Is the Bible Inspired?

What do we mean when we say that something is “inspired”?

 

For example, if I hear a song on the radio and I respond by saying that it was “inspired” what I mean is that I believe the song had a spiritual quality to it that enabled the God of the Universe to reveal something of truth or beauty [or both] to me through the words and melody of the song.

It’s the same for me if I view a magnificent work of art in a museum, or watch a film that transcends mere storytelling to communicate something deeper and more profound than perhaps even the screenwriter, director or actors intended.

But, does this “inspiration” suggest that God wrote that song, or penned that screenplay? No, of course not. Do I mean that God sang those notes or acted that scene? No, that would be silly.

I would also not mean that the “inspired” song or film or work of art was infallible or inerrant. Those terms would make no sense in relation to that song, or poem, or film, or painting, or sculpture.

When something is inspired, it is infused with truth and beauty and profound wisdom. It is an elemental conduit for the Divine to speak into our souls in a way that we might not otherwise be aware of, or open to.

This is what it means to say something is “inspired”.

So, why do we come to this book we call the Bible and apply totally different meanings to the term “inspiration”?

Sure, we all acknowledge that the Bible is filled with Truth about who God is and what God is like. We often marvel at the artistry and the beauty of the words, and we admire the elegance of the truth we find in its stories. We weep at the passion of Christ and then we weep again at His resurrection. We are moved by these words and inspired by these ideas of God’s boundless love for us that is higher, wider, longer and deeper than we can imagine. We are reassured to know that nothing can ever separate us from this unbreakable love and that Christ will never leave us, nor forsake us.

But, why then do we take that unnecessary step of saying that God wrote those words? Why do we insist that those words are infallible or inerrant? Why do we refuse to admit that there are errors, and mistakes, and contradictions all through it?

Those flaws only add to the humanity of these testimonies. God is perfect, but we are not. God is infallible, but we sometimes get it wrong.

Somehow, we have made the Scriptures the point of the story. But the Scriptures never point to the Scriptures. The Scriptures always point us to Christ.

To fail to see this, or to follow this intended path, will lead us to ruin. Why? Because a book cannot save you. A Bible cannot change you. A collection of stories and songs and poems and prophecies will never transform you into the image of Christ.

But if we can follow this map to its intended destination, we will be healed, and changed, and forever transformed.

There is no life in the Bible. Jesus said so.

There is only life in Christ.

Follow the map to the mark on the page. It all points us to Jesus. Knowing Him is not only possible without the Bible, it’s absolutely essential for an actual relationship with a living God.

**

Keith Giles is the author of several books, including the forthcoming “Jesus Unbound: How the Bible Keeps Us From Hearing the Word of God”, available July 4th, 2018.

He is also the author of the Amazon best-seller, “Jesus Untangled: Crucifying Our Politics To Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb”. He is the co-host of the Heretic Happy Hour Podcast on iTunes and Podbean. He and his wife live in Orange, CA with their two sons.

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*The Nonviolent Love of Christ: How Loving Our Enemies Saves The World, with Joshua Lawson and Keith Giles on Saturday, June 16 in Portsmouth Ohio. Register here>

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • soter phile

    you said: “There is no life in the Bible. Jesus said so.”
    You can’t have it both ways.
    You are ironically APPEALING to the authority of the Bible (what Jesus said) while DENYING the authority of the Bible.

    (Never mind the fact that Jesus explicitly stated the opposite:
    namely, that the Scriptures should lead us to life in him [Jn.5:39-40].)

    Yes, all the Scriptures point to Christ… AND he constantly quoted the Scriptures.
    He even referenced human authors (Moses) and still called it the Word of God (Mk.7:13).

    So, why are you insisting on a Christ disassociated from the Scriptures when Christ himself made such explicit connections?
    All of your article’s sophistry appears to be a foil for you to ignore the content of the Scriptures – completely unlike Jesus.

  • Read that verse in John 5 again. Jesus said: “You search the Scriptures because you think that, in them [the scriptures] you will find life.” < This means there is no life in the scriptures.
    If we come to Jesus, THEN we find life, but it's not through the scriptures, it's by knowing Jesus personally.

  • soter phile

    Did you not read the very next phrase – “these are the Scriptures that testify about me”?
    How do we get life? Through Jesus, who we know through the Scriptures pointing to him.

    “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” (Jn.5:39-40)

    Again: why insist on disassociating Christ from the Scriptures when he makes such explicit connections?

  • Do we come to the Scriptures for life? No. We come to Jesus for life. Jesus is alive outside of scripture. We can hear his voice and know him intimately apart from a book.

  • soter phile

    Why did you delete my response?
    What’s offensive about pointing out Jesus’ logic: that he fully expects the Pharisees to know him THROUGH the Scriptures?

  • It wasn’t me. I didn’t delete anything.

  • jekylldoc

    You said, “But, does this “inspiration” suggest that God wrote that song, or penned
    that screenplay? No, of course not. Do I mean that God sang those notes
    or acted that scene? No, that would be silly.”
    and
    “God is perfect, but we are not. God is infallible, but we sometimes get it wrong.”

    I would not be so sure. Maybe God did write that song. Maybe God did sing those notes. To take incarnation seriously is to put inspiration ahead of infallibility. If you want to know how the Bible got to be the subject, instead of Jesus, it is only necessary to look at the “unchanging nature” of written text, and to think about why it is important to us to say “God is infallible.”

  • Yeah, though, jkylldoc…in the Old Testament where God does portray human emotions as a god of vengeance, jealousy and responsible for the indirect or direct killing of over two and a quarter million folks whether they were man, woman, child and infant…I’d say that that God of the Old Testament is just a bit infallible…

  • “a book.” ?

    Even in the Middle Ages when limited availability meant they had to hear His voice and come to know Him intimately apart from the Scriptures, it was still “the Book.”

  • Rudy Schellekens

    And how do we get to know about Jesus? Imagination? It is only through the Bible we even know about Jesus. And if that is a book by people, with human thoughts and explanations, what reason do I have to even believe in the God it speaks of? Or the Christ it predicts, describes…
    You cannot have it both ways. If the Bible is not God speaking to humans, believing its content makes no sense what so ever. Believing in the God which is described in the Bible only makes sense if it is something we can objectively believe in. But the consequences of that concept are enormous!

  • Keep reading: Life is found where? In the Scriptures? [nope] Where does Jesus say we go to find life? The Bible? [No!] To Him! We go to Jesus because in HIM we find life [not the Scriptures] which Paul tells us bring death but Christ brings life.

  • Rudy Schellekens

    HOW do you know that the story is to be reliable, Keith? WITHOUT the Bible you would no clue about Jesus… Again, you try to have it both ways.

  • Consider that for more than 400 years no Christian every owned or could even read anything close to what you and I call the
    Bible today. So…how did those millions of Christians know Christ without a Bible?

  • Rudy Schellekens

    Not quite sure where you place the 400 years, but okay. Same way many of the Gentiles heard about God without ever owning an Old Testament, Keith – word of mouth. Paul used “the Scriptures” teaching them about Christ. Friends of mine were missionaries to Papua New Guinea, and taught local tribes about Jesus – BEFORE a bible was available to them in their native tongue (Which they helped come into existence, from creating a basic grammar to an entire written language).

  • Rudy Schellekens

    I wrote an extended note less than an hour ago, and it is gone, too!

  • soter phile

    1) Yes, life is found in Jesus – to which the Scriptures point.
    Jesus didn’t say: “hey, avoid the Scriptures; I bring life.” (as you seem to want)
    No, he said: “these Scriptures point you to life… ME! You’ve missed the point of the Scriptures.”

    AGAIN: why insist on disassociating Christ from the Scriptures when he makes such explicit connections?
    Let me just come right out & say it: you appear to want to build a false dichotomy here. Why?

    2) Paul did not tell us the Scriptures bring death.

    Referring to the OT: he said the Law was his schoolmaster to point him to Christ (Gal.3:24).
    Referring to the NT: He said “this I pass on to you as of first importance…” (1 Cor.15:3f)
    “…any other gospel is anathema…” (Gal.1:6f)

    and then the verse you overlooked in your misreading of 2 Tim.3:16… the verse just prior:
    “…from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus…” (2 Tim.3:15)

  • jekylldoc

    I’m going to assume you posted ironically, because the alternative is neither interesting nor admirable. Jung, in “Answer to Job”, took pretty much the same approach to God as represented in the story of Job – touchy about any assertion that he can be held to account, despite the crummy job of justice that he did in Job’s case. So, with “infallible” in that sense, yeah. The God of Slaughter, or God the Terrorist as my friend puts it, would be infallible, wouldn’t he? More or less like the Pope.

  • Well, there jekylldoc, ya made me proofread what I wrote and for sure I indeed made a mistake…I should have written ‘fallible’ instead of ‘infallible’…my bad…

  • The Mouse Avenger

    Precisely! Take Joan Of Arc, for example; she couldn’t read or write anything besides her name, but she knew Christ very well. ^_^