There are a number of different views of the inspiration of the Bible. In simple language, some of them are:
2. Verbal, Plenary
Let me explain.
1. Dictation. Sometimes called Mechanical Dictation. God dictated His message, word for word, to the human authors. Much like a boss would dictate a letter to a secretary.
God definitely used this method on some occasions. For example, when He directly told a prophet what to say (Exodus 34:27; Isaiah 38:4-5; etc.). But I do not believe He used this method throughout the Bible.
2. Verbal, Plenary. Verbal means word for word. In other words, every word of the Bible is inspired by God. Plenary means all. Not just some words, but every word in all 66 books of the Bible are God’s inspired words. This view is sometimes shortened to just, Verbal Inspiration.
This view does not mean, as some falsely charge, that the entire Bible is mechanically dictated (that God simply dictated His words to the human writers). Rather, God worked through the human writers and used their personalities. The final product was truly the words of the human author, as well as the words of God. And, the final product was word for word, the inspired, unerring word of God.
If you believe in Verbal, Plenary Inspiration, you believe in the Inerrancy of the Bible.
3. Dynamic Inspiration. The thoughts of the Bible are inspired by God. But, it is not necessarily inspired word for word. Like those who hold to Verbal Inspiration, they believe God worked through the personalities of the human writers.
Those who hold to Verbal Inspiration sometimes counter, we don’t think in thoughts, but in words. We don’t communicate in thoughts, but in words.
Those who believe Dynamic Inspiration may, or may not, believe in the Inerrancy of the Bible.
4. Classical Inspiration. The Bible is divinely inspired, just as other great works of literature and art are inspired.
This is a theologically liberal or progressive view. This view would hold that therefore, there are obviously human errors, as well as divine splendor, in the Bible. They also get to pick and choose what is truth and what is error. Instead of God’s Word judging them, they make themselves judges of Scripture.
The Classical Inspiration view clearly does not hold to the Inerrancy of the Bible.
It should be pointed out the first three views can be held by those who believe in Inerrancy. Some also point out the important thing is not a theory of inspiration, but belief in the inerrancy of the Bible. I certainly agree that inerrancy is crucial to correct biblical doctrine.
I believe in the Verbal, Plenary Inspiration of the Bible. The Inerrancy of the Bible is of vital importance, and Verbal Inspiration holds firmly to this view. Verbal Inspiration also fits well with what the Bible says about its own inspiration.
Scripture on Inspiration:
For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. -Matthew 5:18
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. -2 Timothy 3:16
For the word of the Lord is right, and all His work is done in truth. -Psalm 33:4
The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever. -Psalm 119:160
Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. -John 17:17
For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. -Hebrews 4:12
Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. -2 Peter 1:20-21
Baptist Faith and Message, 2000
The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God's revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried. All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation.
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The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 is the official doctrinal statement of the Southern Baptist Convention.
“It has always been a matter of profound surprise to me that anybody should ever question the verbal inspiration of the Bible." -B. H. Carroll (AD 1843-1914), Inspiration of the Bible. Carroll was the founding president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
“Let me say further that only the original text of the books of the Bible is inspired, not the copy or the translation.” -B. H. Carroll (AD 1843-1914).
“I believe the Bible to be the infallible, inspired word of God written by men of old and new through the leadership of God’s power and Spirit.” -Evangelist Dan Vestal (AD 1918-1980), Golden Hours in the Bible.
“If there be any mistakes in the Bible, there may well be a thousand. If there be one falsehood in that book, it did not come from the God of truth.” -John Wesley (AD 1703-1791), Journal.
(More quotes may be added.)
-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, July 25, AD 2018.
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