The Inspiration of the Bible

We believe, with an unfeigned heart fervently, that Holy Scripture was given by inspiration of God; that in it is contained all that is necessary for salvation; that it is the most priceless boon which God has accorded to us, because in it is the fullest and clearest revelation of His will and purpose towards us and towards our race--of the duties of our life here, and our hopes of the life hereafter. We believe that more clearly than in history, more loudly than in nature, more thrillingly than in conscience itself, we hear therein the voice of God, and that if its accents had not been vouchsafed to us, those other voices would have sunk, first into lamentable uncertainty, finally into absolute silence. And as regards the method of its deliverance, we believe that it was analogous to the deliverance of those truths vouchsafed to us from other sources: i.e., that is was only supernatural as the deepest facts of our spiritual experience are supernatural, and only miraculous as any communication must be miraculous whereby the finite is enabled to comprehend the teaching and will of the Infinite. We believe that in reading it we are reading the will, the message, the dealings of God, as they were made manifest by the light of His Spirit to the minds of the messengers whom He selected: but that these messages were not, for the most part, revealed by openings of the heaven, and unearthly voices in the air--not by signs and wonders to startle and overwhelm--not by shocks of visible manifestations, sudden and violent--but by spiritual agencies analogous to, though far intenser than, those whereby, in all ages, God--who is the God, not of churches only, but of all mankind--has inspired and illuminated the hearts of men. (Archdeacon Farrar.)

“Inspired of God.” That thought has, we know, been fruitful in many controversies. On the one hand, there have been theories of inspiration which have minimised or excluded the human element; which have made prophets, lawgivers, apostles, evangelists, only the machines through which the Divine Spirit uttered His own words; and have seen, accordingly, in every statement of fact as regards history or nature, an oracle of God not to be questioned or debated; in the title even of any book, that which was a bar to any inquiry into its authorship or date. On a priori grounds it has been argued that a revelation from God must, in the nature of the case, include all the subordinate accessories that cluster round it, that it was not worth giving at all unless it were infallible in everything. That mechanical theory of inspiration has, it is believed, but little to recommend it, except that it meets the craving of men for an infallible authority; and that craving, as we know, goes farther, and leads to a demand for an infallible interpreter of the infallible book. The a priori assumption goes beyond the limits of what is in itself reasonable and right. We are in no sort judges of the methods and forms, the measures and degrees, in which God would impart the knowledge of Himself to us. And the theory is, to say the least, at variance with the impression made on us by the books themselves. They bear, as strongly as the books of any ether literature, the stamp of individual character. They indicate, in not a few cases, the labours of compilation and editing which brought them into their present form. They reflect the thoughts and feelings of the times in which they were severally written. They are from first to last intensely national in their character. What has been called, in contrast with this hypothesis, the theory of a dynamic inspiration, presents, it is believed, a more satisfactory solution of the problem, one more in harmony with reason, with analogy, with the facts of the case, with the teaching of the Bible itself. The term requires, it may be, a few words of explanation. What is meant is this, that the writers of the Old and New Testaments were not mere machines, but men of like passions with ourselves; each with his own thoughts, temperament, character; each under a training that developed the gifts which he thus possessed by nature, or acquired by education and experience; but that there was, mingling with and permeating all that was essentially his own, a Power above himself, quickening all that was true and good in him to a higher life, so guiding him that he did the work to which he was called faithfully and well, making known to men what he was commissioned to declare as to the mind of God and His dealings with mankind, in such form and in such measure as men were able to receive it. On this view of the case, criticism may enter on its work free and unfettered; may rightly study the “manifold,” the “very varied” wisdom of God (Eph_3:10) working through all diversities of human gifts and character may learn in the temper of a reverential courage, to distinguish between the accidental and the essential, the letter and the spirit, the temporal and the eternal. (Dean Plumptre.)

Holy Scripture is God’s Word written. The things written are from God; all Scripture is given by Inspiration of God. The fresh and living water of heavenly truth issues from one source, and that source is Divine. But the water flows in various streams. The fountain is Divine, the element is heavenly, but the channels are earthly, and the channels do not change the essential quality of the water, but they modify its direction and its course, and tinge it, as it were, with the colour of the soil of the banks through which the water flows. The heavenly water acts upon the earthly margins of the streams: and the margins act upon the water; they act and react upon each other with a simultaneous and concurrent operation. Sometimes the Divine element of inspired truth rushes vehemently in torrents and in cataracts, in the impetuous fervour of St. Paul. Sometimes it diffuses itself, and sleeps in calm and deep lakes, in the love and gentleness of St. John. The element is one and the same, and Divine; the channels are different, and human; the power of one destroys not the liberty of the other; Divine grace does not annul the human intellect and will, though it is suggestive, preventive, suppletory, auxiliary to it; but the Divine Spirit, and the human intellect and will, concur and act together in loving harmony and joy. (Bp. Chris. Wordsworth.)