I don’t believe the Bible is verbally inspired, and I don’t believe the King James Bible is the only valid translation. In fact, those two beliefs are self-contradictory.

If you’re going to believe in a verbally inspired Bible, then any translation is a distortion of the original message. It’s difficult enough to repeat the same information in different words in the same language. But translation requires changing word order, inserting (0r deleting) some words, substituting several words for a single word, and selecting from a range of meanings in the original language and then doing the same in the target language. Don’t believe me?

Take a look at a Hebrew interlinear Bible for a simple passage, Genesis 1:1-3 here: http://www.scripture4all.org/OnlineInterlinear/OTpdf/gen1.pdf

Here’s the raw English translation:

In·beginning  he-created Elohim  the·heavens and the·earth  and·the·earth she-became  chaos  and·vacancy   and·darkness  over   surfaces-of abyss  and·spirit-of   Elohim vibrating over  surfaces-of the·waters  and·he-is-saying  Elohim he-shall-become light and·he-is-becoming light

And don’t forget, the original Hebrew had no vowels, and it reads from right to left, instead of left to right. You can see the difficulty of precise translation. And that’s a straightforward piece of narrative.

So, if I believed in the verbal inspiration of the Bible,  it would be out of my reach. I read some Greek, less Hebrew, even less Aramaic.

And there are many other problems with verbal inspiration. For one thing, no Bible writer ever claims that every word they wrote was inspired. Indeed, many biblical authors demonstrate no consciousness that they are inspired. Luke, for example, tells us he was doing the work of a historian or journalist:

Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilledamong us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the firstwere eyewitnessesand servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account  for you, most excellent Theophilus,  so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.

Luke 1:1-4

I used the NIV, not because it’s my favorite, but because I write for the denomination a lot (here, for example: http://www.signstimes.com/?p=article&a=40064826244.645), and that’s their standard translation.

Anyway, you’ll notice Luke says nothing about the Holy Spirit guiding him, or having visions, or anything we usually associate with inspiration. And yet, Luke–and his companion work, Acts– are included in the Bible.

My final objection to verbal inspiration (notice I’m avoiding EGW quotes), is that it would be a violation of the way God works with humanity. God never simply uses us. He works with us, invites us to cooperate with Him. And He works differently with different people. And that’s just what we find in the Bible.

God communicates himself, his plans, and his love to his creatures, and bids them share what he has given them with others. He doesn’t simply order us around and make us into robots, memorizing and regurgitating his programming. As the old song tells us, he walks with us, and he talks with us.

The Bible is one of the highest expressions of that fellowship. Is the Bible inspired? Yes, I believe so. Was it dictated? No, except for relatively short passages, the evidence is otherwise. Is is just the accumulation of ancient mystics relating the results of their meditations? I’ll take that up next time.