Thy Word Is Truth “Thoughts on the Biblical Doctrine of Inspiration” by EDWARD J. YOUNG
Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1957. 287 pages. $3.50
According to the preface of this book, it is not intended as a technical theological treatise but rather as a popular presentation to acquaint the average, intelligent layman with the importance as well as the nature of the doctrine of the inspiration of Scripture.
This purpose is admirably achieved by Professor Young, who has the gift of writing clearly and understandably on biblical materials.
The author not only tells his readers what the doctrine of inspiration is, as taught in the Bible and accepted by the Church in the past, but he also goes on to show what it involves and what its denial would entail. He indicates that one reason so many perversions of the true doctrine of Scripture find acceptance is due to the fact that men no longer know and appreciate the true, biblical doctrine of inspiration. Hence it is imperative for the Church to teach its members, both young and old, this precious truth of God.
The fact that Scripture is God-breathed, even though the Lord made use of human authors, makes it infallible and inerrant. What do we mean by these terms and is the doctrine of inerrancy important? Or shall we simply admit that Mark was wrong when he relates some incident differently from Matthew and Luke as some one suggested recently? Shall we say, as we read the majestic Psalms, “What difference does it make to me whether or not the Bible relates all its historical facts without error, as long as I can get an inspiration from this religious poetry”?
To this Dr. Young would reply, “By the term infallible, as applied to the Bible, we mean simply that the Scripture possesses an indefectible authority. As our Lord himself said, ‘it cannot be broken’” (John 10:31). It can never fail in its judgments and statements. All that it teaches is of unimpeachable, absolute authority, and cannot be contravened. contradicted, or gainsaid. Scripture is unfailing, incapable of proving false, erroneous, or mistaken:· It is “inerrant,” says the author, because it has the quality of being free from error.
Dr. Young does not believe it was the intention of the evangelists to give a verbatim report, for example, of the words of the rich young ruler, which are reported differently. Variations are not to be interpreted as contradictions, and seeming contradictions can often easily be reconciled if we will take the time and try to understand the Bible in the light of itself.
However, it would be rash to profess that one is able to solve all the problems which are presented by a close study of the Bible. On some of these we shall have to wait for more light, but it would be “yet more rash to make the dogmatic assertion that there are actual errors in the Bible…To assume that God could speak a Word that was contrary to fact is to assume that God Himself cannot operate without error” (p. 165).
Actually, we must realize that the whole question of Biblical theism is at stake in the question of inspiration. If the autographa (original manuscripts) are not truly inspired of God and are not without error, then God is guilty of telling us something that is not true and the message of Christianity must ever remain in doubt (p. 166). Again, unless we believe the Bible to be the inerrant Word of God, we cannot preach salvation (p. 270).
With respect to the question whether the first three chapters of Genesis are history or legend (some speak of saga) Dr. Young, of course, takes the historic position that it purports to be history. He points out that Christ and Paul also accepted them as such (Matthew 19:6, Romans 5:13ff.). If the first chapters of Genesis may not be taken as history, then Jesus was in error and then Paul’s whole argument concerning redemption in Christ also totters. Furthermore, “In their statements these chapters are scientifically accurate. They do not teach anything that is not in accord with the facts. Can anyone, for example, point out an actual error in the first chapter of Genesis?” (p. 167). The author further con ten d s that the objection against Genesis 1 from the side of evolution breaks down before the biblical statement that God made everything after its kind. The charge that the first chapter of Genesis adheres to the geocentric theory of the universe is emasculated by the observation that Genesis does not describe the relation of the heavenly bodies to one another but the fact that the sun and moon serve the earth and that man as the image-bearer of God is the peak of creation.
In the last three chapters Dr. Young stresses the importance of approaching the Bible as the Word of God, not as a human tradition; and in this connection he sets forth some modern attitudes toward the Bible. It is important to know these since we easily fall into error, and to know an error for what it is ought to be a good insurance against it. The author mentions such English-speaking liberals as Fosdick, Richardson, Wright, and Piper; but he also points out the error of Barth. He notes that a distinction is often made between the Bible as a religious guide and as a historical document. This is also the approach of Dr. Mackay of Princeton. Dr. Young indicates that basically all these men are disciples of Kant, who separated the phenomenal from the noumenal. The former is a matter of history which we can investigate, but the latter is beyond scientific investigation; hence we simply accept it by faith. Faith and knowledge are disjoined.
There is one final matter that ought to come up for some consideration. It concerns the citing of texts from the Bible to prove one’s doctrinal or ethical position. One often hears it said today, even in orthodox circles, that the Bible is not to be used as a book of proof texts. The liberal never hesitates to pour out his vials of scorn and ridicule upon those who cite proof texts. However, as a matter of fact, when he wants to propound, certain views that are acceptable to him, he does not hesitate to cite the words of Jesus or of Paul or John to support his contention. Moreover, we have the blessed example of our Lord on the occasion when the devil tempted him in the wilderness and he made reply to each temptation by saying, “It is written.” If the modem theologians are right, then Jesus, too, had an improper understanding of the nature of the Bible. But our Lord “must have thought that the Bible was actually a body of truth to which one could appeal at will” (p. 219). Therefore to quote the Bible as being authoritative for our thinking, our loving, and our doing cannot be dismissed as an aberration of fanatics.
HENRY R. VAN TIL
Om Het Kind by REV. ARIS HAALBOOM
Pro Rege Publishing Company, Toronto, 1957
One of the problems that confronts the Dutch immigrant in Canada is that of Christian education. Such coveted Christian education demands real sacrifices from the immigrants, who are already loaded with many financial burdens. It is therefore highly necessary for every member of the church to realize the urgency of Christian education in Canada. This great need is often obscured in the minds of some by the practice in most Canadian public schools of reading the Bible, offering prayer, and singing hymns. We believe that Rev. Haalboom has succeeded in making clear the real need of Christian education in Canada in this nicely reasoned and written pamphlet. I imagine that it is very difficult to select and compress what one considers essential to Christian education in such a brief writing. It must always result in a work that the readers find incomplete. But we believe that it can be said of this brochure that it covers its subject remarkably well. To illustrate this I take the liberty to translate one short paragraph on page 19. Here Rev. Haalboom defines Christian education thus: “It is not simply a matter of teaching sacred history alongside of the other subjects. It is rather that all of the instruction given in such a school is permeated with the Biblical principle: Nothing of man but all of God; nothing for man but all to the honor of God.”
One might take exception to one statement in this pamphlet, namely, that the matter of Christian education has not been a struggle for our children (een worsteling om het kind) in Canada. In the sense in which Rev. Haalboom takes it, namely, that the Canadian government does not oppose Christian education, his statement can stand. But we believe that this word can rightly be used in regard to Christian education in Canada. Considering all of the factors involved, we believe it must be said that we are engaged in a real struggle for the spiritual welfare of our children. Canada is a Christian nation in a state of serious spiritual decay. There are subtle forces at work that threaten to undermine our children’s faith. We are therefore happy with this contribution of Rev. Haalboom. Be sure to read it—even if you live in the U.S.A.
CECIL W. TUININGA
Dr. Sa’eed Of Iran by JAY M. RASOOLI and CADY H. ALLEN
Published by Grand Rapids International Publications, 1957. 189 pages. Price $2.95
In this biography the quest of the young
Iranian Sa’eed for peace of soul is strikingly similar to that of Martin Luther. Thoroughly and even fanatically acquainted with the Moslem faith and practices, he found in Mohammed’s life and teachings “nothing which would satisfy the longing soul—not a drop of water to quench the thirsty spirit” (p. 38).
His conversion to Christianity brought him the inner peace and satisfaction which he sought, but it also brought him untold persecutions and dangers. as his Moslem countrymen tried constantly to do away with the “apostate.” Yet he never refrained from witnessing for his Lord for the sake of his own personal safety. Due to his exceptional medical and surgical skills, he was called upon to minister in every corner of his land and to all classes of people: from the lowliest peasant to the wealthiest sultan, to Moslem and Christian. To each one his kindliness, generosity, honesty, and above all his Christian witness were manifested. The life story of such a devoted servant of God and man makes for inspirational reading, and the many exciting experiences lend to it a fast·moving tempo. However. the attempt to compress the story of such a rich and full life into so few pages results in a frequently disjointed narrative with sketchy details. Fewer episodes more fully described would possibly have been more effective.
MRS. EDWIN H. PALMER
Ware Christelijke Belijdenis Der Nederlandse Kerken
Proeve van Hernieuwde Geloofsbezinning door predikanten van de Gereformeerde Gezindte, onder redactie van Dr. F. L. Bos. Published by J. H. Kok, Kampen.
This book has more than one author and these belong to more than just one Church. It. is written by and for the “Gereformeerde gezindte,” not the “Gereformeerde kerken.” The work has been written in the main by eleven ministers of the Word, five of whom belong to The Gereformeerde Kerken, three to the “Christelijk Gereformeerde Kerk,” two to the “Hervormde Kerk,” and one to the “Gereformeerde Kerken, onderhoudende art. 31 K.O.”
“Out of the brokenness of our many churches, however, we cooperated in brotherly harmony right from the beginning as members of the One Church of God,” states the foreword. Yet this book is not an ordinary treatment of the Belgic Confession, like Dr. H. Beets’ The Reformed Doctrine Explained. For example, it differs “from all existing presentations by the fact that it in its wordings retained a confessing character.”
Another feature is the very numerous quotations from the Holy Scriptures, printed in italics in the text and well indicated in the margin.
On the left pages the text of the Confession is printed and the confessional and scriptural explanation is given on the right pages. All this adds considerably to gaining a clear view of the matter dealt with. From the foreword we understand that it took quite a time to prepare this volume, but from the result we may conclude that this time and the efforts put into this book have not been wasted.
It is not a book merely for reading. It should be used and used very often. I did so during the Lenten season and benefited richly from doing this.
Therefore I wish for it a place in the library of every minister who still is able to read Dutch. As a matter of fact, I should like to see someone prepare an English translation and/or revision of this book.
We should also mention that the authors are of the opinion that this book might be valuable for the catechetical instruction of those who have reached an advanced level and for societies which study our Confession.
The only misgiving I have is that, whereas Reformed ministers can cooperate so harmoniously in a joint explanation of our historic Reformed Confession, it becomes more and more questionable that they should belong to so many different Churches. I know this is a matter of serious concern for the authors themselves, but this does not solve the problem. May this hook help to show, not only that we are divided, but also that we have the duty to unite wherever and whenever possible. Red Deer, Alberta, Canada.
Eureka For Our Business Men
Enthusiastic members of the Christian Reformed Church are always looking for new avenues to give an account of the hope that is in them. Our gospel is too glorious to be hidden under a bushel! During the religious awakening of the last decade our efforts have been greatly increased to reach the “down-and-outs.”
There is however one section of our nation’s population which so far has received comparatively little attention. I am thinking of the business men and the so-called professionals. On May 6, 1958, THE WORLD HOME BIBLE LEAGUE, at its twentieth anniversary, announced a brand-new plan to meet this need. Here is the simple procedure. On your desk you place one of the New Testaments, made available especially for this plan. When your customer, patient, employee. colleague or friend comes to see you, the attractive copy of the New Testament on your desk will catch his eye. Before long you will have formed the habit of asking, “By the way, do you read the New Testament in your home?” You’d be surprised how many copies you will be placing in eager hands during the following weeks.
Please don’t delay to send your first annual membership-fee of $10.00 to THE WORLD HOME BIBLE LEAGUE, 425 West 107th Street, Chicago 28, Illinios. Ask for a sower button for your lapel to identify you and for the free New Testaments for “Desk Top Witnessing.” Perhaps you’ll be sufficiently enthusiastic to drop us a line and share some of your first experiences in this new venture with the readers of TaRCH AND TRUMPET. Let us hear from you!
Centennial by MR. JACOB DEJAGER
CENTENNIAL – 1857–1957, being a historical survey of the existence of the First Christian Reformed Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan—compiled by Mr. Jacob De Jager, clerk of consistory during twenty-two of his twenty-five years as elder.
It has been the constant endeavor of the author “to let the present generation feel the heartbeat of the past in our church life. I also wished our members who are recent immigrants from the Netherlands to have a picture particularly of our early struggles” (p. 78).
What strikes one from our present perspective is the concern of this church with doctrinal purity and the willingness of its members to discuss the points at issue. The whole story of Gijsbert Haan is also presented with documentary evidence. It would be well for our young ministers to read this history for it indicates that not the ministers but the elders made the greatest contribution in maintaining sound doctrine. The ministers in general had little appetite for martyrdom, that is, for being associated with a small, disinherited group that could not pay decent salaries and guarantee pensions.
A great deal of attention is given to the matter of calling ministers. many of whom had to be induced to come from across the sea. Also the organization of daughter churches is given a prominent place; among them are Kelloggsville, Jenison, Eastern Avenue, Alpine Avenue, La Grave Avenue, and Franklin Street.
Christian education, in those pioneer days, received a great deal of attention, but it was an ecclesiastical venture. The first school, on Williams Street, which later also housed the Theological Seminary was constructed at the cost of $3,199.31 and was occupied October 7, 1875.
The debate concerning teaching in the English language and the problem of collecting tuition finally brought the Christian School into difficulties so that it was decided to close its doors, which were never reopened. The year was 1905. However, in October of that year a meeting was held for the organization of a society for Christian instruction. The total impression is one of sacrifice, difficulties, perseverance in the truth and the fellowship of the saints; blessings of grace and obedience to the covenant.
This book has an index, a list of important dates and events of the first hundred years, and many interesting pictures. It is available for the price of printing to all who will write the secretary of the First Church of Grand Rapids. It would be a worthwhile addition to any church library!
HENRY R. VAN TIL
Het Probleem Van De Canonisatie Van Het Oude Testament by Dr. J. L. KOOLE
J. H. Kok, Kampen. 1955. fl .25
The Dutch have maintained the fine custom that a new professor of theology, at his inauguration, delivers a lecture in which his basic approach to the subject is set forth and some problem in his field is discussed. In the above title the new appointee at Kampen Theological School discusses the problem of the canonization of the Old Testament. His thesis is that we cannot properly speak of a canonization of the Old Testament, since it bas been accepted as inspired from the beginning by God’s ancient people and the Church. The holy character of the Scriptures is indelible by virtue of God’s authority. The power of the Word is not dependent on any human canonization, but is ours in as far as we experience the grace and the peace of our covenantal relationship to God. This pamphlet is recommended for ministers and all others who are academically oriented!
HENRY R. VAN TIL