The change of view in relation to the verbal inspiration and authority of the Bible came in three stages, the first coming in the years 1860-1880 (See Pt. 1), as German theologians influenced many theological circles widely with their liberal and neo-orthodox views of the Bible.
The second stage of change was during the years 1880 to around 1900. Iain Murray points out that ‘These years saw the new teaching become widely accepted. Even so, the acceptance was more in theological colleges than in the churches. Professors who had themselves studied in Germany were now enthusing an admiring generation of young men with these views’ (which sounded so intellectual and scholarly-MT).
Liberal professors in traditionally conservative schools at times were brought up on charges of heresy and for departure from biblical soundness, but were cleared of all charges and were allowed to continue teaching. Thus political correctness and religious politics held sway and protection of such liberal men was provided from being removed from places of theological influence in the schools. Thus, the downward trend away from the correct view of Scripture continued and began to infiltrate the churches through the influence of the younger men being sent out to pastor the churches. If gifted and intellectually sharp pastors begin to question and doubt the Bible to their congregations, what will the result be within the churches?
As Murray goes on to show, even as early as 1881, with some exaggeration, “Professor C. A. Briggs could assert —
“The great majority of professional biblical scholars in the various universities and theological halls of the world, embracing those of the greatest learning, industry and piety, demanded a revision of traditional theories of the Bible.”
In other words, the majority of biblical professors and scholars accepted the liberal views of the Bible as being valid, and rejected the historic traditional views of the inspiration and authority of Scripture. A full shift had taken place and a full reversal had occurred, as far as theological education was concerned. Schools, such as Princeton in America would soon follow the lead of the British and European centers of theological training, for the most part, in rejecting the correct view of the Bible.
Murray says that, ‘A third period in this history was to follow and it is in the aftermath of this period that we still live. Now higher criticism [of the Bible] was no longer limited to theological halls or academic books; it was diffused almost without challenge, far and wide throughout Protestant denominations. What had once been the common belief of Christians came now to be seen as the creed of a remnant, which came to be known as fundamentalists.’
Murray continues– ‘In the Baptist Union of England, higher criticism had been the cause of the major controversy in 1887-88,during which Spurgeon resigned his membership [in the Union]. Spurgeon died in 1892, and by 1925, Dr. T. R. Glover became the president of the Baptist Union, and by this time, what had been true heresy, a liberal view of Scripture, was not the orthodox accepted view of Baptist generally in the British Isles. Glover said publicly, “Verbal inspiration [of the Bible] is a monstrous belief. Religion must depend upon something more verifiable than ‘detached sayings attributed to Jesus’.”
‘Glover’s greater knowledge of Scripture included such things as statements that the one who edited 1 & 2 Kings “was bored and got over the ground at an alarming rate”, and in speaking about the differences in the gospels, said, “Luke clearly did not like Mark’s style.” (Iain Murray)
By 1919, Methodist theologian Arthur Peake produced an influential 1000 page commentary on the Bible, which while trying to seemingly encourage the study of the Bible, at the same time gave his readers reasons to doubt the reliability of the Scriptures, saying, “In reading the Old Testament, we are not dealing with history at all, in the modern sense of the term . . . myth and legends are noted [presented] as if they were actual occurrences.” His view of Scripture–‘Scripture is only a record of the imperfect morality ascribed to Yahweh’.
When it came to the New Testament, Peake was open and clear in his rejection of the trustworthiness of the Gospels– ‘We are still far from having any proof that we have the ipsissisma verba (exact words) of Jesus or any guarantee that the events of His life are related with absolute accuracy in the Gospels’, and Peake goes on to say about the Apostle Paul’s teaching, that ‘The apostle’s teaching on the resurrection of the body in 1 Cor. 15 is described by Peake as “one of his most daring pieces of speculation’.
These are simply examples that show an open rejection of the divine authority of the Bible by the very ones who make their living from teaching and preaching the Bible to others. This shows a simple truth which is certain– any teacher, professor, theologian, or pastor who spreads doubt at all about the perfection and divine authority of Scripture cannot be trusted at all. They don’t believe it truly and, as Leonard Ravenhill always said, “Such men should leave the ministry and go sell hot dogs or insurance.”
– To be continued