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#212 A Molinist Perspective on Biblical Inspiration

May 09, 2011

I have been listening to series 2 of your Defenders Class and just finished recording 4 on Revelation. In this recording you defend the Middle Knowledge perspective of the verbal, plenary and confluent view of revelation. My question is: "If we invoke middle knowledge to describe inspiration how do we avoid saying that all writings in history are inspired?" Wouldn't God know exactly what type of book any author, say Christopher Hitchens, would freely write given their particular set of circumstances? Therefore, all writings, including Christopher Hitchens' are inspired.


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Dr. craig’s response


For those who are not familiar with the background of this question, let me explain that it concerns my defense of verbal, plenary, confluent inspiration of the Bible in my article "'Men Moved by the Holy Spirit Spoke from God' (2 Peter 1.21): A Middle Knowledge Perspective on Biblical Inspiration." In that piece I argue that divine middle knowledge enables us to affirm the verbal, plenary inspiration of Scripture without divine dictation. For God knows under just what circumstances Paul would, for example, freely write his letter to the Romans. By creating Paul in those circumstances, God can bring it about that Romans is just the message He wants to convey to us.

Now your question, Aaron, is a good one. Since God is omniscient, He knows what any human author would freely write in whatever circumstances He might place him. By placing Christopher Hitchens in the circumstances he has been in, God sovereignly brought it about that Christopher Hitchens freely wrote just what he did. So what makes the one God's Word to us and the other not?

The essential difference lies not in the mode of God's action. Remember that inspiration is a property of the written text, not the mode of its production (though I am entirely open to the idea that the circumstances surrounding Paul's freely writing Romans may have included certain promptings of the Holy Spirit absent from Hitchens' circumstances). Rather the essential difference lies in God's attitude toward what is written. In the one case, God wills to communicate via the author His message to us. He intends that the letter to the Romans be His Word to us. Romans is therefore a case of appropriated or delegated speech, much as a boss makes a letter composed by his secretary his own by affixing his signature to it. By contrast, God merely allows Hitchens to write what he does without endorsing its truth or adopting it as His own. God lets Hitchens put forth his falsehoods because in His providence Hitchens' books have their part to play in God's overall plan for human history. But God does not see Hitchens' books as His Word to us, to be trusted and obeyed. Therein lies the essential difference between the Bible and every other literary product of free human activity.

- William Lane Craig