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Don Stewart :: What Are Some Inadequate Theories of the Bible's Authority?

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Don Stewart

There are a number of inadequate theories of the authority of Scripture that have been proposed. They include the following.

1. The Mechanical Dictation Theory

Mechanical dictation argues that the writers of Scripture were mere stenographers and were not at all involved in the composition of the text.

2. The Idea Of Partial Authority

Partial authority has the Scripture being God's Word - but only in certain parts. The authority of Scripture is limited to certain sections.

3. Authoritative Concepts But Not Authoritative Words

This theory argues that only the original concepts were divinely inspired. However, the choice of words was entirely left up to the writer.

4. The Natural Inspiration Theory

Natural inspiration treats the Bible like any other book. It is literature that inspires the heart but it is not the Word of God.

5. The Illumination Theory

This view says that the ability to write Holy Scripture is something that is part of the nature of every believer.

6. The Encounter View (Barthian View, Neoorthodox View)

The encounter view says the Bible becomes God's Word only when the reader interacts with it. This theory believes the Scripture contains errors and contradictions. But that the word of God still comes through to the reader.

7. The Mythological View

The mythological view holds that people can actually encounter God through a reading of the Bible but they reject all accounts of miracles and the supernatural.

Summary

In the history of the church a number of inadequate theories concerning the authority of Scripture have been proposed. One of the most popular is the idea that the Scripture were mechanically dictated to the various writers - the mechanical dictation theory. There is also the idea that only parts of the Bible have authority - the partial inspiration theory. Some hold that it is not the words of Scripture that are authoritative but merely the concepts - the inspired concept theory. A popular view among unbelievers is that the Bible is like any other book - natural inspiration. The illumination theory of inspiration says that the ability to compose Scripture resides in every believer. The encounter view says the Bible only becomes the word of God when a person reads it and personally encounters Christ. The mythological view denies all supernatural elements in Scripture but still arguing that people can experience God through reading the Bible.

None of these theories is consistent with what the Scripture teaches about its own nature and authority.

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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