John MacArthur – Understanding the Doctrine of Inspiration


We come now to a wonderful opportunity to consider the great doctrine of the inspiration of the Scripture. We’re going to look at the theology category that is called bibliology, the study of the Word of God. It was some years ago that I read an interesting interview. A very popular Christian songwriter, many of whose songs we all sing and enjoy, was asked to explain how he was able to write a certain song, and this was the answer. “Regarding that song, it came quickly, and we do not care to discuss the theology of it. In fact, we feel that to dissect the song would be tampering with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, who inspired the song,” end quote.

Well, I think I understand what the writers of that song meant, but that really is a startling claim; to say that they don’t want to discuss the theology of the song nor dissect the words of the song, because that would be tampering with the Holy Spirit, who inspired the song, may indicate that they don’t quite understand what it means when something is inspired. In defense of them, we use that word a lot. We especially use it with regard to music. It’s one thing to say, “I was inspired by the music.” It’s something else to say, “That was an inspiring rendition of the music.” We mean we were lifted up, and encouraged, and our emotions were elevated in the experience of singing that song, or hearing that song. A writer could even say, “It was an inspiring experience for me to write that song.”

But to say that a song is the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and therefore should not be dissected or tampered with, is to make the song equal to Scripture. Are we to say, then, that a songwriter who writes a song is inspired in the same way that Luke was inspired when he wrote the gospel of Luke? Or Paul was inspired when he wrote the book of Romans? Or Isaiah was inspired when he wrote the prophecy that is called Isaiah? What do we mean when we say the Bible is inspired? Do we mean it’s an inspiring book because it inspires in us faith, and religious feeling, and understanding? And are people today still inspired when they write songs, in the same way that writers of the Bible were inspired? Are books today inspired? How about sermons? Are they inspired?

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Michael lives in Belleville, IL, a suburb of St. Louis, MO with his wife Erica and daughter Alissa. An 8 year Navy veteran, he is now employed at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) where he oversees advanced educational programs. Michael holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Religion (Biblical Studies) from Liberty University. He is an avid reader and blogger operating the website Christian Apologetics and Intelligence Ministry ( which provides both original content and shares relevant posts and articles from around the web.

bolingme – who has written posts on Apologetics and Intelligence Ministry.

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