Was the Bible inspired or dictated?

Evangelical Christians will hate this blog because I will not only tip over their sacred cows, I will kill them and eat them with barbecue sauce.

Atheists will hate it, because despite all of my criticism of Christianity, I still believe in God. And I will take plenty of shots at them, too.

Liberal Christians will hate it because even though I question the Bible, I will not endorse some kind of permissive, alternative lifestyle. Nor will I concede that “all roads lead to  God.” One road leads to God; Christ.

The rest of the world will not care about what’s here.

So why am I bothering?

I think that there are things beyond our knowing as mortals, but the attempt to understand them is part of what makes us ready to be immortals.

So, let”s get to it.

Was the Bible inspired or dictated?

The Bible is the Word of God, or so we’re told. Straight from God’s mouth to the stylus of a few select men, and we just sort of take their word for it. It’s kind of amazing when you think about it. Millions of people living their lives on the basis of what a few guys say that God told them when they were alone, often with no audible voice. If someone came up to you and said, “Hey, I just invented this new religion. Where’d I get my ideas? Oh, from the voices in my head,” you’d have them locked up immediately. But I’m giving the Bible the benefit of the doubt for the moment. Let’s say that these guys really did hear from the Almighty. Fine. Now, here’s a crucial question: did they write down exactly what they heard/felt/saw, or, being human, wrote down kind of what they heard/felt/saw? In other words, was the Bible dictated or inspired?

When I was a  lad, such a question was unthinkable to me. God wouldn’t allow His word to be juggled with, not with souls at stake. Anyone who questioned the Bible’s divine origin and exact transcription must be simply looking for a loophole for sin. After all, if you can’t trust the Bible to be exact, how can you obey it?

There are occasional hints in the Bible that let you know that maybe it’s a little less than the exact the Word of Jehovah. 1 Corinthians 1: 14-16 is one such passage. It seems so innocuous at first glance, and second, and probably hundredth:

“I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so no one can say that you were baptized in my name. (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.)

Picture these verses being written for the first time. God is dictating Scripture, and the Apostle Paul’s sitting there like some kind of holy secretary, writing down shorthand or whatever, so he can put it on a scroll later, or maybe God just talked real slow or Paul wrote really fast. Anyway, God’s talking, and he says: “Okay, this happened.”And then He goes, “No, wait, this happened. Oh, I don’t remember.”

That’s a pretty big deal. Either we have to conclude that God is this senile old man, rambling on and contradicting Himself, or we have to go with the more obvious explanation- that Paul wrote the thing himself. No angels whispering in his ear or guiding the pen like some kind of automatic writing session.

The word “inspired” comes from the Latin word that means “to breathe upon.” The primary definition of inspire is “to exert an influence on.” So perhaps God “breathed” on certain people and influenced what they should write. Perhaps He is still doing that today. After all, don’t we say that preachers, priests and ministers are “inspired” when they write a sermon?

There are two responses to this that I feel are incorrect-the person who says, “See, the Bible is full of crap, and so I don’t have to believe in it,” and the person says, “Well, then, I can just interpret it how I like.” Both miss the point and are ultimately self-serving.

Whether or not someone hears from God comes down to what kind of life they lead-good or evil. Another word for “breath” in the Bible is “spirit.” if someone is being inspired by God, they are getting a dose of His Spirit. And the fruits (results) of the Spirit are obvious-love joy, peace, patience, kindness, faith, and self-control (Galatians 5:22.)  Does this sound like the Christians you know? I know it doesn’t sound like me all of the time. I have a lot of work to do.


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