Christians call the Bible their Holy Scripture. Historically, this is because Christians believed the Bible to be the only book inspired by God. But what does it mean that the Bible is inspired by God? And why do different Christian thinkers believe it is inspired? And why think it alone is inspired? For generations, Christians have simply wondered: what is special about the Bible that makes it trustworthy?
Fortunately, the Christian tradition has spent a long time thinking about these issues. Though sometimes in tension, different answers and ideas have come forth through time. Some thinkers believe that God used human writers to craft the Bible; others hold that the Bible is a work of both God and humans, though how exactly is a divine mystery. Some theologians hold that the Bible is trustworthy on all matters; others, only on spiritual matters. All, however, are in agreement that this is an important issue worth investing our time in.
Here is a sample of perspectives on the issue. It's a list of different Christian theologians, spanning 1800 years, discussing the importance and inspiration of the Bible. One or two wrote before the canonization of the Bible in the fourth century; their comments remain relevant, even though they don't speak directly about the Bible as we know it today. Other theologians focus on one aspect of the Bible, e.g., prophecy. But each brings something new to the discussion worth thinking about.
CCEL Staff Writer
of God and On Christian Doctrine by St. Augustine
In On Christian Doctrine, St. Augustine suggests that Christians should accept as canonical those books which are accepted by the universal church.* And those canonical books, St. Augustine believes, were composed by the Holy Spirit.*
and Interpretation by John Burgon
John Burgon claims that the Bible is the work of both human beings and God, and that we cannot separate the two, but that they are indivisible aspects of the text.*
on Second Timothy by John Calvin
According to John Calvin, what makes the Bible unique among religious texts is that "we know that God hath spoken to us, and are fully convinced that the prophets did not speak at their own suggestion, but that they only uttered what they had been commissioned from heaven to declare."*
Theology by Heinrich Schmid
Schmid agrees with Calvin that what separates Christianity from other religions is the inspiration of the Bible. He goes on to hold that the author of the Bible is God, and that the human authors were merely instruments of God.*
on Second Timothy by St. John Chrysostom
St. John Chrysostom finds the inspiration of Scripture something comforting; because of it, he does not doubt its truth. Further, he believes that because the Scripture is trustworthy, it allows for human persons to be perfected by God's grace.*
Of course, there are many more books in CCEL worth consulting. Here are a few more:
Westminster Confession of Faith by Anonymous
Cannon of Old and New Testament Ascertained by Archibald Alexander
Warranted Christian Belief by Alvin Plantinga