The Tentative Apologist
8/17/10 at 10:47 AM 0 Comments

Inspiring thoughts on biblical inspiration and skeptical arguments

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Is my view of inspiration weak?

AnAtheist.Net says that I have offered “a weak view of inspiration.” Why is it weak? AAN explains: “The more potential for human error that one allows under one's definition of inspiration the more incompetent God appears to be (given that God can supposedly do anything logically consistent and therefore does not need to subject His perfect message to human imperfections.)”

It’s not weak. AAN's statement simply evinces a failure to understand the position (understandable given my brief description). In fact, this view of inspiration, what I will call the “Divine Editor” view, is not a matter of God being limited to looking for some texts which are more or less what he might like to put his stamp on. Rather, it involves God providentially creating this specific possible world (that is, this maximal state of affairs, everything that occurs in the actual universe) based on his knowledge that human agents would write precisely the texts (down to every jot and tittle) which he would wish they write. In other words, it is a meticulously providential view of inspiration. That’s not weak at all.

beetle496 asks about further clarification on the theory of inspiration I proposed as one example. William Lane Craig helpfully has an essay available online which originally appeared in Philosophia Christi, a peer-reviewed academic journal. You can read more there if you like.

Does my view of inspiration diverge from the "classical" view?

Ken Pulliam is also not happy with my Divine Editor proposal: “As you know the classic definition would say that the Bible is not merely human documents but rather divine-human documents.”

First off, there isn’t a “classic definition” of inspiration, unless we’re talking about a mere cipher (e.g. “God-breathed” without explaining what that’s supposed to mean). There is enormous diversity in theories of inspiration. Second, one of the virtues of the DE view is that it maintains the full humanity and divinity of the text in keeping with an incarnational framework. By contrast classic dynamic and verbal inspiration theories tend to suppress the autonomy of the human agent (God plants propositions or even specific statements in the head of individuals so as to ensure these are written down. Craig nicely highlights this problem.)

Ken then comments: “Tobin's mistake is not defining the classic doctrine of inspiration rather he assumes it and the consequent inerrancy that goes along with it (for the majority of evangelicals).” Again, there isn’t a “classic doctrine of inspiration” but Ken’s certainly correct that Tobin does not clearly define what his target is.

Putting the spotlight where it belongs

MGT2 and RayOLight are both correct. The spotlight shouldn’t be on the intricacies of the view of inspiration I propose here. The problem rather is that Tobin can’t even get the engine of his old Trans-Am to turn over once. And he promised me a cruise to the A&W.

Tobin engages ill-defined lay notions, not those of academics

AAN’s quote of Tobin is most helpful. It also shows that Tobin’s essay is completely irrelevant to anything. Here’s a tip: if you thought that Bill Maher did Christianity any damage because he spent a couple hours in “Religulous” mocking the beliefs of lay Christians, then you’re just deluded. That’s what Tobin is doing here as well. He goes after a popular (and as yet undefined) notion of inspiration while ignoring all the academic discussion of the concept of inspiration.

And this is supposed to be a serious academic refutation of Christianity? Maybe it will play at the local chapter meeting of the Humanists Society, but don't try that in a serious academic venue.

I can't help but wonder to what extent the authors of The Christian Delusion are using their essays as a therapeutic means to get back at their parents, former youth pastors, and that mean grade four Sunday school teacher who wouldn't let them have a second helping of jelly beans.

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