Before we talk more about the book of Revelation, I wanted to ask a preliminary question: Is the Bible man made?
Now, the simple answer is no. It is not. As people of faith we believe that the Bible is inspired by God and was written by its authors under the guidance (lead) of God’s Spirit.
Instantly, you see that there are many questions generated just in that previous statement. If we believe something, meaning that we take it as a matter of faith, are we conceding that it is not provable? I am OK with this idea. Others will not be and will want to fight for some understanding of infallible or inerrant. I get that, but I would just reiterate that it is a matter of faith that we believe what we believe.
If we go ahead with the idea that the Bible is inspired, there are 3 things that we can say and there are 2 questions that arise.
- Inspiration means that the Spirit of God interacted with/led humans to write in their own language, using their own words, in a synergistic-participatory activity.
- God worked with and through the authors. Their personalities, histories, and experiences impacted their writing. That context impacted the content of the books.
- These authors wrote in genres that they were familiar with. The from of these works and the context that they were written in are important to understand when reading them. The books of the Bible were not written in a vacuum.
Let’s go back to the original question “is the Bible man made?” Here are the 2 questions that arise:
- Yes. The Bible is ‘man’ made in the sense that it is mostly written by men. Church history and theology are the same. Take the Creeds of the early centuries and ask who was present when these were drawn up.
- The Bible was not downloaded. It is important to understand that the process by which we got the books of the Bible is very different than the way that the author of the Quran or other sacred texts received those. That authors in the Bible were not in a trance. They did not wake up with a completed text next to them. The books of the Bible were made with full conscious participation.
I think that this is also important to point out that I having been using ‘the books of the Bible’ and not simply the Bible. The Bible is a canon that was constructed over time. I want to believe that it was also in participation with the guidance of the God’s Spirit but I also realize that it has changed over time and that there were some dodgy politics involved in the process.
I have also not used the phase ‘the Word of God’ because that is a constructed conception that comes with a whole set of additional meanings and expectations that are added (or assumed) on top of whatever it is that the books of the Bible are.
So in the end, we believe that the Bible is not man made nor is it entirely made without human participation. This complex interaction of inspiration is an important idea that leads us into our next question for part 2: Is God a rock?