I thought it might be helpful to direct our attention to some specific thoughts / items that have appeared in posts or (mostly) comments. I’ve reproduced a dozen below. These thoughts seem to me to be fundamental to beginning a problem-solving path or paths.
1. To what extent does the worldview of the Biblical authors affects the accuracy and understanding of the text?
2. I believe that inspiration is a PROCESS, not an event.
3. Personally, for me the issue is becoming how to answer the question, “what information did God want us to have – what was the point of the exercise?” That is, I think we need to focus on the inerrancy of the ENDS to which God did what he did in dispensing revelation, recognizing the imperfection of the MEANS.
4. let us imagine Jesus saying, “As it was in the days of Prince John, etc”? Must we then believe that Robin Hood in fact split the shaft of an arrow?
5. As an interpretational stance, we must imagine everything happening just the way the narrative says, because that’s what it invites us to do. Beyond that, though, the epistemological ground gets very soft very quickly.
6. We can (should?) extend Jesus the same courtesy we do Paul – he says whatever he deems necessary in order to communicate his message in a way that his hearers can understand.
7. But can we not assume that Jesus is capable of condescension? In fact, being peerless, Jesus must condescend in order to communicate at all. Or if you like: The communication occurs at grasshopper-level, and Paul is already down in the lawn with the rest of us, where Jesus is not. Whether or not Jesus knows better as a matter of fact is beside the point; he must still communicate to his audience on their level, not from his.
8. In any case, if we “affirm” verbal plenary inspiration, then surely we must hold God the Holy Spirit as he carries Paul along to the same standard as God the Son when he speaks? Or does the Holy Spirit get a pass but the Son does not? Is it because the Holy Spirit, operating under the aegis of a mortal, can thereby shield God from error, where Jesus, speaking under his own aegis and revealing the Father in word and deed, cannot?
9. That is, Jesus is not the author of Matthew 24:37, Matthew is. (Let that percolate for a while.). We glibly say that “Jesus says X” when saying “Matthew says that Jesus said X” would be more accurate.
10. Any doctrine of inspiration that tries to write the human authors out of the picture is hopelessly impoverished.
11. If humans are involved, the process is human (!), but that doesn’t mean it’s ONLY human. The reverse is also true. IF God is involved in the process, it’s a divine process, but that doesn’t mean human agency isn’t involved. The “addendum” seems to deny any genuine human input or decisions resulted from this process (the “all of God” idea). I think that’s a bogus position and antithetical to Scripture, much less the reality of the text as we have it (and as God preserved it).
12. We have the providentially preserved, inspired text before us, produced by a process whereby God used imperfect humans to write. I believe that the result of it should be called inspired and inerrant, but current explanations of these terms don’t help resolve the “messiness” – but that doesn’t mean we are left with errancy. It means (to me) we need to do better.
As I noted in one of my recent comments, once the dictation theory is dispensed with, we are not left with “God alone” authorship. God can still supervise a human process without dictation. The problem before us is how do we deal with the “messiness” that is the result of that process? How do we frame things like the pre-scientific worldview issue, the “misquotations,” authorial bias (Chronicler), the secondary nature of the gospels and all the historical narratives – the reality that no one preserved the exact dialogue through taping it, so to some extent dialogue is “made up” (better, recalled imperfectly; Ivan: “We glibly say that “Jesus says X” when saying “Matthew says that Jesus said X” would be more accurate”). I think these things (and a panoply of others) can be allowed to be what they are and not impinge on inspiration and inerrancy. But HOW TO SAY THAT? HOW TO DEFINE THE DOCTRINES so as to be honest with the data of the text?