What's Left to Believe?
Marked Tree, Arkansas
If the Bible is not the inspired word of God, then it should be rejected completely. Why, would anyone want to believe or be governed by false standards? In our daily lives we demand that laws be enacted, that standards be set up, and that these standards be inspected regularly to be sure our lives will not be endangered by unsafe products.
Myths, Mistakes, and Truth?
Some contend that the Bible is a mixture of myths, legends, mistakes and truths. But, how can we recognize a myth, legend, or mistake in the Bible? What will be our standard to go by? If we cannot depend upon the ". . . holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (2 Pet. 1:21), then who can we depend upon?
In the courts of our land, if a lawyer can prove a witness is unreliable, then the lawyer shows that there is reason to doubt everything the witness has said. But when it comes to religion, we are told to distinguish between the human and divine and obey only the divine. Even that seemingly would be requesting too much of some folks, however; for even then the words of the Bible that are supposedly divine are not obeyed! We see therefore that the majority of this country puts higher demands upon seeing that they get the proper food, clothes, and shelter for their physical lives than they do upon their spiritual lives.
We have to depend upon God to reveal His will to us. Paul said, "But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. G Cor. 2:9-11.) No man, therefore, rich or poor, learned or unlearned, can know the mind of God except by the Spirit of God. But the Holy Spirit has revealed the mind of God and through the word of God we know God's will. Paul then says, "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth . . ." (I Cor. 2:12-13.) Paul's words were from the Holy Ghost; the Holy Ghost had searched the mind of God and by the words of the inspired writers of the Bible we can know the will of God.
We also have to depend upon God for the revelation of His will because we cannot look into the past or into the future and know God's will, neither are we born with the will of God in our hearts. It is, therefore, futile for us to search out God on our own. Jeremiah said, "O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps." (Jer. 10: 23.) But, if we did work out a plan to the satisfaction of most men, we would not be any closer to God's will than when we began. Isaiah said, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isa. 55:8-9)
Another thing we need to learn is that just because a man or group of men say the Bible has myths, legends, or mistakes, does not make it so. The Devil started that practice a long time ago, and with some people it is still working. "Yea, hath God said?" (Gen. 3: 1). Others have done the same thing to destroy "Thus saith the Lord." Prophets have prophesied "Peace, peace: when there is no peace" (Jer. 6:14). The four hundred false prophets prophesied to obtain the kings' favor. (I Kings 22)
This practice still exists and is being practiced today even in some of the seminaries. Ross L. Range, a Baptist preacher states the following:
"Again the Bible, God's word, is under attack!.. Pro. William E. Hull, Dean of School Theology, Southern Baptist Seminary, said in an article, 'Shall We Call the Bible Infallible?' I am reminding us all that grotesque perversions of Scripture are possible if we glibly assume that everything in the Bible is to be taken as absolute truth without asking whether human factors are also present for which allowance must be made.
"Distinguishing between the human and the divine in the Bible may be a tedious process, but it is absolutely essential if the fundamental difference between God as perfect and man as imperfect is to be maintained."
Mr. Ross then says, "Now that is what is being taught the young men and women in Southern Seminary who will be the preachers and leaders in Baptist churches. God's people will be more confused with this kind of uncertainty concerning the word of God."1
So when we teach the Bible is inspired we are causing "grotesque perversions, so Mr. Hull says. Now it is going to be interesting to watch and see how the Baptists are going to handle this! Will they fire Mr. Hull, rewrite their manuals that teach the ". . . Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired, and is a perfect treasure of heavenly instruction; that it has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth without any mixture of error for its matter"2 , or rewrite the Bible?
We see how this process works by distinguishing the human from the divine in the preface of the book called What's Left To Believe, by J. Schoneberg Setzer. He gives the following account:
"It was toward the end of the hour in an unusually vital seminar session at Duke Divinity School. We all sensed from our discussion the reality of the 'resurrection' appearances of Jesus, and the crucial significance of his reality. But much of the New Testament record lay shattered about our feet, disqualified for one valid reason or another by the science of literary criticism. The action among us --- mostly supplied by the Ph.D. candidates -- was vigorous . . ." 3
Everything was going just fine; scriptures that seem to contradict, or that do not seem consistent with God's nature, or according to ancient folklore, were disqualified. But not everyone in the room had the same opinion because one of the senior B.D. students was thinking ahead. Realizing that he was soon to go out and begin preaching to a congregation, he proposed the following question: "But how do I explain all this to my laymen? If I begin to tell them about all these myths, legends, and mistakes in the New Testament accounts, will they not turn on me in distress and ask 'Then what is left? And are you really sure about anything?' At this anguished inquiry the room fell strangely silent." 4
Would to God that all men would realize that God has revealed his will, that it is divine, that it is the only way we can know his will and that we must obey its commands. So we contend that all the scriptures stand or fall together. Then what is left to believe?
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
1. Ross L. Range, "Ashland Avenue Baptist", (Vol. 47, No6 50, Dec. 18, 1970), pp. 1, 4.
2. Edward T. Hiscox, The Standard Manual for Baptist Churches, Philadelphia: The American Baptist Publication Society, 1951, P. 58.
3. J. Schoneberg Setzer, What's Left To Believe, (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1968), p. 5.
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XV: 41, pp. 6-7