I wish here to offer several challenges to the idea of theopneusticity, the teaching that the Bible is “God-breathed.” According to the Bible itself, it cannot be so. In Matthew 19.4, we find Jesus teaching that what was “from the beginning” forms the normative standard for all men for all time. The point of his rhetoric aimed at refuting the implied claim of his rivals that it was okay for a man to divorce his wife “for any or every reason.” They appealed to developments in redemptive history AFTER the beginning, in fact, long after, from the time of Moses. Moses had allowed them a “certificate of divorce,” the formal documentation necessary to terminate their marriage. Jesus rebuffed the idea that “revelation is progressive,” instead favoring the restorationist approach (Acts 3.21).
Did Moses write the Torah in the 15th century BC? If so, the divine book was too late.
According to the NT, Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible, called the Torah, or else the Pentateuch, sometime after 1450 BC. This means that the twelve patriarchs and their predecessors had no Bible, no God-breathed anything. This novelty was not from the beginning. This means that it was not given because of “the Fall” into sin, as Christians often challenge.
Adam would have to have written the first five books of the Bible if this were the reason. Think it through. If they did not need a Bible in Abraham’s day, we do not need one now.
This means that the Bible’s restorationist doctrine — what was from the beginning is forever normative — refutes the Bible itself as a far-too-late novelty that seems strange, unnecessary and out of place.
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.
In other words, God 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. There was then no divine book, 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 directly responsible for its details, or more briefly, “God wrote this.” The doctrine of infallible men carries inherent dangers, namely, when they screw up (as they inevitably do), we all pay for it as long as we maintain the divine authorship of the errors. They become incorrigible errors, where no one can repair the damage, much like democratic social programs.
But God did in fact convey the semantic content of the light of nature. And if one puts it down in ink, all is well. But we must acknowledge that fallible men alone are responsible for its content, since God gave no book from the beginning. And (said Jesus correctly) Plan A always obtains.
So also, theopneusticity falsely implies that the creation is fallen. The sole early testimony we have to this effect hails from a conniving and chatty wrap-around in chapter 3 of Genesis. I have systematically demonstrated that the narrative is a bogus add-on, and not part of the original work. Nor does it even make much sense. It contains several conceptual and scientific errors, and a few contradictions (see my post for this at this blog).
Theopneusticity thus falsely requires us to believe that the testimony of creation is no longer clear. Having been scribbled upon overmuch by the evil deeds of men (sin), yea with a mighty spray-painting, its original message hath dwindled. If true, 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.”
The doctrine of Theopneusticity also presupposes the doctrine of the Trinity, with its third ghostly Person in charge of the homework. I have already shown the doctrine of the Trinity as a false, and 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. The reason the monotheistic people knew nothing of the trinity should be clear — three is two gods to many. That is, theopneusticity promotes polytheism.
Moreover, if we allow the doctrine of the Trinity, which in the history of the whole national “church,” no Jew ever acknowledged (and Jesus was such a Jew), we must deny the infallibility of the (apparently blind) church. The completion of the Greek OT concluded no later than 100 BC, by which time precisely no Jew ever had even mentioned any trinity. Nor is there any word in the Septuagint (or the Hebrew Bible) by which to indicate the all-winsome cluster. The Bible of Jesus simply knew nothing at all about the Trinity, so not one word about it from his own lips adorns the Gospels, just as we find a complete absence of mention in all the apostolic sermons of the Acts. It simply never occurred to anyone until (perhaps) the corpus of the rather late-ish epistles.
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 (by representation).
None of this forbids the careful study of the light of nature, with its contents written down for all to read. The book of Proverbs aims at this goal. But we must maintain a careful fence between nature’s infallible light (its Author is infallible) distinguished from our best record of its contents. The first is infallible, the second is quite fallible.
Where did this idolatrous doctrine get started?
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) stands behind the Bible’s idioms (the bricks that build its accounts, which seems to center on different parts of the human anatomy — the “open hand” or “good eye,” etc). If we construe man as “divine imagery,” then so also those parts of which he consists.
This would imply that “divine parts,” translated into idioms, would form the pivotal points around which the biblical narrative revolves. So then the writing by man’s [divine] hand is — by lex talionis — the writing of the divine hand. This would convert the human writing into divine writing by a kind of transition in math called the transitive property of equality. If A = B, and if B = C, then A = C. If man’s is divine, and if his divine hand wrote the Bible, then the Bible is of divine origin.
Thus the idolatrous interplay between the human and the divine from Genesis 1.26-27 stands behind the development of the idea of Theopneusticity. This seems to be the original literary Sin.