By Cled E. Wallace (1892-1962)
The disobedient man often excuses himself by claiming that he “cannot understand the Bible. ” The chances are that he has not made a respectable effort to find out what the Book contains. He is merely excusing himself. Others excuse their lack of harmony with plain Bible teaching by cooly observing that “people can’t understand the Bible alike,” just as though that book were a volume of riddles for purposes of mystery.
Is it really a difficult matter for an honest man to find out what the will of the Lord is? The simplicity of the literary style of the Bible coupled with its profundity of thought amazes literary critics. There are only between five and six thousand words in our entire English Bible. Shakespeare or Browning uses three times as many. Proper names not considered, Bible words are for the most part simple words. More than three-fourths of the words used in the Decalogue or the Sermon on the Mount are monosyllables. They convey power that simple hearts may appropriate.
It is passing strange that a man who can understand another man cannot understand God, when God uses the simpler words. It is the strange malady of closed eyes and ears and a gross heart in the presence of divine revelation. Man cannot understand Christ when he says, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved”; but he can understand every word that a certain partisan may use in an hour’s speech designed to explain that Christ did not mean exactly what his words naturally convey. He cannot understand a divine ordinance, but he vividly appreciates a human “spiritualization” of it. When Christ says, “This is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me,” the simplest child of the kingdom of heaven can consider the circumstances involved and devoutly appreciate the Lord’s meaning. When a theologian says that “the validity of the service does not lie in the quality of its external signs or sacramental representation, but in its essential properties and substantial realities,” does he make the meaning clearer? He only serves to mystify what the Lord intended for all to understand.
A noted “anthropologist of the Smithsonian Institution at Washington” has found five hundred babies who walk on their hands and feet, can climb upstairs, and have a tendency to take things in the mouths. He infers from this that the human race descended “from animals who lived in trees.” The theory of organic evolution and the consequent rejection of the Bible as the word of God rest on such farfetched inferences as these. It is a pitiful substitute for faith. The conclusions Christians draw from the facts of the Christian religion have to do with remission of sins, the resurrection from the dead, and eternal life in heaven, They are not far-fetched inferences or “cunningly devised fables” like some of the nebulous theories scientists rave over. There is something wrong with a man who can infer animal ancestry from a crawling baby, but cannot find Christ in the experience and life of Saul of Tarsus (Reprint from Gospel Advocate, LXXIII, 14 [2 Apr. 1931], p. 381).
Guardian of Truth XXXV: 3, pp. 68-69
February 7, 1991