How did the Bible authors receive inspiration from God?
There are five perspectives on how the Bible authors received the inspiration of God. They are Illumination, Mechanical Dictation, Dynamic, Plenary, and Multi-Methodological.
Illumination has virtually no advocates among evangelicals. Illumination states that Scripture contains noble insights of people of great faith. While they may be inspiring, the authors are not viewed as divinely inspired. This view undermines biblical authority in that one opinion is no greater than another if there is no Word from God. This view does not adequately account for the supernatural, authoritative nature of Scripture.
Mechanical Dictation has virtually no advocates among evangelicals either. In this view, Scripture is the divine Word of God with humans being stenographers through whom God spoke His message. There is little or no human element in the inspiration of Scripture. The strength of this view is its consistent authority. The weaknesses are many. The process seems impersonal and at odds with the fact that God works through people, not things. There is a claim that it is without any human element and, therefore, it has a higher divinity than Jesus, who was both human and divine.
Dynamic Perspective is the third perspective on how the Bible authors received inspiration from God. In this perspective, Scripture contains the Word of God. The word of God is found in the middle of human perspective. It emphasizes the inspiration of the authors more than the inspiration of the words. This is suggested in 2 Peter 1:20-21: "Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." This is an inspiration of thought-by-thought rather than word-by-word. The grammar and history of the time, as well as the personalities and vocabularies of the authors, are reflected in the Scripture.
The Plenary view describes Scripture as being the Word of God. "Plenary means "fully" and "verbal" emphasizes that inspiration extends to the very words themselves, so that every word of the Bible is inspired."1 "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The strength of this view is that while allowing for the human element, it maintains a high view of biblical authority.
The multi-methodological approach means that the Scripture is equally inspired even if God chose to reveal His Word by many means. All Scripture is inspired but needs to read according to its genre. Genres found in the Bible include narrative, history, the Torah (word-by-word dictation), prophecy, apocalyptic spiritual truths, wisdom literature, and psalms. The Spirit was active in the whole process so the Bible is both the words of men and the Word of God.
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