Here we go again. I want to rehearse a few things from the previous two statements.
In statements 1 and 2 I wrote:
“. . . the usual process of inspiration meant that the words of the text were given to the authors by God. Instead, human beings were, for the most part, the immediate source of the text of Scripture under the providence of God. God is, however, the ultimate source of the text of Scripture by means of His providential approval of the words of each canonical book as they existed at the end of the process of inspiration.”
“. . . the process of inspiration could include not only the initial composition of a biblical book but also any subsequent editorial work done on the text of that book prior to the recognition of a completed sacred canon . . . God oversaw any such process by means of providential influence in the decisions made by authors and editors so that the words of each canonical book met with God’s approval.”
Now for something new:
Bellingham Statement 3:
I believe that the description of the process of inspiration described in Statements 1 and 2 is consistent with the idea of divine revelation. God need not give all or most of the specific words to the writers to reveal truth to them. I believe God presented the biblical writers with truth through a range of means, including (but not limited to) dramatic displays of divine power, time spent listening to the incarnate Christ, observations of providence if their lives and the lives of others, formal education, the reading of Scripture already extant, and religious training. All of these forces molded their lives and minds under the over-arching providence of God, preparing them to write that which God would move the believing community to embrace as canonical. Instilling truth about Himself and His works into the hearts and minds of the scriptural writers did not need to involve giving each precise word in form and sequence to the writer. They were prepared by providence for the task, and influenced by providence to write what they did when the need arose.
With respect to learning from the incarnate Christ, the writers were not required to reproduce the exact “real time” words that Jesus spoke, nor did they, as we know from the synoptic gospels. Rather, they learned truth and transmitted it in writing as their life context dictated under providence, at times capturing the ideas they heard very closely, on other occasions applying it in different vocabulary as the need arose.
As with hearing the words of Jesus, the writers of Scripture were likewise not required to memorize all the Scripture they heard and learned when writing their own works that would be recognized as canonical. Rather, they were free to apply preceding Scripture and quote it as needed to teach sound doctrine or make a theological point. The gap between many quotations of Scripture and the source manuscripts from which those quotations came shows us that the writers did not need to receive every word that they wrote, even when referencing canonical material already extant.
A bit rough, but I’m guessing you’ll help me sharpen it.