Is Divine Inspiration Essential?
Question: There is no doubt that the Bible contains some of the most sublime teachings on morals to be found in the world’s literature. Whether these words were borrowed from other religions or came from the pen of Solomon or the lips of Christ or were written centuries later and wrongly attributed to them seems to me to be beside the point. It is the teachings that count. Nor does the fact that the Bible obviously has many errors and contradictions in it detract from its moral teachings. I don’t see why the Bible has to be defended as infallible.
Response: There are several problems with your thesis. The Bible doesn’t just present some “sublime moral teachings,” but it makes many inescapable claims that have a bearing upon its teachings. It repeatedly claims to be the inerrant Word of God and that its teachings are inspired from God, not invented by men or borrowed from some religion. If it lies about its very foundation, then why should I accept anything else it offers? Furthermore, such a mixture of lies and sublime moral precepts would present a contradiction difficult to explain.
The Bible also claims to tell the true history of the Jews and of other ancient nations; the true account of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ; the true account of the early church, its persecution by the rabbis and Roman authorities, the conversion of Paul and his missionary travels, and Paul’s teachings, which he claimed to have received not from the other apostles but directly from the resurrected Christ in heaven, if these and many other claims are not true, then the Bible is literally filled with lies. Would you not admit that if the Bible is filled with lies, that fact would reflect badly upon its moral teachings?
Furthermore, these other elements presented in the Bible in addition to its moral teachings are so interwoven with the whole as to constitute an integral part of the Christian faith. The Bible must either be accepted or rejected in its entirety. If it is not true in even one area, then Christianity becomes untenable. Each part of the Bible is intimately tied to every other, so that if one falls the whole falls with it. The Bible does not contain errors and contradictions, as you suggest; and if it did, it would not be worthy of our trust.
Attorney Irwin H. Linton carefully examined the Bible just as he would a case in court. He based his faith in the Bible upon the evidence. Linton explained the vital importance of whether or not the Bible in its entirety is actually God’s Word:
“The accuracy of the record of a case on appeal is a thing that must be settled beyond dispute before an appellate court will undertake or form an opinion about the trial below; and the infallibility of the record upon which rest the eternal essentials of our faith—the deity of Christ, His voluntary, atoning death, bodily resurrection and impending return in power and glory—are all rendered uncertain in a mind in which the accuracy of the Bible record is in doubt.
“If we do not give full faith and credit to the Written Word which we have seen, experience proves that we are in great danger sooner or later of diminishing the love and honor we give the Living Word [Christ] whom we have not seen; for our conviction that . . . God became flesh and dwelt among us . . . is based upon the facts on which such conclusion rests; and if the record of the facts be impugned, who can retain the conclusion based upon them?
“The deadly effect upon my faith and the insuperable difficulties in which I found myself involved when I made a tentative trial of the view . . . that the Bible may be wrong, and is only human in all but its religious teachings, made this matter clear to me for all time.”
— An excerpt from In Defense of the Faith (pp. 79-81) by Dave Hunt