"Inspired" Bible means what?

Inspiration views
Fundamentalists and evangelicals tend to believe that all of the Bible is inspired — every word with an equal level of inspiration — that gives it special authority. They believe that if any part is questioned or doubted, then the entire Bible is questioned and doubted. Such a view is certainly not true when we consider the value of literature or the value of various scientific insights.

This view that to question any part destroys the credibility and value of the entire Bible is a pernicious and destructive view. Many of us cannot believe that the sun stood still in the sky, much less to support the slaughter of the enemy. To raise questions about that one incident does not doubt or question the teachings of Isaiah or Jesus or Paul. To question or doubt one miracle does not automatically destroy the credibility of everything in the Bible.

The authority of the Bible is not in printers ink or paper, but in the insights and teachings that move and inspire people. We must examine these individually and evaluate each on its own merit, insight, value, and strength. A web site claims that without verbal inspiration of the entire Bible "the uniqueness and authority of the Bible is destroyed. The Bible just becomes one of many ancient books and the truths of historic Christianity are reduced to a collection of religious myths." That denies the mountainous terrain of inspiration in the Bible and in our resulting experience.

The documents we call the Bible were written in ancient languages some of which are no longer in use. Original manuscripts disappeared long ago, and what we now have are copies of copies. We know that copying introduces errors, and these can sometimes be followed in comparing manuscripts in the order in which they were copied over centuries. How can we be certain about the actual and correct content of the Bible? If you look at a Bible with footnotes about differences in the text, you may be overwhelmed at the number of variant readings, all of them supported by ancient manuscripts. It appears absolutely necessary to compare readings and translations in order to gain insight into what Moses or Micah or Isaiah or Jesus said.

Their value or inspiration is in the lives of people that were inspired by these writings — Francis of Assisi, Martin Luther, John Wesley, Albert Schweitzer to name a few. Inspiration is shown in the lives of the persons inspired, just as the cook is shown in the taste of finished dishes rather than the written recipes. The proof of the Bible's inspiration is in the many faceted and inspiring lives of people moved by the Bible.

Copyright © 2006 John F. Yeaman