THE TESTIMONY OF THE BIBLE CONCERNING THE Assumptions of Destructive Criticism
S.E. WISHARD, D.D.
LOS ANGELES, CAL.
JOHNSON & HANEY
BIBLE INSTITUTE PRESS
By S.E. WISHARD, D.D.
"In the defence and confirmation of the truth"
Los Angeles, Calif.
This booklet is sent out
To all Sabbath-school teachers,
To the young people of the Christian churches,
And to all believers in the living Word.
The work of the destructive critics has been widely disseminated in current literature. Magazines, secular newspapers, and some religious papers are giving currency to these critical attacks on the Word of God. The young people of our churches are exposed to the insidious poison of this skepticism. It comes to them under the guise of a broader and more liberal scholarship. They have neither the time nor the equipment to enter the field of criticism, nor is this work demanded of them.
While abler pens are meeting and answering the questions raised by destructive critics, something may be said that will clear away the fog produced by them and enable young Christians to come directly to the truth.
Hence this booklet is an attempt to "give God a chance" to have his say. The testimony presented is on the divine plan of giving, "Precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line," "lest we forget."
There has been no attempt to cover the whole ground of destructive criticism in the brief compass of this booklet. It will be enough to permit God to answer; hence, in the following pages he speaks for himself. We are content that his voice shall be heard.
I. OUR ATTITUDE TOWARD DESTRUCTIVE CRITICISM 9
II. SHOULD REPLY BE MADE? 17
III. WAS MOSES A LITERARY FICTION? 25
IV. WERE CHRIST AND THE APOSTLES MISTAKEN? 39
V. THE ATTACK ON THE BOOK OF LEVITICUS 59
VI. ASSUMPTIONS CONCERNING THE BOOK OF ISAIAH 73
VII. GOD'S REPLY TO THESE ASSUMPTIONS. 87
VIII. THE HISTORICITY OF THE BOOK OF JONAH 101
IX. RADICAL EXPOSITION 111
X. GOD HIS OWN INTERPRETER 119
I. OUR ATTITUDE TOWARD DESTRUCTIVE CRITICISM.
"Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us." Eph. v. 1, 2.
"Be patient toward all men. See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves and to all men." 1 Thess. v. 14, 15.
"He that believeth shall not make haste." Isa. xxviii. 16.
"The works of his hands are verity and judgment; all his commandments are sure. They stand fast forever and ever, and are done in truth and uprightness." Psa. cxi. 7, 8.
"My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure." Isa, xlvi. 10.
The attitude which God's people should assume toward destructive criticism has been questioned. It should certainly be a position of calm patience, that can deliberately weigh valid testimony, and abide by the decision of intelligent judgment. The history and life of the Church for nearly two thousand years should go for something. They are not to be swept away by the bluff, the egoism of what claims to be the only "Expert Scholarship."
There is no occasion for a panic. Truth that has been, and has builded noble, goodly life, is truth still, and ever will be. It is not a time for denunciation. The assumptions of the destructive critics are so enormous, so radically revolutionary, so directly aimed at vital truth, that one's heart is stirred. There is danger of yielding to the heat of a righteous indignation. It is not well to lose one's intellectual and moral poise, even in a contest involving the honor of God and the welfare of immortal souls. But "he that believeth shall not make haste."
The lovers of the Book that has safely passed through every storm of antagonism that the Prince of Darkness could evoke, need not now be moved to hasty utterance. The eternal foundations of truth, like him who laid them, are "the same, yesterday, to-day and forever." The Book, with all its precious doctrines, is here to stay. It can not be destroyed. Fire has not burned it, water has not quenched it, the edicts of tyrants and popes have not been able to break its power. The Church of God can calmly rest on "the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever." (1 Peter i. 23.) Hence we may calmly move on undisturbed in our work.
Further, our attitude should be marked by an intelligent understanding of the question involved. It is not a question of fair, honest criticism, for the purpose of a deeper knowledge of God and his truth. All reverent and helpful study of the Word of God is critical, and is the kind of criticism that the Book challenges. Our Lord invites it, and urges us to "search the Scriptures," which testify of him.
It is assumed by the rationalistic critics that we have entered a new era, that the Bible has never been studied until within recent years. This is an assumption unworthy of scientific scholarship. Critics who have not sought to destroy the Word of God, but, by thorough investigation, to determine its claims, have been at work on the Scriptures in all the past, seeking to know the mind of the Spirit. There is, and ever has been a legitimate study of the Bible. Hence, there are absolutely no grounds for the assumption of the rationalists. The Church of Christ is not opposed to the application of the best methods and best scholarship in the investigation of revealed truth. Indeed, the Protestant Church has ever been the mother of the highest education, and has had an open ear to the call of God—"Come, let us reason together."
It is well to understand that the poorly-concealed purpose of the school of higher critics is not to press the just and holy claims of God's Word on the human conscience, but to eliminate the supernatural from it. The Christian Church should understand this. If atheistic scientists can construct a universe without God, by evolutionary processes, and the critics can construct a Bible without the supernatural, "the wisdom of this world" will have pretty thoroughly disposed of God.
In the attitude of the Church toward destructive criticism, sometimes called historical, or constructive, we must not fail to discover its bearing on the character of Christ. For the final conflict of all skepticism of every grade and quality is in reference to the person and work of Christ. The elimination of the supernatural from the Bible would be an invalidation of Christ's claims and testimony. It would place him before the world as a false teacher, a fraud, a charlatan. Loyalty to the Word, and to the Incarnate Word, demands, therefore, that we should clearly understand the end to which this rationalism is drifting. For Christ's testimony concerning the Old Testament Scriptures, which will be presented later in this discussion, is so thoroughly in conflict with the modern critical assumptions that it must be disposed of