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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: False Views of Scripture

Don Stewart :: What Is the Partial Inspiration Theory? (The Bible Contains the Word of God)

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What Is the Partial Inspiration Theory? (The Bible Contains the Word of God)

False Views of the Bible – Question 3

The partial inspiration theory holds to the divine authority of Scripture, but it believes that some parts are not authoritative or God-breathed. According to this theory, the Bible is not the Word of God – the Bible contains the Word of God.

Claim: Only Parts of the Bible Are Divinely Inspired

Those who hold to a partial inspiration, or partial authority of Scripture, usually argue that God’s truth still may be found among the writings, even though there are parts that contain contradictions and errors. They believe it is not necessary to argue that all parts of Scripture are divinely authoritative or accurate.

Some people who hold this theory believe that only the teachings that were unknowable to the human authors were divinely inspired. Information that humans could discover on their own was not divinely revealed or kept from human error. Therefore, only the parts of Scripture that deal with unseen spiritual realities, such as God, angels, heaven and hell, are correctly reported. The other portions of the Bible may contain errors.

Response to the Partial Inspiration Theory

A few observations need to be made about this view. They are as follows:

1. How Do We Know Which Parts to Trust?

The main problem with this theory is how to determine which parts are divinely inspired and which are not. Who makes the call? Each person would end up making their own Bible to fit their own desires. In doing so, they would be switching roles with God. There would be no ultimate source of authority. Making a distinction between those areas which can be known by humans and those which cannot be known does not help us either. Basically, it is saying that in areas in which we can investigate, such as historical events, the Bible may be in error. In other words, the event did not happen the way the Bible says that it did.

On the other hand, we are supposed to believe that the spiritual realities recorded in the Bible, which are impossible for us to investigate, are reported with one hundred per cent accuracy! Thus, we are to believe the Bible contains errors in areas which we can investigate, but are to believe that the Bible is always accurate in areas we cannot investigate. Obviously, this theory is not very convincing.

2. No Two People Agree on What Constitutes Scripture

In addition, there would be no consensus as to which parts come from God and which do not. Since people cannot agree upon which parts of Scripture to trust and which parts not to trust, this theory is meaningless.

For example, there are those who only want to believe the words of Jesus and not the words of the apostles. However, such a viewpoint contradicts the teachings of Christ. Jesus entrusted His own authority to His apostles. Indeed, the complete explanation of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and heavenly ministry comes from the ministry of the apostles—not from teaching in the life of Christ. If a person rejects the full trustworthiness of the Scripture, then they will come up with an explanation of Jesus’ life and ministry that fundamentally differs from that of the New Testament.

3. All Scripture Is Considered Authoritative

The position of Scripture is that all of it is God-breathed—not just some of it. Paul wrote the following to Timothy:

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV)

While some parts of Scripture may be more relevant than others, all Scripture is equally divinely inspired or God-breathed. Furthermore, all parts are important in God’s revelation of His overall plan for the world. Nowhere do we find Scripture even hinting that God divinely inspires some parts, while other parts are not inspired.

Furthermore, to disbelieve any part of the Scripture is to disbelieve God. On the day of His resurrection, Jesus rebuked two of His own disciples for not believing what all of the Old Testament had to say about Him. Luke writes:

Then he [Jesus] said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared!” (Luke 24:25 NRSV)

To be consistent, we must believe everything that the Scripture says.

Conclusion: Partial Inspiration Gives Humanity No Ultimate Standard of Authority

The uniqueness of divine inspiration rules out the possibility of either a partial inspiration of Scripture or various degrees of inspiration. All of Scripture is equally divinely inspired by God the Holy Spirit. The Bible must be completely inspired of God to have any type of divine authority.

We must remember that the first recorded attack of the devil was against God’s Word. In the Garden of Eden, we read of the following encounter with Eve and the snake:

The snake was sneakier than any of the other wild animals that the Lord God had made. One day it came to the woman and asked, “Did God tell you not to eat fruit from any tree in the garden?” The woman answered, “God said we could eat fruit from any tree in the garden, except the one in the middle. He told us not to eat fruit from that tree or even to touch it. If we do, we will die.” “No, you won’t!” the snake replied. “God understands what will happen on the day you eat fruit from that tree. You will see what you have done, and you will know the difference between right and wrong, just as God does.” (Genesis 3:1-5 CEV)

The snake denied that God had spoken truthfully. Nothing has really changed since that time. Denial that God has truthfully spoken, even if only in certain parts of Scripture, is still a denial of God’s Word. The Bible teaches that God’s Word is truthful in all its words and in all its parts. Anything less is not the view the Bible has of itself.

Summary – Question 3
What Is the Partial Inspiration Theory? (The Bible Contains the Word of God)

The partial inspiration theory admits the Word of God is somewhere contained in Scripture, but that God’s Word should not be equated with Scripture. There are portions of Scripture that contain God’s Word, while other portions do not. God’s truth may still be found in the Bible despite errors and contradictions.

This theory, although popular in some circles, is meaningless. It is not logical to choose certain parts of the Bible that fit one’s own view of the world. First, there is the problem of determining which parts of the Bible are authoritative and which are not. There is no divine standard to make this judgment. Everyone ends up making his or her own decision as to what belongs and what does not. They become the standard of authority. Also, this theory is against the teaching of the Bible. Nowhere do we have the slightest hint that some parts of the Bible are authoritative, while others are not. Consequently, the theory of the partial inspiration of Scripture is not really an option for those who take the Bible seriously.

Was the Bible Dictated by God to Humanity? (Mechanical Dictation) ← Prior Section
What Is the Dynamic Theory of the Bible’s Authority? (Divinely Inspired Thoughts, Not Words) Next Section →
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