Nature, man and the Scripture
With the acceptance of the existence of a Supreme Intelligence- the cause of all things hereby referred to as God- it is reasonable enough to expect that every activity of his wisdom and power should exude the certain elements of His superior origin. The productions of the Divine Power may seem frail and finite and in most cases brief in their duration, even insignificant when looked at in their individuality. However, in both their creation and conservation from the smallest to the largest, there is evidence of supreme power and skill. With this regard, they seem to be embedded upon human reason as proclaiming the name of the Divine Author, distinguishing them from the temporal human productions. The recognition of this divine work that are revealed to humans through the dictates of their senses is the proper function of reason.
An instance of observing nature does not reveal to humans the infinite wisdom and power of the Creator and this is a fact completely recognized by philosophers. In their endeavor, they have never come to reveal the secrets of nature and existence, neither have they unfolded all of its involutions. As men advance, the horizon recede and become even wider. Men of genius have invested their energies on single objects and have unearthed what has been considered as hidden laws, the properties that have hitherto been considered a mystery, the relationship between entities, extended dependencies and irrefutable facts. Curiosity has been paused as the world is involved with verifying such findings and yet, science is always set for a new course, aspiring for higher summit. It is found that the discoveries made always lead to more discoveries and supply a more ground for further discoveries and the cycle continues interminably.
The most curios minds in every nation occupy themselves with investigating the plans and laws of nature as if they could unravel its mysteries, an endeavor that even themselves know is unfathomable. One certain fact is that the grand secret remains impenetrable. Behind the curtain of its own effects lies hidden the mysterious cause for who can find God by searching? The capacity of human knowledge may have been extended by scientific discoveries but their substantial ignorance persists. As much as humans often dissolve the boundaries of their actual territories, they move within the limits of creation which often dissipates its hidden treasures and exhibits remarkable unity though prohibits uniformly by a frontier that cannot be penetrated its ulterior purpose. Human beings have not approached the Creator and He still remains unapproachable by these processes. All human inquiries end up at a point that prohibits further analysis. In all their inquiries and findings, observations and imaginations, human beings have never discovered a realm of existence with any indication that it is another creator’s territory. Neither have they reached a point which they consider to be under the direction of a different will. Thus, they have paid homage to the sacred seal that God has placed on each of His productions. This uncontested productions of His genius has constrained man’s reason to acknowledge, adore and admire the uniqueness and perfection of His activities. These characteristics that are evident in God’s productions draw a broad and clear line between His work and the work of human skill. If all this goes beyond the comprehension of men, that the Infinite author only reveals Himself through his works and only by his own light, ho else would men be certain of their purpose?
Supposing that God made some kind of revelation, then it would only be fair that this revelation is accompanied by some evidence that resemble those seen in His work. We would presume it to possess characteristics that are unique to it, just like nature, and that its facts and principles will not only be in harmony with the entire cosmos but with human history and consciousness. Further, its authority will not be sustained by reason of miracles and prophesies but satisfaction may be derived from the being of a God. Above all, the revelation should be found to be consistently powerful and convincing. The assumption in such a case is that men possess a divine revelation. From this point, we must proceed to present the facts in correspondence with its statement and in so doing, employ rational methods by which the verification of any written document is ascertained. Should the written document(s) offer a true detail, whether it is a narrative, scientific theory on some issue or just a mere catalog of things, facts will correspond with statements and hence will be declared faithful. A similar analysis will also be applicable if such a thing as revelation does not exist. A true revelation cannot contradict nature. A true revelation cannot contradict history. A true revelation cannot contradict the facts of human consciousness. A true revelation is to be found in the Scripture.
The words in the Scripture may be mistaken, often misinterpreted, but if it claims to offer information about events that have happened or things that are in existence and are in harmony with every known entity then it may subserve the cause of revelation. It is the clue by which human beings can comprehend the transcendent. There may be a possibility of God making a revelation on issues that none of the human faculties could supply any valid evidence. The direct proof of divine authority in the context of communication would thus be the foundation upon which such a revelation would rest. He context of its contents would have been beyond any method of testing that humans could possibly employ. On the other hand, if humans had at their disposal a revelation that gives an opportunity for verification beside being a direct and basic proof of divine intervention, then it must be accepted that such a revelation has all evidence that humans could possibly yearn. Such a revelation must also be within the sphere of their own observation and experience.
Divinity of the Scripture
There are two classes of arguments that prove the divinity of the Scripture. These two classes of arguments are dominated evidences that are internal and external. I propose to consider the Bible on its own pretensions so that the opportunity of testing it against the facts may be open and in case the arguments will be found to be valid, and that evidence supports its truth and to the identity of its authorship with the moral and mental composition of man together with the material system of the universe. The establishment of practical truth of divine inspiration of the Scripture can only be ascertained if other evidence are necessary as proof. Even though its verification would come as a necessary inference derived from human reason about the proven fact of divine inspiration, it will also be a confirmation of faith to conceive of how the statements are verified historically and empirically. The truth of the premise can first be inferred from its divine origin or inspiration. Another way of inferring its truth is by climbing from its accomplishment to its veracity. With this regard, its divinity will follow as an undeniable result.
The direct evidence of the divinity of the Scripture are numerous, emanating from different and unrelated sources which in most cases are complicated in their character and augment continually. These pieces of evidence may be inexhaustible and boundless, giving men a reason for inquiry and reward the fixed attention of every passing generation. From the very first generation to the present and to the last, each has been supplied with an ample sufficiency to prove its cordial intake of the degree of revelation which it possessed and to shun disbelief. The advanced position of human beings in science supplies a good basis for further corroboration of the Scripture. Historical records, inquiries of the philosophers, anthropological findings; all shed light to scriptural facts that hitherto were not clear. Such include the discovery of Noah’s Ark on Mount Ararat, the Dead Sea Scrolls among others. All these sources provide various verifications that would not have been anticipated even with a cautious process of argumentation. However, not much has been done in integrating these pieces of evidence so as to bear evidence of inspiration.
In the very first pages of the revelation, the general principles concerning these subjects are laid down in numerous distinct but brief statements. From their consistency with the condition of man and of creation, there is less likelihood of it emanating from any source apart from that which comprehend nature and the relation of all things. They represent a kind of knowledge that could not have been gotten by any of the methods known to man. The insight into laws and facts of nature which cannot be ascribed to the individual writer, nor to his teachers, are displayed in the Scripture. If the information dissipated by this writer to the audience is seen to be of unique character, accurate and understandable; expectant of what has been scientifically proven and been experienced by men as to make it impossible to attribute it to ordinary sources of human knowledge, then there is no choice but to agree to his own statement, a statement supported by numerous and direct evidence that he was a prophet sent of God.
It is a clear fact that human beings labor and tread cautiously, take much time and invest much energy in the discovery general truths and universal principles of nature. Even before they can boldly assert their findings, they require a great accumulation of facts and large induction of particulars. Such truths are seldom brought to maturity by a single mind. The first merely suggest these truths while the rest, most cases in lengthy succession and after comprehensive investigation, verify them. When therefore it is seen how long it takes for great principles and general laws to be discovered even by the most advanced minds of the present time, it must seem extraordinary that Moses acquired all the great natural truths which he wrote down, through his own research, or derived from the Egyptians.
Such an attainment in human philosophy would be attributed to him by no one as to assume that his cosmogony was constructed upon principles that he himself had curved out scientifically. This supposition is not supported by any fact and thus needs a supernatural endowment.
Unity of the divine and human
The Scripture explain beyond any reasonable doubt the channel through which the Holy Spirit reaches men. The witness of God’s Spirit is addressed to the spirit in men. The principle that man is endowed with spiritual abilities that enable him to be in a communion with God must be assumed by all practical religion. The prophets were inspired by God to write down what was revealed. Their work thus kept the material of revelation under the guarantee furnished by their inspiration. In order for men to receive and relay the divine message, revelation and inspiration must correspond. It was thus important that the inspiration must first be present within the spirit of the writer even though its presence could also be detected in the message. This is because the message is in most cases accompanied by a depth of spiritual meaning which imposes an influence of greater spiritual power than would have been perceived by the recipient. On its human side, the doctrine of inspiration denotes the identification of the nature of man that is spiritual which differentiates the mental analysis of the Bible from fragmentations which an observation characterized by hastiness may confuse. Subsequently, the doctrine of the province and functions of the spirit lies in turn upon given points on the source and nature of the higher element.
The actual limit of the human science and the proper sphere of religious elements are differentiated when the Scripture is employed to distinguish between the spirit and soul. The long series of scriptural writers maintained this distinction with exactness that pays testimony to its importance. We realize from the beginning that from the universe came the materials which make up the human body and from God came inspiration which imparted in the material body the spirit of a higher life form. These were then integrated in the living soul to which mental processes are locked. Thus in communicating with the prophets, God used the Holy Spirit to reveal to them the future and laws that they were to give to their subjects. However, there is no agreement to exactly how this was done as many individuals have held that the Scripture is purely human.
Relationship between the divine and human in the Scripture
There was a period in time when the church held the divinity of the Scripture to an extent that it excluded the human element. The writers of the Scripture were seen as mere implements within the disposition of the Holy Ghost by which he wrote the Scripture. Men were not satisfied referring to the human authors as the penmen but simply represented them as pens. Inspiration in this context was seen as a mere act of dictation and it was not accepted that he human writers made any contribution to the quality of the product beyond their handwriting. This mechanical theory of inspiration was a major theme in the subject of the divines of the seventeenth century. The obvious indications of human authorship in the Scripture prevented its domination. The human element in the Scripture was recognized by the indications of human element such as variations in style and vocabulary. This involved the replacement of the theory of co-authorship by God and man with the the theory of sole divine authorship. Within the Church, this theory of dictation has persisted and it ceases to belong to belong to the theories that are so far being discussed. Today, there is no emphasis on the divine element of the Scripture that does not take into consideration the human element.
However, the reverse fault is increasingly common today. The theories of the origin and nature of the Scripture has been made so as to make it purely human. As such, there is a wide perception of the character and origin of the Scripture being absolutely human, excluding the divine factor and element. This kind of thinking has historically emanated from rationalistic conception of being even though it adopts every form which is necessary by the alteration of philosophical basis. Hegelians, mystics and rationalists alike adopt this conception of the Scripture. The only point they differ is the question of whether there is any divine preparation; and if at all present, whether the revelations recorded by humans in the Scripture is inclusive of divine preparation; or whether it was merely gracious or providential. This one-sided theory is the subject of many books among them the book of Washington Gladden entitled, “Who Wrote the Bible”. According to him, God awarded the same kind of care for the production of the Scripture just like he has over the growth of an old tree. Another crude instance is the position of DeWitt. He argues in his book, “What is Inspiration?”, that the prophets had all the freedom to express themselves in human language as much and as well as they could. Leonard Staehlin on the other hand think that the writers of the Scripture were specifically prepared by God for the task and after preparation, left to carry it out without continued divine guidance. The various conceptions insist that it was humans who made the Scripture and hence is a purely human book even though there is a possibility it contains a human report of divine deeds and words.
When thought of as overlapping, the conception of the relationship between the divine and human within the context of the Scripture become inadequate. These elements of divine and human do not lie against each other; they do not divide the Scripture between them and strive against each other such that whenever one enters, the other is pushed out. This conception is most common presently. This perception underlies the remark that the human element in the Scripture is greater than the supposed divine element. According to Sanday, the investigation carried out in the last fifty to a hundred years shows that the human element in the Scripture is greater that had been thought. Kirkpatrick on the other hand remarks that the human element is greater than had been thought with regard to the origin of the Scripture.
The basic conception is that what is human ceases to be divine and anywhere there is human appearance, the divine disappears. With this regard, Sanday sees his argument as a clear contention of an intrusion of the human element upon the divine. Ladd on the other hand views the problem as the determination of the exact point where the divine and the human meets and where the human is limited by the divine. Such a conception has the result that every discovery of the human trait in the Bible disproves its divinity. Should it be discovered that the whole material of the Scripture is human, then individuals who begin with this position in mind are apt to deny the divinity of the entire Bible.
If the divine and human have a relationship in the Scripture such that when one enters, the other is exits, then the task of going through the Scripture in an effort to separate them will not appear to be a hopeless one. Attempting to draw a hard line between the divine and human in the Scripture is a grave mistake. In this conception of their relationship with each other, men are bound to feel it is an even greater mistake not to make such an attempt at all. Men cannot afford to live such diverse elements in shackles. Such an attempt has been made by Horton and Gess who have been amazed at the magnitude of the destructive nature pf their results with regard to basic conception of the mechanical relationship of the divine and human elements. They did not fail to recognize the presence of the human element almost everywhere thus eliminating the divine.
Any conception of the Scripture that does not acknowledge it as a divine-human book, with every word being divine and human, fails to do justice for both the factor of inspiration and the human-divine elements. The Christian conception of God as transcendent and imminent within the realm of His activities is the philosophical basis of this idea. The philosophical conception of the realm of the divine activity in inspiration corresponds with the divine scope of activity in other spheres. The Biblical foundation of this fact is present in the unchanging representation of divine and human co-authorship of the scriptural commandments and declarations of truths together with the constant biblical dedication of scriptural passages to the divine and human authors alike. It is also seen in the constant biblical recognition of the Bible as both divine and human in quality and character.
The basic principle of this view is that the entire Bible is the outcome of the activities of the divine that enter it, not by extending beyond the activities of the human authors but by working jointly with them. In other words, the Scripture is the confluent product of divine and human activities, not working in separation but together in harmony to produce writing which is not human in some part and divine in another, but divine and human in its entirety. The entire Bible at the same time is seen as divine, the Word of God in which he is the Author in its truest form. In the production of the Scripture, the human and divine factors in inspiration are seen to be flowing together in harmony.
The human and divine elements are portrayed in the Bible as entities that cannot be separated; constituents of a single and uncompounded product. Every word in the Scripture is thus the word of God as it is the word of man. Every part and element of the Bible exudes all the qualities of divinity and humanity. On the other hand, any part or element of the Scripture does not contain a quality that is not consistent with either humanity or divinity. This is the only conception that does complete justice to both humanity and divinity. None is denied since both are recognized and acknowledged. Neither is allowed to encroach upon another nor limited to specific portions of the Bible.
The human element is done utmost justice as it is done those who are quick to deny the divine element in the Scripture for it is asserted in the Bible that every word is conceived in the human mind and written by human hands. On the other hand, the divine element is also done complete justice as is done those people who fail to accept the human element in the Scripture for every word in the Bible asserts its inspiration by God, being written under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Complete justice is also done both elements in the Scripture as is done human needs. To quote the words of Westcott, “the Bible, is authoritative, for it is the Word of God; it is intelligible, for it is the word of man.” It comes to our hearts since it is in every part and element the word of God. It is our law and guide because in every part and element, it is the word of God.