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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Dissembling Evangelicalism in Sydney.

In my previous blog I alleged many Sydney Episcopalians (Anglican) have adopted a Higher Criticism approach to Genesis. In five instalments I am reproducing a speech given by Maurice Roberts at the May 16, 1992, centenary meeting of the Bible League in England. He called his speech "The Guilt of Higher Criticism". As you work through the four instalments over the next week keep in mind the responses you get from Sydney Episcopalians (Anglicans) on the issue of Origins. The words of Maurice Roberts commence here:

"We have come here today to thank God for one hundred years of faithful testimony to Holy Scripture made by the Bible League, which was started on May 3rd 1892. Not many religious organisations manage to adhere for one hundred years to their principles. But by the grace of God the Bible League has done so. All praise and honour be to Almighty God for that.

I wish to take as my subject today the theme 'The Guilt of the Higher Critical Movement'. In the course of my remarks I shall, of course, be positive as well as negative. But I take the subject I have announced because I feel profoundly that the Higher Critics have perpetrated a great crime on the church and, indeed, on the world. Their influence has, from the standpoint of the present day, been a decidedly harmful and a negative one. I am prepared to believe that not all of them may have meant to be negative. But I am entirely convinced that one hundred years of their ascendency in the church in this land (to look no further afield) has been little short of catastrophic. As we look at the average pulpit today we are reminded at once of the words of the great prophets when referring to the false teachers of their day:

'The prophets shall become wind and the word is not in them' (Jer. 5:13).

The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart' (Jer. 14:14).

'Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the Lord' (Jer. 23:1).

'0 my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths' (Isa. 3:12)

In the light of such Scripture I am bound to say that we cannot but look on the whole Liberal and Higher Critical movement as a guilty backsliding away from God. More than that, it has been, I believe, a movement of apostasy. And the tragedy is that it has had a most corrosive influence on the life of the church and of society as a whole. It has taught our nation to have low views of Christ and of the gospel. It has taught congregations to condone false doctrine. It has taught preachers to speak falsehoods in the name of the Lord. All of this is evident enough to any reader of the current religious press. As I see it, there is great guilt lying at the door of those who, one hundred years ago and more, advanced these Higher Critical theories and who introduced them into the church of Jesus Christ.

I. The Higher Critical Movement has been Guilty of Rejecting the Testimony of the Church to the Infallibility of the Bible for the previous 1900 years.

A century ago Dr W. Sanday, himself an eminent British scholar but one sympathetic to the Higher Critical movement, could frankly admit that the early church fathers were all unanimous in their view that the Bible is inspired and entirely trustworthy: 'Testimonies,' he said, 'to the general doctrine of Inspiration could be multiplied to almost any extent; but there are some which go further and point to an "inspiration" which might be described as "verbal"; nor does this idea a come in tentatively and by degrees, but almost from the very first' (Inspiration, p. 34).

This is easily verified by reference to the church Fathers. I give just a few brief examples to show that our view and, I may say, the Bible League's view of the holy Scriptures as verbally inspired and inerrant, was the view of the early church:

Origen stated: 'The Holy Spirit was co-worker with the Evangelists in their composition of the gospel, and that therefore lapse of memory, error or falsehood was impossible to them.' [On Matt. 16:12; and John 6:18].

Irenaeus, a pupil of Polycarp, affirmed 'The Scriptures are perfect, seeing they are spoken by God's Word and by his Spirit (Adv. Haer. 11.28).

Augustine said he 'firmly believes that no one of their authors has erred in anything in writing'. This was the universally held view of the great martyrs, theologians, writers and preachers of the early church (Ep. ad Hier., xxxii.3).

And so it was, too, at the Reformation.

Let me give one or two direct quotations from our Reforming fathers:

(i) Luther declares that the whole of the Scriptures are to be ascribed to the Holy Ghost, and therefore cannot err (Works, St Louis, xix, 305).

(ii) Calvin says that the Scriptures are to be received by us with the same reverence which we give to God 'because they emanated from him alone, and are mixed with nothing human' (Inst. 1:18, and Commentaries on Romans 15, etc.).

(iii) Samuel Rutherford states that the Scriptures are a more sure word than a direct oracle from heaven (Against Pretended Liberty of Conscience, p. 373).

(iv) Richard Baxter declares 'All that the holy writers have recorded is true' (Works, XV.65).

(v) Westminster Confession: 'All [the sixty-six books of the Bible] are given by inspiration of God, to be the rule of faith and life.' 'The authority of the holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed and obeyed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man or church, but wholly upon God (who is truth itself), the author thereof; and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God.' The Confession adds later: 'The Old Testament in Hebrew, and the New Testament in Greek .. . are immediately inspired of God.'

This view was held by the medieval church also, and to this the Council of Trent bears witness when it says that God is the author of Scripture. Even the first Vatican Council of 1870, which made the odious dogma of papal infallibility (and is therefore anything but the mouthpiece of 'Fundamentalism'!) could say this: 'The church holds the books of the Old and New Testament to be sacred and canonical . . . because . . . , written by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, they have God for their author'.

This, then, was the church's doctrine of the Bible till the Higher Critical movement came along in the nineteenth century. Then everything altered in the colleges, universities and, I fear, in most of the pulpits of this country. It was a mighty and a massive decline from the church's attitude to Scripture during the previous nineteen hundred years. It is something, therefore, for which the Higher Critics must be deemed culpable and guilty

More in a few days.

Sam Drucker

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