“Oh!, He’s got the quill again…”

I believe in the inspiration of Scripture. This week my understanding of this doctrine got a lot bigger. Inspiration is an act of God’s providence. The way that Joseph can say ‘God sent me here’ (Genesis 45:7-8) when his brothers sold him into slavery, the way that Christ can be ‘delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God‘ and yet ‘you have taken with lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death’ (Acts 2:23), in this same way God can be the author of Scripture without denying human agency and creativity in writing it. We don’t believe in the ‘dictation theory.’

So far, so good.

Here’s where it got bigger — and better — for me.

It’s not like God looked down at the apostle Paul going about his business and said ‘Oh look, he’s picking up the pen to write to the Romans. Holy Spirit, you better get down there and superintend it. We need that letter in the New Testament.’

Nor is it the case that God could have just picked up the quill Himself and moved it around on the page to the same effect, and just for fun he decided to let Paul hold on to it while God did the writing.

God’s providence in general, and in the area of inspiration in particular, is marvelous. Timothy Ward, again:

Bavinck [Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 1p. 438] speaks in very similar terms to Warfield about how the Spirit’s actions in the Bible writers at the moment of the composition is the natural climax of a long process of the Spirit’s preparation of the writers through their ‘birth, upbringing, natural gifts, research, memory, reflection, experience of life, revelation, etc.’

From Words of Lifep. 83

I would expand the scope beyond the lifetime of each writer themselves to include His preparation of cultures, languages, words, world empires, etc. such that Paul had a working vocabulary in a particular language that been in preparation for centuries, and even millennia before, all used in that climactic moment in the writing of a letter to a church.

Romans 11:33-36!


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