Inspiration: Hard Questions, Honest Answers (Revised)

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I’m the publisher of this book and I spend some years persuading the author to allow me to issue a new edition when the first one went out of print. In addition, as a former Seventh-day Adventist, I wanted to see some update to make some of the valuable information in this book more helpful to those not in that SDA tradition.

With a bridge chapter specifically designed to help with the gap in time and tradition, Alden Thompson has accomplished that goal. Those who believe in a modern gift of prophecy would be especially well-advised to read this book and consider the way the view inspiration and “words from the Lord.”

Those who simply want a better overview of how the Bible came to be and some of the issues involved in discussing inspiration will benefit as well. The book is clearly written with extensive illustrations directly from the text of the Bible. Despite it’s 450 pages, which is the result of using 12 point type and some generous white space, I’d call it concise considering the ground it covers.

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  • Is the Bible historically accurate?
  • Are there any contradictions in the Bible?
  • If we look too closely at the Bible might we find things that will destroy our faith?
  • Should I be afraid that some new archeological discovery will prove the Bible wrong?
  • How much freedom do I have to interpret the Bible?

Combining history, Scripture, and an understanding of human nature, Dr. Thompson takes on the difficult questions regarding the Bible and inspiration. He goes beyond the question of whether you can trust the Bible to ask whether you can trust yourself as you study.

This unique study of inspiration uses internal evidence from the Bible text, its history, collection, and transmission to look at the way in which God works through prophets and Bible writers. As an experiential lens, he uses the experience of the Seventh-day Adventist community, of which he is a part, and its reception and use of Ellen White as God’s messenger. This provides an example of someone who produced an incredible volume of written material in her lifetime, yet maintained a great humility and understood her own spiritual experience as one of growth.

However, Inspiration: Hard Questions: Honest Answers is not just for Seventh-day Adventists. The lessons, drawn from the experience of one community, have wide applicability as we look at a range of views on biblical interpretation, experience, tradition, and contemporary claims of a prophetic word. All communities of faith would do well to ask the hard questions addressed in this book and to learn from the history and experience of others.

Ultimately, the author is addressing a question that comes to all of us: What is God’s will and how can I know it? Can I be certain? To find the answers we need, Dr. Thompson reminds us “We cannot just know Scripture, we have to know God.”

In this Second Revised Edition, you will find a new “bridge” chapter, designed to invite readers outside of the Adventist tradition to join in the conversation, as well as a number of minor updates, and a set of beautiful photographs and drawings inspired by scripture, prepared for this edition by Wanda Thompson. It is not enough to determine how the inspiration of scripture works as a theological tenet or a doctrinal point. Ultimately, for God’s Word in scripture to accomplish its mission, we must each be inspired by it as well.


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