« Ch.III. Q.14. Biblical Inspiration | Main | Ch.III. Q.16. Theories of Inspiration »

July 26, 2005

Ch.III. Q.15. Divine and Human Factors

THE Divine and human factors should be distinguished in the Sacred Scriptures: one due to supernatural inspiration, the other to the fact that this inspiration did not wholly emancipate the sacred writers from human limitations or destroy their freedom. 1

2. The Divine inspiration guarantees the absolute trustworthiness of the Sacred Scriptures for the purposes of their inspiration, and their profitableness for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness. Moreover the Church is enabled, by the guidance of the Holy Ghost, to preserve the Bible from any corruption which would defeat the purposes for which its authors were inspired.

3. Yet the sacred writers were human even when inspired. They were not universally infallible, nor is it necessary to suppose that they received greater supernatural enlightenment than was needed to enable them to fulfil the purpose for which they were inspired. That purpose did not apparently include a revelation concerning secular history, physical science, or natural things. Whatever learning of such sort is displayed is human learning and is subject to its limitations. Furthermore, Divine providence has not enabled the Church to preserve or recover the exact letter of the original text, or to provide absolutely accurate translations. The fulfilment of the Divine purpose has not required this. 2

4. The Divine and human factors concur in producing one Holy Scripture. They cannot be separated in the result, nor is it possible to draw a line between passages that are human and those that are Divine. Every part of the Bible, in its proper relation, is divinely inspired, and every part is human.

5. Yet we may not confound the two factors. We may not impute omniscience or universal infallibility to the human writers, nor may we admit the possibility of error in the message they were inspired to convey. The religious inspiration and the human limitation must both be acknowledged in their integrity.

6. Finally we must remember that the authority of the several Scriptures does not arise from their human source, but from their Divine sanction and respective positions in the sacred canon. Questions of authorship and date, even when the literary unity of certain books or the correctness of traditional views concerning their origin is involved, in what we believe to be the absence of determinative assertions by our Lord, do not touch the authority of the Scriptures or Christian doctrines contained in them. Conclusions really established by "higher criticism" may be accepted without fear. It remains that rationalistic methods are not likely to produce results in biblical criticism which can gain final acceptance without modification.

1 Lee, Inspiration, Lec. i. and pp. 139-144; Wordsworth, Inspiration, pp. 5-8; Strong, Syst. Theol., pp. 102-104.

2 Driver, Book of Genesis, pp. xxxi. et seq.; Kirkpatrick, Divine Library, Lec. iv., esp. pp. 103-107; Bonney, Old Truths, pp. 144, 145; Gore, in Lux Mundi, pp. 351-357. Cf. Lee, Lec. viii.; Stone, Outlines, pp. 127-130; Strong, 105-111.

Posted by Debra Bullock at July 26, 2005 04:59 PM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry: