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Volume 9, Issue 1: Similitudes

The Word of, um, God

Douglas Wilson

So. Who wrote the book of Romans?

This sounds like a trick question, but I'll bite. Paul wrote the book of Romans.
But I thought you were a Christian.
You know I am, but what do you mean?
I thought Christians believed that Romans is the Word of God.
Well, it is.
But you just said that it was the word of Paul.
It's both.
Wait a minute. Yesterday, when we were talking about God's sovereignty, you told me that God can't work through the actions of humans that way without destroying free will.
Well, we are getting into some doctrinally deep waters. . . . What are you driving at?
Did Paul have "free will" when he was writing Romans?
Oh, I see what you are driving at. If I say "yes," then you will ask me how Romans can also be the Word of God. If I say "no," then you will ask me why I don't hold to a dictation theory of inspiration.
You got it.
The answer is very complicated, and we must recognize that there are limits to human reason. Inspiration of Scripture is a difficult subject. . . .
Why are there limits to human reason when we are talking about the inspiration of Romans, but no limits to human reason when we are talking about God's predestination of other human activities?
I'm not sure what your point is.
When we were speaking of God's sovereignty yesterday, you told me that it was nonsensical to say that God could predetermine what food Smith would choose without totally destroying Smith's freedom of choice.
Right. And I stand by what I said. If God makes Smith choose a food, then Smith is not free to choose that flavor.
And if God predetermines what Romans 6:23 will say, then Paul is not free when he writes that verse.
I think . . . well, I think . . . you must be comparing apples and oranges.
No, I am comparing God's control of human actions in one situation to God's control of human actions in another situation. You have said that God cannot sovereignly control human actions without eliminating the genuine freedom of those humans. I am taking you at your word. And this necessarily means that Romans was either dictated by God, with Paul simply manning the typewriter, or that the Bible is not the Word of God. Which is it?
I think you are oversimplifying a very complex issue.
No. You have said in essence that Romans cannot be both the Word of God and the word of Paul.
I have said nothing of the kind.
True. You have not said this in so many words. But you have said it. If a man says that Michigan is in the northern hemisphere, he is also maintaining that Detroit is in the northern hemisphere--even if he never mentions Detroit by name.
Look. You are pretty good at word games, but the fact that God could control the writing of Romans while keeping that book the genuine work of Paul in no way means that God is going around predestining the selection of various kinds of food.
You are missing my point. I am not saying that God's control over one situation means that He must be controlling another situation.
So what are you saying, then?
I am saying that if you acknowledge one situation where God has done this without destroying genuine freedom, then you cannot subsequently argue that for Him to do it in another situation necessarily destroys human freedom.
But it doesn't follow that God has to control everything just because He controls one thing.
Right. But your point yesterday was not that God does not govern the free selections of food. You were maintaining that He cannot.
I still don't buy it.
Suppose you were to say that Smith cannot write his name. If I show you an instance where you acknowledge that he has written his name, it does no good for you to defend your initial position by pointing to other situations where he did not write his name. What would you say to a man on trial for murder who responds to ten witnesses who saw him do it by calling as witnesses two-hundred people who didn't see him do it?
Fine. So I guess the dictation theory of inspiration is correct after all.
So you could begin the Scripture reading at church with the words, "These are the very words of God."
Certainly.
But if you were in Romans, you would then read, "Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ . . ." If Paul didn't write it, why did God say he did?
Just because. And what I want to know is why you "sovereignty of God" buffs can be so obnoxious sometimes. Why don't you just give this subject a rest?
I know that I have been pressing the point. And I know that I can ruffle feathers sometimes.
Right. So why don't you knock it off?
Because wisdom is precious, truth is glorious, and reality is not optional. And I have a last question for you . . . if you are willing.
Fine. But make it short.

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