Friday, February 25, 2011

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

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.

One of the fixed points of the higher criticism is its theory of the origin of Deuteronomy. In I. Kings 22 we have the history of the finding of the book of the law in the temple, which was being repaired. Now the higher critics present this finding, not as the discovery of an ancient document, but as the finding of an entirely new document, which had been concealed in the temple in order that it might be found, might be accepted as the production of Moses, and might produce an effect by its assumed authorship. It is not supposed for a moment that the writer innocently chose the fictitious dress of Mosaic authorship for merely literary purposes. On the contrary, it is steadfastly maintained that he intended to deceive, and that others were with him in the plot to deceive. This statement of the case leads me to the following reflections:

1. According to the theory, this was an instance of pious fraud. And the fraud must have been prepared deliberately. The manuscript must have been soiled and frayed by special care, for it was at once admitted to be ancient. This supposition of deceit must always repel the Christian believer.

2. Our Lord draws from the Book of Deuteronomy all the three texts with which He foils the tempter, Matt. 4:1-11, Luke 4:1-14.' It must always shock the devout student that his Saviour should select His weapons from an armory founded on deceit.

3. This may be called an appeal to ignorant piety, rather than to scholarly criticism. But surely the moral argument should have some weight in scholarly criticism. In the sphere of religion moral impossibilities are as insuperable as physical and mental.

4. If we turn to consideration of a literary kind, it is to be observed that the higher criticism runs counter here to the statement of the book itself that Moses was its author.

5. It runs counter to the narrative of the finding of the book, and turns the finding of an ancient book into the forgery of a new book.

6. It runs counter to the judgment of all the intelligent men of the time who learned of the discovery. They judged the book to have come down from the Mosaic age, and to be from the pen of Moses. We hear of no dissent whatever.

7. It seeks support in a variety of reasons, such as style, historical discrepancies, and legal contradictions, all of which prove of little substance when examined fairly.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

II Peter 3:15b-16 Attributes of Scripture Part I

People who want to reject the authority of God work feverishly to discredit the authority of scripture. In every “Christian” organization that has taken a very leftward turn away from orthodox Christian teaching (PCUSA, United Methodist, Episcopal, CBF, etc), you will invariably find people who deny the complete truthfulness of God’s word. They will say “Genesis can’t be a true record of how God created the heavens and the earth” or “The miracles that scripture records and attributes to Jesus are just fairy tales.” In short, God’s word is not the source of truth—we can’t trust it today and He never intended us to rely on it as the sole source of revelation. The Bible, however, bears a markedly different witness about itself and its reliability. In fact, as we have seen, Peter has testified in this letter to the authority of scripture (1:12-21). The point of Peter’s epistle is that the false teachers described in chapter two are false and should be rejected because they contradict sound doctrine as taught by the apostles. This sound doctrine is recorded for us in scripture and this recording began to take place pretty early on in the life of the church. As we see here, Peter was aware of letters Paul wrote and was aware they were scripture. In fact, as we will observe, Peter makes some important remarks about Paul’s writings and about scripture that should lead us to trust God’s word.
First of all, we should notice that Peter speaks about scripture in a way that tells us scripture is authoritative. Ultimately, the source of all scripture is God as Peter noted in chapter one verse twenty-one. But scripture has a “human face” as well—certainly it is divinely inspired but God moved human beings to write his word. Therefore, it is perfectly consistent with the doctrine of inspiration to say, as Peter does in 3:15 “Paul...wrote to you.” The human author of Paul’s epistles was Paul or someone who took his dictation. Paul used his language and wrote in the context of the culture that he lived in with the background and experiences that he had. Hence the reason that Paul sounds like Paul. He had a unique voice and way of writing that was different than Matthew or Isaiah.
However, scripture is not just a product of that “human face”. While we do not affirm any sort of mechanical dictation (i.e. Paul went into a trance and wrote God’s word like a human typewriter) we believe that these words of scripture have a divine character as well—they are not Paul’s words about what he thought God wanted to say but they are God’s words. Notice that Peter says Paul wrote “according to the wisdom given him”. In other words, the doctrine that Paul wrote, the patience of our Lord that Peter has just discussed in the first part of verse 15 for example, was not something Paul created but it was rather revealed by God to him. The doctrine Paul taught and wrote had its source, then, in the mind of God.

Therefore, if scripture is inspired, as Peter affirms that it is, then scripture is authoritative. To disobey scripture is to disobey God and carries with it consequences of judgment. As we read this, we need to remember the reverence Peter and other Jews had for the scriptures and then we need to notice that Peter equates what Paul has written “with the rest of the Scriptures” (v.16). As we read and study the Bible, let’s always be mindful that what we have are the words of God and that when we read scripture we hear God speak.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Suffering for Christ

In our Sunday School class, we're studying through the book of Hebrews and we read in Hebrews 10 where it says "But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings, partly by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated (10:32-33)".  Last week, our teacher, Doug, got the following email from a missionary in Bangledesh named Jatish Biswas (email here) with the following story.  Before you read it, imagine coming home to a clean, concrete slab where your house used to stand.  How would you react?  What would you do?

Mr. Akkas Ali and Mrs. Sufia Begum are a very happy family though they are needy village people. They are from a Muslim background.  They live in Rajbari district and received Jesus in their life about 2 years back by Mr. Javed Sheikh.  In order to work they live in the area of Government railway which is far away from their home town. Besides his job Mr. Akkas Ali also works for Jesus in witnessing and discipling. They meet very quietly in their house for prayer once a week. One month ago some of their unbeliever neighbors came to know of their activities for Jesus. They threatened Akkas’ family and made life difficult for them. But through encouragement from Way of Life Trust and because of his strong faith upon Jesus, Mr. Akkas Ali didn’t stop his works. Because of this the angry Muslims destroyed their house and all their possessions. Now his family is surviving with great trouble. They do not have a good shelter to live in and no good job by which to earn their livelihood. Mr. Akkas Ali wants to continue baptizing and church planting to spread the true light he has received.  He wants to work among Muslims to show them the right way of life.

What a testimony of faith in times of persecution.  I would encourage you to contact Jatish at the email above if you would like to help this family.  We were told that, to rebuild their home, would cost about $460.  That's less than we pay for cable or internet--most of us anyway.  Our Sunday School class is taking up a collection to help.  If you would like to find out how you can help, please email Jatish.  He works with a ministry called Way of Life.