Christ or Critics?
In former articles we have been dealing with the attitude of modernists toward the Old Testament. We have shown that certain "Higher Critics" having rejected the supernatural because of their concept of the evolution of the universe, of man and religion, and that they view the Pentateuch (first five books of Moses) as having grown or come into being by natural processes. The "Documentary Hypothesis" fits this theory better than the Mosaic authorship.
Since there are many lofty concepts and religious ideas found in the early portions of the Bible, the Modernist believes that the Old Testament is wrongly arranged, both as to books and parts of books. Therefore, Moses did not write the first five books, but rather several authors composed them at a date much later than that ascribed to Moses. This is a denial of the inspiration of the Pentateuch. It rejects its claims that God told Moses what to say (Exo. 4:12), and denies Peters statement: "men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Pet. 1: 21).
In this final essay on higher criticism attention is directed to the claims of Jesus toward the Old Testament, particularly the first books. This will conclude our discussion. Forced with the decision of choosing between Christ and the critics, we choose Christ!
Why is This Important?
No one will dispute that Jesus Christ identified Himself with the Old Testament, and in a special way with the books of Moses. This being so, we must choose between Christ and the "Documentary Hypothesis." If the critics are right, then the conclusion is inevitable: Christ is not Divine, or the records of His teaching are untrustworthy. Certain it is, then, that the vital issue in this controversy is not the value of the Pentateuch, but the Deity of Jesus Christ! Since our Lord and Savior recognized Moses as the author of the Law, how can we reject his writings, and yet not reject Christs own words? We cannot accept the conclusion that: "Christ . . shared the common view of the Jews in His day in regard to points ethically or doctrinally quite unimportant, and consequently it can be no irreverence on the part of us critics to deem ourselves in advance of Him in Criticism and general culture ... The Pentateuch, judged by internal evidence, was not written by Moses. No book of it came from his pen."
Again, since Jesus makes reference time and time again to the narratives of the Old Testament, accepting them as authentic and historically true, to deny their truthfulness is to cause His words to lose their force and appropriateness. The authority of Jesus is cited in favor of the Old Testament being inspired and its canon (The authorized catalogue of Old Testament books) as being accepted in the form as accepted by the Jews of His day. The Old Testament canon of the first century is the same as our own. Jesus never questioned any section of the Old Testament as far as genuineness is concerned. He ascribes the law to Moses (Lk. 24:27; 24:44; Matt. 8:4; 19:8; Lk. 16:31).
The scriptural citations given in the above paragraph are a few of many citations demonstrating that "in the Old Testament the New is concealed, and in the New the Old is revealed."
Jesus Did Not Regard Genesis As Myth
Space will only permit one citation of the fact that Jesus regarded the narratives of Genesis as unquestioned matters of fact. McGarvey 2 points out that the account of the formation of Eve is regarded as incredible by higher critics and that the event is sometimes referred to as the "rib story." Though the account has been the butt of ridicule, Jesus endorsed the whole story in His discussion with the Pharisees about divorce (Matt. 19:4). He appeals to what the Pharisees had read; and they had read it where we read it, in the second chapter of Genesis where the description of the womans formation is presented. Since Jesus appealed to this to settle the question of the will of God, he regarded the account of the creation of woman as a faithful record of an actual event, rather than myth. The fact that He quoted a part of the sentence shows that He gave His endorsement of it.
Jesus Regarded the Old Testament As Inspired
Again, only one example is sufficient. Jesus asked the Pharisees, "What think ye of Christ? Whose son is He? They say unto him, the Son of David. He saith unto them, how then doeth David in spirit call him Lord?" (Psa. 110: 1, 46). The expression "in spirit" shows that David was under the Spirits influence in writing Psalms. This is in complete harmony with what is said about Davids inspiration elsewhere: "Now these be the last words of my tongue" (2 Sam. 23:1-2). The same could be said for other Old Testament writers.
Jesus certifies the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch. Christ would not have spoken as He did if He followed only the popular belief of the Jews in His day (Matt. 19:7; Mk. 12:19; Lk. 16:31, etc.). If He knew that the Pentateuch was literary fiction; the reproduction of a late age; something that had floated into public acceptance by being falsely imputed to the Hebrew lawgiver, He was not worthy of saying, "I am the truth" (Jno. 14:6). Now if He did not understand this (if it were so), then He was not as wise as many learned critics of the nineteenth century. If such a forgery could be imposed upon Christ, He would not rightfully say, "I am the light of the world: He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness" (Jno. 9:5; 1:4; 9).
Lets listen to the Lords conclusion regarding Moses: "but if ye believe not his writing, how shall ye believe my words" (Jno. 5:46-47). This is indeed the issue! God help us to accept it.
1. S. Davidson, Quoted in Christian Apologetics, by Deviver (London: Joseph Wagner, Inc. 1924), p. 409.
2 Biblical Criticism (Nashville: Gospel Advocate, 1956), p. 26.
TRUTH MAGAZINE XVII: 4, pp. 8-9