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Erickson’s Theories of Biblical Inspiration

Erickson thought that the Bible was a unanimous testimony of the writers of the Scripture and a proof of God’s divinity. This divine inspiration was broken down into five theories namely; intuition, illumination, dynamic, verbal, and dictation. These theories present the way the Scripture came to be, however; two of these theories make more sense than the other three. These two theories are dynamic and verbal. The theories of intuition, dictation, and illumination seem to be less compelling as compared to verbal and dynamic. In this paper, the verbal theory and dynamic theory will be discussed in detail.

According to Erickson, the dynamic theory combined the divinity of God and elements of humans in the development of the Bible. The hand of God was guiding the hand of the human, recording the Scripture. This allowed the writer to develop his distinct thoughts while writing and allowed his personality to shine through as well, showing his personality through the light of God. The words and expressions chosen by the writer showed his understanding of God. This made the Scripture written by each writer unique to his personality but divinely guided by God. This theory makes sense as the comparison between Luke’s and John’s Canonical Gospels show a sharp contrast in narration. Luke relays the event in a historical narrative while John’s narration has a poetic quality. Thus proving that each person had a distinct personality but both were presenting the divine message of God.

In the verbal theory, Erickson states that the Holy Spirit not only guides the thoughts of the writer but also guides through the process of selecting the correct words for the Scripture so that the message can be relayed properly. This means that the words written by the human hands were the exact words that God wanted to use to give his message to humanity. So a lot of care was put into the selection of each word as it represented the words of God. The verbal theory is often confused with the dictation theory but that theory states that the writers received dictation directly from God; word for word without any input from the writers. In contrast, the verbal theory is only the guidance for the right words to use. The verbal theory makes sense as many writers regardless of writing the Bible or not; may find some words more meaningful than others and find them to be more inspiring. The verbal theory gives the writing a human element that can be sometimes found in the Bible. This theory complements the dynamic theory as it proves that the traces of each writer’s personality can be found in the pages of the Bible (Erickson, 2001).

These two theories make the message of the Bible more understandable while the other three theories make the Bible seem like an otherworldly existence. The combination of these two theories presents a more believable scenario of the way the Bible was originally written. It is true that the Bible is a Holy book but believing that it is a direct version of God’s words can seem a bit unbelievable, however; combining it with human elements makes it seem more authentic. If either God’s divinity or the elements of humanity are taken away from it then it will lose its meaning but together it provides a more profound meaning that has led many people to find peace in life. Other theories of biblical inspiration make the Bible seem like an out worldly existence which in this day and age is a bit less believable.


Erickson, M. J. (2001). Introducing Christian Doctrine. Baker Academic.



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