In my last posting I began to consider some of the implications of the relationship between Word and Spirit, I want to continue with a few insights from the overlap between the doctrine of the incarnation and that of the inspiration of Scripture. At the outset it should be noted that one can not push this too far as John Webster warns us (Holy Scripture:A Dogmatic Sketch). But on the other hand many authors have drawn on the parallels in a balanced way (see G.C. Berkouwer: Holy Scripture for example).
From the very beginning of his ministry we see that Jesus the eternal Logos who has taken on human nature is filled with the Holy Spirit. Even in his conception the Holy Spirit is the agent of bringing together of manhood and deity. In all that Jesus is and does as a man he relies on the Holy Spirit to empower him. The question has often been asked how a fallen man can convey God’s word in an infallible way, and this is where the analogy of the incarnation is helpful. The Holy Spirit is able to sanctify his agents in writing Scripture so that the Word that they write is both the word of men and the Word of God. We need to be careful that we do not overdraw the analogy, but because Jesus was a true man we can see in his life and work an example of how the Holy Spirit works. The Holy Spirit is able therefore to take hold of a man and reveal what God wants said.
The God breathed nature of Holy Scripture demands that we can give some account of the how the Holy Spirit works in humankind.This being so the parallel with how the diverse ways the Holy Spirit works in Jesus becomes important. Jesus was conscious of the empowering of the Holy Spirit and so were the writers of Scripture. Peter says in 2 Peter 1:20-21 “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had it origin in the human will, but prophets spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
Having said this we must affirm in the strongest possible terms that this is real human writing that reflects the character of the author and his cultural context. Scripture is not a collection of timeless truths but truth revealed through the story of God in space and time. Many attempts have been made to write theology as though it were a rationalistic system rather than seeing the dynamic of God’s relationship with humankind. Therefore to interpret Scripture correctly we need to see what God was saying in the historical context. it as this point that we see the need for a Biblical Theology before we embark on the task of a Systematic Theology.
We need therefore to affirm the close relationship between Word and Spirit both in the life of Jesus and in the biblical text. We need to affirm that the Word of God is brought alive by the Spirit of God because it is the word that he inspired in the first place. The whole tension of Word and Spirit as played out by so many is a false one. Word and Spirit belong together in the life of Christ, the life of the believer and in the pages of Scripture.