18 June 2009

And God Breathed

I've had this idea for a while, and i've never had the chance, or the thought, to share it with other people. It very well might be heretical. Or it just might sound heretical. Or it might be entirely truth and give us greater insight into how God works in man.

It all stems from the passage in 2 Timothy: All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (NIV)

This passage is often used to explain how the Bible is a coherent whole, through sixty-six books and forty separate authors. I would agree with that. If the guiding force behind all of the writings are the same, then there would be a solid presence behind every book that gives the Bible a solidity it couldn't gain anywhere else.

There are two interesting things going on in this passage that i think are glossed over by just taking it for the above truth and leaving it at that.

The first is in the wording. The word in the Greek that is translated here 'God-breathed' is the word theopneustos. The webpage i got this from listed a literal translation as 'divinely breathed in; given by inspiration of God.' That's pretty much what the NIV and other versions translate it as, but i needed to make sure, since this next point depends so much upon the meaning of that word.

The first time in Scripture we read about God breathing, or God breathing into something, was in the Garden of Eden when God breathed life into Adam, making life out of dust. So let's read 2 Timothy again, thinking about God breathing life into something that was once lifeless.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

What i see now is that without God breathing into the Scripture, it would be dead. I'm pretty sure this lines up with what the rest of the Bible says as well. So it's not simply that God inspired the Scripture, but God gives it life. Without God, they are just words on parchment strung together into coherent, but ultimately meaningless, sentences.

(Obviously, since they are different languages, there would be different words and phrases to talk about this, but i think even with the language gap, there is enough justification here.)

Now, my last thought is the most controversial. It has to do with God never resting on his laurels, if he had any.

If God never rests, if he's not the type of god to set things in motion and just watch them play out, if he's active and working in the world from its creation to its destruction, then i have a hard time saying Scripture, our Bible we have now, is the only literature that has been God-breathed. I would argue that there are other works that are God-breathed, given a sort of divine life that gives them power beyond their immediate words, power greater than any author can give a work on his own.

I think there are times, like the first century, when there are a greater concentration of works divinely inspired and given life. No other time in history has it been so critical to set down in writing what it means to follow God, to follow Jesus. The rule book was changing. They still followed the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, but it was now also the God of the Jews, the Greeks, the Romans.

I'm not up for debating which works are God-breathed, because i honestly don't know. And i don't think just because one work by an author is God-breathed, everything is, which is what makes Paul a such a heavyweight.

When i look at authors such as C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chestergon, Augustine, Mother Theresa, Oswald Chambers, D.L. Moody, A.W. Tozer, i see people who's writings have been used by God for amazing glory, writings that have taken on a life beyond that of the authors. I'm not just saying the writings outlived the author, but that the writings have grown bigger through time, not diminished or even stayed along the same plane of existence. I'm not saying all of their writings were God-breathed, or even that all of the authors wrote a single God-breathed work, but i find it hard to believe that not a single one of them wrote a work that was God-breathed.

What say you? Am i a heretic? Am i dead on target? If so, what authors or works would you say lean toward God-breathed, or are most definitely God-breathed?

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