Thursday, 21 May 2015

Key notions defined series: 7. Inspiration [updated]

Having completed my main review of the New Testament (and some Old Testament) texts, cataloguing almost 500 passages, I am "celebrating" that milestone by publishing a part of the paper that helps me in the processing and weighing of these texts, which is currently entitled Chapter 2: Key Notions Defined. It is also an opportunity for me to tidy up these definitions. Here is the next one:


[revised 13/06/15]
This is a big topic, and there are many, many understandings of what it might mean for the canon of Scripture to be “inspired” by God. I want to let you know straight away my own understanding of inspiration. It is but one of many interpretations, but it is central to why I am probing what authors came to think about God, His Son and His Holy Spirit.

Scriptural inspiration is not:
- God bypassing the writer’s brain and directly moving his hand across the page (inspired texts but uninspired authors)
- Affirming ideas and thoughts that go against what the author generally believes
- At all the same thing as prophecy
- “Magical”
- Something that we have the authority to apply to the text.

Scriptural inspiration is:
- In line with the author’s opinions
- Over time understood and tested to be authoritative
- Fully incarnated, beginning in the author’s inspired mind and inspired beliefs
- Invested with original and binding meaning and intention
- Most fully (and best) understood in light of original context, occasion and genre

So while we Christians believe that these first century authors were writing down “God-inspired truth” to shape followers of Jesus for all ages to come, this process necessarily started with their own generation. It is vital to this paper that we grasp this approach to inspiration. This view is not always shared, but these principles match a view in the scholarly world, that Paul, the gospel writers, James, Jude, and so on, were very intentional in their writings and that it is dangerous to attempt to separate what they thought and believed from what they wrote (i.e. uninspired minds but inspired texts).

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