Developing a 2020 Vision for the Church:
the Inspiration of Scripture

by Dr. Bob Young
Thanksgiving 2017

Note: On the first Sunday of January 2000, I presented in a combined adult Bible class a list of items to be thoughtfully addressed if the church were to be a viable voice in the new millennium. I was asked to expand the list from that Bible class presentation into a series of bulletin articles. Those articles are still available on this website: Foundations Series.
Almost 20 years later, it is definitely time for a rewrite. The question is still valid: how can the church be a viable voice in the contemporary world? What questions must we address? What understandings are essential for Christianity to survive and thrive in the world we know today? This new series is again being written as articles, but it is expected that the articles will also be useful as outlines for sermon series or seminar presentations.
In this new series, I write to set forth a 20/20 vision, so that we might see more clearly, and to set a goal to be accomplished by the year 2020. The next two years will fly by quickly. Will the church learn anything from what it has experienced? Can the apparent decline in Christianity be reversed? Will the church find renewed strength and resolve to present God's truth with boldness, daring, and sensitivity so that a new generations of Christians learn to live in the world without becoming worldly, to understand the call to unity and diversity, to renew the mission so the primary message is always one of eternal hope? Now is the time to begin working toward the reality God desires for his people.

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| Introduction | #1: Truth | #2: Bible Inspiration | #3: Bible Interpretation | #4: Church | #5: Unity | #6: Worldliness | #7: Christian Experience | #8: Mission | #9: Hope | #10: Human Nature | #11: Christian Living |

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The church must understand the Bible. Christians must increase in Bible knowledge. Biblical ignorance is a great challenge that continues pester the church. In the post-modern world, Christians must not only know what the Bible says; Christians must be ready to ask and answer difficult questions concerning the nature of truth, the nature of Scripture, and the relationship of Scripture to human thought.

Of equal importance, the church must understand biblical inspiration. Extremes exist at either end of a polarity. Some religious dictionaries say that fundamentalists believe "every word of the Bible is literally true." At the other pole, some seem to think none of the Bible is really true in a literal sense. At least two things must be considered under this general topic of biblical inspiration--the literalness of the Bible and the process of inspiration.

How do we accept the Bible as true while properly distinguishing literal and figurative language? Some are tempted to the ditch of over-literalism. Others are tempted to the ditch of cultural and human reinterpretation and application so that virtually all of the Bible becomes figurative. The church affirms this: that all that the Bible affirms is true, and that even what is affirmed figuratively or poetically (rather than literally) is still true and must be interpreted as such.

The process of inspiration must also be examined and understood. Conservatives have tended to regard inspiration as a somewhat mechanical process in which human authors are basically passive with no active role. The idea that inspiration is verbal and plenary has been difficult for some to reconcile with any other method of inspiration. Did God dictate the Bible in a way similar to the Muslim view of the Kor (dictated by Allah in Arabic through the angel Gabriel, with Muhammad's only contribution being to take down the dictation)? This view of interpretation results in a Koran believed to be an exact reproduction of the heavenly original.

How shall we explain the dual authorship of Scripture, the words of God communicated in the words of human beings? How shall we describe the involvement of human authors or redactors, especially when their own vocabulary and personal writing styles are in view? Certainly we must see that the divine author spoke through human authors in full possession of their faculties.

Further, what must be affirmed regarding the accuracy of our current versions to avoid compromising the authority of Scripture? In what way is the Scripture authoritative? What makes it so? The church must firmly address these and similar questions to understand the nature of the "God-breathed" revelation in Scripture.


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Last updated November 23, 2017