Friday, December 10, 2010

Fundamental Friday's--The Fallacies of Higher Criticism Part VI

In the early 1900's. a twelve volume work on theology titled The Fundamentals was published. This massive work, in my most humble of opinions, is just as relevant today if not more so with the ever increasing attacks on the faith of Christians--and that's just from folks inside the church. I wanted to publish some excerpts from this work that I think will be greatly encouraging to you.

The Psalms are usually dated by the higher critics after the exile. The great majority of the higher critics are agreed here, and tell us that these varied and .touching and magnificent lyrics of religious experience all come to us from a period later than 450 B. C. A few of the critics admit an earlier origin of three or four of them, but they do this waveringly, grudgingly, and against the general consensus of opinion among their fellows. In the Bible a very large number of the Psalms are ascribed to David, and these, with a few insignificant and doubtful exceptions, are denied to him and brought down, like the rest, to the age of the second temple. This leads me to the following observations:

1. Who wrote the Psalms? Here the higher critics have no answer. Of the period from 400 to 175 B. C, we are in almost total ignorance. Josephus knows almost nothing about it, nor has any other writer told us more. Yet, according to the theory, it was precisely in these centuries of silence: when the Jews had no great writers, that they produced this magnificent outburst of sacred song.

2. This is the more remarkable when we consider the well known men to whom the theory denies the authorship of any of the Psalms. The list includes such names as Moses, David, Samuel, Nathan, Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and the long list of preexilic prophets. We are asked to believe that these men composed no Psalms, and that the entire collection was contributed by men so obscure that they have left no single name by which we can identify them with their work.

3. This will appear still more extraordinary if we consider the times in which, it is said, no Psalms were produced, and contrast them with the times in which all of them were produced. The times in which none were produced were the great times, the times of growth, of mental ferment, of conquest, of imperial expansion, of disaster, and of recovery. The times in which none were produced were the times of the splendid temple of Solomon, with its splendid worship. The times in which none were produced were the heroic times of Elijah and Elisha, when the people of Jehovah struggled for their existence against the abominations of the pagan gods. On the other hand, the times which actually produced them were the times of growing legalism, of obscurity, and of inferior abilities. All this is incredible.
4. Very many of the Psalms plainly appear to be ancient. They sing of early events, and have no trace of allusion to the age which is said to have produced them.

5. The large number of Psalms attributed to David have attracted the special attention of the higher critics. They are denied to him on various grounds. He was a wicked man, and hence incapable of writing these praises to the God of righteousness. He was an iron warrior and statesman, and hence not gifted with the emotions found in these productions. He was so busy with the cares of conquest and administration that he had no leisure for literary work. Finally, his conception of God was utterly different from that which moved the psalmists.

The larger part of this catalogue of inabilities is manifestly erroneous. David, with some glaring faults, and with a single enormous crime, for which he was profoundly penitent, was one of the noblest of men. He was indeed an iron warrior and statesman, but also one of the most emotional of all great historic characters. He was busy, but busy men nest seldom find relief in literary occupations, as Washington, during the Revolutionary War, poured forth a continual tide of letters, and as Caesar, Marcus Aurelius, and Gladstone, while burdened with the cares of empire, composed immortal books. The conception of God with which David began his career was indeed narrow (1 Sam. 26:19) . But did he learn nothing in all his later experiences, and his associations with holy priests and prophets? He was certainly teachable: did God fail to make use of him in further revealing Himself to His people? To deny these Psalms to David on the ground of his limited views of God in his early life, is this not to deny that God made successive revelations of Himself wherever He found suitable channels? If, further, we consider the unquestioned skill of David in the music of his nation and his age (1 Sam. 16:14-23), this will constitute a presupposition in favor of his interest in sacred song. If, finally, we consider his personal career of danger and deliverance, this will appear as the natural means of awakening in him the spirit of varied religious poetry. His times were much like the Elizabethan period, which ministered unexampled stimulus to the English mind.

From all this we may turn to the singular verdict of Professor Jordan: "If a man says he cannot see why David could not have written Psalms 51 and 139, you are compelled to reply as politely as possible that if he did write them then any man can write anything." So also we may say, "as politely as possible," that if Shakespeare, with his "small Latin and less Greek," did write his incomparable dramas, "then any man can write anything'"; that if Dickens, with his mere elementary education, did write his great novels, "then any man can write anything"; and that if Lincoln, who had no early schooling, did write his Gettysburg address, "then any man can write anything."


St.Lee said...

And I would like to politely suggest that God is powerful enough to use "any man" to record his word. I know, I know; shows a glaring lack of "higher" education on my part.

Joe Blackmon said...

You are most correct, sir. I'll gladly remain guilty of lacking the higher edu-ma-cation necessary to believe that the men who wrote scripture did not write it.