Apparently, nothing we do in church is inspired. The preaching isn’t-it is illuminated. The verbatim word preached isn’t as it is not in the original language. Singing the Psalms, which we often say is ‘inspired’ when contrasted to the *uninspired* hymns are not actually inspired as they are not in the original language either…..paraphrases are not the actual language. All biblical translations are flawed. All have error. God’s word is perfect and without error. Our translations have truth in them, but it cannot be said that every jot and tittle is flawless, hence, it is not inspired immediately. It can be seen however as mediately inspired.

Immediate vs mediate:

Matthew Winzer writes in regard to this issue:

Objection: “Inspiration, infallibility, and inerrancy apply only to the original autograph manuscripts of the Scriptures, none of which has survived (in God’s providence). No translation from the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek (into whatever language, including English) is to be considered in these terms.”

Response by Winzer: “This is contrary to the New Testament witness. Timothy was not raised with the original autograph mss., and yet the apostle Paul explicitly ascribed the quality of theopneustos to the Scriptures which Timothy read. Furthermore, we have Greek translations of Hebrew Scriptures quoted in the New Testament accompanied with the assertion that these are the words of the Holy Spirit.”

Pastor Jerrold Lewis writes in regard to the same objection:

“One correction brother. Many Reformed folk, including myself would disagree with your assertion that infallibility and inerrancy only apply to the autographs.

WCF, Chapter One:
VIII. The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which, at the time of the writing of it, was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and, by His singular care and providence, kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical.”

This is the doctrine of providential preservation, and contends that the copies in possession today (in the Received Text family) are kept pure in all ages. We would not say this per se is the case with translations necessarily, but would hold that the Received Text is both inspired and infallible.”

When Lewis mentions this portion of the confession he leaves off a portion:

“so as in all controversies of religion the Church is finally to appeal unto them. But because these original tongues are not known to all the people of God who have right unto, and interest in, the Scriptures, and are commanded, in the fear of God, to read and search them, therefore they are to be translated into the vulgar language of every nation unto which they come, that the Word of God dwelling plentifully in all, they may worship him in an acceptable manner, and, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, may have hope.”

How do you believe Westminster used the term authentical? In relation to the original texts only? Surely not. If not, how could the english versions not be be inspired? If they are not, in your opinion inspired, how is it that we all call the singing of Psalms more appropriate, based on the idea that we all say they are inspired, when compared to the hymns which are uninspired?

More from Winzer:

Objection: “Please show me where my logic is wrong. If translations and paraphrases are not inspired/infallible, then it follows that paraphrases of translations are also not inspired/infallible. The psalms that are sung in English are paraphrases (to correlate with the musical beat) of English translations. Therefore they are not inspired/infallible. So people who insist on singing only “inspired” songs, either EP or scripture-only, seem to be making a false distinction. Neither what they sing nor “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” is inspired/infallible–or am I missing something?”

Response: “You seem to be leaving out of view the fact that the original autographs are described as being immediately inspired by God. When the sense of the original is accurately translated into another language it retains its quality as the inspired Word of God, or what may be called mediate inspiration. Hence, in Heb. 3:7ff, we read that the Holy Ghost says the words of Ps 95 in Greek (or English in our version), which was originally written in Hebrew. The fact has not been altered that this is the inspired word of God even though it has been translated into another language.”

The issue came up on another thread of Glenn Ferrells earlier today. I was rebuked. Here is the exchange: The quotations are the opponent of EP.

“Scott – ask the exact same question of hymns. If they are accurate, sound summaries of Bible doctrine, does that negate inspiration (of the truth being summarized)?”

“We know that the English translations are not verbally inspired. “

You have made the proper distinction right there-thats the difference. We don’t drag any dead cats into God’s prescribed worship.

“Even more importantly, knowledge and understanding of the entire Bible is necessary to rightly interpret any single sentence, paragraph and book of the Bible. This is why we who are reformed appreciate and recognize the importance of Covenant Theology in rightly understanding any particular portion of the Bible.”

Again, illumination versus inspired. The preaching is illuminated, i.e. the extrapolation of scripture vs inspired. God’s word is perfect; Extrapolation is not.

“The paraphrased versions of the Psalms in your Scottish psalter are not inspired any more than doctrinally sound hymns are inspired.”

Wrong; if the paraphrase is not inspired then all bibles are illicit because all have paraphrasing. 

par·a·phrase (pr-frz)
1. A restatement of a text or passage in another form or other words, often to clarify meaning.
2. The restatement of texts in other words as a studying or teaching device.

His response to me was scalding:

Scott are you serious?? Please say no! Of course the English translations are not verbally inspired!! They are translations – some better than others – of the verbally inspired word of God in the original languages. Do you not understand this???

o you really think King James’ scholars received direct verbal inspiration from the Holy One in the same way Isaiah and the Apostle Paul did??!! If that’s the case, why did they even need to study the Hebrew and Greek texts??!!

What is your religion???

End of dialog.

Well, I am a self taught theologian. I have very little studies in textual criticism. This was a crash course of sorts for me. I thank God for his faithfulness. What this person does is fail to make the distinction, when we are talking about inspiration, between mediate and immediate inspiration.

Youcan see from the above dialog that the person stated that all translations are not inspired, hence, the Psalms we sing are no different from the hymns. My thinking, based on this thinking is that nothing that we do in church then is inspired in any fashion. This would be crushing for the church.

As well, the word ‘uninspired’ was used in the thread, over 300 posts many times in regard to hymnody; in contrast to that we used the term ‘inspired’ a bunch of times as well when referring to the Psalms we sing.

Is the english translations, ‘inspired’? If not, how can we say the Psalms we sing are? If they are not, the issue comes down to the Psalms being ‘better’ than singing hymns…..

I inquired of a good friend who is a strong theologian. I asked:

In a recent discussion, I was told that ‘we are no better singing the english translations of the Psalms than if we sing the hymns, as both are uninspired’.

My friend writes:

“Yes, that is true. The Psalms are inspired in the same way that the book of Isaiah or Romans is inspired. But if someone sings from the 1912 Psalter or the 1650 Scottish Psalter or the more modern “Psalms for Singing” they are singing translations (versifications really) of an inspired text. “Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise” may be grand thoughts, but they are no more inspired than “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall.”

He goes on to say however, “But if he wishes to sing the 1650 Psalter, which I do, then I would say again that he is singing an inspired text. It is a translation — but a very accurate one.’

In light of this, I appreciate the idea that we are to sing to the Lord. If both, the Psalms and hymns are uninspired, could it be said that both break the RPW? Yes, I know that the confession tells us that we are to sing the Psalms; however, in the mind of God, should we be singing it in Hebrew so as to keep within the RPW?

Apparently, there are degrees of inspiration. It could not be said that the copies and translations are not inspired to a degree. Certain distinctions must be considered. Comparing a hymn with a copy of the original autograph of the Psalms are not the same thing and to claim they are is silly. Hymns do not have inspiration. They are not derived from the autographs. They could be illuminated, but that is the distinction between the two genres and that is the rationale Exclusive Psalmodists use to get to the place they are at when it comes to what we will use in worship, not to mention the Psalms are commanded to be sung.

Most of the above conversations did not take any of these facts into consideration and if they intended to, they failed at making these distinctions in attempting to explain this stuff to me. But God is faithful. After many hours of prayer and counsel in God’s word, reading on textual criticisms, counsel with some men faithful to the original languages, here is the outcome of those hours of study.

Something from Sproul on the issue where he quotes Calvin:

A further distinction that must be made is the distinction between immediate and mediate general revelation. Immediate general revelation occurs without an intermediating agency. Mediate general revelation occurs through an intermediating agency. John Calvin described immediate general revelation in hisInstitutes of the Christian Religion:

There is within the human mind, and indeed by natural instinct, an awareness of divinity [divinitatis sensum]. This we take to be beyond controversy. To prevent anyone from taking refuge in the pretense of ignorance, God himself has implanted in all men a certain understanding of his divine majesty (I.3.1).

In other words, God has revealed himself by directly implanting knowledge about Himself in all men. In a later chapter, Calvin described the mediate general revelation that God accomplishes through His created works:

The final goal of the blessed life, moreover, rests in the knowledge of God [cf.John 17:3]. Lest anyone, then, be excluded from access to happiness, he not only sowed in men’s minds that seed of religion of which we have spoken, but revealed himself and daily discloses himself in the whole workmanship of the universe. As a consequence, men cannot open their eyes without being compelled to see him (Institutes, I.5.1).

Turetin in his fine work, Institutes of Elenctic Theolgy, writes:

The Authentic Version of Scripture QUESTION 11: Are the Hebrew version of the Old Testament and the Greek of the New the only authentic ones? Affirmative, against the Roman Catholics. I. Some versions of Scripture are original and primary, originally prepared by the authors; others are secondary, versions in other languages into which it has been translated. No one denies that the Hebrew of the Old Testament and the Greek of the New are original and first written, but there is a controversy between us and the Roman Catholics as to whether both are authentic, and deserve in themselves both faith and authority, and whether all other versions are to be tested by them.

III. An authentic writing is one with regard to which all factors together produce confidence, and to which complete trust should be given in its field, from which it is evident both that it must come from the author whose name it bears, and that everything in it must be written as he wanted it written. Such a writing can be authentic in either of two senses–primary and original and secondary and derivative. The primary sense applies to what bears its own authentication, which proves itself by itself, and which is believed and clearly should be believed on its own showing (ob seipsum). In this category are the original copies of royal edicts, of the decrees of magistrates, wills, contracts, and anything else actually written by the author. In the secondary group are all copies accurately and faithfully made by qualified (idoneus) persons, such as the functionaries appointed and authorized by public authority to copy the edicts of princes and other public documents, or the various honest and faithful scribes and copyists of books and other writings. In the first sense only the “autographs” of Moses, the prophets and the apostles are authentic, but in the second sense faithful and accurate copies are also. IV. Furthermore, the authority of such authentic writing has two aspects: one rests on the substance of the matter with which it deals (in rebus ipsis de quibus id agitur), and concerns the people to whom the writing is directed; the other concerns the word itself and the writing and applies to the copies and translations made from it, and receives all its authority (ius) from the original, so that it should be compared to that authentic writing and corrected if there is any difference. The first kind of authority (authoritas) may be greater or less, depending on the authority of him by whom the writing was issued, and whether he has more or less authority (imperium) over the people to whom he addresses it. With the Holy Scripture, authority is found to the greatest degree, such as cannot reside in any other writing, since we ought simply to obey God, and be obedient to everything which he has, in his most holy authentic written Word, required either to be believed or to be done, on account of that supreme authority which he holds over mankind, as over all creation, and that supreme truth and wisdom which reside in him. But the second kind of authority consists in this, that faithful and accurate copies, not less than autographs, are norms for all other copies of his writing and for translations. If any discrepancy is found in these, whether it conflicts with the originals or the true copies, they are not worthy of the name “authentic,” and must be rejected as false and corrupted, and there is no other reason for this rejection except the discrepancy.

R. Reymond:

But something should be said about the nature of these translations or versions. Are they to be regarded as the word of God? Are they authoritative? Are they inspired? We should not hesitate to affirm that to the degree, translations and versions capture the authorial intention of the autographs , to that same degree these translations are the word of God and are therefore authoritative. Theirs, of course, a derived authority , while the authority of the autographs is an intrinsic, immediate and inherent authority. While one may refer to translations and versions as ‘inspired’ scripture in a sense that they are copies of the inspired autographs, only the autographs were directly inspired and thus, inerrant.

Directly vs indirectly
Mediate vs immediate

John Owen:

The word duly and legitimately interpreted is still the word of God, and so the exposition (if it departs not from the analogy of faith) is also the word of God, so far as it is founded on and expands upon the written word. All correct exposition may thus be said to share in infallibility, so far as it expounds the infallible word.

Biblical Theology pg 816

Me thinking out loud….

Textual Criticism

Immediate vs Mediate

Direct inspiration (immediately) from the Holy Spirt vs indirect inspiration (mediately).

Indirect/mediate is considered inspired due to the idea that the body of truth found in the immediately inspired texts is present in the mediately inspired texts. 

Mediately inspired texts do not have all truth per se, else they would be immediately/directly inspired. Consider the original autographs of God’s word vs the English translations. 

Proverbs 27:5 Better is open rebuke Than love that is concealed. 6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend,