Tuesday, February 28, 2006

What exactly is inspiration?

The Muslims believe that the Koran was dictated to Mohammed in Arabic. They also believe that it cannot be translated. Any translation of the Koran is considered a commentary.

A Christian view of inspiration is more “incarnational” than this. Just as Jesus was fully human and fully divine, the Bible is a completely divine book at the same time that it is a completely human book. Not only does the personality of the particular human author come through in the Scripture, but so also does the culture and worldview of the time in which a particular book was written.

One of the biggest mistakes modern Christians make is to impose upon the biblical record modern norms which were foreign to the writers. For example, the use of quotation marks is quite modern. The concept of a direct quotation did not exist in the mind of Moses, Micah or Matthew.

Because the concept of a direct quotation did not exist in the mind of the biblical writers, why would we expect them to follow our standard of accuracy?

If you have a photograph from the early days of digital photography, you don’t expect it to have the same resolution as a state-of-the-art camera from today. (Hassleblad recently announced a 39-megapixel camera.) People took good, accurate pictures with those cameras. But they cannot match the resolution of a 39-megapixel camera.

The writers of the Bible were inspired, but they were also using the tools available to them at the time they wrote. It would be unreasonable to expect Moses to have an understanding of quantum mechanics, general relativity and astrophysics. He described the truth, revealed to him by God, with the tools he had available.

If God had tried to give Moses a description of the world consistent with our scientific understanding it would have made no sense to him. And science is still progressing. In 500 years, our current technology and understanding of the cosmos will seem simplistic.

Some critics of the Bible think that if they can find a mathematical inconsistency in the Bible it will prove that it is not inspired. And some Christians accept this absurd assumption. Why would we expect measurements which are given in cubits (a variable length) to give us an exact number for pi? How many decimal points must it resolve to before we pronounce it “without error”?

Pastor Rod

“Helping you become the person God created you to be”

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