Posted by: Standing Solus Christus | August 31, 2006

Inspiration (God-Breathed) – Part 2

As we continue our review of the Belgic Confession we would just like to expand on yesterday’s discussion on Article 3 further.  Today we would like to focus on clarifying what is truly inspired.  First, all special revelation that God used human agents to proclaim through speech and/or writing was truly inspired.  Second, in regards to the written revelation, the Scriptures, only the original documents produced by the human agent were inspired.  About this Francis Turretin writes in his Institutes:   

The autographs of Moses, the prophets and apostles are alone authentic in the first sense.  In the latter sense, the faithful and accurate copies of them are also authentic.  2.11.3

Thus, only the original documents that recorded God’s revelation to mankind were inspired.  We say, “were”, because we must concede the fact that these autographs are no longer in existence.  Does this mean the Bibles we currently have are not the inspired word of God?  Well yes, and no.  As Turretin points our current Bibles are inspired, in so far as they faithfully reflect the original autographs.  Although we no longer possess these original autograph’s, through the science of textual criticism, we can affirm that God has providentially preserved His word with an extraordinary high accuracy rate.  Not that we should trust our Bibles solely upon scientific research, but should trust in God’s providence alone. We should also recognize that the original autographs were written in original languages.  Thus, it must be noted that only the Hebrew version of the Old Testament and the Greek version of the New Testament are the truly inspired versions.  This also means the actual word used in the text (which answers many of the question students had in my Greek class about why a certain word was used as opposed to another) including its attributes (i.e. tense, number, and case).   Turretin speaks about this in his Institutes in the following:    

The reasons are: (1) because the sources alone are inspired of God both as to the things and words (2 Tim 3:16); hence they alone can be authentic.  For whatever the men of God wrote, they wrote under the influence of the Holy Spirit (2 Pet 1:21), who, to keep them from error, dictated not only the matter but also the words, which cannot be said of any version.  (2) They are the standard and rule to which all the versions should be applied, just as the copy (ektypon) should answer the pattern (archetypon) and the stream be distinguished from its source.  Here pertains the canon of Gratian, ‘As the faith of the old books must be tested by the Hebrew volumes, so the truth of the new needs the Greek writings for its rule.’  2.11.6

There has been no direct prophecy uttered (except possibly at Pentecost or subsequent tongue speaking events in Acts) nor direct special revelation initially recorded in English, Chinese, German, Spanish, etc.  However, this does not mean that the Scripture should only be written in Greek and Hebrew.  Bible translations are necessary and are inspired in so far as they faithfully reflect accurate translations.  Furthermore, they are a necessary realization of the accomplished work of redemption that was first experienced on Pentecost 2000 years ago, as is stated by Turretin in the following: 

But here it happens by the wonderful grace of God that the division of tongues (which formerly was the sign of a curse) becomes now the proof of a heavenly blessing.  What was introduced to destroy Babel is now used to build up the mystical Zion.  The gospel is preached in all languages; therefore it can and ought to be translated into them.  2.13.2

Again it should be understood as another display of God’s wonderful providence, which He has according to His good pleasure allowed to occur throughout history.  Although, our current translated copy of the Bible is not the truly inspired version, it is really close.  So close that the differences are negligible and do not contradict any essential doctrine of the faith.  We can trust this not solely based upon science, but upon the providence of God.  This is extremely important to know when cults, such as JW’s or LDS, confront us with their tactics in undermining the Scriptures.  Since, in order for them to be a viable religion, they must attack the credibility of the word of God.  Nonetheless, we can be assured that God has preserved His word throughout history for His people of every nation, kindred and tongue (1 Peter 1:23-25; Luke 21:33).  We will continue to review Article 3 in our next entry by considering inerrancy. 


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