Grudem, Geisler, and MacArthur on Dual Authorship

Wayne Grudem:

 

In cases where the ordinary human personality and writing style of the author were prominently involved, as seems the case with the major part of Scripture, all that we are able to say is that God’s providential oversight and direction of the life of each author was such that their personalities, their backgrounds and training, their abilities to evaluate events in the world around them, their access to historical data, their judgment with regard to the accuracy of information, and their individual circumstances when they wrote, were all exactly what God wanted them to be, so that when they actually came to the point of putting pen to paper, the words were fully their own words but also fully the words that God wanted them to write, words that God would also claim as his own.

 

Norman Geisler:

 

Judging by the various vocabulary, grammar, styles, figures of speech, and human interests of the various authors, God did not disregard the personality and culture of the biblical writers when He providentially guided them to be the vehicles through which He revealed His written Word to humankind. On the contrary, the Bible is a thoroughly human book in every respect, except that it is without error. Regardless of the mystery surrounding how God was able to make His word certain without the destroying the freedom and personality of the authors, several things are clear. The human authors of Scripture were not mere secretaries taking dictation; their freedom was not suspended or negated, and they were not automatons. What they wrote is what they desired to write in the style that they were accustomed to using. God in His providence engaged in a divine concurrence between their words and His so that what they said, He said.

 

John MacArthur:

 

God formed the personality of the writer. God made [him] into the man He wanted him to be. God controlled his heredity and his environment. When the writer reached the point that God intended, God directed and controlled the free choice of the man so that he wrote down the very words of God. God literally selected the words of each author’s own life, out of his personality, his vocabulary, and his emotions. The words were man’s words, but that man’s life had been so framed by God that they were God’s words as well.

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5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Mark on June 1, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    Thanks for this post on dual authorship. The Men’s group I am leading is going to discuss the Word of God and the dual authorship question on Wednesday. So this was vey helpful as I prepare to shepherd them.

    God uses all of us for His purpose when we surrender to Him. I have noticed that during my walk; when I surrender to Him and walk close with the Word of God, His fingerprints are there throughout my day.

    These men in the scriptures were very close to God. These men surrendered their life completely. Therefore there is no question that they would be used through their words and their their life personalities in order to share the message that God wants others to hear.

  2. To be honest, my least favorite definition is the 3rd one, which is given by John MacArthur. I think he is probably over explaining a bit what is still a unique mystery about Scripture. It is definitely “God breathed” but it comes from the human authors with their personality. It is inerrant, inspired, and our only source of authority.

    Consider this passage about the Gospel: “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves.”
    Isn’t the incredibleness of the Gospel so amazing that it clearly can work through common instruments.

    In this same vein, isn’t the Word of God so awesome that it is given through people, with personalities that aren’t always viewed by others as having the “best” personality? God’s message isn’t compromised at all by these personalities.

    Any differing thoughts?

  3. Posted by Chris Pixley on June 5, 2008 at 2:40 am

    pastorsteve-

    Just curious–how do you see MacArthur’s definition running counter to what you’re suggesting here?

  4. chris,
    This statement is what I felt was being over explained:
    “God formed the personality of the writer. God made [him] into the man He wanted him to be. God controlled his heredity and his environment.”

    I fully acknowledge that God is sovereignly in control over all His creation. However, in the midst of God’s sovereignty, men have been allowed to make sinful actions, have sinful attitudes, and develop quirks in their personality that may be strange, if not sinful.

    Is a personality just a computer program in the brain that is designed to make habitual decisions and attitudes? (maybe the discussion should be about a definition of personality)

    I think what I like about Geisler’s definition is this point:
    “The human authors of Scripture were not mere secretaries taking dictation; their freedom was not suspended or negated, and they were not automatons. What they wrote is what they desired to write in the style that they were accustomed to using. God in His providence engaged in a divine concurrence between their words and His so that what they said, He said.”

    Did God know the personality that might be communicated with His truth?
    Absolutely!
    Would someone’s personality override the truth?
    Absolutely Not!

  5. Back at the height of the inerrancy controversy in the SBC I did a summer study of a book edited by Geisler entitled “Inerrancy”, which were the papers presented for the Chicago statement on inerrancy. What I came away with from the study was the appreciative awe of the beauty and the mystery of the dual authorship of Scripture.

    Scripture is God’s word to man through man, the mind and heart of the infinite and perfect God revealed through finite and imperfect men without error. The living God using living men as His pen, and writing to us through their personalities, times, and situations. The timeless God giving us a timeless message through temporal men. It still gives me goose bumps, and may it never stop.

    Morris

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