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Featured Scripture dictation, mechanical or otherwise

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by rlvaughn, Apr 16, 2021.

  1. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn Well-Known Member
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    The comments on God’s Inspiration of the Bible raise the subject of dictation. I am creating this thread more specific just for that topic.
    That seems right for the particular expression, but I believe there are two additional considerations: 1. That fundamentalists and evangelicals have changed their expressions in reaction to liberal attacks on biblical inspiration (e.g. older writers were not afraid of the word dictation, or describing writers as musical instruments played by God or secretaries). 2. That fundamentalists and evangelicals have now adopted the liberal term “mechanical dictation” as a pejorative descriptor of a view they claim is false. Conservative writers often set it over against and different from verbal plenary inspiration. I do not find that helpful.

    Verbal plenary inspiration, at its simplest, means that all the words in Scripture are God’s words, completely true and without any error. Those who hold a dictation theory of inspiration hold that just as firmly as those who do not hold dictation. Dictation is one explanation of how the process of inspiration took place.

    It seems there are always exceptions to rules. However, I have never known anyone who held an idea of God dictating the scriptures to the writers who denied that inspiration is verbal and plenary. They merely disagree on the details with others who also believe inspiration is verbal and plenary but processed in a different way.

    God did indeed dictate at least some of his word (for speaking or writing; Isaiah 38:4ff.; Jeremiah 30:2; 36:2, 27-32; Revelation 2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 14)). That seems to be a fact that few to none who hold verbal plenary inspiration would dispute. The disagreement, then, seems to be whether God did this consistently with the total revelation of scripture. Those on the contrary-wise point out that the writings show variations in style, word choice, grammar – revealing the personalities of each individual writer. But, if they had been dictated by God to the writers they would show a consistent style throughout the Bible. Is this a necessary inference?

    Could God have infallibly guided men to write his word perfectly and without error, while allowing them to express their own language, emotions, backgrounds, and personalities?
    Could God have dictated his word to men perfectly and without error, while preserving the language, emotions, backgrounds, and personalities of the writers?

    Another question worth pondering was raised by John R. Rice in Our God Breathed Book, whether the Scriptures existed eternally in the mind and plan of God before he gave them to men to write down.

    Just for information, dictation in dictionary terms:
    dictate, verb. lay down authoritatively; prescribe; say or read aloud (words to be written down, typed, or recorded on tape).
    dictation, noun. the action of saying words aloud to be typed, written down, or recorded on tape; an utterance that is typed, written down, or recorded. the action of giving orders authoritatively or categorically.
     
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  2. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    So far so good. I'll follow this thread to see how it develops. I've got to go home in a while, where we don't have WIFI, but I'll try to keep track.

    I will throw in a couple of recent quotes by theologians on Rice's views here. According to Erickson, “Rice accepts the term dictation but disavows the expression mechanical dictation.” (1) Geisler wrote, “Rice hastened to say it was not mechanical dictation; it was simply verbal dictation.” (2)

    (1) Millard Erickson, Christian Theology, 3rd ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2013), 175, fn 6.
    (2) Norman Geisler, Systematic Theology, Vol. 1 (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2002), 431.
     
  3. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn Well-Known Member
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    That mechanical dictation was used by Jones, Jr. and BJU against Brother Rice demonstrates its utility as a pejorative.
     
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  4. SavedByGrace

    SavedByGrace Well-Known Member

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    I really cannot understand any problem with the Words of the entire Holy Bible, being "dictated" to the Writers, who were instruments of producing the Word of God. I, along with quite a few Greek scholars, as I have listed elsewhere, are very clear that the Greek, "θεόπνευστος", is passive, I know that John for one objects to this, but has failed to show on what grounds from the Greek grammar. I gave examples from older Greek scholars, which John said were too old and outdated. I then gave more recent Greek scholars, and he still says they are wrong. I do not accept that John is right here. Even the liberal NT Greek scholar, Dr Winer, had this to say;

    “Adjectives, from verbs, To adjectives directly derived from a verbal root…θεόπνευστος inspiratus…That this word in 2 Tim. iii. 16. is to be taken in a passive sense, there can be no doubt” (Dr George Winer; A Grammar of the New Testament Diction, p.109, and note)

    No doubt John will again argue against this!

    This verse aside, I have shown in another thread, that 2 Peter 2:21 is conclusive from the Greek;

    "For no prophecy ever came by the will of man: but men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit"

    "moved" here is the Greek, "φερομενοι", which verb, present, passive, participle. This is used "to bear along", as "to move by bearing". I will agian quote John Trapp's commentary, with describes the Greek extremely well

    As they were moved] φερομενοι. Forcibly moved, acted, carried out of themselves to say and do what God would have them

    It is like the Holy Spirit took hold of the hands of the Writers of the Books of the Bible, and "made" them write what He wanted them to write, and they were simply passive instruments in this process.

    This is not my theology, but what the Bible actually teaches. And, Greek professors have been proven to be wrong before.
     
    #4 SavedByGrace, Apr 16, 2021
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2021
  5. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn Well-Known Member
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    Some quotes from the past, and a couple of cautions: 1. Some of these excerpts, inspected closely in their contexts, might be interpreted differently by various readers. 2. Many old quotes appeared first in some other language, and have been translated. A quote with some context will probably give the sense well. A quote merely using the word dictation might need to be viewed with much more scrutiny.

    Justin Martyr (circa AD 100 – ca AD 165)
    “For neither by nature nor by human conception is it possible for men to know things so great and divine, but by the gift which then descended from above upon the holy men, who had no need of rhetorical art, nor of uttering anything in a contentious or quarrelsome manner, but to present themselves pure to the energy of the Divine Spirit, in order that the divine plectrum itself, descending from heaven, and using righteous men as an instrument like a harp or lyre, might reveal to us the knowledge of things divine and heavenly. Wherefore, as if with one mouth and one tongue, they have in succession, and in harmony with one another, taught us both concerning God, and the creation of the world, and the formation of man, and concerning the immortality of the human soul, and the judgment which is to be after this life, and concerning all things which it is needful for us to know, and thus in divers times and places have afforded us the divine instruction.” Hortatory Address to the Greeks (Roberts-Donaldson Translation, Chapter 8)

    Augustine of Hippo (Ad 354 – 430)
    “Therefore, when those disciples have written matters which He declared and spake to them, it ought not by any means to be said that He has written nothing Himself; since the truth is, that His members have accomplished only what they became acquainted with by the repeated statements of the Head. For all that He was minded to give for our perusal on the subject of His own doings and sayings, He commanded to be written by those disciples, whom He thus used as if they were His own hands.” Augustine’s De Consensu Evangelistarum Libri Quatuor (Harmony of the Gospels, S. D. F. Salmond translation) In Systematic Theology, Geisler gives this translation: “When they write what he has taught and said, it should not be asserted that He did not write it; since the members only put down what they had come to know at the dictation of the Head. Therefore, whatever He wanted us to read concerning His words and deeds, He commanded His disciples, His hands to write. Hence one cannot but receive what he reads in the Gospels, though written by the disciples, as though it were written by the very hand of the Lord himself.”

    Gisbert Voetius (1589 – 1676)
    “It must be held that the Holy Spirit dictated in unmediated and extraordinary fashion, everything which was, and was to be, written. Both things and words, matters which the authors previously did not know or could not remember, as well as things which they did truly know, both historical and particular details, and universal dogmas both theoretical and practical, they learned these things, whether by sight, by hearing, by reading, or by meditation.” As cited by Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics I/2, London: T & T Clark, 1936

    Johannes Andreas Quenstedt (1617 – 1688)
    “The Holy Spirit not only inspired in the prophets and apostles the content and the sense contained in Scripture, or the meaning of the words, so that they might of their own pleasure clothe and furnish these thoughts with their own style and their own words; but the Holy Spirit actually supplied, inspired, and dictated the very words and each and every term individually.” Johannes Andreas Quenstedt, Theologia didactico-polemica, as cited by Horst Dietrich Preuss, Old Testament Theology, Volume I, Westminster John Knox Press, p. 281

    These quotes suggest the idea of dictation of the Scriptures by God to his writers, is not a new or obscure idea.
     
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  6. SavedByGrace

    SavedByGrace Well-Known Member

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    @rlvaughn, what is your own position?
     
  7. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn Well-Known Member
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    Some statements by Louis Gaussen in Theopneustia: the Plenary Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures (1841). Perhaps he falls between the views of dictation and more free speech of the human writers.

    “Yes (and we gladly, in this point, concur with objectors), in one place we have the phraseology, accent, and voice of a Moses, in another, of a St. John; here of an Isaiah, there of an Amos; here of a Daniel, and here of a Peter, Nehemiah, or Paul. We recognise, we hear, we see them; it is impossible to be mistaken. This fact we admit, we delight to contemplate it, we admire it greatly; and we see in it (as we shall have occasion to reiterate) a proof of the divine wisdom which has indited the Scriptures.” pp. 47-48

    “If then God himself declares to us his having dictated the entire Scriptures, who will venture to say that this fifth verse of the 11th chapter of St. John is less from God than is the sublime language in which that Gospel begins, and which describes to us the Eternal Word?” p. 54

    “Well! such is the Bible. It is not, as you venture to say, a book which God has charged men, previously enlightened, to write under his superintendence: it is a book which God has dictated to them; it is the word of God; the Spirit of the Lord spake to its authors, and his words have proceeded from them…

    “9. That the style of Moses, Ezekiel, David, St. Luke, and St. John, may, at the same time, also be the style of God, is what a child could tell us.” p. 57
     
  8. Yeshua1

    Yeshua1 Well-Known Member
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    Both were sound in how they viewed the inspiration of the scriptures!
     
  9. Yeshua1

    Yeshua1 Well-Known Member
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    We are just saying that God factored in the human equation, as he used the individual style and expression of each writer, as the books of Luke and Peter were not equally polished in their greek vocabluary and style!
     
  10. Yeshua1

    Yeshua1 Well-Known Member
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    God allowed each writer to express divine truth in their own peculiar style and way!
     
  11. SavedByGrace

    SavedByGrace Well-Known Member

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    the Inspiration of the Bible is not simply "superintending" by the Holy Spirit. the Bible IS His actual Words, and therefore Infallible and Inerrant.
     
  12. SavedByGrace

    SavedByGrace Well-Known Member

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    this means nothing really.
     
  13. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn Well-Known Member
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    My own position is that I am reviewing the idea of dictation. I have never thought the how was all that important as long as we understood the finished product is the perfect word of God, totally true without any mixture of error. I still think that is most important. However, we can find in the scriptures that at least some of the word is given by what might be called dictation (that is, in the way the Bible describes it being given in specific instances). It seems the majority view is that since the Bible does not say that about all of it on every occasion, then it must only be true concerning the times when dictation is specifically mentioned. On the other hand, might it not be more likely that God gives us specific examples of what he did on a regular basis? And which view might best accord with 2 Timothy 3:16 and 2 Peter 2:21?

    Looking into this more carefully, it seems to me that the prevailing view (that God did not dictate the words) is not primarily based on the scriptures saying what happened, but mostly on the observation of how the styles -- the writers’ own language, emotions, backgrounds, and personalities come out in the writing. This seems to be based on an a priori assumption that God could not dictate the word in a way that each writer’s “style” could/would be preserved. But why not? If God is able to allow the writers to express their own language, emotions, backgrounds, and personalities while infallibly guiding them to write his word perfectly and without error, why is he not able to dictate his word to men perfectly and without error, while preserving the language, emotions, backgrounds, and personalities of the writers? Which of these two views might the text of scripture best support?
     
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  14. SavedByGrace

    SavedByGrace Well-Known Member

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    As I have shown, the Greek for 2 Peter 1:21, and 2 Timothy 3:16, where the passive is used, regardless of some arguing against this, shows that God the Holy Spirit, as Dr Thayer gives the meaning of the verb used in the former:

    to move by bearing; passive, like the Latinferor equivalent tomoveor, to be conveyed or borne, with a suggestion of speed or force (often so in secular authors from Homer down): of persons borne in a ship over the sea

    Trapp is very much on the mark on this, as they Greek reads
     
  15. Yeshua1

    Yeshua1 Well-Known Member
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    Are you saying that God using human beings to record as they choose to have it put down to paper meant could not be made perfect by the Holy Spirit "superintending" over their finished work?
     
  16. Yeshua1

    Yeshua1 Well-Known Member
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    I think that we can see that God intended and did use the individuals to express down based upon their own style and vocabluary!
     
  17. SavedByGrace

    SavedByGrace Well-Known Member

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    God "made" the Writers of the Bible write what they did, as though He held their hands as they wrote
     
  18. SavedByGrace

    SavedByGrace Well-Known Member

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    I really don't see what this reasoning shows?
     
  19. Stratton7

    Stratton7 Member

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    I would have to agree you here, as I’m also more curious now than I have before I really gave it this much thought.
    I’ve heard pastors point out that Luke, being a physician, articulated his words in a much different fashion than Matt., Mark and John. Is this possible? (Anything w/ God is possible). Could God have had His Words written down w/ their personal way of speaking intertwined? I have always thought these men wrote down, maybe, what they thought were their own words that turned out to be God’s Words as the Holy Ghost moved them along. I don’t think it was mechanical and I’m not yet sold on that God had everyone speak in the same way. But am open “ears” as well and would like to continue to see replies on this. :Thumbsup
     
  20. SavedByGrace

    SavedByGrace Well-Known Member

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    A good example for the use of the passive verb in 1 Peter 1:21, "φερομενοι", can be found in its use in Acts 27:15,17:

    “And when the ship was caught and could not face the wind, we gave way to it and were driven along (ἐφερόμεθα)… After hoisting it up, they used supports to undergird the ship. Then, fearing that they would run aground on the Syrtis, they lowered the gear, and thus they were driven along (ἐφέροντο)”

    In both cases the ship was “driven” by the wind. Likewise, the Writers of the Books of the Holy Bible, were “passive” in what they wrote, as they were “driven along” to by the Holy Spirit. Because the Words that they wrote, “came from God” (ἀπὸ θεοῦ), with God being the “source” of what they wrote. The "ship" can be seen as the Writers of the Books of the Holy Bible. The "wind" here can be the Holy Spirit, Who "drove" the Writers to write what they did. It is more than simply "guide" them to write what they wrote.
     
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