What Is An Evangelical? Part 4.1.1: Inspiration, Continued
Okay, I lied (not really). I'm going to do one more post on inspiration before moving on to inerrancy. I really want to expound on plenary inspiration a bit. So bear with me! What is plenary inspiration? The word "plenary" means full and complete in every respect. A synonym to this word is absolute. So by the term "plenary inspiration" is meant the affirmation that every part of Scripture is inspired by God. No part of Scripture has been inspired by man. For biblical support, we look to the aformentioned 2 Timothy 3 text, especially verse 16. We also look to Jesus' words in Matthew 15:18--"For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled." This verse is in the context of destroying the Law, which Jesus expressly states He is not here to do. If Scripture is not inspired by God, why would it not be destroyed? Furthermore, the jot and the tittle are the smallest marks in written Hebrew. They would be the equivalent of the modern comma and period. Are not even these marks divinely inspired? How can a position that governs even the smallest marks in Scripture be held biblically? For starters, let's look at 2 Peter 1:20-21. I think that the Contemporary English Version makes it glaringly clear what this Scripture is saying:
But you need to realize that no one alone can understand any of the prophecies in the Scriptures. The prophets did not think these things up on their own, but they were guided by the Spirit of God. (emphasis added)Indeed, not a single word of Scripture is of human origin. Even the parts of Paul's letters where he makes clear he is giving his own suggestion and not a divine command (the "I, not the Lord" statements) were inspired by the Holy Spirit. Further underscoring this notion is the pattern of Scripture itself. From Genesis to Revelation, the underlying procedure for describing divine revelation is to give the credit to God. "Thus saith the Lord" statements, retellings of what God has told people groups and individuals, accounts of visions, and so on are very clear that they are not human in origin but divine. Human speech then becomes merely the means by which God's revelation is dispensed to creation. This fits very seamlessly with the concept of God's sovereignty. If God is absolutely in control of every aspect of cosmic existence, then why is it wrong to assert that He is in control of the message and words, and even the smallest marks, of Scripture? I think this is a good place to stop and move into a discussion of inerrancy. Let's start with this statement: If God is unchanging, then His revelation never changes. If God is perfect, then His revelation is perfect. In addition, if God is divinely in control of His revelation and the means by which that revelation is dispensed, then the Scriptures that result are unchanging and perfect. In other words, the Bible is inerrant. Now, in Part 4.2 I'll discuss this last paragraph a little more in-depth. You can expect to see it no later than tomorrow.