Thought inspiration

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Thought Inspiration is a form of divine inspiration in which revelation takes place in the mind of the writer, as opposed to verbal inspiration, in which the word of God is communicated directly to the writer. The theologian George La Piana claims that after 19th century advancements in philological and historical criticism showed sacred books of different religions to be similar in form and content, the "theological doctrine of biblical inspiration which had put these books in a class by themselves underwent a rapid change, from 'verbal inspiration' to 'thought inspiration' and from 'thought inspiration' to a vague 'moral inspiration,' such as could be attributed to many a book of ancient philosophy or poetry." [1]

In one instance [2] Ellen White, a 19th-century Christian author, expressed it this way:

"The Bible is written by inspired men, but it is not God's mode of thought and expression. It is that of humanity. God, as a writer, is not represented. Men will often say such an expression is not like God. But God has not put Himself in words, in logic, in rhetoric, on trial in the Bible. The writers of the Bible were God's penmen, not His pen. Look at the different writers.
It is not the words of the Bible that are inspired, but the men that were inspired. Inspiration acts not on the man's words or his expressions but on the man himself, who, under the influence of the Holy Ghost, is imbued with thoughts. But the words receive the impress of the individual mind. The divine mind is diffused. The divine mind and will is combined with the human mind and will; thus the utterances of the man are the word of God."


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Verbal dictation describes a theory about how the Holy Spirit was involved with the people who first physically inscribed the Bible. According to this theory, the human role was a purely mechanical one: their individuality was by-passed whilst they wrote, and neither did their cultural background have any influence on what they wrote, because these writers were under the control of God. This may have been the original understanding of inspiration for the people of the Bible.

In Protestant theology, verbal plenary preservation (VPP) is a doctrine concerning the nature of the Bible. While verbal plenary inspiration ("VPI") applies only to the original autographs of the Bible manuscript, VPP views that, "the whole of Scripture with all its words even to the jot and tittle is perfectly preserved by God in the apographs without any loss of the original words, prophecies, promises, commandments, doctrines, and truths, not only in the words of salvation, but also the words of history, geography and science; and every book, every chapter, every verse, every word, every syllable, every letter is infallibly preserved by the Lord Himself to the last iota so that the Bible is not only infallible and inerrant in the past, but also infallible and inerrant today ."

References

  1. "Ancient and Modern Christian Apologetics," The Harvard Theological Review © 1931 Cambridge University Press and Harvard Divinity School
  2. Manuscript 24, 1886 (written in Europe in 1886). {1SM 21.1-2}

See also