There is a famous go-to verse in Second Peter for those trying to say that Paul’s letters are confusing and hard to understand. Peter’s words are frequently taken to mean that we cannot properly interpret many of the theological discourses in Paul. His statement has often been used as a cop-out in (losing) debates over a Pauline text. But is this really what Peter meant? Is he really telling his audience that they should throw in the towel and give up on Pauline exegesis? I encourage you to read the entire context in which the verse is found (see passage below), and then we will get into reasons why we can still understand Paul, and why this verse does not teach that we cannot: Continue reading Are Paul’s Letters Hard to Understand? Rethinking 2 Peter 3:16
In Daniel 2:45, after explaining to king Nebuchadnezzar his dream and its interpretation, Daniel says, “The great God has made known to the king what will take place in the future; so the dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy” (emphasis mine). In passing it may seem as though the last clause is limited in scope to this account alone. I wish to argue, however, that the truth and trustworthiness mentioned here extends not just to this dream, nor to dreams alone, but to everything that God has revealed. Since all Scripture is breathed out by God (2 Tim. 3:16), I therefore contend that this verse in Daniel is (to some extent) teaching the truth and trustworthiness of the entire Bible (i.e. infallibility). This dream is not the only hidden thing that “God has made known” to men in the past. It would be inconsistent and blasphemous to say that other things He reveals are less true and trustworthy. Continue reading What God Reveals is True: Infallibility in Daniel 2:45
In opposition to the three positions mentioned in Barth, Rome, and Liberals on Inspiration, I will argue in favor of the fourth position, Plenary Verbal inspiration. I will seek to explain the tenets of the position and argue from both a textual and historical standpoint that the position is verifiably the most reasonable among the four and therefore the most accurate position.
First, it is necessary to begin by defining our terms. The word “inspiration” refers to the act of God by which he speaks through the instrument of a human. This definition will be further unpacked as Scripture references are considered. However, of consideration first is the word “plenary.” The word “plenary” may simply be defined as “all” or “complete.” “All” refers to the entire Bible including its constituent parts: the individual words and letters.
Similarly, what is meant by ‘Verbal’ is the content of the Scriptures in their original manuscripts. While “plenary” refers to the capacity of inspiration, “verbal” describes the object of inspiration: the original autographs of the Greek and Hebrew, i.e. the parchment on which Paul wrote Romans.
From its inception until now, Christianity has hinged upon a certain truth: God is not silent. Churches across the world assemble weekly, colleges and seminaries are erected, and debates echo across the internet because of this truth. God speaks to man by breathing out his words. This formulation is the basis for what is called the doctrine of inspiration, a word which comes from the Latin inspirare, to breathe into. It is the doctrine of how God’s words are communicated to man. But what precisely does it mean to be inspired? What is the object being inspired? To what extent does this inspiration occur? These questions are matters of contention in the theological realm. The doctrine of inspiration is formulated differently among those who would profess Christianity. In light of these differences, I will argue that the Plenary Verbal position is the correct position on the basis of textual evidence and historical support. In this post as well as Part 2, therefore, I will present and explain four prominent positions on the doctrine of inspiration: the Neo-Orthodox position, the Roman Catholic position, the Limited position, and the Plenary Verbal position. I will seek to defend the veracity of the Plenary Verbal position by examining sources pertaining to inspiration which are considered prominent in each of these camps, summarizing each position clearly and faithfully, and finally arguing carefully from a textual and historical perspective that the Plenary Verbal position is the best position among the four while rebutting major objections raised against it. Continue reading Barth, Rome, and Liberals: Four Views on the Bible’s Origin, Pt. 1
I believe in the inerrancy, infallibility, and plenary verbal inspiration of the Bible. On what grounds do I hold such a view? Because the Bible says so. Jesus said that “the Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35). The apostle Paul, who was commissioned by Jesus, said, “All Scripture is inspired by God” (2 Tim. 3:16). In addition to the beliefs of Jesus Himself and His apostles we could add that, “the words, ‘The Lord said’, ‘The Lord spake’, ‘The word of the Lord came’, and cognate expressions are actually used 3,808 times in the Old Testament alone!” The testimony of the Bible concerning its divine origin is overwhelming, and that is my evidence for inspiration.
However, many will immediately object that this argument is invalid due to circular reasoning. They say we cannot use a source itself to prove its own authenticity. Rather, they say Christians are to look outside the Bible for evidence. That is true in most other cases. That is why we have lawyers, juries, witnesses, and so forth in a court case. If a man says he didn’t commit a murder, but three bystanders saw him do it, then his testimony is invalid. Or if a child says he saw the boogie man in his closet, no parent will believe them if the closet is empty. Continue reading Sanctified Circular Reasoning: The Legitimacy of Believing the Bible Because of the Bible
“All Scripture is inspired by God” (2 Tim. 3:16). This verse is the key passage for the doctrine called plenary verbal inspiration. Various incorrect theories will arise if we try to read our ideas of “inspiration” into this passage. We think of a touching story, or a thought planted in our head, or something like that. The word for “inspired by God” in this text is a compound word literally meaning “God-breathed”. It signifies that Scriptures come out from God.
So what exactly did God breathe out while the prophets and apostles were writing? The text says that it is Scripture. I point out the obvious here because many say that God inspired the writer alone, and that person wrote down whatever they felt. However, the writers of Scripture are not even hinted at in this passage. Rather it is the Scriptures– the writings themselves- that are God-breathed. Continue reading ALL of the Bible is Inspired