I started my preaching career as a Methodist Lay Minister in the Port Elizabeth North district. Every quarter I would meet with my fellow preachers to discuss issues and to receive a briefing from the Superintendent Minister. At one of these meetings, I got to talking with a woman preacher who was quite a bit older than me. The subject of the nature of the Bible came up, and I spoke passionately of my belief that the scriptures are both inspired and authoritative. She shook her head sadly and said, “When you are more spiritually mature you will come to understand that it is neither.” Her response amazed and perplexed me because this was my first encounter with a Liberal theological view of the Bible.
If the Bible is inspired, in the sense that orthodox Evangelicals believe it to be, then it is a very real form of the Word of God. Jesus is the Word made flesh and the Bible is the written Word. If it is inspired in the sense that the woman local preacher meant, then it is no more special than the works of Plato or Mohammed. We appreciate these writings and draw some profound ideas from them, but we do not claim that they are the products of men who ‘spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.’