What Verbal Inspiration is Not!

Objections have been raised repeatedly, as we have seen, against the Bible’s teaching of its unique inspiration. In this way an attempt has often been made to undercut the sovereign authority with which the Word addresses men.

Many of the so-called objections against the doctrine of verbal inspiration are caricatures of what the Bible and therefore the Christian churches in obedience to the Bible teach. Straw men have been set up and thereupon attacked, Although this type of attack misses the mark, in that it does not actually meet the issue and the argument, it nonetheless has been successful in confusing and misleading many within the churches. The attackers have tried to make the church say what she doesn’t say. For that reason we have addressed ourselves during the past several months to this subject, in the hope that some of the confusion which has arisen throughout the years may be cleared away and believers may be able better to guard themselves against these subtle attacks.

Tn this final article on the subject we would mention, briefly, three additional caricatures of the doctrine of verbal inspiration, Once again let us note that the opponents ascribe to the church what she doesn’t say at all in her teaching concerning the Word of God.

Verbal inspiration does not mean that the Bible’s style of language and grammar is the most refined.

Some say that the Bible has grammatical errors, solecisms, barbarisms and obscurities and therefore it could not be verbally inspired.


In reply to this objection, it should be noted that thcre are no infallible rules of grammar that belong to the Holy Spirit and by which alone the truth can be conveyed, It is just as true and it may be more clear to the average person to say, “It is me!” than “It is I.” If so, the Holy Spirit would be using a more effective mode of speech if he spoke in this fasllion than if he spoke in a more refined way, In New York City grammatically improper public signs have been purposely used by the city because the city officials found that they got their intended message across better in that way, It may not have been in the best tradition of classical Greek for Paul to be so carried away with his subjects that he would go off on tangents, such as in 1 Corinthians 1:16 ff., or so that he would not finish his sentences, as in Gal. 2:6, but he got his point across most effectively, In fact, we should praise God that the Bible was not written in stilted, polished rhetoric but rather in the lingua franca of the Greek world, the “koine,” which more people could understand than Aeschylus’ Greek. Perhaps ecclesiastical Latin is more refined than Brooklynite English, but the latter is a more effective medium of communication and just as conducive to the truth as is the former.

Verbal inspiration does not mean that the sacred writers were omniscient.

It is sometimes thought that if God the Holy Spirit inspired the Bible writers and if the Bible is infallible, then the hagiographers had to be omniscient.

But verbal inspiration does not imply that God gave the human writers all knowledge. It does imply that they wrote what God desired them to write, so that the Bible can be called God’s Word. It does imply that what they wrote was without error, But it does not exclude the possibility that Paul forgot whom he had baptized in Corinth (I Cor. 1:14–16) , When the Evangelists wrote the life of Christ there is nothing in the doctrine of the Bible which would lead one to believe that they knew everything about his life and all the events surrounding it. They had to make research to find out what they were going to write about (Luke 1:4) and after they did there is no indication that they had all the facts, There was much that they did not know, but what they did write was free from error .

Verbal inspiration does not mean Bibliolatry

Repeatedly the charge is made that if one believes the Bible to be the infallible Word of God, then he has fallen into the error of Bibliolatry. The term Bibliolatry means, etymologically, “worship of the Bible”. The orthodox position, however, is that the Bible is the product of God. It is his breath—theopneustos, “breathed out by God” (II Tim. 3:16). No one holds that the Bible is God, and therefore it is not worshiped, When Christ was on earth, people did not worship his oral words; neither do people worship his written words now. Orthodoxy will respect these words highly because they are God’s words, but they will worship only God himself. And it is a caricature to suggest otherwise.

In this series of articles we have not attempted to set forth the doctrine of Scripture in its fulness, There is so much more to be said on several different phases of this doctrine. Our chid goal has been to clear away some of the most common misunderstandings as to what verbal inspiration means. As we have repeatedly said, we believe on the basis of the Bible’s own claims that it is the inerrant Word of God, But we must not press the term verbal inspiration to mean what it does not imply.