The Bible Human, and yet Divine

The mystery of the inspiration of the written Word is parallel to that of the incarnation of the Word in the person of Christ. In both there is the meeting of the Divine and the human; in both there is the shining out of the Divine through the human; in both there is such an outward display of the human, as that men may deny, if they will, the presence of the Divine. The Bible is God’s Word. “Holy men of old spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” As truly and as certainly as in Jesus Christ dwelt the fulness of the Godhead bodily, so truly and so certainly, in the hearts of those who gave us this Book, dwelt the Divine Spirit of God. The Bible is, in a sense in which it is true of no other book, God’s book and God’s word; but equally true is it that the Bible is man’s book and man’s word. God the Holy Ghost, when He inspired holy men to give us these books, did not speak through their lips as the oracles of old were said to have spoken, through the lips of the subject of their inspiration, as through hollow-sounding masks, but spoke first in the souls of those whom He stirred to give us these inspired words. They are therefore their words as well as His. The hearts of men were first filled with the Spirit before their lips spoke out their utterances, and therefore those utterances were as truly theirs as they were God’s. The human nature, the human individuality, the human peculiarities of the writers, remained untouched, because God was speaking through the lips of real men. And so it is that the utterances from their lips come to us steeped in the deepest emotions of the human heart. It was the tender heart, the glowing aspiration, the lofty hope, the trembling fear, the solemn awe, the stern indignation of men moved to the very depths of their nature by the power of God working in them, that shaped the words that live and burn in the pages of Scripture to this very day, and that stir our hearts because they first stirred the hearts of those who uttered them. This is as true of the humanity of God’s Word written as it is true of the humanity of God’s Word incarnate. There is in each a real, true, and visible humanity. Human souls moved by God’s Spirit spoke as men, and under conditions and limitations of their day and their generation. Their thoughts were tinged with the philosophy, their knowledge was limited by the scientific knowledge of their own times; they spoke the history and the science as truly as they spoke the dialect and grammar of their day; to suppose anything else would be to suppose not a supernatural, but an unnatural inspiration. Revelation speaks, for instance, through the mind of Moses tinctured with the learning of the Egyptians, as truly as it speaks from the heart of David the thoughts that filled his soul as he tended his flock beneath the starry skies of Palestine. The burning sarcasm of Isaiah; the tender, melancholy pathos of Jeremiah; the rough speech of “the herdsman’s son and the gatherer of sycamore fruit”; the deep and mystic philosophy of John; the clear and sharp, and yet impassioned logic of Paul; the homely simplicity of James--all these were truly and really their own. As every pipe of the organ you have been listening to expresses the music that it was fashioned to give--so fashioned that it might give that note and not another--and yet all are filled by one and the same breath--so these souls, fashioned by the conditions of humanity and the circumstances of their lives, were made each to give out its own note, and yet were all filled by the breath of the Divine Spirit which has made those human and yet Divine utterances ring with a melody unquenched and unquenchable through the great aisles of the Church of the living Christ; or as the light, shining through the stained windows of our cathedral, casts on the floor below, in varied light and shade, human shapes and human forms, yet all of them filled and gleaming with the light that comes from heaven--so is the Bible which God has given us at once truly human and yet truly Divine--the Word of God veiling itself under and yet shining through the word of man. (Bp. Magee.)