The late Stanley Grenz, a theologian and philosopher in the Emerging church, revealed his low view of Scripture in his Revisioning Evangelical Theology by stating that he believes traditional evangelicalism made two mistakes that need to be revisioned. The first mistake was in emphasizing the Bible as a book of doctrine instead of a book of the Spirit i.e., bibliology should be subsumed under pneumotology. The more subjective ministry of the Spirit should have priority over the objective doctrine of the Word, according to Grenz.
The second mistake, in Grenz’s view, is traditional evangelicalism’s emphasis on the Bible as a divine book rather than a human book. Translated means, importance has been placed on inspiration over illumination. According to Grenz, “The Bible is seen, then, not as a finished and static fact or collection of facts to be analyzed by increasingly sophisticated methods, but as a potentiality of meaning which is actualized by succeeding generations in the light of their need.” If Scriptures are not a finished fact but a potentiality of meaning, who will complete the Bible’s meaning and potentiality? He adds, “We can more readily see the Bible—the instrumentality of the Spirit—as the book of the community.” So according to Grenz, the Bible should not be considered a book of doctrine but a book of the Spirit and the community.
When we hold to the traditional evangelical view of the objective inspiration of Scripture 2000 years ago instead of the present illumination of believers by the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the current community, we, according to Grenz “exchange the dynamic of the ongoing movement of the Spirit speaking to the community of God’s people through the pages of the Bible for the book we hold in our hands.” With this communal subjectivism, truth is found in each community, and inspiration is mixed with believers’ illumination: “The confession of the inspiration of the Bible is closely intertwined with the experience of illumination” Stanley J. Grenz. Revisioning Evangelical Theology (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1993, 114-120).
Norman Geisler observes that this view sounds like Karl Barth’s neo-orthodoxy’s view of inspiration which believes that the Bible becomes the Word of God when you have experienced this event:
“The Bible is God’s Word so far as God lets it be His Word, so far as God speaks through it .…The statement, ‘The Bible is God’s Word,’ is a confession of faith, a statement made by the faith that hears God Himself speak in the human word of the Bible….this act of God upon man has become an event, therefore not to the fact that man has reached out to the Bible, but to the fact that the Bible has reached out to man. The Bible therefore becomes God’s Word in this event….the Bible must from time to time become His Word to us” (Karl Barth. Church Dogmatics. Vol. I Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1936, 123-124).
The difference between Neo-othodoxy’s view of Scripture and that of the Emerging Church is found only in their emphases: Neo-orthodoxy emphasizes the individual experiencing God’s Word and the Emerging church stresses the community experiencing the Word.
Geisler and Nix rightly evaluate these low views of Scripture: “While the Liberal contends that the Bible merely contains God’s word, and the Neoorthodox asserts that the Scripture becomes God’s word in an existential ‘moment of meaning,’ the orthodox, or Conservative, position is that the Bible is the Word of God. It holds the Bible to be God’s objective revelation whether or not man has a subjective illumination of it” (Norman Geisler and William Nix. A General Introducdtion to the Bible. Chicago: Moody Press, 1978, 43). In Part 2, we will examine the human and divine instrumentality involved in writting God’s Word.
A Biblical view of dual authorship will help answer Grenz’s and Barth’s low view of the Bible. In the first post on inspiration, the origin of inspiration in 2 Timothy 3:16 was discussed. In this post, I will examine the method of inspiration found in 2Peter 1:20, 21. In verses 20 and 21a Peter states that the origin of Scripture is not of man. This statement compliments Paul’s declaration in 2 Timothy 3:16.
Dual authorship means that God used “holy men” to record His inspired Word. So there is a divine and human instrumentality involved in the writing of Scripture. The Bible is both a human and divine book.
Human Instrumentality: God’s Word is a Human Book
The method of receiving Scripture is seen in the words “holy men of God spoke.” “Spoke” means “wrote” according to 2 Peter 3:15, 16. Human Instrumentality involved “holy men.” What does “holy” mean? Was David the murderer and adulterer holy? It means these authors were set apart through God’s providential preparation to be authors of Scripture.
“But how can the Bible be the Word of God and at the same time, for example, the words of Paul? “God formed the personality of the writer” (John MacArthur, Why I Trust the Bible, p. 29). For example, who were the most educated authors of Scripture? Moses, Paul, and Luke. It is no accident that these men also wrote more Scripture than any other authors. In the New Testament, Paul wrote more books, but Luke wrote more material. God educationally and providently set these men apart to write God’s Word.
Divine Instrumentality: God’s Word is a Divine Book
Divine Instrumentality is seen in the words “as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”
“God suspended temporarily man’s inherent weakness to make mistakes.” God used divinely chosen men using their individuality, knowledge, literary style, and background. “They were authors, not secretaries” (MacArthur, p.30).
God used a variety of methods to get His inspired Word recorded. This is what Hebrews 1:1 means when it says that God spoke “in many and various ways.” Sometimes God dictated Scriptures as in Revelation 2:1: “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write” and what was dictated was written. Others wrote as eye witnesses as in much of the four Gospels. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would aid the memory of the apostles when they later wrote Scripture (John 14:26). These portions of God’s Word were not dictated. In the case of Luke, God used his research that Luke alludes to in Luke 1:1-3.
I like the way Wayne Grudem summarizes dual authorship:
In cases where the ordinary human personality and writing style of the author were prominently involved, as seems the case with the major part of scripture, all that we are able to say is that God’s providential oversight and direction of the life of each author was such that their personalities, their backgrounds and training, their abilities to evaluate events in the world around them, their access to historical data, their judgment with regard to the accuracy of information, and their individual circumstances when they wrote, were all exactly what God wanted them to be, so that when they actually came to the point of putting pen to paper, the words were fully their own words but also fully the words that God wanted them to write, words that God would claim as his own” (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, page 81).
Grudem also properly connects the inspiration of Scripture with the authority of Scripture: “All the words in Scripture are God’s words. Consequently, to disbelieve or disobey any word of Scripture is to disbelieve or disobey God himself” (page 81). John MacArthur does a good job in the YouTube clip using the authority of Scripture against others who deny the authority of God’s Word such as Rabbi Harold Kushner, Deepak Chopra, and Mayor Gavin Newsom.