God's Appropriation of Scripture
God’s Appropriated Words
A couple of weeks back I outlined the classic belief in the Scriptures from a Christian standpoint. It is not a view that says God is the total author nor is it a view that says humans are the total authors. Rather, it is a view that affirms that God and humanity are in some sense both responsible for the bringing about the text. That article here.
Last week I discussed that since God has no mouth or speech apparatus (given he is a non-physical being), we should not be surprised to find that most of the Bible was not written by mere secretaries listening to the dictated words of Holy God. Instead, I offered one of several methods for how to think through on how God could claim the words of Scripture as his own, all the while the human authors using their minds and hands to bring them about. Article here.
In this third article I want to talk about APPROPRIATION. All of these approaches thus far can be found in the book “Divine Discourse” by the Philosopher Nicholas Wolterstorff. This third approach shows another way that God can claim certain human words to speak for him.
Imagine that you are in a group setting with some friends. One of your friends named Toby says, “I am going to the Packer game this Sunday!” If everyone speaks the same language and has a reasonably efficient understanding of “Packers” then everyone should know that Toby is going to watch the Green Bay Packers play football on the nearest Sunday in the future.
However, what some other people do not yet know is that you also are going to the Packer game this Sunday. Therefore, instead of repeating the exact same words Toby just said, you simply could say aloud, “Me Too!” By your mentioning, “Me too!” you are APPROPRIATING the words Toby has used to also speak for you. You have done this without actually saying the same words as Toby. You have communicated the same thing.
There are many other ways that you could do this. If you cannot physically speak, you could use sign language to affirm that you also are going to the Packer game. Or, if this is a group message on text, you could simply text back, “see you there!” Even more, you could be silent on the matter entirely before the game. And, then when you are seen by Toby and others in a picture later on, it is reflectively possible for your friends to know that you also were planning on going to the game when Toby mentioned his intentions.
In reference to God and the Scriptures, God can simply intend to allow certain individuals writings to speak for him on certain matters in certain times. Plenty of Scriptures, such as when the Apostle Paul admits that the Lord never directly said anything about a certain matter (1 Corinthians 7:25) can be looked at as appropriated by the Lord.
To conclude; Viewing God as Authorizing certain persons to speak for him, or even Appropriating certain person’s writing to speak for him, allows God to keep himself separate from unduly influencing the writers and at the same time, choosing such writings to be his work too.
Next week: I will share still more on this topic.