I believe in the inspiration of our scriptures! I believe it so strongly, that I feel the need to bring my very best thinking to the topic. I also believe in the importance of tradition. Traditions can be good, strong, and foundational. There are a lot of positive things to be said about good and strong traditions.
Poking the Bear
But what I don't believe in, and what I don't have any obligation to or patience with, is traditions that think they are more than traditions. And this applies especially to how "the church" (in all of its manifestations) has (over time) defined and codified what is called "the biblical doctrine of inspiration."
Now believe me, I understand: this is like poking a bear and hoping to have a pleasant breakfast! Even so, there are a handful of theories about inspiration that assign for themselves the title "the one true doctrine of biblical inspiration." This approach then thinks it can force-feed me (and all others) its terms and conditions. It then wants to assume some kind of privileged high ground---as if before I can do or say anything, I have to bow down to it.
I not only don't, I won't. This is not what I am called to do as a follower of Jesus.
It is perfectly legit for anyone to study the scriptures and say, here is what we think and believe. But this "we own the one true doctrine of biblical inspiration" approach is more than that.
1. It holds people hostage to ideas they may not understand or accept.
2. In some cases, it even holds livelihoods and income hostage. (This is far more prevalent than most will admit.)
3. But by far the worst, it holds people hostage to ideas about biblical texts that those biblical texts don't actually support. And as people figure that out, they become confused, disillusioned, or even angry, feeling that they have been lied to.
Scripture and Tradition
There's a difference between scripture and tradition, even though there is a relationship between the two.
In popular Christianity, it is quite common for Christians to say, "You haven't proved your case to me!" and then to hide behind a wall of traditions and assumptions about the Bible without feeling any need whatsoever to actually examine the issues within the scriptures.
There is literally no difference between this approach and that of the Pharisees in Mt 15:1-20, where they did not know the difference between tradition and commandment. Jesus stood against this.
I understand and appreciate how traditions grow up (both for the Pharisees and nowadays), and the high motives for such things. We have a need for strong traditions. But when traditions become commandments and when they begin to function as scripture, they often then override and replace the written scriptures themselves. At that point, something else needs to happen.
In popular Christianity, it is quite common for Christians to say,
"You haven't proved your case to me!"
and then to merely fall back into a rose-petalled bed of assumptions
about the Bible without feeling any need whatsoever
to actually think through the issues.
I believe in the inspiration of our scriptures! But not so much in the inspiration of our traditions, however good they might have been or widely they might still be accepted.
And, yes, I certainly do believe that my "weak" description offered in Part 1 is sufficient for describing the inspiration of individual books in our various biblical canons. In fact, I would call the more traditional approach of codifying the "doctrine of inspiration," found just about everywhere in popular Christianity---you know, the "strong" view---as being a bad choice. In this case, the strong view is the wrong view. In fact, this approach is growing so incredibly brittle it is about to shatter. And when it does shatter, it will take down the faith of everyone who has so eagerly accepted it.
Because of such a statement, it will be said of me that I don't believe in the inspiration of biblical texts. But that will be dead wrong. I DO believe in the inspiration of biblical texts. What I DON'T believe are some of the current-day theories about it that have become so sacrosanct for some that they (collectively) have almost become the 4th person of the Godhead.
This topic is long past overdue for serious reconsideration and interchange.
NOTE: Unfortunately, the comments below are duplicated from post #4. This is because Disqus is a defective program and the techs won't correct the problem. Even so, you can still put comments on either post.