By Dennis C. Abernathy
The acute need in the world today is respect for the Bible as the Word of God. The ignorance of the Bible is both alarming and appalling. The ignorance of the Bible is seen in the spread of Oriental religions. All kinds of pseudoprophets are on the rise. But God has spoken unto us by his son, Jesus Christ (Heb. 1:1-3), and is not speaking by some guru or self-appointed latter-day “Messiah.”
The ignorance of the Bible is seen in all of the conflicting doctrines that are propagated in the name of the Lord and are believed by a gullible people who should be examining what they hear in light of Bible teaching (Acts 17:11).
Ignorance of the Bible is also seen today in the prevalence of sin. Adultery, homosexuality, drunkenness are rampant. What a disgrace, shame, and tragedy! Evidently people think they can live such lives with impunity, but not so (Gal. 6:7; Rom. 6:23).
I believe far too many people have the idea that they can do with the Bible what they please. It is really the Roman Catholic concept that the Bible is authoritative only because the church declares it to be so. In other words, the Bible is infallible only because the “infallible” Roman Catholic church claims that it is infallible. The claim is that the apostolic writings do not “assert their own inspiration” and were not inpired until the church declared them so in the fourth century A.D. Read the following from a Knights of Columbus ad back in 1955: “Yes, the Bible is truly a Catholic Book. They were members of the Catholic church who, under God’s inspiration, wrote the New Testament in it entirety. It is the Catholic church which treasured it and gave it to the world in its original and unaltered form. It is the infallible authority of the Catholic Church that always has been the only sure guarantee of its inspiration.” Again, hear John A. O’Brien, former President of Notre Dame Univerity: “If she (Catholic Church – DCA) had not declared the books composing the New Testament to be the inspired Word of God, we would not know it. The only authority which non-Catholics have for the inspiration of the Scriptures is the authority of the Catholic church. The church is not the child of the Bible, but its mother.”
Evidently this erroneous teaching (or better put, heresy) has been embraced by many non-Catholics as well. I’m sure you read a few years back about the National Council of Churches new translation (?) that attempts to eliminate what they call “male bias” in Scripture. This was produced by an eleven-member committee appointed by the NCC’s Division of Education and Ministry.
Much of the controversy revolves around such references to God as “Father (and Mother)”; the substitution of “Sovereign One” for “Lord”; and “the Human One” for “the Son of Man.” The committee members at the governing board meeting defended their translation as a document in which “the whole congregation is being addressed in its Scripture.”
But, back to our point. Committee member, Burton Throckmorton, Jr., professor of the New Testament at the Bangor (Maine) Theological Seminary, and a minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA), expressed the following concerning his understanding of the writtern Word of God. “The Scripture is the church’s book. It was written by the church (and) for the church.” He further said: “There’s no reason . . . that I can see why the church can’t add to its scripture — delete from its scripture. I think the church can do with its scripture what is wants to (do) with its scripture.”
There you have it my friend. The Bible is really not inspired at all! It simply says what the church wants it to say. Actually, according to this pernicious teaching, the church is far more important than is the Word of God.
But may I ask: “How do you prove the infallibility of the Roman Catholic Church?” Would one use such Scriptures as Matthew 16:18,19 or John 20:23? You could not use the Scriptures because they are not infallible unless the church says they are. So hence, you could not prove an infallible church by using an “uninfallible” Scripture!
But really what Catholicism does is claim and declare the church to be more important than the Word of God. This is why you find so many practices in Catholicism which are not found in the Bible. For example, where is Bible authority for a “vicar of Christ on earth”? Where is Bible authority for “praying to Mary and/or saints”? Where is Bible authority for “the mass,” “the rosary,” a “special priesthood,” “celibacy”? All of these practices must of necessity come from the “living voice of the living church,” because they definitely do not come from the Bible! When people will accept religious practices unauthorized by the Bible, they obviously respect whatever sanctions these practices more than they respect the Bible.
In the days of the Judges “every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judg. 21:25). What is the difference in those people then and the Catholics and Burton Throckmorton, Jr. and a host of others now? They all simply do what they want to with God’s Word.
As long as men of this caliber fill the pulpits of churches, what more can be expected than a gross ignorance of the Bible? It is a clear case of the “blind leading the blind,” with the destiny of both being the “ditch.”
May we ever respect the Bible as God’s all-sufficient and final revelation to man (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:3; Jude 3; Gal. 1:6-9; 1 Pet. 4:11).
Guardian of Truth XXXII: 14, p. 430
July 21, 1988