The doctrine of inspiration continues to be in many ways the critical issue underlying all other issues in the Church today. A variety of statements vie with one another for assent. Labels are often attached to those who have no desire to follow any particular school. Judgments are passed in terms of traditional or less traditional alignments. Yet behind all other problems, concerns, or assessments, the primary question is still, as always, that of the biblical teaching itself. What are, in fact, the essential demands of the Bible with regard to its own inspiration? What are the basic factors without which no doctrine can claim to stand by the biblical and apostolic norm to which all attempted theological statements must be subject?

A first point is the obvious one that a human authorship is also assumed for all the books of the Bible. “Holy men of God spake” is quite definitely stated of the writing of the Old Testament. These men used ordinary media. They adopted or adapted known literary genres. They had distinctive styles. Their works emerged in specific situations. This is not the most important thing. It is not even the first thing in 2 Peter 1:21, for there we are first told that prophecy came by the will of God. Yet it is a real thing. As the Lord Jesus Christ himself took flesh, so the written word was clothed in the form of human writings. This is a part of the matter which must be given due weight even though its importance may be exaggerated in some circles.

The second point is that, in fulfillment of the will of God, these holy men, whether prophets in the Old Testament or evangelists and apostles in the New, were “moved by the Holy Ghost.” In other words, there was a distinctive breathing ...

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