How do we know what men wrote was the full truth of what God said? It is in answer to that question that we take up the subject of inspiration. Inspiration is defined as a divine influence upon human beings resulting in writing the Scriptures. But the dictionary does not answer our question, because there may be varying degrees of divine influence upon men as they write.
There are four primary ideas about what was involved in the inspiration of the Scriptures.
The rational theory is that the Bible came from mens own intuitive powers. Paul, John, and Isaiah were inspirited in the same sense that a writer today may have heightened powers of perception and write for us. If this theory is true, then the Bible is not supernatural. It means that more literature as important and authoritative as the Bible may be produced at any time a person experiences exalted thoughts. We reject the rational theory of the inspiration of the Bible.
The partial theory of inspiration is that the Bible is correct in some places and in error in other places. It is both true and false, depending on what part of it that you read. This idea is held by those who say that the Bible contains the Word of God. The problem with that theory is that one must have divine inspiration in order to know which part is true and which part is false. We reject that theory. The Bible is the Word of God, not that it contains the Word of God in some parts.
The mechanical theory of inspiration holds the Bible as totally true. It is guaranteed to be so, in that human agency had almost no part in its writing. This idea is that men were like machines. The writer was in something like a trance. God put the words in his mind and he wrote them with his hands, but he had no choice in the words chosen or the manner in which they were expressed. This theory has truth in it, but the evidence indicates inspiration means more than mere diction. We do not hold to the mechanical theory of inspiration of the Scriptures.
The dynamic theory of inspiration holds the Bible as the work of the minds of men superintended by the Spirit of God. Each writer was given the truth by God himself. God used mans vocabulary to express Gods truths. God superintended his choice of words, so that what was produced was the word of God. The writings of the Apostle Paul are different from the writings of the Apostle John, but both are the writings of God. We accept this theory of inspiration as biblically correct. The message of the Bible is the Word of God. We believe that the words are chosen of God. The grammar is inspired, the subjects are divinely selected, and the whole book is the word of God in written form as surely as if God spoke it in our mental computer. That is why we hold to the Bible as the only true rule of faith and practice. Go to it to find what we should believe and how we should behave to please God.
Kelton F. Richardson has a doctorate in social psychology and has worked with individuals and families experiencing marital problems. A student of the Bible, he lives in Cortez.