Response to John Hobbins’ Thoughts on the Bellingham Statement

Posted By on February 10, 2009

What follows is some brief interaction with John Hobbins’ post about the Bellingham Statement (second draft as I recall).

John wrote, “I happen to think that Mike’s view of Scripture is not high enough. He backs away from upholding verbal inspiration.”

Actually, I don’t think this is the case at all.† What I back away from is the idea that God *gave* the writers each word. I could only be seen as backing away from verbal inspiration IF one defines verbal inspiration as the act of God giving each word to the writers. Now, it’s true that most traditionalists in this doctrine (I would guess) would define verbal inspiration in precisely this way. But MUST that be the definition? Is that understanding inherent in theopneustos? Is that the meaning theopneustos would carry in its usage elsewhere in contemporary material? In other words, who made up that definition of verbal inspiration and canonized it?† My view is that every word of every book, upon completion of the process of inspiration (which included editing and redactional composition in places) received God’s stamp of approval. Since I would argue divine approval for every word, how is it that I am dismissing “verbal, plenary” inspiration?† I’m not – I’m just asking for a better definition that conforms to the realia of the text, the processes that produced it, and (negatively) a definition that does not fall victim to what we find in the text itself thereby producing more problems than it solves.

After reading John’s revision, it isn’t clear to me that he would sign it.† What I mean here is it’s not entirely clear whether John was just helping me state MY view (and he did a nice job; I like his rewordings in† a number of places), or if he has produced a view he could sign off on. Maybe he’ll clarify in a reply.

One sentence may produce some quibbling, but only because when I read it, I wonder what John means by the word “intended”. Here’s the sentence, with the italics from John:

Instilling truth about Himself and His works into the hearts and minds of the scriptural writers prepared them to write the very words God intended they write, those words and no others.

Now, John is no Calvinist, so I don’t think he’s suggesting there that there is a *necessary* link between God’s intention and the words to such an extent that the writers could only write the words that God had in his mind in eternity past (in which case the writers weren’t at all free to write as John describes elsewhere so well). So then what does John mean here? I’ll leave that to him, again (perhaps) in a reply. I would reword this last italicized statement this way (note where I put the period and then resume):

Instilling truth about Himself and His works into the hearts and minds of the scriptural writers prepared them to write. The result of that preparation and writing met with the complete approval of God, down to each and every word.

I really like what John has written here and, with his permission, will certainly incorporate a lot of the language in a subsequent installment of the Bellingham Statement. I’m hoping John could indeed sign it, or we could hammer one out that would make that possible.

Did any of you see anything in John’s work that sounds like we’d disagree?† Let us know!

Technorati Tags: ,

About The Author

Comments

2 Responses to “Response to John Hobbins’ Thoughts on the Bellingham Statement”

  1. Kris S says:

    What is this biblical sparring? I hope not, MSH is talented fellow sad to see so many giving him grief. I guess its the same with any profession, they usually want to see the big fall.

  2. MSH says:

    @Kris S: it’s all in geeky fun. Actually, it’s what scholars do, and Mr. Hobbins is a good and kind scholar.

Leave a Reply

Please note: Comment moderation is currently enabled so there will be a delay between when you post your comment and when it shows up. Patience is a virtue; there is no need to re-submit your comment.