DO YOU BELIEVE THE BOOK?
    By Dr. Vic Reasoner
DO YOU BELIEVE THE BOOK?
By Dr. Vic Reasoner..
ONE METHODIST VOL. 2 NO. 01 August 1999

John Wesley explained in "The Character of a Methodist" that Methodism allowed its people to "think and let think" in regard to all opinions which do not strike at the root of Christianity. However, he declared that a distinguishing mark of Methodism was the belief that all Scripture is given by inspiration of God and this written Word of God is the only and sufficient rule both of Christian faith and practice.

However, in the eighteenth century, science adopted Enlightenment philosophy which categorically ruled out the possibility of miracles. They sought a natural explanation for all things and exchanged their belief in a Creator God for the theory of evolution. For the first time science was pitted against (S)cripture and historic Christianity was perceived as being behind the times.

Until the nineteenth century, it was left to heretics outside the Church to question the integrity of the Scriptures. The Word of God claimed to be inspired by God and the message of the Bible was internally consistent with that claim. This divine inspiration was confirmed by fulfilled prophecy and by miracles. The Church recognized the same Scriptures as did the Jewish religion, plus the writings of the apostles were also recognized as being authoritative and were placed on an equal basis with the Old Testament Scriptures.

In an effort to reconcile science and Scripture, liberal theologians tended to re-interpret Scripture in the light of scientific theory. While their motive may have been the desire to address modern questions which were being raised, they made so many concessions they actually betrayed the faith.

Instead of concentration on the biblical text, the trend was to develop naturalistic theories as to how the text came into being. Source criticism assumed that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John did not actually write the gospels which bear their names. Instead, eyewitness accounts were passed on orally for a generation. Some were embellished or modified over the passage of time. Then these eyewitness accounts were gathered, edited, and written down in a document called Quelle or Q. None of the critics had even seen this document called Q, but it is assumed that the editors who compiled Matthew, Mark, and Luke all drew from this source and altered the material to address needs with the early Church. Thus the higher critics had more faith in a Q document they had never seen than in the Word of God which they held in their hands.

After source criticism fragmented the entire Bible, form criticism built this unproved assumption. Form criticism, which dominated scholarship in the first half of the twentieth century, attempted to reconstruct each independent unit between the oral traditions and the written Word of God as we now have it. It was assumed that the Church created legends, tales, myths, and parables to meet particular needs which existed at the time. The Bible was regarded as a piece of propaganda created by the Church to meet its own interests.

The next theory to gain popularity was redaction criticism. The focus moved to the redactors or editors who picked and chose what materials would be interwoven to create the biblical accounts and what motivated these editors to select the material which we now have.

Statistically, the laity hold the Scripture in higher regard than their clergy. Potential pastors enter seminary to prepare for the ministry and are pumped full of critical theories about the Scriptures instead of actually giving themselves to the study of God's Word. They graduate with an exposure to all the unproven theories about the Bible and little confidence left in the Scriptures themselves. The danger is that conservative Bible colleges, in their desire to gain academic respectability and accreditation, import professors with impressive credentials from liberal institutions. Then these professors infect conservative denominations with the same skepticism which has killed the mainline churches and in the end the Bible college is only a step behind its liberal seminary counterpart.

When our pulpits are filled by pastors who have never settled the question as to whether their faith is in the inerrant Word of God or in the latest critical theory espoused by their professors, the congregation will hear an uncertain trumpet sounded. Thomas Oden warned, "When contemporary readers make themselves the absolute masters of the text, then the author has lost all rights of authorship. Authorial intent becomes subservient to contemporary ideological interests."

Can a minister entertain serious doubts concerning God's Word and at the same time possess a strong personal assurance that he is saved? If we have grieved the Spirit of God by doubting the Word which He inspired, how can we expect the Spirit to bear witness with our spirit? How can we test the spirits to see whether they are of God if we have no reliable touchstone?

Will God ever revive a church that does not trust and proclaim His Word? How can the Church provide moral guidance for a decant society when we are playing games instead of proclaiming the Word?

At the end of the twentieth century the church has become a sleeping giant and the Word of God is our undiscovered resource. While the world is desperately looking for answers, the church has been too intimidated to declare that God has spoken.

The Bible is authoritative because it comes from God. Over two thousand times the Bible declares "thus saith the Lord." While God's revelation was transmitted through human personality, the purpose of divine inspiration was to insure that the words which were written accurately represented God's intention. God's perfect Word (Psalm 19:7) does not need to be re-written or re-interpreted to reflect current theological trends. Instead, let us bring our theology in line with God's absolute standard of truth. God is looking for a group of people who will believe it and study it, who will preach it and live it. There is still enough power in God's Word to transform the whole world!

Dr. Reasoner can be reached at victorpau@aol.com. This article is reprinted here courtesy of Dr. Reasoner and The Fellowship, an official publication of the International Fellowship of Bible Churches, Inc.


QUOTE UNQUOTE

One of the strange and dreadful powers of men is the ability to make gods for themselves. No matter how ordinary their talents, and unsuccessful their efforts in other directions, here in the deity constructing business they always excel, and from the successful manufacture of one, they can soon turn out "gods many." ---- Rev. Beverly Carradine (1848-1931), from his book, A Bundle of Arrows.

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We need make no argument to prove how a man's means flows toward the object of his love or devotion. When attachment springs up in the masculine heart toward a woman, it becomes instantly declared by gifts of various kinds.

If one's love settles upon a pursuit, pleasure or some thing, instead of a person, the same phenomenon of lavish expenditure is beheld. So we have only to look around to behold streams of gold and silver flowing to the theater, dance hall, restaurant, confectionery, tailor shop and millinery department, according as one or the other happens to be the idol of the life.

We notice, moreover, that all such money is lavished without any fretting or murmuring. It is gladly given to obtain what the individual craves. Whoever heard a sinner growling about what he has to spend for his dram (alcohol), cigar, theater ticket or midnight lunch?

One has to go among certain classes of Christians and church members to hear complaining when financial calls are made. ---- Rev. Beverly Carradine (1848-1931), from his book, A Bundle of Arrows.


The editor, while agreeing with the content presented in this newsletter, does not necessarily endorse all of a writer's works, doctrines, etc. The editor is solely responsible for all mistakes.


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