IS THE BIBLE A HUMAN BOOK?
Reviewed By E. L. Bynum
Southern Baptist Leaders Launch An Attack
Upon The Verbal Inspiration Of The Bible
“Is The Bible A Human Book? Fifteen Baptist Leaders Speak Out” - Edited by Wayne E. Ward and Joseph F. Green, Published by Broadman Press 1970, 159 pages.
It would be difficult to find a book written by a number of Baptists that is more filled with heresy than this 159-page book. Broadman Press and these "Baptist Leaders" have let go a broadside against verbal inspiration. A close look will show just how far the Southern Baptist Convention has gone in rejecting the inspired Word of God. Of the fifteen authors, eight are pastors, five are from five different Southern Baptist Seminaries, one is with the Baptist Home Mission Board, and one is a former congressman and former president of the Southern Baptist Convention. The editors say, "For the first time, a cross section of recognized Baptist leaders spells out what they really believe about the Bible . . . " These fifteen men, from different areas of the SBC, undoubtedly represent the growing liberal power in the SBC.
This Book Should Be Withdrawn
There are still thousands of good people in the SBC who still believe in the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures. As the liberal, modernistic influence ascends in power, many SBC church members and pastors are becoming more and more concerned over the drift from Biblical Christianity.
During the (June 1970) SBC meeting in Denver, Gwin Turner, a Calif. pastor, led a successful drive to force Broadman Press to withdraw Vol. I of the New Broadman Commentary. This volume dealt with the creation account as "myths" and not historical facts. Many SBC delegates, who were tired of the modernistic attacks against the Bible being financed with their offerings, joined pastor Turner in voting out this liberal commentary on the book of Genesis. (The rewritten Vol. I is little if any better, than the original Vol. I).
Every Bible believing Southern Baptist ought to unite and demand that "Is The Bible A Human Book?" be withdrawn from circulation. This book is filled with modernistic blasphemy.
In the preface of the book it is stated, "These writers do not necessarily agree with each other or with the editors on all points. Each one has been completely free to deal with his topic in light of his own understanding and conviction . . . Each contributor, therefore, is responsible for his own chapter and cannot be held responsible for any other part of the book." There seems to be very little evidence of any disagreement among the writers. No SBC leader who believed in verbal inspiration was allowed to write a chapter for this book. We seek in vain for even one page defending the verbal inspiration of the Bible.
The first paragraph printed on the jacket of the book reads as follows: "For the first time, a cross section of recognized Baptist leaders spells out what they really believe about the Bible -- how God inspired it, how it is different from other books, and how human factors show up in it." It is stated in the preface "that the nature of the Bible has been the topic of lively discussion among Southern Baptists during the last ten years or so. This discussion, is so lively today that it can be called a debate." It is clear after reading this book, that only one side of the debate is given, and the wrong side at that!
Lest we be accused of drawing the wrong conclusions, we shall give many direct quotes from the book.
* Chapter 1, Could God Trust Human Hands?, by James Flamming, pastor of First Baptist, Abilene, Texas.
(Page 9): He sees a contradiction in the accounts of creation in Genesis 1 and 2. He prefers to believe that God did not dictate two accounts. He contends that these stories were carried by word of mouth until the days of David and Solomon, then were written down.
This denial of Mosaic authorship clearly contradicts what Jesus said. "And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself." Luke 24:27. "For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me." John 5:46. Do you believe Jesus Christ or do you believe the modernistic statements of Flamming?
(Page 11): He accuses Mark of not cross checking his references. He claims that Mark made mistakes in quoting from the Old Testament. He says, "If God could use Mark with sixth grade grammar, and an occasional misquote from the Old Testament, maybe he can use me too!" On this page he also suggests that Mark's Gospel may be just a summary of Simon Peter's preaching while in the city of Rome, and that the mistakes may have been made by Peter and not Mark. Note that this puts Peter in Rome, although there is not one verse of Scripture or any reliable history that Peter ever was in Rome. This is only Roman Catholic tradition!
(Page 12): He denies the last 12 verses of Mark as having a rightful place in the Word of God.
(Page 17): Subhead: "Is Biblical Perfection Possible?" "This much is sure: the Bible was not written by or for perfect people. Yet we are often unwilling to accept God's stance of freedom and trust in an imperfect world. We search for a perfect authority to cover our own weakness or put it in another way, an 'untouched-by-human-weakness' authority."
(Page 19): "Perhaps the best word to describe the result of inspiration of Scripture (cf. II Tim. 3:16) is trustworthy, for God believed that man was worthy of his trust to write, preserve, and interpret the problems and potential of the God-man relationship."
The best Flamming can say about, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God . . ." (II Tim. 3:16) is "trustworthy." Apparently from his above statement, the one inspired to write, is no more trustworthy than the one who is to interpret. In his conclusion the author says: "The Bible is a divine-human book. Erase the divine side of the equation, and you argue against the witness of the centuries that the Bible is the Word of God. (Incidentally, whether the Bible is the Word of God or contains the Word of God seems to me just so much theological shadow boxing.)"
Is the Bible the Word of God, or does it contain the Word of God? If the Bible is the Word of God, then it is all His Word and does not contain error. If the Bible merely contains the Word of God, then it may contain the errors of man. We say that the Bible is the verbally inspired, infallible Word of God, in spite of Flamming.
* Chapter 2, The Humanity of God, John R. Claypool, pastor, Crescent Hill Baptist Church, Louisville, KY.
(Pages 19,20): On Genesis 1:26, "made in the image of God," the author comes to this amazing conclusion that "God resembles man!" He states: "We can thus gain some insight into God's nature and ways of working by observing human nature and the way men fulfill their natures."
He quotes favorably from Karl Barth and the "Interpreter's Bible."
(Page 27): He seems to find some kind of a contradiction between I Sam. 8 where Israel demands a king, and I Sam. 9, where God chooses Saul to be King. Of this event Mr. Claypool said: "What we have here are obviously opposite interpretations on the same event. To assume that a single Intelligence dictated both of those accounts makes a mockery of any kind of rational understanding. On the basis of this and many other conflicting accounts alone, many serious students of the Bible have rejected the dictation theory and all of its claims to literal infallibility and inerrancy. I join them in this rejection, but for reasons deeper than errors in Scripture. The nature of God who has power but is love is the crux of the issue for me." Claypool uses the favorite tool of modernists, as he uses an undefined love to throw out an inspired, infallible Bible.
(Page 28): He contends that inspiration is necessary for reading today, as it was in writing by the prophets. He further says: "The ultimate authority in a living religion can never be something as static as a book or an institution or even a human being . . . This is why it borders on the heretical to speak of the Bible as the final authority in all matters of religion. This makes the power of ultimacy out of God's free hands and posits it in a form that men can manipulate and guarantee, and the biblical name for such a practice is the sin of idolatry!" This is utter nonsense! (Page 29): "This is why the mistakes and errors and conflicting opinions of the biblical record do not invalidate it for me but rather testify to its authenticity." There are other liberal errors on this page.
(Page 30): "Is the Bible, then, a human book? By all means, the answer is an affirmative one."
* Chapter 5, Words, Parables, And Pictures, Scott L. Tatum, pastor, Broadmore Baptist, Shreveport, LA.
(Page 51): "The New Testament is a collection of the writings of human beings. In spiritual experience, these writings have been discovered to be divine. Jesus was a man. His disciples discovered him to be divine."
(Page 52): He quotes Dr. Elton Trueblood favorable.
(Page 53): "When Paul wrote letters to the people in whom he was interested, he did not realize that later generations would regard his writings as sacred1 Scripture. He was expressing himself as a missionary friend, a gospel preacher, and a fellow human being. His letters were very personal -- warmly human, like Jesus."
* Chapter 7, Stories That Teach, Wayne E. Ward, professor of Christian Theology, Southern Baptist Seminary, Louisville, KY.
His entire chapter seems to be establishing the thought that the Bible records of creation, and the fall were stories.
(Page 79): Under subhead, "The Historical References in These 'Stories' that Teach" the author says: "One more important point should be considered in these 'stories that teach,' especially these great stories of creation, sin, and judgment in Genesis. They are clearly NOT straight forward historical narratives like the records of the kings of Judah and Israel, or even the accounts of the patriarchs, or the Exodus, or the crucifixion of Jesus."
(Page 78): "Some people are determined to make the 'serpent' in Genesis 3 a literal snake . . . such interpreters insist on taking the tree of knowledge of good and evil literally, and even spend pages debating whether it was an apple, a pomegranate, or some other fruit. Obviously, the 'tree of knowledge of good and evil' is a moral name, not an actual fruit tree." It should be obvious that this kind of interpretation is modernistic to the core. Once you have explained away the serpent and the tree, it is only one more step to explain away Eve, the garden and the fall of man. This is exactly what many do with this passage.
* Chapter 9. the Bible And Human Science, John M. Lewis, pastor, First Baptist Church, Raleigh, N.C.
(Page 96): "Many Bible students recognize that there are two accounts of creation in Genesis. The first, from 1:1 to 2:4a, appears to have been written later than the second, which is from 2:4b to 2:25. The older account in Genesis 2 is more primitive and childlike in its concepts and picturizations of God. Here man is created before any other living creatures. But the stories were not given as a scientific account of creation as such. If one tries to take these accounts as literal scientific truth he does violence to the real intent of the Bible itself. If one attempts this, which account is to be taken as scientifically accurate, Genesis 1 or 2? The order is exactly opposite in each. Both cannot be scientifically accurate at the same time."
(Page 98): he discusses Usher's chronology and utterly rejects it while seemingly accepting the fantastic guesses of modern day science as to the age of the earth and man. He says: "The study of ancient fossils and rocks first began pushing the origin of the world back by millions of years. Archaeology began unearthing civilizations thousands of years older than the Babylonian culture where Abraham lived. The findings of geology, archaeology, paleontology and astrophysics have now pushed the age of the world back into billions of years. Yet at first the church rejected the scientific research on the question of time and the age of the world." There are hundreds of Bible believing scientists, with plenty of scientific credentials who would gladly argue with facts that Lewis is wrong on this.2
* Chapter 12, What Is Inspiration?, W. Boyd Hunt, Professor of Theology, Southwestern Baptist Seminary, Fort Worth, TX.
This chapter is one of the rankest pieces of modernism that we have seen for a long time. It is very evident that he does not believe in verbal inspiration. A large part of this chapter is an attack upon the Fundamentalists position on inspiration. He is entirely committed against what he calls "dictation" of the Scriptures by God. He does give some of the Bible references that indicate inspiration, but he does not quote them, explain them or refute them. He rejoices in new-Evangelicalism as shown by this quote on page 122. "Meanwhile the older fundamentalism has intended to give way to neo- Evangelicalism. G. E. Ladd, Professor of New Testament at the Fuller Theological Seminary, now defines the Bible as 'the Word of God given in the words of men in history'."
The author speaks of "primal authority of the Bible" and "the Bible's supremacy,"which all serves as theological double talk in order to pay lip service to the Bible while denying the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures.
(Page 122): "For all practical purposes, the canon of Scripture is closed. No one really expects the matter to be reopened for the exclusion or the admission of a book. No procedure for such an effort is even conceivable." It seems that the author in speaking of "practical purposes," is not dealing with what should or should not be done, but rather is thinking of what seems practical. However, the Bible is being changed constantly. Through the devious work of textual critics and translators, words, verses and even most of some chapters has been change. In other instances, words and sections are added to new translations, without any explanation whatsoever. They can get by with this changing of the Word of God, because there are too many professors like Boyd with their loose views on inspiration.
(Page 123): "Illumination, then, stresses that inspiration has to do with the continuing and abiding work of the Holy Spirit in the world and not with the STATIC BOOK. This emphasis is a much needed corrective to the traditional tendency to identify inspiration solely with the original production of the Bible." What wickedness some people will try to blame on the Holy Spirit!
The "static book" is in reality the unchanging Bible. But these men are not satisfied with a "static" or unchanging Bible. It must be changed and interpreted in the light of modernistic theology. This writer, along with several others, try to make a case by insisting that the inspired writers were not perfect men. We know of no one claiming they were perfect. However, this would not keep them from being inspired of God and moved upon by the Holy Ghost to write the Bible as the perfect Word of God. The God of the smart professors, was so dumb, he didn't know what the Bible should say in the 20th Century, so these professors have to say it for him. How convenient.
* Chapter 13, What The Bible Means To Me, Brooks Hays, former President of Southern Baptist Convention, former U.S. Congressman from the state of Arkansas. (The good people of Arkansas had sense enough to retire him from that job via the ballot box.)
(Page 131): "To avoid being guilty of ignoring my own exhortations against uncritical treatment of the Bible, I must say at the outset that I do not accept all of the Bible as literally true. (I do not believe, for example, that God ever ordered the slaughter of one's enemies.) I do accept it as the Christian's authority for faith and conduct. It is part, but not the whole, of God's revelation of His will . . . " (Page 134): On this page Mr. Hays says of "literalists who claim 'verbal inerrancy' of the writings . . . this is antibiblical -- for it tends to make an idol of printed pages. Bibliolatry is as dangerous as any other form of idolatry."
(Page 136): "Messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention in 1904 had to listen to a sermon which contained the following calls to arms: 'We must not rest till roman Catholics are driven out of the Western Hemisphere just as the Spanish soldiers were driven out of Cuba.' But in 1969, Roman Catholic theologians were saying to Baptist leaders meeting with them at Wake Forest's Ecumenical Institute that their church has been inspired and helped by the Baptist emphasis upon Bible study. We no longer seek to destroy -- only to influence them -- and in turn we seek the noblest influences of their church for the good they can do us. Bible truth will produce the reconciling factors. Pope John is entitled to much credit for this influence in the Catholic community." Brooks Hays and his kind will make it easy for the anti-Christ to set up his one-world ecumenical church.
This Book Is Filled With Rank Modernism
This only a sample of the anti-biblical statements to be found in this book. It is grievous to repeat these errors without space to refute them, but this would take a book. What have we learned about the beliefs of these leading SBC pastors and professor? (1) We have learned that we cannot trust the creation accounts in Genesis, because there are supposedly two conflicting accounts. (2) We have learned that I Samuel cannot be depended on. (3) we have learned that there are errors in the Scriptures. (4) We have learned that to believe that the Bible is inspired and inerrant, is to be guilty of idolatry (worshiping the Bible). (5) We have learned that the Bible is not the final authority on anything. (6) We have learned that Paul had no idea that his writings were inspired of God. (7) We have learned that there was no serpent, tree or fruit in the temptation. (8) we have learned that the earth is billions of years old and that man has been around for millions of years. (9) we have learned that those who read the Bible should and do have the same inspiration as the ones who wrote it. (10) We have learned that the Bible is not "static", but changing. (11) We have learned that Baptists need the "noblest influences" of the Catholic church. (12) We have learned that God never ordered His people to slaughter any nation or people.
This is only a part of what we have learned from this, that Broadman Press, the SBC publishing house, has dared to print. Any Baptist publishing house that would publish such a book, should take down the word Baptist, and should refrain from receiving any Baptist money. If they were honest with truth, they would do so!
What A Change Since 1925
In 1925 the Southern Baptist Convention adopted a Statement of Faith, based largely on the New Hampshire Confession of Faith. Article 1 of that Confession entitled "The Scriptures" presents quite a contrast to the modern view expressed in the book under review. These modern day writers speak of the Bible being the words of men and God. They Speak of the errors, mistakes, etc., to be found in the Bible, but notice Article 1, adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention of 1925:
"1. We believe that the Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is a perfect treasure of heavenly instruction; that it has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth without any mixture of error, for its matter; that it reveals the principles by which God will judge us; and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds and religious opinions should be tried."
In half a century, the SBC has come a long way. Almost all of it in the wrong direction. In 1925, they had a Bible that was <"truth without any mixture of error", and in the 70's they have a Bible that is filled with error. From a book divinely inspired of God, they have come to "a human book." the Bible hasn't changed but Southern Baptist leaders have, and what a change!!
What Can Bible Believing Southern Baptist Do?
The SBC cannot and will not be cleaned up. Church history does not contain one instance when a movement was infiltrated by apostasy, of that group being cleaned up. Noble souls have spent a life time trying and have failed. Tithes and offerings given to a Southern Baptist Church will help to feed the ecumenical modernistic monster that has taken over the house. Even designated giving to more fundamental causes among Southern Baptists will only free money that can go to pay the way of modernistic seminaries and universities that are destroying the faith once delivered to the saints. Those who stay in, give their name, their influence and their money to destroy true Christianity. No amount of rationalizing can ever justify disobedience to the Word of God.
God's Word is plain. "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." -- II Corinthians 6:14-18
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1)...The apostle Paul considered his writing to be authoritative. See I Cor. 14:37; II Cor. 10:1-16; Gal. 1:6-12 and II Thess. 3:6-14. Peter placed the commandments of the apostles (himself included) in the same class with "the holy prophets" (II Pet. 3:2). In I Tim. 5:18 Paul puts the book of Like (10:7) on the same level as Deuteronomy (25:4), calling them both "Scripture." I Timothy was written about five years after Luke, and at that time Paul recognized Luke as Scripture. Peter puts the Epistles of Paul on the same level as "the other Scriptures," in II Pet. 3:15,16. In Rev. 22:18-19, we can see that John considered the book of Revelation to be divinely inspired. In view of the above references, we can safely say that Mr. Tatum is wrong when he says that Paul did not regard his writings as Scripture.
2)...For information on qualified scientists that believe in a young earth and the Bible account of creation, write to: Institute for Creation Research, P.O. Box 15666, San Diego, Calif. 92115 and the Bible Science Association, P.O. Box 1016, Caldwell, Idaho 83605.
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