Is the Bible the Word of God as the Apostle Paul contends in 2 Timothy 3:16, or is it a creation of Man, and thus full of myth, legend, and superstition, as Bishop Spong asserts?
"All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness..."
— The Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 3:16
"I could not believe that anyone... would be so foolish as to proclaim that the Bible in every literal word was the divinely inspired, inerrant Word of God."
— John Shelby Spong, Episcopal Bishop of Newark
A good portion of the Church today is apostate, worldly, and apathetic because many Christian leaders have rejected the Bible as God's revelation to Man and have bought, instead, the Satanic idea that the Bible is a product of Man's search for God.
This rejection of the Bible as God's Word is a product of the German School of Higher Criticism whose philosophy invaded this country at the turn of the 20th Century and hit our seminaries with the impact of a nuclear bomb. Confidence in the Scriptures was destroyed almost overnight as seminary students were taught to approach the Bible with skepticism. No longer were the Scriptures viewed as the inspired Word of God to be handled with reverence and to be believed and obeyed. Rather, the Bible was viewed like any other piece of literature, to be analyzed, dissected, and criticized.
The authority of God's Word was undermined. One significant result was that preaching lost its power as pastors began to base their sermons on modern psychology, philosophy, and theology. As the 20th Century progressed, liberal theologians intensified their attack on the Bible, determined to destroy its influence on the common person in the pew.
The "Non-Sexist" Version
This deflated view of the Bible as just another piece of literature was what motivated the National Council of Churches in 1981 to announce its intention to re-write the Bible to remove "sexist" language. The Council committee in charge of the revision stated that male connotations of God as Lord, King, Father, or He are "accidents of the limitations of human language." The committee recommended that God be referred to as the "Creator" rather than as "Father," that Jesus be called the "Child of God" rather than the "Son of God," and that the Holy Spirit be referred to as "It" rather than "He."
The committee also recommended that the word "children" be substituted for "sons." Perhaps the greatest absurdity was the committee's idea that equal time be given to women by adding the names of wives to the text each time the husband is mentioned. Thus, each reference to Abraham would become "Abraham and Sarah" — whether Sarah was present or not!
The "Condensed" Version
In 1982 The Reader's Digest published its condensed version of the Bible. Again, approaching the Bible as if it were a great novel or a Shakespearean play, the editors of The Reader's Digest cut out 50% of the Old Testament (including 68 of the 150 Psalms!), 25% of the New Testament, and 10% of the words of Jesus.
They also cut out Revelation 22:18-19 which says: "I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in the book."
The "Expurgated" Version
The process of debunking the Bible reached its climax in 1985 when Robert Funk, a New Testament scholar at the University of Montana, formed a Bible research group which he called The Jesus Seminar. The avowed purpose of the Seminar was "to renew the quest for the historical Jesus." The Seminar conducted this quest in a very unusual way. Meeting twice a year for six years, the group voted on each of the sayings of Jesus recorded in the Gospels. They voted by dropping colored beads in a box. A black bead meant Jesus definitely did not make the statement in question. A gray bead meant he did not say it, but it might have represented His thinking. A pink bead meant He probably said something like this, but not in the words recorded. A red bead meant He definitely made the statement.
As you can see, the very approach expressed contempt for the veracity of the Gospel accounts. What a spectacle this must have been to the Lord as He watched these so-called scholars vote on passages from His Word. "Professing to be wise, they became fools" (Romans 1:22).
The final product of the Seminar, published in 1993, was a blasphemy of God's Word. It was titled, The Five Gospels. The title comes from the fact that the Seminar decided to grant the apocryphal Gospel of Thomas equal standing with the four traditional Gospels.
Only fifteen sayings of Jesus made it into The Five Gospels in red! In Matthew's account of the Lord's Prayer, the only words that made it in red were, "Our Father." Only one saying in the entire book of Mark was colored red. It is the statement of Jesus in Mark 12:17 where He told His disciples to "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." Likewise, only one statement from the Gospel of John qualified for the red coloring: "A prophet has no honor in his own country" (John 4:44).
The chilling thing to keep in mind is that the men who produced this spiritual pornography are professors at seminaries across America. They are the ones who are training the current generation of pastors and teachers.
The "Edited" Version
Liberals are not the only ones who play games with God's Word. Many Evangelical Christians who profess to believe that the Bible is the revealed Word of God, proceed to deny that profession by their actions. For example, I grew up in a fundamentalist heritage that revered the Bible as the Word of God, but we never read or studied the Old Testament. In fact, we took an axe to the Old Testament. We considered it irrelevant to Christian living because we said it had been "nailed to the Cross." You can imagine my sense of surprise when I discovered that the only portion which had been "nailed to the Cross" was the ceremonial and civil laws of the Mosaic Covenant — not the Histories, not the Wisdom Literature, not the Prophets, not the Abrahamic or Davidic Covenants, and not the moral law of the Mosaic Covenant.
I also grew up in a heritage where I was taught that all those portions of the New Testament which speak of the supernatural ceased to be relevant in the First Century. We applied a knife to 1 Corinthians 12 because we refused to believe in spiritual gifts. We used the scissors on passages like Ephesians 6 and Hebrews 1 because we did not believe in demons and angels. And we used a razor blade to cut out verses like James 5:14-15 because we didn't believe in healing. In short, we were like King Jehoiakim who used a penknife to cut things out of the scroll of Jeremiah which he didn't like (Jeremiah 36:20-26).
All of us who profess Christ need to stop playing games with the Word of God. All of God's Word is relevant and meaningful to us today. It was not written to be cannibalized or intellectualized. It was written to be believed and acted upon.
In the second segment of our study of God's revelation to man — the Bible, we'll begin to look at some of the arguments for the authenticity of Scripture.