I’ve tried to put forth what I think is the standard “only God is responsible for the Bible” view reflected in the Westminster addendum quotation (the theopneustos, not anthropopneustos one reproduced in two posts already). I’ve noted a few questions in the course of this as well. I may not be getting it right, but here goes:
|1. God chose the words the human authors recalled and made up in the synoptic gospels. (We must say “made up” since speakers in these narratives said only one thing in real time, thereby requiring that much (most?) of the dialogue to be un-original). God therefore chose these un-original words and varied those un-original words.||1. Humans chose the un-original words God wanted them to choose, “as if God was choosing them Himself. This raises certain questions: (1) whether the writers had any choice in the matter; it doesn’t seem as though they could, since the result must be and was God’s choice; (2) how is this different than dictation? We can’t appeal to differences in the synoptics as proof against dictation, because God has to choose all the words and he can (and did) vary the words. Why he did so remains a mystery to some extent.|
|2. God directed the NT writers to alter the words He chose for certain OT writers to write when God wrote the NT through men (ditto for NTÂ author’s use of translations). Why God did this is a mystery.Â Were the original words not sufficient for the purpose to which God knew (in omniscience) that they would be used in the NT later on? Was there a need for God to respond to something and thus change some wordings?||2. Ditto the above – how is this different than dictation? What is gained by saying humans didn’t make these choices themselves under a broad providential perspective (i.e., why must it be said that God made the choices? What is gained by that view?).|
|3.God directed writers to build arguments or polemic material using pagan literature. This was deemed an effective mode of communication to accomplish the divine purpose.||3.Ditto the above.|
|4.God directed the Chronicler to be biased (highly selective to advance a specific agenda) by choosing to exclude certain negative material about David and Solomon in his material.||4.Ditto the above.|
|5.God directed the authors of Scripture to at times advance arguments or theological points using the pre-scientific (non-scientific) worldview of the authors. God did not choose to correct pre-scientific ideas to do this. At other times, this worldview comes through in material that doesn’t have any deliberate polemic purpose or theological point (it’s just there), but that is God’s choice.||5.Ditto the above.|
|6.God directed the human authors to utilize literary conventions common to the rest of the literate world of antiquity – covenant / treaty formulas, genealogies, genres, apocalyptic, etc.||6. Ditto the above.|
|7.God directed the human authors to use certain points of divinatory magic (e.g., the test for adultery in Num. 5:11-22) or astral religion / prophecy (e.g., Ezekiel 1 – faces of the cherubim are the four cardinal points of the Babylonian zodiac; cf. Block’s commentary here) to make certain laws or theological points.||7. Ditto the above.|
I think we can all accept the idea of God making sure the results were what he wanted, but may disagree on the extent of God’s oversight. I think the fundamental difference I’d have with the lefthand column is that I’d allow real human freedom in making the word choices and literary features, etc. (that sort of thing). I’d still like Â my “ditto” questions answered, since we can’t have humans getting any credit for any of the content in the Westminsterian view – which of course means that humans shouldn’t get any blame for when the received content is discussed when we drift into INERRANCY. God either put each word into place ALONE or he didn’t – you can’t have God acting “mostly alone” or “alone but with someone else doing it.
Now an important point: I’m hoping readers see how the above table as it is really only deals with INSPIRATION and not INERRANCY. The former is fairly easy (“God did it this way” – and one would wonder why mode is so mysterious in this view; it seems a mystery only if you desire to keep humans from getting any credit or making any choices that weren’t already chosen). At any rate, now that we “know” what God did, how do we assess the truth or veracity of the content (INERRANCY)? This is really where I intended the discussion to focus when I started it. We have drifted a bit into inspiration and away from inerrancy, but not without good reason. How should we articulate the realia going on in the text as to its “truth status”? I agree with the Chicago Statement (and have said so in past posts; paraphrasing here) – that it’s wrong to judge the content by standards unintended by the purpose of inspiration, so how do we tackle this in a statement or series of statements?
Looks like we’re back to weasel-words like “affirm” – or, better, my previous post pulling out some of the blog’s more important (in my view) ideas that (I hope) can help in this area.
For me, my mind right now wants to start with “what was the point of the exercise (of inspiration)?”Â But feel free to pick up another item from the list in the last post, or continue here with my questions in the table. I could live without getting an explanation as to how the lefthand column view is NOT dictation, since I’d give the author’s more freedom (but then they get some credit for making choices – which would seem to be anthropopneustos, or whatever that word was).Â Maybe there’s a way to give them more freedom and not have them get undue credit.
Please, chime in!Â I need some wordsmiths and thinkers! None of this is designed to provoke. Where else am I supposed to go but to readers who share the same interest in the questions? Short of inviting you all over for burgers, this is what I can do.