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

Don Stewart :: What Is Natural Inspiration? (Intuition Theory)

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Question 5

What Is Natural Inspiration? (Intuition Theory)

One of the more popular theories among those who reject the authority of the Bible, yet want to praise it for its literary qualities, is known as the “natural inspiration” theory. This is also known as the “intuition theory.” It is important that we understand this well-accepted idea of the nature of the Bible.

Claim: the Bible Is Merely a Human Production

Natural inspiration totally denies the supernatural element in Scripture. It holds that the writers of Scripture were simply men of religious genius who possessed unique spiritual insight. Their writings on moral and spiritual truth were ahead of their contemporaries.

Consequently, they wrote the books of the Bible in the same way as any other book has been written. The ideas ultimately came from their own religious insights, not from God Himself. Thus, there is no divine authority to be found in the Bible.

Response to Natural Inspiration

A number of comments need to be made about this theory which attributes Scripture to human genius rather than to God:

  1. The Bible Is Both Human and Divine

    This viewpoint only sees the human side of Scripture—it does not recognize anything divine. The proper view is that the Scriptures are both human and divine. God used human beings to reveal His thoughts and His truths; the Bible is not merely the result of human genius or human religious insight.

    In addition, the Bible nowhere teaches that the writers of Scripture were “inspired men.” It is not the writers, but the writings which were divinely inspired. Paul wrote the following to the Corinthians:

    When we tell you this, we do not use words of human wisdom. We speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths. (1 Corinthians 2:13 NLT)

    The words they used were not words of human wisdom, but of divine wisdom given to them by the living God.

    In fact, we find that some of those who spoke the words of God were of a defective character; such as the Old Testament prophet Balaam. However, the words which he uttered and were recorded were the words of God. Therefore, the Bible does not teach that its words were produced by some special class of “inspired individuals.”

    In addition, Peter tells us that the prophets did not always understand the things which they said or wrote. He said:

    This salvation was something the prophets wanted to know more about. They prophesied about this gracious salvation prepared for you, even though they had many questions as to what it all could mean. They wondered what the Spirit of Christ within them was talking about when he told them in advance about Christ’s suffering and his great glory afterward. They wondered when and to whom all this would happen. (1 Peter 1:10-11 NLT)

    According to this passage, these people who spoke forth the Word of God did not always understand what they had said or what they had written. This shows that their writings were not the production of their intellect or insight.

    Therefore, divine inspiration, when properly understood, has nothing to do with the ability of the writers themselves. The Bible is a result of the work of the Holy Spirit to produce, in written form, the words God wanted to convey. It has nothing to do with the ability of the writers. Our faith is in the final result of what they wrote; God’s Word. Our faith is not in the men who wrote it.

  2. This View Contradicts the Claims of Scripture

    The natural inspiration view is in direct contradiction to what the writers themselves testified about what they said and what they wrote. When Paul wrote to the church at Thessalonica, he said the following:

    And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe. (1 Thessalonians 2:13 NIV)

    The writers of Scripture believed that they were writing the very words of God—not their own religious insights.

  3. It Ignores the Supernatural Character of God’s Word

    The theory of natural inspiration empties the term “inspiration” of its biblical meaning by ignoring its supernatural character. If the Bible is merely a human book, then why can’t the unbeliever understand it? Paul wrote about the lack of ability on the part of the unbeliever to comprehend spiritual truth. He put it this way:

    The unbeliever does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him. And he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14 NET)

    Paul explained why the unbeliever cannot understand Scripture—it is spiritually discerned. The unbeliever does not have the proper equipment.

Conclusion: the Bible Is Not a Mere Human Production: It Is the Word of God

If the Bible only came about as a result of natural inspiration, then why haven’t we seen more books like it written? Why are there no improvements on Scripture in the last two thousand years? Should we not expect more writings that would be equal to or superior to the Scripture?

When Jesus prayed to God the Father, shortly before His death on the cross, He stated that the Word of the Father is truth. He said:

Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. (John 17:17 NRSV)

Jesus did not merely say that God’s Word was “true,” He said that His word was “truth.” The Word of God is the standard of truth.

This is an important distinction. It is one thing to say that God’s Word is true, or correct, but it is something else entirely to make it the highest possible standard—truth. This is exactly what Jesus did. He said that “truth” is what God says. Therefore, we can rightly conclude that the Bible is “truth.”

Summary - Question 5
What Is Natural Inspiration? (Intuition Theory)

The idea of natural inspiration does not fit the facts. The Bible cannot be categorized with other books, or its authors with other human authors. Scripture is inspired in the sense that God supernaturally spoke through the human writers to reveal His authoritative truth to humanity—it is not merely some book that inspires the human heart. In addition, we are told that those without the Spirit of God are unable to understand Scripture. Why then is this the case if the Bible is merely a human production?

If the Bible is limited to human thought alone, then why is there only one such book? Whatever humans have produced in the past has usually been improved upon with time. Why hasn’t any human written a work that has surpassed the Bible? The answer is simple—the Bible is a one-of-a-kind book because God’s unique authority stands behind it. The natural inspiration, or intuition theory, is not in any way biblical.

Finally, Jesus stated that God’s Words were truth—not just true. Therefore, the words of Scripture are the ultimate standard on all matters that it touches.

What Is the Dynamic Theory of the Bible’s Authority? (Divinely Inspired Thoughts, Not Words) ← Prior Section
What Is the Illumination Theory of the Authority of Scripture? Next Section →
CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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