It is obvious that there must be some foundation on which the Christian faith rests, and that a knowledge of this basis is of greatest importance to man.
The Bible has held this unique place in the Christian religion, and because of its centrality there has been an unending debate as to what the Christian’s attitude should be to it.
Anyone who has recently studied in a college, university, or seminary knows something of the relevancy of this question. In some quarters the Bible is considered merely a human document. Elsewhere it is accorded a higher status but accepted with reservations because, it is assumed, the human element in the agents who wrote and compiled the writings was susceptible to error, even willful distortion. With others the Bible is truly the written Word of God in its entirety.
How shall a young Christian reconcile these differences in his own mind? Can they be reconciled?
We all know that there are many Christians, ordained and otherwise, who have no power from God nor convincing message to man.
There are many reasons for this lack of spiritual power, and one cause is the failure of Christians to believe God’s Word as the Sword of the Spirit.
Too often we have confused the power of organizational ability, eloquence, scholarship, an attractive personality, technical know-how, and many other desirable qualities and accomplishments with the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.
It is our observation that there is a definite relationship between what a man believes about the Bible and the spiritual effectiveness of his work for God. And something vital is missing when the Holy Spirit has, in men’s minds, been denied his rightful authorship of the Word.
Here is the problem: Is the Bible the Word of God or does it merely contain the Word of God. Is the Bible completely reliable and authoritative, or must it be read and accepted with reservations?
To a layman the answer is so simple one wonders why people become confused. If the Bible only contains God’s revelation, mixed with inaccuracies, predated history palmed off as prophecies, and thought forms which really mean just the opposite of what they affirm, then who is to determine what is true from what is false? Is that to be left to the scholars? And must we accept their conclusions?
If we are, then we certainly are reduced to an amazing situation. No longer are we to accept the Word of God for what it claims to be, God’s holy and inspired revelation, but we are forced to turn to men for comfort and instruction—men who constantly disagree with one another as to facts and meanings, and whose conclusions and affirmations of yesterday are discarded for new ones today.
Or, we may decide that we will read the Bible, accepting that which seems reasonable to us, and reject the rest.
In either case we find ourselves adrift, subject to the changing whims of human thought, rather than anchored in the assurance that God has given us a fully inspired and authoritative revelation of himself and his dealings with us.
Are we anchored, or are we adrift?—that is the question.
We shall surely never be able to explain everything that we find in the Bible. And at time certain minor parts will seem confusing to us or less relevant to our particular situation than others.
All of the Bible, however, is true. But is it reasonable to think that God, in giving us a revelation of himself, should have made all parts of his Word equally clear to our finite minds? For his divine purposes and for our own good, he has many truths for us which we, through the aid of the Holy Spirit, must search the Scriptures for meaning.
Again, is it reasonable that God would have given us a Book with errors, frauds, and ignorant or spurious prophecies, intermixed with divine truth? All through his earthly ministry, Jesus made constant reference to the Old Testament, affirming both its trustworthiness and its authority.
We need not decry a reverent and critical study of the Bible, however. Such research and study is both desirable and necessary. But, it is incumbent upon every Christian that he distinguish between rationalistic and destructive criticism and that which is honest, reverent, and factual.
In this matter we are confronted with a question of attitude. Many years ago the writer was doing a year’s study in advanced surgical procedures. We began with a complete dissection of a cadaver in the dissecting hall. Later we worked in operating rooms of various hospitals.
There was a tremendous difference in our attitude toward the cadaver in the dissecting hall and the living patients in the operating rooms. In the dissecting hall most of the precautions were taken to protect our own hands. In the operating room our concern was the patient—the living person.
In our study of the Bible we may take a critical attitude, standing in judgment on the Book, or we may let the Book stand in judgment upon us. The difference in attitude is a great one.
This is not to assert a theory that only certain words can be inspired and any deviation from these words and phrases is a deviation from faith in the fully-inspired Scriptures.
This is to declare the doctrine of full, or plenary inspiration of the Scriptures. It is interesting that those who most vehemently inveigh against “verbal” inspiration are not primarily concerned with words but with the doctrines conveyed.
Why are the Scriptures the subject of such repeated attacks? Is it not because Satan hates and fears the Bible more than anything else? “Yea, hath God said?” is still his favorite question today. Satan has never been able to stand up against the Bible because it is a divinely-forged weapon for all believers. Paul tells us that the Word of God is the “Sword of the Spirit.” It is the only weapon of offense described with the arsenal for defense.
Many young people today are finding themselves in a quandry. Anxious to believe the Bible and have an anchor for their faith, they are being told that Scripture is “scientifically inaccurate,” “historically muddled,” “often sub-Christian in concept,” or “full of palpable errors.”
And many of them fear that if they accept the Bible as it stands, it would be intellectual suicide. Such is not the case, however. If one starts with the premise that God has given a faulty and impaired revelation and that the “chaff” must be separated from the “wheat” before one can find the truth, he is adrift already as to what he can know to be the truth.
What effect does reliance on man and his interpretations or denials have? It is like a ship cutting loose the anchor and drifting to and fro.
It is at this point that we must face the issue. It is here that we must determine whether our faith shall be anchored or whether it shall be adrift on the sea of human speculation.
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