Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 5

Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 1 
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 2 
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 3
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 4  
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 5

Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 1
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 2 
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 3
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 4
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 5   


What is the difference between inspiration and revelation? In his book Christian Theology, Dr. answers that question by first defining inspiration:

By inspiration of Scripture we mean that supernatural influence of the Holy Spirit on the Scripture writer which rendered their writings an accurate record of the revelation or which resulted in what they wrote actually being the Word of God. (225)

Erickson then goes on to differentiate between revelation and inspiration.

While revelation is the communication of truth from God to humans, inspiration relates more to the relaying of that truth from the first recipient(s) of it to other persons, whether then or later. Thus, revelation might be thought of as a vertical action, and inspiration as a horizontal matter. (225-226)

I find that to be a helpful way to understand the difference. The two are different, though, and so different that it is possible to have one without the other. Erickson suggest that there are cases of inspiration without revelation (226) such as when Scripture records the words of unbelievers* or copied from sources like with genealogies. This latter category was not directly given to to the human authors directly through revelation, but is still inspired by God.

There also was revelation without inspiration: instances of revelation that went unrecorded because the Holy Spirit did not inspire anyone to write them down. (226) Erickson points to John 21:25 where John notes that Jesus had done many other things - revelation - but that they are not recorded in his Gospel - inspiration. He then adds, If, as we asserted in the previous chapter, all of Jesus' words and actions were the word and actions of God, the Spirit was apparently very selective in what he inspired the biblical authors to report. (226)

Erickson's point in all of this is not to imply that parts of the Bible aren't inspired or not part of God's divine revelation, but only to more finely tune in what we mean by these words. In general, God's Word is His revelation and it is inspired by His Spirit, but more particularly, there are parts that are revealed and inspired, and yet at the same time also, revealed and not inspired and not revealed but inspired.

Some helpful theological distinctions from Erickson and something worth chewing on.


*  I would clarify here that sometimes the words of unbelievers are both inspired and revelation. John 11:49-53 records the words and the revelation of Caiaphas: 49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, 50 nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.” 51 Now he did not say this on his own initiative, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day on they planned together to kill Him.


For more on Erickson:
Blogizomai - Where to Begin?: Calvin on the Starting Point of Theology - The Knowledge of God & the Knowledge of Man
Blogizomai - Wherefore Art Thou Theological Giants?
Blogizomai - On Special Revelation: Dreams, Visions, Theophanies, and the Word of God 
Blogizomai - Is Hell Real?: The Difference Between Emergent Agnostic Doctrine & Orthodoxy
Blogizomai - Condemnation But No Justification: The Purpose of General Revelation


For more:
Blogizomai - Repost | "Life's Biggest Questions" by Erik Thoennes
Reviews - The Top 5 Essential Works of Theology of the Past 25 Years
Reviews - "Doctrine"
Reviews - "The Good News We Almost Forgot
Reviews - "Dug Down Deep" by Josh Harris
Reviews - "Heresy"
Reviews - "Christianity's Dangerous Idea" by Alister McGrath
Reviews - "The Theology of the Reformers"
Blogizomai - Repost | Schreiner on the Practice of Inaugurated Eschatology
logizomai - We Are All Theologians:  The Root of Everything We Are and Do
Blogizomai - Lewis on Practical Theology
Blogizomai - The Meaning & Implications of the Resurrection
Blogizomai - Lewis on Practical Theology
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