Evangelical Theories of Biblical Inspiration: A Review and Proposal

By Kern Robert Trembath | Go to book overview
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5
God as the Initiator of Inspiration

Thus far we have addressed ourselves to two of the three elements involved in the concept of biblical inspiration. We have seen that inspiration is a mediated enhancement of one's mind (or, more generally, one's life) which is not self-generated. Biblical inspiration, then, is inspiration which results in an enhanced understanding of God that conforms to what is said of God in the Bible. Because one cannot learn about God except by learning from Him, we may also conclude that biblical inspiration is initiated by God.

Chapter 4 discussed three topics which characterize what evangelicals have traditionally believed about the Bible as the means of inspiration. The topics were reworked so that they would be more understandable yet still conform to the characteristic norms of evangelicalism, especially the so-called formal and material principles of Protestantism. On those bases certain interpretations of verbal and plenary inspiration were proposed, and in addition we saw good reason to drop the doctrine of biblical inerrancy altogether.

In this chapter we turn to the final element in the concept of biblical inspiration: God, the initiating agent. Here I shall try to do two things. I shall first outline a theology proper (that is, a doctrine of God) which I propose as an adequate ground of our understanding of divine inspiration. Here I shall be helped especially by Karl Rahner, a Catholic theologian who has contributed much to an understanding of the ways in which God and human beings are related. I shall take from Rahner only that which contributes directly to the concept of God in order to see how God is present in the "enhancing toward salvation" of biblical inspiration. Next, I will suggest four criteria for relating divine inspiration and biblical inspiration. These criteria will constitute my final proposal for identifying biblical inspiration within the evangelical community.

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