The main thing I agree with critics of the bible about is that the Bible is a fully human book. What I differ with them is that this does not mean that it cannot be a divinely inspired book that has something special about it that expresses God heart, mind and spirit in truth. We have many things in theology that have this idea of being both human and divine – Christ being chief among them. The Bible could be something similar along these lines representing that it is possible to believe that the Bible is fully human and fully divine.
The biggest problem is not with the critics on this point but the theologians. The doctrines of original sin and total depravity in Protestantism have long been the rational for why such views inspiration such as Verbal Plenary and Dictatorial Theory exist. The rational being that if something has human elements in it also would have sinful origins or suffering from depravity and thus God could not be involved. These views seek to protect the Bible’s purity by getting human involvement out as much as possible either because God controls all aspects of the person’s life to the point when they write Scripture they cannot help but write what they do, or they so take over a person that their mind and heart is not involved.
This is ironic in many respects because the nature of this belief in Protestant is very similar to the nature of the belief of the immaculate conception of Mary in Catholicism. To protect Jesus from original sin and total depravity, Jesus mother also must have been immaculately conceived so Jesus origin is completely divine. No one seems to note then the total contradiction with this and the idea that Jesus was fully human and fully divine to truly be a mediator between God and man but I digress. The point is the protestants do the same thing with their theories of inspiration of the Bible for the same reasons.
The thing is there is a lot of theology that seeks to make everything humans do tainted or depraved because sin. The problem I have shown over the years on this blog is that this doctrine is not true. The Bible presents people as righteous and much as it presents them as sinful. I think the Bible’s view makes men and women far more complicated than all evil or all good. Sin can bring us to evil but the fall to this is not inevitable and I do not believe that people sin every single day. God created us good and no amount of sin can completely strip God’s creative act in us.
That being said God also has given men authority over the centuries. This giving of authority has been done to flawed people and yet there it is. In many respects the more I look at it, the Bible may very well be a joining of human and divine authority and that is what gives the bible its overall authority to be the thing that directs both our faith and practice. It may require both human and divine authority to have this power. The writers of Scripture wrote for a lot of different reasons but all of them felt in some way they were giving a definitive view of something involving God and his people. It takes their knowledge, understanding and authority to write as much as God’s to make the document they are penning to have its overall authority. It is not just God’s inspiring power that does this but the fact that human authority of the people of God is joined with it.
Of course given the very different forms of the literature in the Bible, this authority would be worked out in different ways given the type of writing being done and for what purpose. In the next part I want to analyze the various types of literature and writing genres in the bible and see how this human and divine cooperative authority could be worked out.
Next: Biblical Authority and The Biblical Genres of Literature