What Does Biblical Inspiration Mean, Really? (Part 1)



The inspiration of the Bible depends upon the ignorance of the gentleman who reads it. – Robert Ingersoll

Make no mistake – I believe the scriptures are inspired. My understanding of what it means for them to be inspired, however, may be different from how many people like to define it.

Although there are many nuances to how biblical inspiration can be defined, the most commonly held form, what I call the modern sense of inspiration, is something like the following: The authors and editors of the scriptures were led or influenced by God in such a way that everything written in (at least) the original manuscripts was intended by God; that is, although there may have been a human element in the process of the dictation of the scriptures, that had no bearing on the (especially theological) veracity of the things written – it is all completely truthful.

Let me share some preliminary thoughts.

For most people who believe that bibles are inspired in the sense above, it would be good to realize and acknowledge that the reason they believe that is because of the tradition they grew up in. It’s because the people around them told them that they are inspired that way, not because they carefully examined all the evidence and came to a conclusion. At the very least, they initially believed it because they were told so, and were then gradually strengthened in that belief not primarily because they confirmed it through an accumulation of evidence but by getting used to thinking of it as “obvious” and anything otherwise as “heretical.” Further, when they have positive experiences reading bibles, their belief in its inspiration is reinforced. They may have questioned this belief at some point in their life and began looking for answers, but often this is pointless because of confirmation bias (the way humans tend to only look for what will confirm what they already believe). Moreover, most people are satisfied with pat answers such as, “Well, little Johnny, see this verse here? It says that the scriptures are inspired. Proved!” It doesn’t matter that the answers were shallow because the people around them seem to be okay with such answers. Why should they think otherwise? “Surely it is not the case that so many people are mistaken,” they reason. So they take comfort in numbers. But, as history bears out, majority opinions have never been a reliable source for truth.

With that in mind, be prepared to reconsider what you believe about inspiration.

Part 2

6 thoughts on “What Does Biblical Inspiration Mean, Really? (Part 1)

  1. Pingback: What Does Biblical Inspiration Mean, Really? (Part 2) | Supernatural Gospel

  2. Pingback: The Violent God of the Old Testament | Supernatural Gospel

  3. Pingback: Mistakes in the Scriptures | Supernatural Gospel

  4. Pingback: Interpreting the Scriptures (Part 1) | Supernatural Gospel

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