Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 12, 1956

The Advocate's Theory Of Natural Inspiration

Robert C. Welch, Louisville, Kentucky

One writer of the Bible school literature of the Gospel Advocate has committed himself and all the writers to the position of inspiration by "dictation" of the Holy Spirit. The literature "edited" by him contains many statements contradicting this position which he has avowed. Hence he either copies material without thinking what it teaches or he does not know that it teaches contrary to the position which he has avowed in the Gospel Advocate, October 6, 1955. Another explanation would be that he includes it wittingly and deliberately, knowing that it is contradictory to his avowed belief; but we can hardly believe he would do that.

Another writer (the Annual Lesson Commentary) has not yet come to his own defense of the modernism which was cited in his material. He has not told us why that statement got into his lesson about the name "Christian" being given by the public rather than by the Lord.

This case is not a question of the inspiration of the writer of the Book of Acts. It is the question of whether the name for God's children came from God or from men. The following quotation presents the question of inspiration of one of the writers of the Scriptures. It is taken from the Annual Lesson Commentary, May 29, 1955.

"The Holy Spirit does not use men so mechanically that a man who never meditated on spiritual subjects could write such songs as David wrote. These are the meditations of his heart in hours of solitude, in time of suffering, and in the hours of victory."

The man from Florence, Alabama who called this statement to my attention wanted to know if Balaam's long eared quadruped had been "meditating on spiritual subjects." It would seem that the animal did as much clear thinking as did the author as he wrote the statement in the annual. Perhaps he thinks that inspiration was not the same in David's day as in the apostle's day. Christ said to the apostles: "But when they deliver you up, be not anxious how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father that speaketh in you." (Matt. 10:19, 20.)

When the Psalms of David relate the meditations, sorrows and anxieties of his heart, he actually had experienced those thoughts, otherwise the Psalm would be a lie. However, many of his psalms do not relate his personal experiences. To teach that these psalms could come only after the writer had meditated upon the matter, is to place a limitation upon inspiration which is contrary to the scriptural teaching on the subject. It is a theory of partial inspiration. It places a limit on the power and possibility of inspiration, making inspiration subject to, and of less value than, natural abilities. It comes under the classification of THE THEORY OF NATURAL INSPIRATION, described as follows by Milligan in Reasons and Revelation, page 271.

"Next in order is the Theory of Natural Inspiration. This admits of a great many different grades and shades of meaning. Some make it consist wholly in the natural influence of the subject on the powers and susceptibilities of the human mind: while others concede that it includes also some degree of providential influence."

Milligan's criticism of this theory will stand out in contrast with the Advocate's comment because he actually refers to a statement made by David about his own inspiration:

"It utterly fails to account for those wonderful revelations respecting God, the mystery of redemption, and the future history and destiny of mankind which abound throughout the whole Bible. And besides, it is wholly inconsistent with the promises of Christ to his Apostles, and the often-repeated declarations of the inspired writers. 'It is not ye that speak,' says Christ; `but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.' And David says, 'The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and his word was in my tongue.' Such repeated declarations of both Old and New Testament writers are utterly inconsistent with every form and phase of the Theory of Natural Inspiration." (ibid, p. 273.)

How could the prophets speak of things to come in both the spiritual and scientific realms if they could only speak on those things upon which they had meditated? How could David have spoken so many times, and have given so many prophecies, concerning the Christ to come, if he could only write upon those things which had been the subject of his meditations? The Advocate Annual takes the position that the Spirit only moved him to write the things upon which he had meditated. Such a theory is MODERNISM. It is not a new theory, modernism is not new, it is merely the name by which such liberal and skeptical theories are called.

Furthermore, where is the writer of the adult quarterly? He has said that all of the staff writers of that "venerable" (worshipful) paper, the Gospel Advocate, believe that the Spirit dictated every word. Perhaps both he and Brother Goodpasture, who says he believes in "verbal inspiration," will want to ask the writer of the annual to explain this statement, telling what theory of inspiration he holds. Then, perhaps, the three of them can make a joint statement about how such modernism gets into their literature. The quarterly editor was unable to get the "Record Straight" in his lone attempt a few weeks ago. Perhaps the three of them together can do a better job.