“The human authors of the Scriptures are not secretaries merely taking down divine dictations; nor are they secretaries who, by their own intelligent understanding and free will, receive whatever is illuminated and presented by God. They are real originators and authors.” – Karl Rahner, Inspiration in the Bible
The Scriptures are meant to be interacted with. A divine, all-powerful being whom we refer to as God inspired the culmination of centuries of work, which we now have in the form of the Bible. Yet these texts did not descend from the heavens in the form of a fully written volume free of human “interference”. I call this fallacy the Theology of God’s Ouija Board.
God does not use Ouija Boards.
Quite the contrary – this benevolent deity has absolutely, for some mysterious and wonderful reason, insisted that humans be a part of its creative vision for people and the world. It transmitted truths about the fabric of human-ness, about our strengths and our vulnerabilities, through very human and fallible authors that recorded transcendent truths. Some truths are in the open in the text, and hit us with force and directness. Many others hide in plain sight, and demand careful attention and meditation upon the wisdom contained therein.
Histories. Poems. Proverbs. The mysteries of ancient prophets. Letters to friends and synagogues. The authors of the Bible wrote in many forms over many years.
As we’ve seen in previous entries in this series, the authorship of individual portions of the Scriptures is not always straightforward, particularly when we speak of the Old Testament. We must be open to the possibility that certain OT books have been added to, clarified, or reorganized by editors early in their textual life. Are ancient editors able to be “inspired” by the Spirit of God just as a single, “original” author was?
I would say the answer is yes.
And what of the New Testament? Almost every book of the NT is actually a letter, written to a specific group of people to communicate something about the Messiah and God’s revealed truths of new Life, a closeness to the Divine not previously possible. Is it necessary that each of the NT authors (James, Paul, John, Peter, etc.) saw completely eye-to-eye on every theological matter of faith?
Is it also possible that they occasionally phrase things differently, and think differently about the same things they have heard and seen, exactly because their experiences were uniquely human?
And yet…does a divine all-powerful presence permeate each of their unique experiences, and in the final form of the Scriptures do we have a rich gifting of perspective, thought, and supernatural wisdom which does not always freely hand out answers but instead asks us to think and work hard to dig into Truth?