According to this theory, every great poet is inspired, and every person who has brought a helpful message for mankind is as much a prophet of God as were the Bible writers.
Objections: It eliminates the supernatural and reduces the Biblical writings to the level of the secular, making them merely human productions to be criticized, and mutilated at will. Natural inspiration is no inspiration at all (Exodus 4:10-12; II Samuel 23:1,2; Isaiah 8:11; 48:16; Jeremiah 1:5-10; Ezekiel 2:13; I Thessalonians 2:13; Ephesians 3:5).
Degrees of Inspiration
The first and highest degree of inspiration covers those portions of Scripture which were revealed to the writers, that is those not previously known. The second or lesser degree secure the writers against any serious error in recording facts and doctrines already known to them. The third, or least, degree gives divine authority to the remaining portions of the Bible, portions which, they say were originally composed with inspiration.
Objections: There are degrees of value, but not of inspiration.
Illumination, or Universal Christian Inspiration
This theory teaches that the writers of the Bible were inspired in the same sense in which Christians of all ages have been inspired; that is the average Christian of today is as much inspired as was Moses or Paul or any Biblical writer.
Objections: Offers no security against many and serious errors.
God gave thoughts to the writers, and permitted them years afterwards in some cases to express these thoughts in their own words as they might remember them.
Objections: Thus the inerrant God becomes the Author of an errant book. Moses, David and the others may have gotten their “concept” correctly, but they were not very successful in putting it into words!
This theory teaches that the Bible is inspired in spots; parts of it are inspired, and parts are not inspired. The favorite expression of its advocates is, “The Bible contains the Word of God.” These teachers do not agree as to what portions are and what portions are not inspired.
Objections: It leaves us in “awful and fatal uncertainty” as to what is and what is not the Word of God. The Bible contains the Word of God; true, but much more, the Bible is the Word of God.
According to the theory, human reason and errors are so mixed with the divine that it would be difficult to know what really is the Word of God.
Plenary, Verbal Inspiration
The word “plenary” means full, complete, entire, extending to every part. Plenary Inspiration teaches that every part of the Bible is inspired, and equally inspired.
“Verbal” means pertaining to words. It is the doctrine of superintendence, or guidance; that is, God so guided in the writing of the books of the Bible that the words are His words in the style of the writers.