What About Inspiration Today

Four initial points: 1.) we agree without our interlocutors that double inspiration is not supported in Scripture 2.) we agree with our interlocutors that God immediately inspired the original words written by Moses, Paul, Peter etc. 3.) we believe that the inspiration present in the words written by the canonical writers has been preserved for us down to this day. 4.) we believe that this inspiration can be present in vernacular translations via the categories of substantia doctrinae and derivative inspiration.

Regarding the first of these four we find perfect agreement with out opposing interlocutors. Regarding the second of these four we find relatively perfect agreement with our inerrantist interlocutors. Regarding the third of these four our interlocutors are rather muddled and so it is difficult to conclude whether we agree on this point or not. But the fourth of four, our interlocutors seem wholly unware that such a thing exists. If they are aware of such inspiration in vernacular translations then it seem to take the shape of something like, “If the translation is faithful to the originals then it is in this way inspired.” Setting aside the fact that we don’t have the originals and the fact that our interlocutors have only a naturalistic mechanism whereby they determine what is or is not original and the fact that such an unsupported declaration is hardly robust enough to stand under its own weight, it seems our interlocutors may be onto something which may one day grow into right thinking and right practice.

Until then it seems that in the place of a disagreement we have a void. It is not that we disagree on this point with our interlocutors it is that they have nothing on offer to fill this place in their system. And if they do, as I’ve said, it is rather anemic.

We believe and have asserted several times on this blog and in print that inspiration is to be understood in two parts: 1.) the inspiration of the accidents of writing [i.e., the shape of the letters] which in this case is the shape of Greek and Hebrew, the languages of the originals and 2.) the inspiration of the substance of writing [i.e., the meaning of the words]. So while a translation cannot have #1 seeing that a translation is not written in Greek or Hebrew and as such has different accidents of writing; translations can have #2 regarding the substance or meaning of the inspired words.

This we call derivative inspiration as distinguished from immediate inspiration. The latter happened at a moment in time and was unique to that person [e.g., Moses, David Paul etc.] and that unique time. Derivative inspiration is when a vernacular translation of a given inspired original word bears the substance of the original word. In such a circumstance the translated word is not inspired as to the accidents of writing but it is inspired, indeed equally as inspired as the original word, as to the substance of the word. In this sense, the words of a vernacular translation are inspired and are therefore profitable for doctrine for reproof for correction and for instruction in righteousness that the man of God may be perfect or complete unto all good works.

And how are we to determine which words are the inspired words in a vernacular translation? If you’ve been with us long you know the answer. The Spirit of God through the substantially inspired vernacular words of God speaks to the people of God and in those substantially inspired vernacular words the people of God hear the voice of the Good Shepherd and receive those substantially inspired vernacular words as indeed the words of God in the vernacular and not the words of men.

But you say, “Aren’t there substantially inspired vernacular words in some of the other modern translations?” Yes, there are, but for all my programming friends out there, there is a huge difference between an “Is A” relationship and a “Has A” relationship. A translation may have words of God but that is different from saying a translation is the word of God. Furthermore, no two vernacular translations agree at every point regarding that substance spoken of above and especially when comparing the KJV to most modern translations which bracket or footnote or wholly remove large portions of Scripture or significant portions of verses. In this sense, all versions when compared to each do not manifest the same “substantially inspired vernacular words.” Put simply, many vernacular translations add or omit words which the editors of such translations have determined are or are not the substantially inspired vernacular words of God.

Turning again to the Law of Non-Contradiction, The ESV as the word of God and the NIV as the word of God cannot both be the word of God at the same time and in the same way. And the same goes for any other versions you would like to compare: KJV, NKJV, CSB, NASB and on and on. Given that the words of a translation can be the substantially inspired vernacular words of God then either the ESV or the NIV or the KJV or the NKJV or the NASB or the CSB or the LSB are the substantially inspired vernacular word of God. But they cannot all be the word of God at the same time and in the same way. Why because the translated words can and do bear the inspiration of the original words of God written at the hand of Moses, David, Paul, Luke, etc. via the substantia doctrinae of inspiration making even the words of a translation to be inspired.

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