is hard to conceive how the human mind can give assent to such terrible
ideas, or how any sane man can read the Bible and still believe in the
doctrine of inspiration."
a peculiar effect of divine flatulence emitted by the Holy Spirit which
hisses into the ears of a few chosen of God."
What is inspiration?
Inspiration, or divine
inspiration, describes the process by which it is claimed that God enabled
men to record precisely what he intended to convey. Inspiration is much
more than great thoughts, yet neither is it robotic control. For in each
biblical writing, God reveals information (like history and prophecy) that
the authors could not possibly have known or discovered. Yet, the writings
still reflect the authors' unique personalities. Of course, writings are
not declared inspired of God because they were collected into the Bible;
they were collected into the Bible because they were believed to have
been divinely inspired.
Israel and later the early church, both with more information and fresher
evidence than is available to us today, discerned the inspired books by
their origin, truthfulness, and other indicators. With regard to the Old
Testament, for example:
Within a very few
centuries after the last book in our Old Testament was written, the entire
Jewish nation was unanimous in accepting every one of its books as canonical
and in rejecting as false the claims of any other book to similar recognition.
That such unanimity should thus have been reached is little short of a
2.2 On what basis is inspiration discerned?
Jewish tradition and
the biblical writings testify that, in the beginning, God's direct communication
with people left no doubt as to who was speaking. Once God directed his
words be recorded, those words remained to be identified by what could be
considered as God's signature. That
is, those recordings had to display the identical characteristics of
the previous oral communications believed to have been received from God.
An example of this kind
of identification might be a letter from a best-friend: we know the letter
is authentic when in every way it expresses the person whom we have come
to know - even to the point of being an extension of that person. Likewise,
writing inspired by God should itself be an extension of his previously
2.3 What are the attributes of inspiration?
If God is both truthful
and omniscient, writing he inspires will tell the truth and reflect
total accuracy (the aspects of truthfulness and accuracy are the subjects
of the second section of this book). In addition, if God proclaims to be
unchanging in character, his inspiration will be totally consistent
with that which he has already revealed.
An inspired writing
must also exhibit the integrity of its author (if the author is known).
For to whom else would God, or anyone really, choose to reveal himself unless
a special relationship is being authentically and visibly shared? It is
only to be expected that a truly godly person will walk their talk.
Another trait of inspiration
is supernatural confirmation. God performed miracles through Moses,
Jesus performed miracles, Jesus' miracles continued through his apostles,
and many Old Testament prophets had their God-given prophecies quickly fulfilled
which confirmed their own authority within their lifetimes. A divinely inspired
writing may even express the power of God. As nearness to God has
changed lives, so inspired writing as God's voice on earth has proven to
exhibit a similar transforming influence and be accepted by the people
NEXT: How do we determine the age of the documents?
can we tell whether or not the Bible is telling the truth?
The Bible and scientific