I believe that God had a role in the creation of the bible. People often use the word “inspired” to describe this idea. Perhaps, because we have a neat and tidy word, we think we believe roughly the same thing as all the other people who use that word. More than this, we seem to believe that we have a somewhat clear idea of just what this word means.
The more I think on it, the less I know. It’s a much more complica
ted issue than it first appears. One thing I can say: God didn’t do the good-guy version of posession. Something of the writers’ personalities shine through the various books in the bible. For example, we get a snap shot in the differences in temperment when we read Mark’s Gospel and compare it with John’s.
A second thing I’m pretty sure about: things that have happened since the bible came down do not enjoy the same special status as the original pronouncements. One of the reasons I’m pretty confident on this is that the section headings weren’t in the original. And quite frequently, they appear to me to be manipulating the meaning of God’s word in a manner inconsistent with the overall thrust of scripture.
Now, is the thing I really wanted to write about. I noticed something kind-of interesting as I was reading through first Corinthians chapter 7. Paul says the following at various points in the chapter, ” I am saying this more as a matter of permission and concession, not as a command or regulation.” … “But to the married people I give charrge– not I but the lord.” and “To the rest I declare– I not the lord” “Now concerning the virgins I have no command of the Lord, but I give my opinion and advice as one who by the Lord’s mercy has been rendered trustworthy” and “But in my opinion a widow is happier”.
The reason I find these to be such interesting statements is that they imply to varying degrees that Paul is sometimes speaking in some-sort of official capacity, and other times he is more or less off the record. As some people use the word “inspired” it would seem that Paul is saying that he wasn’t divinely inspired to say some of those things; he was simply offering his own opinion.
So… The whole bible is inspired… except for those few rare sentences? Maybe there are more sentences like these. (I’d love to hear them, by the way, if you know ’em) But regardless, these “uninspired” statements are still a huge minority. Are we meant to take them less seriously than the rest of scripture?
I’ve got some more to say on the topic… But I think I want to let that percolate a couple days before I get there.