Divine inspiration and the complexity of the Bible


#1

These are two common ideas, but I’d like to hear your thoughts on them.

First of all, I’m having difficulty reconciling divine inspiration with free will. If free will is maintained, doesn’t that mean that the authors of scripture still could have written a theologically invalid statement? And, since we Christians claim that the entire Bible is (theologically) valid, I suppose my question is this: is it just happenstance that the free authors wrote the truth, or is there something else at play? I know this is a mystery (like the Trinity is), and I accept that; but I’m trying to understand how free will and divine inspiration aren’t contradictory, rather than trying to fully understand how exactly God worked (the details of which none of us can fully know). Perhaps the authors knew so well what they should write, that it seemed ludicrous to them not to do so (sort of like how we’re still free beings in heaven, but so in union with God that sin becomes impossible on its own grounds).

Second, I’ve always wondered why the Bible is so complex and why God didn’t simply produce an explicitly clear list of revealed truths for practical, salvivic purposes: if he wants us to be saved, it seems reasonable that he’d produce a very clear work rather than running the risk of Christianity splitting up into thousands of different denominations. My personal thought was always that, perhaps, God intended the Bible’s complexity and literary diversity themselves to be a motivating force to preserve it for centuries and produce awe, wonder, and relevance for all of us. (Of course, He gave us the Magisterium as well.)

Thoughts?


#2

A couple of thoughts on the Bible’s complexity.
It is far more complex than we could possibly guess, because His plans are quite fully revealed in the scriptures.

God wanted to reveal what He would do in a hidden way, but not reveal too much of His plans to Satan. Jesus’ needed to be crucified and 1 Cor 2:7-8 God plans involve hidden wisdom (mystery) that if it was known that none of the rulers of this world never have crucified the Lord of glory.

The hiddenness of God is a part of His plan. If He spoke from the sky every day to all people of the world, would we develop the same level of faith we have today?
Hopefully this at least in part answers your question.
Grace and peace,
Bruce


#3

If I may…

I think Divine Inspiration is the direct result of these writers seeing and understanding one or more particular aspects of the Salvific Plan. It can be reconciled with free will in that God did not plant their knowledge in their brains by some supernatural act, like programming a computer. Rather, by eternal Grace and Mercy, He allowed these men to apprehend knowledge of God.

Remember, Scripture is inspired. By their own thoughts they discovered eternal truths, and wrote them down. Later on, by the same process, the Church was inspired to collect these writings into one Bible.

Now I have a general question for the forum: since all of the above is my opinion, and only my suppositions, should I always write a disclaimer in my postings saying as much?


#4

I don’t think so, for it’s assumed unless one states otherwise - and you clearly said “I think”, therefore you are (expressing your opinion, I mean :p).

I think that the OP hasn’t quite noticed how extraordinary does the Sacred Scripture come together although it is written across a span of millennia.

As for complexity, it is rooted in simplicity. The study of mathematics, and especially of such things as chaos theory, self-organization, etc. (which I don’t research, mind you, my field is computer science) shows that the most complex behavior arises from the most simple rules, and that complexity and even randomness and chaos are not an index of lack of intelligence but, in fact, a major evidence of it. Just take a look at the DNA, or at the atom. As simple as it gets, and as complex as it gets…

Indeed, wouldn’t it be nicer if all we needed was arithmetic? After all, everything can boil down to how we combine a 0 and a 1…but there is much, much more…although it all boils down to: “love God with all your heart and your neighbor like yourself”!

St. Francis noticed, as he had to prepare a Rule, and he chose to begin as follows: “*The Rule and life of the Friars Minor is this, namely, to observe the Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ *”


#5

My personal view is that the Biblical books contains humans thoughts and experiences with the divine like non-canonical books.

lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/2013/08/12/on-the-definition-and-meaningfulness-of-progressive-christianity/

I hope this might be helpful to some persons.

Lovely greetings from Germany.
Liebe Grüsse aus Deutschland.

Lothars Sohn - Lothar’s son
lotharlorraine.wordpress.com


#6

You’re trying to compare apples and oranges here. Free will is simply having the freedom to choose to do good or evil. Divine inspiration is God whispering in your ear about what he would like you to do. You are free to follow the whisperings, or not. I’m sure most of us would never deliberately choose not to follow God’s inspirations if we knew for sure that’s what we are experiencing. But God whispers very softly and we may doubt what we think we hear, or we may misinterpret it according to our own failings.


#7

Non-canonical books are not Sacred Scripture, have never been so since 1600 years ago, and should not be treated as divinely inspired.


#8

Wulfgar
I’m having difficulty reconciling divine inspiration with free will. If free will is maintained, doesn’t that mean that the authors of scripture still could have written a theologically invalid statement?

I’ve always wondered why the Bible is so complex and why God didn’t simply produce an explicitly clear list of revealed truths for practical, salvivic purposes: if he wants us to be saved, it seems reasonable that he’d produce a very clear work rather than running the risk of Christianity splitting up into thousands of different denominations.

Free will and the resulting sin of Adam and Eve is precisely why mankind, with this Original Sin, is prone to error and further sin.

The protection from error in the Sacred Scriptures is taught by Christ through His Church infallibly thus:
“11. The divinely revealed realities, which are contained and presented in the text of sacred Scripture, have been written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.”

“Since therefore all that the inspired authors or sacred writers affirm should be regarded as affirmed by the Holy Spirit, we must acknowledge that the books of Scripture firmly, faithfully, and without error teach the truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the Sacred Scriptures.”
Vatican II, Dei Verbum (The Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation).

Stop wondering. God gave us His Church to teach infallibly and She gave us the Sacred Scriptures. The world and His followers are subject to the effects of Original Sin, and the devil lures many into his traps – hence Judas, and the fallen away described in the Acts of the Apostles – through to the thousands of sects today – without the Holy Mass, the seven sacraments, the Magisterium, the complete Sacred Scriptures and Sacred Tradition.


#9

Which is why I asked why the scriptures directly surrounding Jesus aren’t as explicit as, say, the Levitical laws. This is PRECISELY why I asked the question: we’re fallen and in need of clarity, so it would seem (to an ignorant layman such as me) that the New Testament should have been more explicit in defining the authority of the church and describing it in more detail, as we have it today, rather than having two mediums (scripture that can’t be understood without the Magisterium) instead of one (scripture easily and unambiguously interpretable). Of course, there’s a reason why God had it written the way it was, so again, that was why I was wondering, given that I’ve heard the claim that “The Catholic Church was instituted by fallible men with their own arrogant interpretations” way too often.

I am aware of such quotes as that of Matthew 16:17-19 that support the primacy of Peter, but given that many devout Protestants know the bible like the back of their hands, it would seem that I’d at least hear SOME interpretation of it from them. Why aren’t there MORE fairly explicit passages such as that? One may think that God would provide tons more “legal” material (for lack of a better description) into the Gospels to lessen the risk of splintering off; but then again, God has His ways. Perhaps no matter what He wrote, someone would have eventually come along and did some semantic dances around some passage to create a new sect.

Haha, guess this is a good incentive for me to study Scripture more.

Stop wondering. God gave us His Church to teach infallibly and She gave us the Sacred Scriptures. The world and His followers are subject to the effects of Original Sin, and the devil lures many into his traps – hence Judas, and the fallen away described in the Acts of the Apostles – through to the thousands of sects today – without the Holy Mass, the seven sacraments, the Magisterium, the complete Sacred Scriptures and Sacred Tradition.

I’m sorry, but unless I cease to be a rational human being, I will never stop wondering about God’s ways and trying to further understand Him a bit more, nigh insignificant in the vast cosmos though I am. There’s definitely a time and place for simple obedience and immediate action, but doesn’t God WANT us to try to learn a little more about him? Would you honestly use this sort of response if an atheist asked you to defend your position on Scripture? There’s nothing false in what you said, but sometimes people want more than just statements. We need to be prepared, but more importantly, we need to question so we ourselves can grow closer to truth.

At least, that’s just my humble opinion.


#10

Wulfgar #9
given that many devout Protestants know the bible like the back of their hands

They only FEEL they do which is why they are not Catholics as exemplified by the many thousands of sects today – without the Holy Mass, the seven sacraments, the Magisterium, the complete Sacred Scriptures and Sacred Tradition – is that knowing the Sacred Scriptures?

The way to learn more about Christ, His Church and Her teaching, as well as Her history, is to study apologetics.


closed #11

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