Q&A-“Is the Bible (Canon) a compilation of human writings or truly and completely the word of God?"
This question asked during the Q&A, as it was worded is falsely assuming that this is an either/or proposition. EITHER the Bible is written by God OR it is written by humans. To pose the question this way is to veer off into a technically heretical position about Scripture. If we say that Scripture was written by God alone then we are not representing the original Apostolic Church’s position on the Bible. If we take the position that only humans produced the Bible, then again, we are not representing the original Apostolic Church’s position on the Bible.
That is why, as a pastor, I usually begin with trying to understand the human dimension of Scripture. How was it written, by whom, were additions added, what was the purpose of the writing etc. Then I move into thinking through the implications of such a text for God’s people. Why would God have included this text in our Bible? How did the early communities who read it derive wisdom and direction for their lives? How can we still draw close to God by reading these texts today?
Very often people have cited that 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that God inspired the text. Some who quote this text mean to cut to the chase and say, “Ha, see God wrote it!!!” But two things need to be pointed out. First, citing one text while ignoring others is never a good practice. So many books tell us who their author was, “Paul, an Apostle” or “I, Peter” or “John” brought forth a given text. Second, 2 Timothy 3:16 does affirm that the pages of Scripture are inspired of God, but it does not affirm that only God wrote the text. He inspired it with and through human beings. That is the point!
Sometimes we can make better sense that the Scriptures are truly the product of God and truly the product of humans by pointing to Jesus Christ. Most of the classic heresies about Jesus (wrong views about him) stemmed from siding too much to his humanity and downgrading his divinity, or too much to his divinity and downgrading his humanity. By admitting that Jesus is human, the early church was not denying that he was divine. By admitting that he was divine, the earlier church was not denying that he was human. Both were affirmed. Truly human and truly God.
The same must be held with the Scripture. It is truly the product of God and truly the product of humanity.
Now, after we recognize each dimension of Scripture, we are given some flexibility for thinking about the proper balance. I personally like to emphasize a few things that I think are quite solid from both Scripture and logic. First is God’s foreknowledge. Given God has complete foreknowledge, he knows who will write which text when, and can select those texts which will adequately speak for him into the future. Thus, foreknowledge figures into this quite largely for me. Moreover, the themes of dictation, authorization, as well as appropriation all figure large in my thinking, which I have written about on other blogs. Practically, we can say that the early followers of Jesus Christ, graced by God, produced the kinds of writings about God, that still guide the church to this day.