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What Scripture and Jazz Have in Common

Resolving two difficult issues about the Bible's inspiration.
What Scripture and Jazz Have in Common
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Since the first century, Christians have claimed that the Bible is inspired by God. Nowadays, we use the word inspired for almost any creative feat—a poem, a song, a lecture, even a touchdown. While we use the word for things we think are outstanding, Christians traditionally used it to describe the divine authority of the Bible.

A classic text for discussing the inspiration of Scripture is 2 Timothy 3:16: “All Scripture is God-breathed.” Here Paul uses the Greek word theopneustos, a compound of theos (“God”) and pneō (“to blow or breathe”). In other words, men wrote the books, but they were inspired, in-Spirited, breathed out, by God. The words are human, but the breath is divine.

Paul saw it that way, and so did Peter (2 Pet. 1:21) and the Prophets, who frequently said things like “the word of the Lord came to me.” That’s how Jesus saw the nature of Scripture, too. The week before his crucifixion, Jesus asked the Pharisees: “Whose son is the Messiah?”

“Easy,” they replied, “David’s.”

“Okay, but David, by the Spirit, calls the Messiah ‘Lord.’ How can the Messiah be his son?”

Silence. No one could answer. From then on, we are told, nobody dared to ask Jesus any more questions (Matt. 22:41–46).

Notice the way Jesus talks about the author of the Psalms: “David, by the Spirit.” This, more clearly than anything else in the Gospels, shows how Jesus understood the inspiration of Scripture and the relationship between the human and divine authors. The text is both fully divine and fully human. It’s not as if David were speaking just from his own viewpoint. But nor is ...

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