Wednesday, January 25, 2017

John Wesley's Argument for the Inspiration of the Bible

The Bible must be the invention either of good men or angels, bad men or devils, or of God.

1. It could not be the invention of good men or angels, for they neither would nor could make a book and tell lies all the time they were writing it, saying, "Thus saith the Lord," when it was their own invention.

2. It could not be the invention of bad men or devils, for they could not make a book that commands all duty, forbids all sin, and condemns their own souls to hell for all eternity.

3. Therefore, draw the conclusion that the Bible must be given by divine inspiration.1

Do you find Wesley's argument persuasive?  Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below!

To learn more about John Wesley, go here.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad

Footnote:
1. One Thousand New Illustrations by Rev. Aquilla Webb, D.D., LL.D., 1931.

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10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Interesting argument.
Thanks for posting this, Chad

Chad said...

Hello Anonymous,

You are welcome!

Godspeed

Paul G said...

Hi Chad, I fully agree with you that the Bible is the Word of God.

But about the Lord Jesus, the whole of the old testament is about the Lord Jesus Christ.
Remember He in the beginning created the heavens and the earth and everything in it and nothing came into being apart from Him (John 1:3-10 and Col. 1:15-20).
Paul

Anonymous said...

I like this argument. Simple and efficient, easy to remember for sharing with others.

Chad said...

Hello Paul G.,

I agree with you 100% and hope I have not implied anything to the contrary!

Godspeed

Titus1nine said...

I firmly believe the Bible. But this same argument could be used for the book of Mormon. More evidence is available and needs to be shown to verify it was not written by good men who were mistaken.

Canadian said...

Inspiration doesn't require inerrancy. What if the genre of Genesis isn't inerrant science and history but Isreal telling their own origin story from their perspective during or just after exile in Babylon, using the same geocentric and worldview of their Ancient Near East neighbors?

Chad said...

Hello Titus1nine,

Thank you for taking the time to comment.

It is important to understand that I featured this argument precisely because I thought it was interesting. I did not mean to suggest that it is airtight. Further, I completely agree that we have excellent evidence for the reliability of the Bible and many posts on this blog are dedicated to presenting that evidence.

I agree with your contention that "more evidence is available and needs to be shown to verify it [the Bible] was not written by good men who were mistaken." That is an excellent point.

In regard to your assertion that "...this same argument could be used for the book of Mormon," I can only speculate how Wesley himself would have responded. However, I believe it is worth noting that many would argue, based upon "more evidence," that Joesph Smith, the author of the BoM, was not telling the truth, and therefore, would fall in Wesley's "bad man" category. Others would point out that Smith claimed to have received his revelation from an angel. However, it is important to understand that that because Smith's revelation contradicts the Bible, it could easily be argued that this revelation came from one who would fit into Wesley's "devils' category.

Finally, it seems we have very good evidence to suggest that Joesph Smith was either lying or deceived. However, we have no evidence, to my knowledge, that the disciples, in particular, were lying or deceived.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and you make some great points!

Godspeed

Chad said...

Hello Canadian,

Hello and thank you for taking the time to comment.

Although your comment doesn't specifically address the argument featured in this post, I was curious about something you wrote.

You ask: What if the genre of Genesis isn't inerrant science and history but Israel telling their own origin story from their perspective during or just after exile in Babylon, using the same geocentric and worldview of their Ancient Near East neighbors?

Are you implying here that, on this view, the text may communicate truths about God, faith and practice, but not necessarily truths about science or history?

Thank you!

Canadian said...

Chad, thanks for the reply.
I think it does relate.
Why would inspiration preclude Israel from saying "thus saith the Lord", even if God actually didn't, but that they were ascribing their own heinous actions upon God as if he commanded genocide, infanticide, and abortion, for example?

What if God is letting them tell their story? What if some of it is "invented" and yet permitted and inspired by God to show the reality of our condition or the uniqueness of Yahweh compared to ANE religion? An origin story or myth would not be a lie because it is not intended to convey what modern readers assume, regardless of the apparent surface meaning. Genesis is a smackdown of ANE creation myths yet it uses many of the same preexisting narratives, themes, and assumes the same non-scientific cosmic geography.

How many YEC's, for example, insist on a 6000 year old earth BECAUSE they think it can be the only possible interpretation of the divinely inspired text? Much as the entire western church did when insisting geocentrism was the plain biblical truth and heliocentrism was an attack on the inspired text.

As well, knowing that there are several errors and variants in the scriptures may reveal the inadequacy of inerrancy but would not reveal a lack of inspiration. Those with sound Christology would expect to find the fullness of humanity and divinity both in Christ and in scripture.

As is often the case, a discussion about inspiration is quickly going to run into the issue of interpretation.