Monday, September 06, 2010

The Dual Authorship of Scripture

One of my opponents claimed in the debate on 9-2-2010 that since the "Meditations" by Marcus Aurelius presents a consistent message and style throughout thus proving singular authorship yet because the Bible differs from "Testament to Testament", this shows that it can't possibly be the work of a singular author, namely, God.

First, not only does this show how ignorant our critic is of the traditional orthodox view of inspiration and authorship (i.e., dual authorship), but this also demonstrates that our critic's standards for inspiration are higher than God's! Dual authorship teaches that both God and man are responsible for producing the original writings of the Bible. 2 Peter 1:19-21 sums it up quite well,
So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. 20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
Second, the reason why the Scripture uses different stylistic elements, different language, and reflects different cultural understandings and time periods is because "men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God." Those "men" were the product of a variety of cultures, times, and languages and they were the God-ordained secondary cause, or the earthly means that God used to produce Scripture. Thus, a human influence on Scripture is expected and appreciated.

Third, Notice that v. 21 tells us that "no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will" meaning, that the first cause of Scripture doesn't originate from man's will but from God's mind. As noted above, the secondary cause is man; i.e., God carries the man along with his individual talents, abilities, and characteristics to put a pen to the page to write God's word; nevertheless, the end product is the God-breathed text. Dr. Robert Reymond explains this quite well when commenting on 2 Peter 1:20-21,
In this remarkable statement Peter first asserts two negatives about the production of prophecy: first, that no prophecy of Scripture originated in ("arose, came from," ginetai) the prophet's estimate of the current state of affairs or or in his prognosis about the future, that is, no prophecy of Scripture emerged from his own understanding, and second, that no prophecy of Scripture was motivated by man's will, that is, no prophecy of Scripture came from mere human impulse. By these negatives Peter totally excludes the human element as the ultimate originating cause of Scripture. [Robert Reymond, A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith, 2nd ed., (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1998), 38.]
Fourth, here's a few Scriptural examples:
So Moses wrote this law and gave it to the priests, the sons of Levi who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and to all the elders of Israel. 10 Then Moses commanded them, saying, "At the end of every seven years, at the time of the year of remission of debts, at the Feast of Booths, 11 when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God at the place which He will choose, you shall read this law in front of all Israel in their hearing. 12 "Assemble the people, the men and the women and children and the alien who is in your town, so that they may hear and learn and fear the LORD your God, and be careful to observe all the words of this law. (Deut. 31:9-12 NAU)
Moses wrote God's law, but they weren't to fear Moses, they were to fear God if they failed to heed what Moses wrote down. This show that the authority for the writing didn't rest with Moses, but with God. Thus, God inspired Moses, Moses wrote what God wanted him to using Moses' own writing style and characteristics, but God gets the credit and the authority. This is what 2 Peter 1:21 is talking about.

God also commanded Isaiah,
And now, go, write it before them on a tablet and inscribe it in a book, that it may be for the time to come as a witness forever. (Isa 30:8 ESV)
God told Jeremiah,
"Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, 'Write all the words which I have spoken to you in a book. (Jer 30:2 NAU)
Fifth, in the New Testament, Jesus promised His disciples that the Holy Spirit would bring to their remembrance the teachings which Jesus Himself had spoken to them (John 14:26; cf. 16:12-13). These teachings could be expressed in different ways by the different gospel writers in such a way that the exact words Jesus spoke were not necessarily repeated verbatim in every context (esp. since He more than likely preached in Aramaic and the gospels were written in Greek), but that the essential content of Christ's teachings are transmitted without error in the original texts. Thus, there's room for the human writer to use his style, gifts, and characteristics while the Holy Spirit carries him along to put on the page what God wants on the page without making the human author an automaton. As Grudem is quick to note,
Once again it must be noted that these word are still considered to be God's own words, even though they are written down mostly by human beings and always in human language. Still, they are absolutely authoritative and absolutely true: to disobey them or disbelieve them is a serious sin and brings judgment from God (1 Cor. 14:37; Jer. 36:29-31). [Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000), 50.
In conclusion, we don't expect a consistent style throughout since the Bible doesn't expect it. However, contrary to the claims of our critic, we do see a consistent overall message throughout; at least those who have eyes to see and ears to hear can see it.

1 comment:

  1. Let's not forget and by this thread, underscore what the Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippian brethren:

    Php 4:9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me--practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

    What I like to say to anyone listening to me is to disregard everything I say that God disregards! Everything else, well, that probably is what God intended to say through me! And there is absolutely no contradictions with what God says through anyone He chooses to use to say it!