I wish here to offer several challenges to the idea of theopneusticity, a procedure to take place without my screaming “I have the ebola virus. You’re all SCREWED!“, as with certain airline passengers of late. First, the doctrine promotes a certain dependency and the acquiring of knowledge apart from any direct contact with the material world in a rationalistic-like fashion, apart from the natural order itself. In fact, in the early middle ages, it became sometime fashionable to think of the sciences as somewhat dangerous to the concerns of salvation and the proper care of one’s soul. This age rather shunned empirical studies as “worldly.” It was just this impulse that the writings of the Bacons — Roger and Francis — needed to help overcome.
Second, theopneusticity was not from the beginning. When Jesus taught that what was from the beginning is normative for all mankind, and that “the Sabbath was made for man” (not for Israelites only), he was implying that God’s original plan for mankind would always be normative, a point rather easily derived from the doctrines of the omniscience, omnipotence, sovereignty, and omni-competence of God. He has no “plan B” because He does not need one. Since plan A is the only one He offers, it always binds us to its ethical implicates and stipulations. Now, please recall that theopneusticity did not obtain for information here, but only the light of nature. This does not mean it is unlawful to write down what nature testifies, but only that it is unlawful to say that “God is responsible for this writing by immediate inspiration of the text,” or “God wrote this.”
God did in fact convey the semantic content of the light of nature, and if one pens this information down in ink, all is well. But only a man (traditionally) [or else several persons] is responsible. God did not need inspired written Scripture from the outset.
Third, theopneusticity falsely then presupposes that the creation is fallen. The sole early testimony to this claim is the talking snake chapter, 3, of Genesis, which I have systematically demonstrated is bogus, that is, it was not part of the original work, nor does it make much sense. It contains several conceptual and scientific errors, and a few contradictions (see my post for this at this blog).
Theopneusticity also falsely requires us to believe that the testimony of creation is no longer clear, but has been besmirched with a mighty spray-painting, and overmuch scribbled upon, by the evil deeds of men (and sometime chatty serpents). This would have for many thousands of years stultified God’s original plan, which needs a clear testimony of nature. Instead, the Proverbs would remind us that: “There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan, that can succeed against the Lord.”
Fifth, theopneusticity presupposes the doctrine of the Trinity, with its third Person in charge of the sacred writing assignment. I have already shown the doctrine of the Trinity as a belated arrival to the Christian era of the early Church. And the Bible of the early Church (the LXX) did not know the concept, nor have a word for it, in 250 – 100 B.C. whence it came into existence. That is, theopneusticity promotes polytheism.
Finally, Theopneusticity teaches that God has two different, though overlapping, revelations — one General and one special. This implies two different messages or “Words” to the wise. Since, in the Bible, God is represented by His Word, this implies two different Gods.
These reasons, and others more which might yet be listed, should give us pause in thinking that God ever needed nor wanted inspired Bible in the first place. Theopneusticity does in fact, on this view, represent a form of idolatry, forbidden (ironically) by the second commandment, supposedly written by the finger of God (whether his index or middle finger I do not know). He seems portrayed here as giving idols the middle one.
None of this forbids the careful study of the light of nature, with its contents written down for all to read. But we must maintain a careful fence between nature’s infallible light (its Author is infallible) with our best record of its contents — which is fallible, as we are fallible.
The source of theopneusticity (perhaps the original idolatry) is found in Genesis 1.27, “man as divine image.” Recall that the Egyptian glyphic imprint (the library of hieroglyphs from Egypt) which stands behind the idioms of the Bible, the idiomatic bricks around which the narrative accounts (stories) of the Bible transpire, seems to center on different parts of the human anatomy — the “open hand” or “good eye,” etc. If we consider that man is to be construed as divine imagery, then so also those part which construct it. This would man that divine parts construct the focus points around which the biblical narrative revolves. Thus, the writing by man’s hand is — by lex talionis — the writing of the divine hand. And the glyphic body-mind-human imagery only reinforces this “stamped divinity.”
The idolatrous interplay between the human and the divine from Genesis 1.26-27 stands behind the development of the idea of Theopneusticity.