On Bible Inspiration and Authority(Grade Recieved: B-My position may not be completely right?)

This was a tricky assignment, perhaps in an attempt to be “scholarly” it may not sound like my real opinon(that the Bible is the powerfull Word of God-I think a mature(Bible studied) Christian will understand.

As Christians we believe that scripture is at least in some way inspired and authoritative, yet this does not alleviate from the responsibility of refraining from neglecting context or proper discernment through study and inspired textual criticism. Inspiration and authority assist us in understanding not only what God has done, but what he will do in our present contemporary life.(Achtemeier 8) As we will see, we must reach some balance between words and authors, conservatives and liberals, old and new, in determining and defining just how we ascribe authority and inspiration to the Bible. Consequently, this may assist us in finding a common character of God and the process in which he reveals his nature. More specifically, I hope to illustrate and support my own view as a balanced or moderate evangelical and why I find it valuable.
The Hebrew prophets provide a foundation for comprehending such matters. We must remember that they gave narratives to convey principals for a Jewish audience. However, these writings do seem to exude a powerful and Godly presence, perhaps due to their significant role as establishing such authority. Moses, for example, was endowed that excusive authority that could pull off a “Thus saith the Lord” manner of communication.(Boettner 21) The early church view appears fairly conservative and parallel to the prophets being under a Holy Spirit possession or the direct command of God, which seems to be the most cut and dry.(Achtemeier 19, 20) However, I do not find it unchristian, as fundamentalist might claim, to suggest that not everything conveyed in God’s word is to be directly applied to us today, but were rather a commentary within that historical or cultural context(Achtemeier 30). Everything is not subject to our own western mentality and calculations. Perhaps there exists an even greater knowledge or lesson from such a realization. Further the obvious discrepancies regarding dialect and storylines combat an idea of true or absolute inerrancy in the manner in which we posses and comprehended this idea today.(Achtemeier 21) Failure to realize that God has exerted influence through particular theology, situations, and cultures runs the risk of a literal and detached mode of interpretation where even moral and ethical conduct can be in jeopardy, such as condoning the second class citizenship of women. Again, those like Paul spoke under the Spirit’s authority and gave insights that must be applied today, but only within the parameters of their intended meanings. All this does not mean that God is not the source of scripture or that the Bible is somehow a lie or non revelatory.(Achtemeier 37)
There does seem substantial value in realizing that many times the Bible’s authors and their words carried a certain meaning for a particular time or social situation. It was the thought or sentiment that existed behind the conveyed words of the author that enables us to more properly find the inspiration.(Achtemeier 10) God works through those authors to convey his purpose in a given circumstance. However the liberal attempt to make the Bible into simply a form of literature can indeed be a slippery slope. It may indeed be true that the writers culture is reflected, yet it is far to problematic and destructive to the moral and even social order to begin deeming some parts of scripture less or not as inspired.(Achtemeier 30, 31) The liberal view becomes problematic when it gives into the notion of seeing and measuring scripture through the lens of our own human experience.(Achtemeier 33) This moves beyond the realm of just good exegetical or contextual study and leads into one of moral convinces, bias, and even a theological humanism. Theological discernment through exegesis is quite different from some progressive revelation by way of human genius.(Achtemeier 35) Certainly the created is not given place over the creator.
There is an obstacle regarding our own finite being and minds from both the perspective of writer and reader, thus we may never be able to fully reason out inspiration to our own satisfaction. This does not mean such authors were not able to establish an incredible affirmation of God’s word and persona through yielding to the will of God.(Achtemeier 32) God does indeed inspire authors through their theology, yet their human perspective and faculties remain and are not completely extracted from the equation.(Achtemeier 12) In other words, God has power with people and not over them. Further, this is evidence that we need not check our brains at the door when reading scripture, but rather investigate and contemplate the context and plain meaning of the text. Even so called human ideas may have been inspirited for that situation and provide an intrinsic lesson for us today. I would invert and alter the mentality of the liberal and suggest that it is divine wisdom that constitutes the husk of scripture and it is the kernel of human ideas or influences that must be responsibly discerned.(Achtemeier 32)
For most evangelicals, any so called problems that rise in scripture can be embraced and even used to better explain the dynamic aspects and value of Bible inspiration. Authors have given us their progressing understanding and interaction with God and allowed the Holy Spirit to inspire multifaceted and multidimensional spiritual revelations and lessons which helps explain the synoptic problem and rewritten texts. I suppose that if we understood everything written by apostles and prophets in there plan sense, then they are inerrant, but only in regards to their intended meanings.(Boettner 17) However, we do not possess original autographs and there is always be the problem of finding adequate English words or Greek and Hebrew ones.(Boettner 18) Although the argument may to made that the latter is perhaps not all that dramatic or damaging in all parts of scripture as a whole, yet it still prohibits an absolute or completely literal infallibility from being claimed. It is summed up well by the conservative thought that the obvious and plain textual meaning, when properly found, will reveal the spirit of scripture as being fee from any real error, thus alleviating the conservative from the bonds of ture literalism.(Achtemeier 44)
Surely these authors were sincere and even sincerely inspired, yet they were not free from their different personalities, communities, and agendas, which do still work to testify of their working knowledge of God. I would argue against the fundamentalist mindset and suggest that as believers ourselves we can fairy easily image or understand that such a process took place without a fear of somehow losing our own Christian standing. God seems to rarely accomplish such inspired actions with human beings by way of some robot-like trace. Even with all these things being said, clearly the very rhetoric of the gospels testifies that it is not a mere humanistic document, but one that uses the theology of the time to portray God’s purposes, nature, and revelation. We can not deny that on various different levels of our human existence, the Bible is the only book that reads us. It testifies to the Bible’s inspired process that despite its distinctive characteristics and authors it produces one cohesive and unified theology that comes together with the person and teachings of Christ.(Achtemeier 42) Even secular criticism must acknowledge it as our most well perverse historical document. No other book has come near to such an ability to historically and positively affect man’s culture, institutions, and hearts.
As for the formulation of my own opinion on Bible inspiration, I believe that I remain in the evangelical camp, yet apparently have made of a shift to a more liberal attitude than previously held. It is interesting that at times my methodology or thought process nearly resembles that of a liberal, yet regarding many issues dealing within the areas of absolute truth, moral behaviors, miracles, and even science, many conclusions that I reach from such reasoning seem quite similar to those of very conservative positions. Perhaps it will simply take time to better integrate and apply these new understandings.
Achtemeier, Paul J. Inspiration and Authority: Nature Function of Christian Scripture. Peabody, Massachusetts. Hendrickson publishers, 1999.
Boettner, Loraine. The Inspiration of the Scriptures. Grand Rapids, Michigan. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1940.

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