Clay and Gold – Inspiration and Incarnation

Scripture is both human and divine

First, that in the Bible the divine and human are blended. We must not regard the Bible as an absolutely perfect book in which God is Himself the author using human hands and brains only as a man might use a typewriter. God used men, not machines — men with like weakness and prejudice and passion as ourselves, though purified and ennobled by the influence of His Holy Spirit ; men each with his own peculiarities of manner and disposition — each with his own education or want of education — each with his own way of looking at things — each influenced differently from another by the different experiences and discipline of his life. Their inspiration did not involve a suspension of their natural faculties ; it did not destroy their personality, nor abolish the differences of training and character ; it did not even make them perfectly free from earthly passion; it did not make them into machines — it left them men.

Therefore we find their knowledge sometimes no higher than that of their contemporaries, and their indignation against oppression and wrong-doing sometimes breaking out into desire of revenge. This would not surprise us in the least in other good men who were, we knew, striving after God and righteousness. It surprises us in the Bible, because of our false preconceptions ; because it is in the Bible we do not expect the actors to be real and natural ; because of our false theory of Verbal Inspiration we are puzzled when the divine is mingled with the human. We must learn that the divine is mingled with the human.

We cannot draw a line between the divine and the human. We cannot say of any part,’ This is divine,’ or ‘ That is human.’ In some parts, as the Gospels, there is more of the divine ; in others, as the Chronicles, more of the human. It is as a mine of precious ore where the gold is mingled with the rock and clay — the ore is richer in one part than another, but all parts in some degree are glittering with gold. It is as sunlight through a painted window — the light must come to us coloured by the medium — we cannot get it any other way. In some parts the medium is denser and more imperfect, in others the golden glory comes dazzlingly through. It is foolish to ignore the existence of the human medium through which the light has come ; it is still more foolish to ignore the divine light, and think that the tinted dome is luminous itself, that the light of heaven has only come from earth. Both must be kept in mind — the divine and- the human — if the Bible is to be rightly understood. (J.R. Dummelow, One Vol. Bible Commentary, cxxxiv-cxxxv.)

The Lord gives overall objectives

“Usually the Lord gives us the overall objectives to be accomplished and some guidelines to follow, but he expects us to work out most of the details and methods. The methods and procedures are usually developed through study and prayer and by living so that we can obtain and follow the promptings of the Spirit.” (Ezra Taft Benson, CR, April 1965, 121)

Expectations of a prophet

Brigham Young
1801-1877

What a strange idea the world has of a prophet. They would expect to see a man with fingernails a foot long – with his hair hanging to his hips – with his body covered with dirt and filth – with his head bowed down in sorrow for the sins of the world (and) that he would not have a house, or lie in one, or in a bed, but (would) lie in the caves of the rocks and on the ground and (that he) must never smile or appear happy. And as to seeing an Apostle, the people would expect to melt if one came along. All of these ideas are vain and foolish…” (Teachings of President Brigham Young, 222-223)

Nothing more than a man

Friday, November 6, 1835… I was this morning introduced to a man from the east. After hearing my name, he remarked that I was nothing but a man, indicting by this expression, that he had supposed that a person to whom the Lord should see fit to reveal His will, must be something more than a man. He seemed to have forgotten the saying that fell from the lips of St. James, that Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, yet he had such power with God, that He, in answer to his prayers, shut the heavens that they again, in answer to his prayers, shut the heavens that they again, in answer to his prayer, the heavens gave forth rain, and the earth gave forth fruit. Indeed, such is the darkness and ignorance of this generation, that they look upon it as incredible that a man should have any intercourse with is Maker. (Joseph Smith, Teachings, 89)

It is not of ourselves

Wilford Woodruff 1807-1898

“If there is anything to us, if there is anything about us, if we have any knowledge, or any power, or any influence, we have to give God the honor of it. It is not of ourselves. Joseph Smith always acknowledged this, as have all men in this Church and Kingdom. We have been called from the plow, from the plane, from the hammer- ignorant, illiterate boys, and thrust into the vineyard; and all the power that we have, or ever had, in building up the Kingdom, we have to acknowledge it as coming from the hand of God.” (Wilford Woodruff, Journal of Discourses 21:314-315)

Not always a prophet

“This morning I … visited with a brother and sister from Michigan, who thought that “a prophet is always a prophet;” but I told them that a prophet was a prophet only when he was acting as such.” (Joseph Smith, Teachings, 278)

Not many good men

“I do not think there have been many good men on the earth since the days of Adam; but there was one good man and his name was Jesus. Many persons think a prophet must be a great deal better than anybody else. Suppose I would condescend – yes, I will call it condescend, to be a great deal better than any of you, I would be raised up to the highest heaven; and who should I have to accompany me? … I do not want you to think that I am very righteous, for I am not, God judges men according to the use they make of the light which he gives them.” (Joseph Smith, Teachings, p. 303)

About LDS Scripture Teachings

I write about ways scripture applies in our lives: LDSScriptureTeachings.org
This entry was posted in Incarnation, Inspiration, Miracles, Priesthood, Prophets, Scriptures and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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