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Vol.  10  No. 5 May 2008  Page 5
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I Believe in the Old Testament, But...

By Raymond Elliott

Raymond Elliott

    I had gone by to see a friend of mine who is a chaplain in a major hospital in our Capitol City. This gentleman is a very kind and compassionate individual and is well suited for his profession in giving guidance and counseling to the sick, their families and those in times of grief. His demeanor is such that we can discuss most any subject and especially regarding those of a religious nature. In the course of our recent conversation, I mentioned that I serve on a Board of Regents for a local Christian University and that our president was having difficulty in finding qualified professors to teach in our doctorate program because so many of the men who would be academically qualified had been tainted in their education with modernism. I then began to illustrate what I meant by that statement and mentioned that some scholarly individuals understand that the first ten chapters of Genesis as being a myth, and they would deny many of the miracles that occurred in the Old Testament. I observed that when we deny much of the Old Testament, it will come down to whether or not we could accept the virgin birth of Jesus, the resurrection of our Lord and other cardinal doctrines of the New Testament. I also related how that the very inspiration of the Old Testament has been challenged. Though not so surprised, I was disappointment at his response to my thoughts when he said, “I believe in the Old Testament but I understand that it is a book that tells of the love that God had for his people but it is not a book of science, etc.” He said that the earth is not flat and that the days in Genesis One could have been long periods of time. Also that the Old Testament was a reflection of the times when the writers lived and that now we have much more scientific evidence than they did, thus enabling us to have a different understanding regarding their writings. He mentioned also that some religionists believe that the earth was created on October 12, 4004 B.C. Because of other statements he made, I perceived that my friend had himself been tainted with modernism in his pursuit of higher education.

    I responded to many of his statements by saying that the Bible does not teach that the earth is flat and that the exact date of the creation of the heavens and the earth is not mentioned in the Bible. I expressed my belief that the earth is relatively young in comparison to the millions of years as taught by the evolutionists. I also agreed with him that the Old Testament is not a book of science, but that when the Old Testament mentioned scientific matters, it was always accurate. I remember that I took a class in college entitled, The Authorship of Deuteronomy, written by our scholarly and beloved brother J. W. McGarvey. I was simply overwhelmed with the advanced knowledge taught by a brother in Christ as he endeavored to explain some of the tenants of ‘higher criticism’ regarding the Old Testament. We studied that according to the liberal view of the Old Testament that Moses was not the author of the first five books normally called The Pentateuch. No, it was not Moses, but several writers who authored various parts of the books, Genesis through Deuteronomy and they were referred to as J, E, D, H and P. There was a redactor (editor) known as R that brought all their writings together some seven hundred to one thousand years after Moses had died. There was the rejection of most of the miracles and stories of the Old Testament. Such a theory actually denied the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in the writing of the Old Testament. One important thing I want to mention just here is, what is taught in the theological seminaries will eventually reach the people in the pews via the pulpits. It might not be easily recognized by the members who are not students of the Word of God. For example, when our oldest child attended the vacation Bible school of a prominent protestant church in the small town where we were living, I asked him to bring his class book home so I could read it. I believe our son was in about the fourth or fifth grade at the time, so this material was written for children in the elementary schools. The stories were about the children of Israel being in Egypt and the time spent in the wilderness. When it came time for the crossing of the Red Sea, the author of this material referred to the body of water as being the Sea of Reeds. Inferred is the thought that the water was not very deep and that when the tide went out the Israelites crossed over, and when the Egyptians entered the water, the tide came back in and trapped them. In addition, when the Israelites needed food while they were in the wilderness for forty years, they found a substance that grew on Tamarisk Trees that was sweet and that they could eat, thus denying that God provided food for them in a miraculous manner. This might not sound significant to many, but the fact is the liberal author was denying the miraculous occurrences in the stories of the Old Testament.

    There is a saying that seminaries are really cemeteries, that is, it is during the years when young men and women sit at the feet of professors who espouse modernism that their belief in the Bible as being the inspired Word of God dies. While this is not surprising it is alarming that some of our ‘Christian Universities’ are following in the same path that our schools walked over one hundred years ago. Many brethren do not know that the schools once operated by faithful brethren were eventually taken over by educators who believed in and taught modernism. The very liberal Disciples of Christ denomination is one of the fruits of such modernistic doctrines taught in their universities and colleges. In recent times Abilene Christian University announced the forthcoming One-Volume Commentary on the Bible which will “espouse standard critical conclusions (multisource Pentateuch, multiple Isaiahs, two-source hypothesis for the Synoptic Gospels, etc”. Mark Hamilton who is a Bible professor at ACU and editor-in-chief of the commentary project stated this volume will step out “in directions that will be new to most general readers with the restoration movement.” (Note: I give credit to brother Wayne Jackson concerning the news regarding ACU. This information was taken from an article which he had written entitled, “ACU: Stronghold of “Radical Criticism” in the Christian Courier).

    The sad fact is that modernism has permeated most universities that have been founded on Christian principles. There are scores of young men and women who attended these universities and college who are now agnostics and who do not esteem the Bible as being the inspired Word of God. As members of the body of Jesus we must constantly be aware of the teaching that takes place in our own Christian schools. We must not send our young people to those universities and college where rank liberalism/modernism is being taught by those professors who claim to be adherents to biblical teachings. On the other hand we need to support morally and monetarily those schools which are endeavoring to be faithful in teaching our young people the inspired Holy Scriptures.

    Psalms 119, the longest chapter in the Bible, has much to say about the Word of God and the Psalmist love for the Law of the Lord. In contrast to the theories of modernism/liberalism invading the kingdom of God listen to what the inspired writer stated in verses 127 & 128: “Therefore I love Your commandments More than gold, yes, than fine gold! Therefore all Your precepts concerning all things I consider to be right; I hate every false way.”

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