Deductivist Theories of Biblical Inspiration
In this chapter I shall examine four theories of biblical inspiration. They are related by a common method or approach, which may be called a deductivist approach. A deductivist approach is one that reflects the understanding that knowledge is grounded upon beliefs which are not subject to empirical verification but nevertheless guide or influence empirical observations. Such beliefs are often uncritically held; persons holding them assume them without examining them. In addition, and probably because they are never critically inspected, these beliefs are taken to be inviolable. They therefore shape and influence major portions of mental and empirical activity but remain impervious to influence themselves. Since such beliefs logically antedate all mental and empirical activity according to this approach, it is also referred to as an a priori scheme of knowledge. I shall use these two terms interchangeably.
In general, deductivist approaches to biblical inspiration begin by discussing and formulating a doctrine of God. Since a part of any doctrine of God is that God cannot lie or deceive, anything said to be "the word of God" must (ex hypothesi) be the truth. The Bible has been called the word of God, and thus it too has been taken to be "the truth." A deductivist theory of biblical inspiration must explain how the books of the Bible, which at least appear to be like many other books, can be called the word of God in such a way that their complete truthfulness is ensured. The genius of a deductivist approach to inspiration lies in its confession of the cause-and-effect relationship between the character of God and the truthfulness of the Bible. This is what William Abraham means when he says, "A deductive type of theory begins with a basic theological claim about the meaning of inspiration and attempts to deduce from this what Scripture must be or contain."1 The a priori element in this approach is the content of both the doctrine of God and the doctrine of inspiration, which is determined independent of any human