Where did the Bible Come From? Part 2

It is important to understand that we do not mean that the Bible was dictated by God, as if the human author had no control or influence. Inspiration does not mean some kind of divine version of demonic possession where God takes complete control over the mind and actions of the person. Inspiration also does not mean writing the most “inspiring” things. If that were the case, a lot of dry legal books like Leviticus or confusing books like Revelation may have been omitted. Instead, inspiration refers to God’s activity in the special history of revelation/salvation which led to the foundation of the Church. We only call those books inspired which helped lead to the foundation and shaping of the Church. Forming the Church also went along with the formation of the Holy Scriptures. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and the other Biblical books helped shape what the Church became. In turn, the Church recognizes God’s hand in using those books to build up His body on Earth.

So what is the relationship between the human author and the Divine Author in the writing of the text? It is not either fully only the Divine nor fully only the human author. Nor is it some kind of 50/50 split in authorship. If that were the case, one could isolate the truly infallibly divine passages from the fallible human ones in Scripture (which one cannot). Instead, it is both together, all human and all Divine.

You may ask yourself, “How could something be human and Divine at the same time?” Yet this is the same question we confront in the Person of Jesus: true God and true Man. Jesus is not only fully Divine nor only fully human. Nor is He some kind of 50/50 split of God and Man. Instead, He is in all ways fully God and fully man at the same time. In the same way, the Scriptures are fully the Word of God and also the full authorship of the men who wrote down the words. If you cannot fully wrap your head around that, this is okay. It is ultimately a mystery beyond human comprehension.

Because the Bible is God’s Word in human language, we believe it to be true. Once again, we want to make sure that we do not oversimplify what this means. St. Paul wrote, “When I was a child I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things.” While Christ calls us to a “Child-like” faith, it should not be a “childish” faith. By childish, I mean one that refuses to see the complexities that are challenging. It is “Child-Like” to believe in true love in marriage, like in the fairy tales. This is not a bad thing. This is what I have found with my wife. But it is childish to ignore the complexities of married life, like balancing responsibilities to children, work, in-laws, etc. In the same way, we have to approach the Bible the way we approach our marriages: with devotion and accepting the complexities.

When we say the Bible is true, it is important that we are not saying that it is only propositionally true. “Propositionally true” means that it only offers up to us articles of faith to believe. To be sure, the Bible does give us things that we are to believe, like God made everything and that Christ rose from the dead. But when we say the Bible is true, we mean it in a relational way. The Bible is one of the fundamental ways that God reveals Himself to us and we can encounter Him. For example, if I wrote an autobiography and you read it, would you say that you know me? To some extent you would say yes. Because in that book I have revealed some true facts about myself. But do you really know me? Do you know me the way my father, my sister, my wife, and my friends do? The answer is no because they know me only in a way you can be known through relationship. I know a lot of facts about my wife. But those facts are ways for me to enter into a deeper relationship with her. In the same way, you could memorize every passage of the Bible, but if you do not use it to enter into a deeper relationship with God, then the real truth of the Bible has been lost on you.

To give you an example of this from the Bible, look at the story of the Man Born Blind from John’s Gospel. Jesus cures the man’s blindness, but the Jewish elders do not believe. They use the following propositional logic: Jesus is a sinner and sinners cannot perform miracles, so Jesus did not heal the man. But the formerly blind man says, “If He is a sinner, I do not know. One thing I do know is that I was blind, but now I see.” The Pharisees only had propositional knowledge and could not find faith, whereas the blind man had relationship knowledge and came to believe.

But what of the temptation to oversimplify?

We will address that in Part 3 of this series.

Copyright 2024, WL Grayson

W.L. Grayson

W.L. Grayson

I am a devoutly Catholic theology teacher who loves a popular culture that often, quite frankly, hates me. I grew up absorbing every movie, TV show, comic book, science fiction novel, etc. I could find. As of today I’ve watched over 2100 movies and tv shows. They take up a huge part of my life. I don’t know that this is a good thing, but it has given me a common vocabulary to draw from in order to illustrate whatever theological point I make in class. I’ve used American Pie the song to explain the Book of Revelation (I’ll post on this some time later) and American Pie the movie to help explain Eucharist (don’t ask). The point is that the popular culture is popular for a reason. It is woven into the fabric of our lives and imaginations, for good or ill. In this blog I will attempt to bring together the things of heaven with the things of earth. Of course this goal may be too lofty for someone like me.

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