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Don Stewart :: What Is Dynamic Theory of the Bible's Authority? (Divinely Inspired Thoughts Not Words)

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Don Stewart

There is a view about the Bible's authority that says it is only the thoughts, or concepts that are really divinely inspired but not the actual words of the writers. That is, God initially divinely inspired the writers of Scripture but left them to use their own words and expressions in describing the truth that He revealed to them. Divine inspiration only occurred at that initial moment when God communicated to the authors of Scripture.

This Emphasizes The Human Part Of The Process

Those who hold this view are often reacting against a mechanical approach that sees God almost dictating word-for-word what the Scriptures should say. It attempts to emphasize the human aspect of the composition of the Bible.

It Falls Short Of Explaining The Evidence

While this view attempts to balance the divine/human aspect of Scripture it falls short of the biblical position. There are a number of reasons as to why this is so.

How Do We Know Which Part To Believe?

This view opens the door to an enormous amount of problems. If divine inspiration only occurred at the moment of initial contact between God and the writer, and dealt with their thoughts and not their words, then how can we be certain they chose the right words? How are we able to discern between the writer's own fallible opinions and God's thoughts? Why should we have confidence in the Bible if the forty plus authors were left to their own particular way of stating God's truth as it had initially been revealed to them? Why should we assume their final product was always correct on every matter? Ultimately we cannot if we hold this viewpoint.

The Entire Process Is Divinely Inspired

The process of divine inspiration did not end with the initial contact between God and the authors of Scripture. It continued throughout their composition of the work until the biblical book was finished. We should not assume that God left the human authors to their own devices after the momentary event of divine inspiration.

This View Confuses Inspiration And Illumination

This view also confuses inspiration and illumination. The emphasis on Scripture is on divinely inspired words, not divinely inspired writers. It is not the process, but rather the end product that is stressed. It is all Scripture that is God-breathed, not all writers. Paul wrote.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16).

Peter said that no part of Scripture originated with human beings.

Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:20,21).

Jesus spoke of the importance of His words.

The Spirit is the one who gives life; human nature is of no help! The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life (John 6:63).

Paul wrote

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words (1 Corinthians 2:13).

Paul says that God's revelation comes to humankind, not just in thoughts or concepts, but also in specific words. Divine inspiration extends to both the concepts, the wording, and the words. To be completely reliable the authority of Scripture must extend to the words as well as the thoughts. We understand the thoughts of the biblical writers only through the words they use.

The Concepts Are Divinely Inspired

There is another point we must stress. The concepts in Scripture are divinely inspired. We do not have to make the choice between the individual words being divinely given or merely the concepts as being divinely inspired. God gave both the words and the concepts. Consequently the end result is that the actual wording of Scripture, as well as the concepts, is exactly what God intended.


The dynamic view of inspiration argues that God initially divinely inspired the various writers with his thoughts but then left the composition of these thoughts up to each individual. The divine truths that were revealed to the biblical authors were put in their own words. Therefore it is the concepts of Scripture that are important - not each word.

If each writer were left to express God's thoughts in their own way, then how do we know they expressed it correctly? Unless someone wants to argue that each of these writers was perfect, the logical result would be some errors in the transmission. Then of course we have the problem of finding these errors. As can be readily seen, this idea is ultimately meaningless.

The dynamic view falls short of what the Scripture says about its divine inspiration. While it is important to recognize the human side of divine inspiration it is also important to note that the divine guidance did not end with the initial contact between God and the various writers. Inspiration is a process with the emphasis on the final result, not the initial contact. Consequently the theory of dynamic inspiration leaves much to be desired.


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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