. All those who wish to profit from the Scriptures must first accept this as a settled principle, that the law and the prophets are not teachings handed on at pleasure of men or produced by men’s minds as their source, but are dictated by the Holy Spirit...we owe to the Scripture the same reverence as we owe to God, since it has its only source in Him and has nothing of human origin mixed with it” (New Testament Commentaries, Vol. 10, p. 330).
3. Mantic theory. Philo of Alexandria believed "the human author becomes possessed by God and loses consciousness of self, surrendering to the divine spirit and its communicatory powers." (The Oxford Companion to the Bible)


4.  Negative assistance theory. Jacques Bonfriere (and others) have posited that the authors expressed their thoughts in their own style and words, and that the Holy Spirit only intervened as needed in order to prevent them from making any mistakes.


There are other views, including many which effectively deny inspiration. Which view do you accept? Why? Does it matter?

1 comment:

R. L. Vaughn said...

It is fairly easy to find verses which would support the dictation and mantic theories (at least in those particular instances). What verse of scripture would show an instance of superintendence?