Common sense says that without Christ, there is no Christianity, yet the liberal skeptics of the early 20th Century attempted to minimize the divinity of Christ and his miracles. They set out on a quest to uncover the real “historical” Jesus as simply a man with no supernatural abilities. The Messiah they tried to create could not have been Messiah at all because he was a mere man. It is interesting to see how sinful men seek to invent theories and then find the proof for them. If this method of research could be switched, the Gospel of John would be the place to start since it is a book that demonstrates the divinity and the sovereignty of Jesus Christ as God. This assault on the deity of Christ is the reason for one of the Five Pillars of Fundamentalism: The literal nature of Biblical accounts, especially regarding Christ’s miracles and the Creation account in Genesis.
Throughout history, there have been debates that are long forgotten so that the modern reader has no appreciation. Thus far in the posting of The Fundamentals on this blog, we have seen the errant approach and effects of higher criticism. Chapter 8 is no different, but the chapter addresses a topic from 100 years ago that not many modern Christians have never heard of. During my seminary career, I did not come across this topic outside of its reference in The Fundamentals.
The author, David Heagle, was addressing a doctrinal objection that was relevant in his culture, even though it may not be in ours. This is a necessary practice for two reasons. First, cultures change. Satan can use new forms and methods to combat Christianity. It is not wrong to biblically address these forms. Fundamentalism needs to be fluid in its addressing of culture. Some arguments of the 1970’s may not be relevant in 2014, yet some arguments of 2014 would have never been considered in 1970. I recently testified before the NH House Judiciary Committee stating my case to not amend the NH Constitution to promote homosexual marriage. Early Fundamentalists would have never dreamed that this is necessary.
Second, many of the arguments against orthodoxy are not really new. Those who ignore history are destined to repeat it. Many modern heretics and critics take their play books from the past and regurgitate the error. By being familiar with the past, we can guard against attacks on sound doctrine in the present and future.
Did you know that the Tabernacle in the Old Testament was real? Your reply most likely is, “Of course, why wouldn’t it be?” Skeptics and critics 100 years ago tried to disprove the tabernacle’s authenticity by claiming that priests who lived later in history added the story of the tabernacle into the Old Testament. They suppose the tabernacle was a creation and sketch of pure imagination while the Jews were in exile in Babylon. This is the basis for Chapter 8.
When I was growing up, I learned many Bible “stories” that I still hold dear to this day. The difficulty with using the term “story” is that it can insinuate that the account in question is not a historical event, but rather just a fairy tale. Modern Bible skeptics have tried to undermine the Bible’s authority by trying to make it into a fairy tale. And who can blame? If the Bible is the Word of God, the skeptic is forced to accept or rebel against God. It is much easier for the skeptic to run from reality and live for himself.
Were Abraham and Moses real people in history? Did a man named Noah really build an ark under the direction of God? Did God really mean that he created the world in six literal days, or is Genesis 1 a silly allegory with Genesis 2 as the real story (as if God made chapter divisions in the Bible)?
Friends, the Bible is the authoritative, accurate, and inspired Word of God. Everything it contains is an accurate account of historical record. That doesn’t mean that the Bible records every moment in history, but it does include everything man needs to know in order to glorify God. Chapter 7 of The Fundamentals addresses the skeptics who teach that the Bible is a fairy tale. It is unfortunate that many of these skeptics remain in modern Evangelicalism as deceivers.
Johann Gottfried Eichhorn was a German theologian and higher critic who set out to prove that the Bible was not of divine origin (inspiration) because he could not comprehend how God could write such a book. Instead of gathering the evidence and letting it speak for itself, Eichhorn and his cohorts believed their own theory first, and then sought evidence. This is a horrible method of scholarship because it is only limited to one’s imagination and skews the evidence unfairly.
In regards to the Pentateuch, also know as the Law of Moses or the first five books of the Bible, the higher critics set out to show that is was not divinely inspired through Moses, but rather a collection of stories compiled and edited over hundreds of year. To do this, the higher critics had to lie and distort dates and data. Chapter 6 of The Fundamentals shines light upon this type of deception and illustrates a massive conclusion. If the Pentateuch is only a human compilation, Christ and all his ministry is vain because it was built upon the Law of Moses. Jesus came to fulfill a divine law, not finish the compiled ramblings of the historic Hebrews. The supreme Christ upheld a divine Pentateuch.
Perhaps the greatest travesty of the American church today is the failure to accept the Bible as a divine book that is inspired by God. According to a recent Gallup poll taken in 2011, only 3 in 10 Americans actually believe that they can take the Bible literally. What worsens this statistic is that only 40% of the US actually attends church each Sunday. One would think that at least that 40% would take the Word of God as their authority, but even this is not the case. There are spots in the the US where church attendance and belief in the Bible are much lower than the national average. The State of New Hampshire, my home, ranks 49th out of all all 50 states in Sunday morning church attendance with only 23.7%. It has been estimated by recent surveys that only 2%-3% of those NH church attenders would identify themselves are either Fundamental or Evangelical Christians. Friends, this is horrific.
What seems to be the problem? There is no doubt that one major hurdle we face is that far too many people who identify themselves as “Christian” do not view the Bible as the authoritative, sufficient, and the life-changing Word of God. Any attempt to be a victorious Christian without the Bible is a vain and ridiculous religious ritual.
Chapter 5 of The Fundamentals proclaims the importance for all men to view the Bible as the only divinely written book that is worthy of honor, guidance, and sufficiency. Simply stated, the Bible is infallible. It is incapable of error or misleading. “Here, it was believed, is a volume which is an inspired record of the whole will of God for man’s salvation; accept as true and inspired the teaching of that book, follow its guidance, and you cannot stumble, you cannot err in attaining the supreme end of existence, in finding salvation, in grasping the prize of a glorious immortality.”
I really enjoyed reading today’s essay from The Fundamentals because it is so relevant for today, even though it was written 100 years ago. We are fighting the same battles. Satan does not change his tactics because they still work. He was a liar in the Garden of Eden, and he is still the same liar today. Today’s essay combats the lies of liberal theology and “higher criticism.”
If you remember from Chapter 1, higher criticism calls into question the divine source of the Bible and attempts to piece together the human elements without attention the the inspiration of Scripture. This path is dangerous and heretical. Chapter 3 addresses the fallacies of higher criticism and shows the flaws of its liberal theology. For example, higher criticism calls into question the authorship of the first five books of the Bible. Some critics even cast doubt upon Moses’ very existence! Two other fallacies addressed are the entrance of the theory of evolution into Christianity and the discrediting of real miracles happening in the Bible. Before I give away the rest, please jump in and read!
Here is the second installment of The Fundamentals. That’s two down an only eighty-eight to go! The reason that I find this chapter so intriguing is because of its modern relevancy. I recently began hunting for a new study Bible and was frustrated at the options available. One way to determine a strong study Bible is to read the introduction to Genesis (or the Pentateuch) and determine the authors viewpoint on the inspiration of Scripture as found in 2 Timothy 3:16 and 2 Peter 1:21.
Let me be clear. The Pentateuch is not an editorial compiled over 1,100+ years. God inspired the document through Moses, and it was placed into the Ark of the Covenant as a completed, inspired, and perfect whole in Exodus 25:16/Deuteronomy 31:26. While another penman included small portions after Moses death under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, it was completed and finished prior to being placed in the Ark. It is certainly true that scholars, scribes, and priests have translated and updated the text to make it more understandable for their contemporary cultures, but this work has nothing to do with the inspiration of the original autographs. God did not revise his Word!
My challenge you today is to know what you are reading! Just because your study Bible gets five stars on the Amazon review section or your favorite preacher has the most downloads on Sermon Audio does not mean they have the correct view on inspiration. Please enjoy reading Chapter 2 of the Fundamentals.