The other day I was reading a paper by Peter Enns in preparation for an upcoming conference when I came across the following passage from Charles Hodge explicating the doctrine of inspiration:
“The sacred writers impressed their peculiarities on their several productions as plainly as though they were the subjects of no extraordinary influence. This is one of the phenomena of the Bible patent to the most cursory reader. It lies in the very nature of inspiration that God spake in the language of men: that He uses men as organs, each according to his particular gifts and endowments.” (Cited in Peter Enns, “Further Thoughts on the Incarnational Model of Scripture,” unpublished, Enns’ emphasis.)
This is interesting because it contrasts with the traditional bibliological apologetic which reasons from concrete ‘supernatural’ qualities of the text (e.g. fulfilled prophecy; unique literary merit; inexplicable cohesiveness evincing a superintending intelligence throughout its multi-century composition and compilation) to its divine revelatory status. Not in this case. On this view the evidence of the text’s uniquely supernatural inspiration is found precisely in its natural qualities. And so the text is, at least on Peter Enns’ incarnational model of scriptural inspiration, fully human even as it is fully divine.
There may be good reasons for Enns’ incarnational model. But you can bet it will frustrate the skeptic who sees it as yet one more futile attempt to shore up the unstable dyke or make excuses for the non-appearance of the gardener. As Beetle recently put it: “The atheist trump card, what did it for me anyway, is that God works in ways that are indistinguishable from his being nonexistent.”
A Bible so inspired you can’t tell it’s inspired? That’s like a man so fast you can’t tell he’s fast!
Picture yourself standing on a soccer field with Chet. As you’re talking Chet tells you he is so fast that he can run to the opposite end of the field, touch the goal post, and return in a moment. “Show me,” you say skeptically.
A second later Chet begins to smile. “Told ya.”
“Told me what?” you incredulously snort. “You’ve been standing there the whole time.”
Chet laughs. “Nope. I ran to the other end of the field and touched the goal post. But I’m so fast that you couldn’t tell the difference.”
Is that what some Christians end up saying about scripture? That it is so inspired you can’t tell it is inspired? If this is supposed to be a robust “Chalcedonian” doctrine of inspiration, why does the result end up looking positively, how shall I say this, Ebionite?