Thursday, May 7, 2009

100 years before I was born...

people were disregarding out of hand those who study the Word of God in a critical and scholarly fashion as cold and un-spiritual. It just goes to show how true it is that the more things change, the more they stay the same. The following quote is pulled in its entirety from the blog of Christian apologist James White.

[I]t has been painful to hear earnest and real desire definitely to study the Word of God regarded and termed by some, as being "occupied with the letter of Scripture." But do those who say this know what they mean? They speak of principles, and of having their minds occupied with Christ; but how do we obtain true principles except from God's revelation in the Word? and how does the Spirit lead the mind to be occupied with Christ, except from the definite truth of Holy Scripture? In fact, those who thus speak, putting the spirit in contrast to the letter, appear not to know what they are discussing; and as to Scripture itself, by paying but little heed to what they call "the letter," they really disregard so far what the Spirit has there set forth. "But oh! (they say) this head-knowledge, this intellectual study of truth! how it lead our minds away from Christ!" It is true that there may be mental intelligence with but little spirituality; but it is equally true that if we obey God we shall never neglect the words of His Scripture.

Of course, with this tone of feeling, all critical study of Scripture is decried; it is de
emed a waste of time. Even the study of the Word of God in the original Hebrew and Greek is spoken of as if it were a secular occupation. The English Bible is thought to be enough for teachers and taught alike; and thus they remain alike uninstructed. And if the original languages are looked at, exact scholarship is deemed superfluous. How different is this from the real study of God's Word; from using and valuing each portion, however minute, as being from Him, and as being that of which He can unfold to us the meaning by the teaching of His Spirit.... All diligent and careful inquiry, and laborious examination of authorities, so as to know what were the very words in which the inspired writers gave forth the Scripture, is regarded as merely intellectual and secular. But is this a healthy tone of thought? Should not those who believe in the Divine authority of Holy Scripture know that they ought not to neglect its critical study? And if it be truly inspired, ought they not to feel that it is of some importance to inquire what is its true text—what, as far as existing evidence can show, were the very words in which the Holy Ghost gave it forth?

Most difficult is it to arouse Christians in general to a sense of the full importance of critical study of Scripture; and especially is this the case when dreamy apprehensions are cherished, and where vague idealism has taken the place of truth, and sentimental asceticism is the substitute for Christian holiness.

There may be an external knowledge of Scripture where there is no spiritual life or light; but
that is no reason for cherishing what is supposed to be spiritual in contrast to the words of inspiration. Such a contrast cannot really exist. He who truly loves the Lord Jesus Christ, and is guided by His Spirit, will be the most subject to that which is written in the Word. True acquaintance with Scripture is the best check to mere sentimental emotion. —The Hope of Christ's Second Coming, S. P. Tregelles (Greek scholar), 1864, pp. 80-2 (All emphasis in bold is mine.)

From time to time I come upon books, writings, sermons, and even individuals that express distrust or disdain for the Bible scholarship, saying that we should instead just let the Spirit guide us - implying a mystical sort of leading which cannot be obtained through the study of Scripture. Yet it is this very Spirit that inspired the words of Scripture; and it is through the Word of God that the Spirit works in the lives of believers. The Word of God is the work of the Holy Spirit, and the means by which He leads us. Its deep and careful study is not to be mocked, dismissed, or neglected.

7 comments:

WhiteStone said...

It sorrows me to know so many who believe they are followers of Christ who have not looked inside their Bible for years. It is in the scriptures that the riches of Christ are spelled out over and over and laid out before us like a banquet upon which to feast our souls.

Andy C said...

Be in the Word and the Word will be in you. In times of need the Holy Spirit will only call out of you what you had previously poured in.

Those in the Word have been attacked by the world since the Word was given.

Must be something to it.

jeri said...

This is excellent, Laurie. A good post to send people to.

barrywallace said...

The Spirit and the Word are so closely intertwined in Scripture and in our experience that it's foolish for us to think of them as somehow acting in opposition to one another.

It does seem, however, that both the Old Testament and the New support the idea that the Spirit may in fact speak to us and guide us in more subjective ways at times.

Laurie M. said...

Barry, I agree with you. I'm not a cessationist in the strict sense. I do believe God does still use other means, as seen in the N.T., but in His timing, according to His will and purpose, and not in response to folks seeking extra-biblical communication.

haithabu said...

Those who disregard what the Holy Spirit has already revealed in the Bible aren't really prepared to listen to the voice of the Spirit in any other form either.

It reminds me of Jesus' parable of Lazarus in which Abraham said to the soul of the rich man:

"If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead."

Laurie M. said...

Amen, Phil! Amen.