The Inerrancy of the Bible, No. 6
Increasingly it is evident among Bible
scholars and Bible teachers that there are indications in the Scripture concerning the
nearness of the Lord’s return which are rapidly falling into place at a
breathtaking pace. I don’t want to stop to go
over those this evening, but they are absolutely fantastic.
Studies which are being made that go back to
the book of Daniel and take up these timetable elements which are
recorded there, the book of the Revelation, and anchor points in time keep
bringing everybody back to the decade of the 1980s and particularly the early
years of the 1980s. It behooves us as believers
to recognize that someplace along the line there is going to be a group
of Christians who are the last generation, who are the ones who will be
living when the Lord returns. That is the
generation which will come under maximum attack and maximum fire in the
The focal point of that attack by
Satan will of course be
the Word of God itself, to undermine its absolute authority, and that
been in motion for some 200 years now.
The focal point will be the local church as an
institution, to divert it
from its teaching ministry. The focal
point of that satanic attack will be the pastor-teacher himself, to
gift which cannot just be passed on by apostolic hands to someone else,
undermine that ability and to do whatever is possible to incapacitate
pastor-teachers continuing in the ministry and functioning with that
On all three accounts, the devil is
running a campaign that’s
winning and that’s having success. We’re
looking particularly at the area of the attack upon the Scripture
itself. As Satan brings together his plans
of the end
times, the one thing he must destroy is anybody being able to point to
Bible and for the Bible to be able to respond with authority to what
think, to cut down the human viewpoint of mankind with a declaration
Bible that people have to pay attention to.
The people of the world are in
rebellion against God. At the same time,
they are exceedingly
religious. Religion and divine viewpoint
however, as you well know, do not usually go together in Satan’s
world. Without a Bible with full authority
for God, religion can never align itself with God’s divine
viewpoint. Only an inerrant Bible can
carry the supreme
authority of being the final voice in spiritual matters.
Only the Bible, if it is an inerrant book,
can tell us what is right and wrong relative to moral conduct. Only the Bible, if it is an inerrant book,
can tell us for a certainty how a person can be saved.
Only the Bible can lay out for us the
principles of the role of human government.
Only an inerrant Bible can spell out for us the
divine institutions, the
divine human relationships, which God has ordained for the preservation
We have found that Christians and
denominations and churches
which have rejected the Bible doctrine of inerrancy, and the Bible does
for itself to be an infallible book, those who have departed from the
of inerrancy have lost all authority by which they can represent God in
spiritual matters. This is what happened
to the liberal denominations. The old
liberalism discovered that it finally came to a position where it was
absolutely defunct because they had no basis upon which to speak to
that people would in turn respond and listen.
They had no basis of being able to stand up and
speak for God. They had so destroyed with
critical method the authority of the Bible.
Once a generation of teachers rejects
the doctrine of
inerrancy in some limited area—the first group always rejects in
area, like in matters referring to geography, to numbers, to historical
sequences, and that sort of thing. Once
they reject that the Bible was preserved supernaturally from error in
areas, then subsequent generations will in time reject the authority of
in areas pertaining to salvation and pertaining to conduct. This is the inevitable logical conclusion and
the subsequent generations always tolerate carrying what the previous
generation began, carrying it to its logical conclusions.
We have been using Dr.
Lindsell’s second book, The Bible
in the Balance, as a documentary which has been excellently written
bring together the evidences of how this works.
Once you start down the road, you’re on a
slide that’s covered with
grease. You cannot stop.
You cannot change your direction.
You cannot return. We
have been reading examples of confirmation
from what Dr. Lindsell’s own experiences have been particularly
Southern Baptist Convention since they were very definitely committed
and were very definitely a biblical denomination. That
has all changed.
To update you on the matter, I have a
letter which has been
handed to me which was written by the pastor of the Emmanuel Baptist
Southern Baptist church in Fayetteville, Arkansas on September 7th,
1979. It was written to the president of
the school from which this pastor graduated, the Midwestern Baptist
Seminary, one of the Southern Baptist Theological seminaries in Kansas
Missouri. It was addressed to the
president of that school, Dr. Ferguson, and I’d like to read it
to you. Here is a man in the field just a
ago now that is in the ministry and has begun to put together two and
his training, and what he is discovering taking place in his
thinking back upon what he heard in the classrooms of this Southern
school, and leading him to some conclusions that propelled him to
had to write a letter to ask some questions about professors who are
teaching in this school, on the basis of what he heard in classrooms as
student. All of this completely confirms
what Dr. Lindsell lays out in his book in his indictment of the
the Bible teaching institutions of the Southern Baptist Convention.
The letter says, “Dear Dr.
Ferguson, By church action on
September 5th, 1979, our church decided to share with you a
real concern about the statements and charges which have been made
Southern Baptist seminaries that have professors who are teaching
that are in conflict with the Bible and our statement of beliefs in the
Faith and Message adopted in 1963. We
appreciate the published statements coming from meetings of the
presidents that each of you share these concerns also and are eager to
real problems which exist. We will
continue to pray with you and for you that legitimate charges be met
corrected in a unified effort to retain biblical accuracy in our
theology and in
our schools and churches.
“The following are teachings
heard by our pastor while
attending Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and those faculty
responsible for presenting each theory:
Ashcraft: Several times I heard this man
say in theology class, ‘We cannot expect modern intellectual
scientific man to
believe this or all of this.’ He was
referring to the Bible, and in particular such things in the Bible as
creation account, Adam and Eve as the first man and woman, Noah and the
account, Jonah and the whale, and other biblical accounts of this
nature. He said of these things, ‘We
know better than
“It was in the summer of 1975,
and I believe the class was
244. Dr. Ashcraft said, ‘The God of
Old Testament is not the god that I know.’
Then he went on to explain how this God would not
kill people as we read
of how God did in the Old Testament.”
I trust as I read these comments that
you have now been well
enough briefed on the higher critical viewpoint and on the conclusions
concerning the Scriptures that you will recognize that these men are
exactly the conclusion of the liberal mentality of those who hold to
critical method. I could sit in a
classroom under these men, or you could sit in a classroom under these
hear remarks like this, and immediately you would know without having
to go up
and ask him: “Do you believe in the
higher critical, the historical critical approach of higher criticism
Scriptures?” And you would know that
man would say, “Yes, I believe in that.”
You would know without a doubt that he does not hold
to the inerrancy of
Scripture. You wouldn’t even have to
him. That is what is being revealed
here, and that is what concerns this pastor and this church. Continuing:
“In the discussion of demons,
Dr. Ashcraft thought that
Jesus was only going along with the people of his time.
But we today know better. These
things were only psychological diseases
and problems that people had in the time of Jesus.
This teaching tells me that he does not
believe in demons, that he either thinks modern man is smarter than
that Jesus was a deceiver or liar. This
is the idea of inspiration that I was taught by Dr. Ashcraft. Godly men of old wrote down the best they
understood of the things of God and the revelation that God had given
that it was factual or true. Now today
we read what they said as recorded in the Bible. We
can be inspired by the Holy Spirit of God
to find truth.” Now remember
first basic principle: The Word of God
and the Bible are not one and the same thing.
You have to find the truth in the Bible because some
of it is not
“Now that my friend puts
inspiration down here with us, not
in the beginning. In fact, depending
upon who we are and how much faith we have, etc. determines how much we
accept of the Bible as truth. This of
course totally disagrees with 2 Timothy 3:16 and the declaration of the
Bible: ‘All Scripture is given by
inspiration and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for
for instruction in righteousness.’ Dr.
Ashcraft seems to use little statement found in our 1963 Baptist Faith
Message as a catch-all for his lack of faith and unbelief.
It is that last sentence under the heading
The Scriptures which read: ‘The
criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus
Christ.’ I remember once he was
something, and the reason he did not believe it or accept it in the
in the Scripture was because as he interprets it in Jesus Christ it was
so. Thus he was able to use this
statement to discount and wipe out the above statement made under the
heading, and truth without any mixture of error for its matter. With such a personal loophole, he is able to
say he subscribes to our statement of faith, thus misleading the
majority.” What this pastor means is
that he’s using
this phrase, “the criterion by which the Bible is to be
interpreted is Jesus
Christ,” and so he gets away from the statement without any
mixture of error
for its matter by saying that Jesus Christ is the truth.
And according to Jesus Christ is the way he
interprets what is true in Scripture, whatever that means.
William Morton: In (course number)
I-101, Dr. Morton made the statement that we know that the Israelites
get the Law from God but from the folks about them; that is, they just
laws from nations and people of that day.
They borrowed and God did not give it to them as we
have recorded in
Exodus 20 and following. He also said
that Israel did not get the pattern and instructions for the temple or
tabernacle from God, but from the nations and the people around about
Pierce Metheny, Jr.: Dr. Metheny was my
professor for Old Testament Survey—C120, C121, C122). Through his teaching and the texts used in
these courses I share with you a few things taught:
That the creation account in Genesis is a
myth and fable. It did not literally
happen as recorded in Scripture. We know
better. Modern science tells us
differently, and we know modern science to be correct.
I was taught that the Pentateuch was not
written by Moses, but by at least four different authors or sources
JEPD. This theory is called Nielson Oral
Tradition, or the JEPD theory. A
compiler or compilers long after the time of Moses took these four
or oral traditions and compiled them into one which is what we have now
Pentateuch. These four sources as
recorded in the Bible conflict and disagree at times.
In all this supposed conflict, error, myth,
and legend, I was told I could sift through and find some spiritual
“I was asked to write a paper on
the first two chapters of
Genesis. I used six liberal sources from
the seminary’s library. I also was
to state my views as well as these authors’ plus comment on what
they said. I did, and I disagreed with
them at many
points. Dr. Metheny wrote these comments
on my paper: ‘I don’t believe
your authors the benefit of an open mind to their views.
I see a better exercise for you might have
been a ten-page exposition of your own interpretation of Genesis 1 and
2, as I
cannot see any difference the reading of six scholarly commentaries
“Let me tell you who some of
these so-called scholars of
wisdom were. G. Hinton Davies: He wrote the Genesis account of the Broadman
Commentary Volume 1 First Edition which was pulled from sales and
after it caused such an uproar and upheaval in the Southern Baptist
Convention. Another scholar of wisdom of
Ralph Elliott in his book, The Message of Genesis.
This book also caused an uproar and upheaval
in the convention. Because of the
pressure and all he finally left Midwestern Baptist Theological
Seminary. These are the types of scholars
scholarship I was asked to learn from.
late Dr. Burlan A. Sizemore, Jr.: He
implied that there were many ways to God and salvation.
He was asked in a religion class to clarify
himself on this issue. I cannot recall
his exact words or phrases but I was still left with the distinct
that he believed there were many ways. In
other words, his whole statement was vague and implied he believed that
were other ways or other religions besides Christ and Christianity that
God and true salvation. Surely a man of
his position and education could make himself clear and understood,
course he was trying to be a little vague for self-protection.
“A general statement:
Let it be clear that I do not hate these men or
others that are teaching
similar doctrines. I have no axe to
grind or personal vengeance to execute.
I write because I am deeply concerned for my
convention and its
seminaries. You have asked us to write
and lay down the complaints and charges through our state paper and at
Southern Baptist Convention. I am a 1976
graduate of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
I am sure some will ask why I went there and
why I stayed with this kind of teaching.
I can answer this and will be glad to try to answer
other questions you
may have. Sincerely in Christ my Lord,
Gary S. Urich, Pastor.”
Then he goes on to say, “We will
be concerned about the
clarification and correction of these circumstances in an effort to
maintain a sound theology at the seminary level. We
would like to know what steps will be and
are being taken to correct these errors in teaching.”
Now I have President Ferguson’s
reply letter as well but I
will not read that one to you because I can summarize it.
If you are interested personally and would
like to read exactly what the seminary president had to say in
these very clear charges by an eye witness, you may check with Mr.
he will be happy to let you read this letter.
In short, what this letter does is to
go into a statement on
what fine Christian men these professors are and how devoted they are
serving God, but at no point does the letter deny that they were
things. There is a slight implication
that somebody maybe misunderstood them, but the whole gest of the
that these are fine fine fine men. They
really want to see people go to heaven.
They just love the Lord. As
read through the letter, Matthew 7:21-23 kept flashing in mind like a
sign. “Lord, Lord, we have
thy name and cast out demons and performed miracles.” And Jesus saying, “Depart from Me. I never knew you.” Where
is the Southern Baptist Convention
going to go? The president of a school
is unwilling to face up and say, “Yes, our men have been teaching
truth. Our students are being
contaminated, and we’re going to do something about it before we
end up like
the other great denominations who have lost their anchor point in
Scripture. The reason these men are saying
because they have accepted the higher critical view of
Scripture—that it was a
humanly produced book apart from supernatural elements.”
My first year in college was spent at
College in River Forest, Illinois, a school of the Missouri Senate
Church. I remember in a class there
hearing a professor say that the way you must view the Bible is as a
stands alone. Then he illustrated this
by saying that if you were to take all the books in the world that have
been published, and you would have a huge floor space in which you
would pile them
up by categories, the Bible would have a category all its own. You could not put any other book with the
Bible. It would stand alone because it
is a book of supernatural production and no other book has so been
produced. Those who follow the higher
that the Bible is a humanly produced book, and that’s all it is,
abandoned the doctrine of inerrancy, and have seen the Bible not as a
stands in a unique category, but is just another book among all the
that mankind has produced.
There was a survey taken of what
Southern Baptist Students
believe. I think it would be interesting
to pass this on to you just to update you.
A survey was made about the students at Louisville
Seminary. On page 172 of Dr.
book, he says, “A sample breakdown of the response for those who
for the Master of Divinity program tells a more complete story. One of the question was this:
Does the devil actually exist? There
were four possible answers the
respondent could choose from. He could
say that the statement was completely true, probably true, probably not
or definitely not true.” Now these
men who are going to pastor Southern Baptist churches.
They are students in the most prestigious
seminary in the Southern Baptist Convention.
“The answers given were: 6%
those students said the statement was not true (there is no devil). 16% said it was probably not true. 20% said it was probably true.
58% said it was completely true.
“Another statement said,
‘Jesus was born of a virgin.’ 55%
said this was completely true. 22% said it
probably was true. 17% said it probably
was not true. 6% said it definitely was
“Another statement said,
‘Jesus walked on water.’ 17%
said it was probably not true. 6% said it
definitely was not true.
“In response to the question of
holding the Bible to be God’s
truth, 39% said it was absolutely necessary to hold the Bible as being
truth. 21% said it was probably necessary. 25% said it was possible not necessary to
hold the Bible as being God’s truth. 23%
said it was not necessary to view the Bible as God’s truth.
Now that pretty well tells the story. These men come into the seminaries, unless
they had a contaminated pastor in their local church who has already
on the course of the consequence of the viewpoint of the higher
historical critical method, they themselves come in as blanks. There is one thing you learn in seminary
circles and that is that a student who goes through a program of any
is forever indelibly stamped by that seminary.
It is very very difficult to go through a course of
training at a seminary
and to be able to remove yourself from the influence of that program of
instruction. It inevitably is deeply
stamped within the thinking of the students.
Therefore, these students are reflecting what their
seminary has indeed
On page 175, Dr. Lindsell speaks about
what the future is
going to be of the Southern Baptist Convention.
The president of the Southern Baptist Seminary at
Louisville said that
what Dr. Lindsell had written in his book about the Southern Baptist
was simply poppycock. Lindsell’s
apt summary here as to the future of the Southern Baptist Convention is
this direction is not immediately reversed, if these professors are not
from teaching authority, if pastors are not removed from pulpits if
they do not
hold to inerrancy, the Southern Baptist Convention will, within the
future, completely deteriorate as a biblical institution and become a
denomination just as has been true of all other denominations before it. So Lindsell’s position, again, is that
you start in that direction and you tolerate this kind of teaching,
very little chance of reversing the process.
Another example that we gave you that
Dr. Lindsell has given
us is Fuller Seminary. Fuller Seminary,
since the first book came out, has tried to do all kinds of things to
fact that it has abandoned the position that it once held for inerrancy. I want to show you where Fuller Seminary has
come now today. This is 1980.
The first book was published in 1975.
So they’ve had about five years to deal with
this problem. One passage I want to read
to you is what Dr. David Hubbard, the president of the seminary, has to
concerning their view toward Scripture.
This is on page 193 where Dr. Lindsell quotes him. Hubbard says, “We recognize the
that the word ‘inerrancy’ has attained in the thinking of
many of our scholarly
colleagues and the institutions they serve.
We appreciate the way in which most of them used the
term to affirm that
the Scriptures is indeed God’s trustworthy Word in all it
Note the phrase, “… in
all it affirms,” not in all it
teaches. I want you to be real smart in
this congregation to this tricky use of language, “… in
all it affirms.” It so happens that
Billy Graham ran a great
evangelical conference of evangelists at Luzon, Switzerland. They made a statement of faith that the
issued that they as evangelists would subscribe to.
It created quite a furor because there were
some men like Francis Schaeffer who refused to sign it because they it
this kind of language relative to Scripture.
This put Graham into a frap because he wants to
present that “we all
love one another and we’re all united as Christians” front. Several of these men that are very influential
in the Christian world simply said, “We’re not about to
sign a statement like
that.” Pressure was put upon them,
unfortunately the appeal for unity prevailed so that Dr. Schaeffer and
men had to sign it with mental reservations of interpreting to
this statement meant.
Fuller Seminary deliberately used the
word “affirm” so that
it can have a loophole to make you, who are contributing to that
that they believe that the Bible is God’s Word without error. “… in all that it affirms. When inerrancy refers to what the Holy Spirit
is saying to the churches through biblical writers, we support its use. Where the focus switches to an undue emphasis
on matters like the chronological details, the precise sequence of
numerical allusions, we would consider the term misleading and
Dr. Lindsell says, “Here Dr.
Hubbard gave away his
case. Inerrancy is satisfactory so long
as it does not include chronology, allusions to numerical figures, or
of science and the cosmos. He simply
cannot accept the Bible which is inerrant in all its parts. It is very clear after all is said and done
that Dr. Hubbard teaches that Fuller Seminary’s viewpoint is that
when it deals with matters of salvation, is without error.
When it deals with anything else, it has many
errors in it. The original of Fuller
Seminary, you might be interested in, had this to say about the Bible: ‘that it is free from error in whole and
part.’ The new statement of Fuller
Seminary says this: ‘Scripture is an
essential part and trustworthy record of the divine disclosure. All the books of the Old and New Testament
given by divine inspiration…’” Notice
that it says that those books “given by divine
inspiration,” which leaves the
implication that some were not. “’…
the written Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith of faith and
practice. They are to be interpreted
according to their context in reverent obedience to the Lord who speaks
them in living power.’”
Notice that it says, “…
reverent obedience to the Lord.” Would
you take issue with that? To interpret the
Bible in reverent obedience
to the Lord? Doesn’t that sound
good? Couldn’t you say,
to that? “… in reverent
obedience to the
Lord who speaks to them in living power.”
Well that just happens to be exactly what Dr.
Ferguson of Midwestern
Seminary said of one of his professors—he interprets the Bible in
terms of the
leading of Jesus Christ.
In the new statement, Dr. Lindsell
says, Fuller Seminary no
longer says that the Bible is the infallible Word of God—the only
of faith and practice. It simply says
the Bible is the “word” (with a lower case “w”)
of God. Then it adds that infallibility is
matters of faith and practice. Thus
whatever does not constitute a matter of faith and practice can and
Now, the thing that infuriated
Lindsell’s critics toward his
first book is that Lindsell says that once you start on this road,
follow you will not only be satisfied to limit the fallibility of the
these so-called peripheral areas, but they’ll begin to question
doctrines. They have a professor at
Fuller Seminary now whose name is Paul King Jewett.
I want to read you Dr. Lindsell’s comment on
the teachings of Dr. Jewett. He
continues on the faculty of Fuller Seminary though, as you will see, he
departed now not just from peripheral matters, but from matters that
are at the
heart of Biblical doctrine.
Lindsell says, “Of all the
articles in the special issue of
Theology News and Notes, none is more important than those pertaining
Jewett. Everyone interested in the
Fuller situation should get a copy and read it carefully.
In it the reader will find the full
confirmation of my second allegation that Fuller Seminary has breached
statement of faith in the case of Paul King Jewett who denies the
of Scripture in regard to a matter of faith and practice.”
This is the point that Lindsell is
making, that with this
professor, he doesn’t even subscribe to their new statement of
faith that tried
to get away from inerrancy. This man has
taken the next step where he’s even breaking the one that they
have now. The seminary itself has now born
this fact. Dr. Jewett has said that in
Ephesians 5, the apostle Paul tells us that which is not true. He has argued that Ephesians 5 conflicts with
Galatians 3:28. He thinks Paul in
Ephesians has given us a rabbinic ruling which is really false teaching
measured by Galatians. He does it on the
basis of the use of the analogy of faith principle in the
Scripture. An ad hoc committed was
appointed by the board to investigate Dr. Jewett’s book, Man
as Male and
Female. Their report was published
in Theology News and Notes. In their
findings and recommendations the committee had this to say: “The committee acknowledges that some
application of the analogy of faith hermeneutic may be consistent with
III (that is, of the Fuller Seminary current doctrinal statement), but
feel that this principle permitted the texts of Scripture, specifically
1:27, Galatians 3:28, 1 Corinthians 11, 1 Timothy 2, and Ephesians 5,
handled in a manner in which Dr. Jewett followed. A
little later the committee said, ‘Dr. Jewett’s
approach to the authority of the apostle Paul has left him and the
misunderstanding and responsible criticism to the extent that Dr.
Jewett may be
interpreted to say that Saint Paul’s teachings in 1 Corinthians
11, 1 Timothy
2, and Ephesians 5 was in error, or that Saint Paul was a faulty
these points in interpreting the Old Testament.
The committee sharply disagreed with
Dr. Lindsell says, “The
committee pronounced adverse judgment
on Dr. Jewett. When its careful phrasing
is looked at, the committee said Dr. Jewett had breached the doctrinal
statement of Fuller Seminary. Now the
question was, what would the committee recommend to be done about
Here is the answer:
What they’re referring to is what Paul said
about the authority of the
man over the woman in the marriage relationship, and so on. Here’s what the committee recommended to
with this professor at Fuller Seminary, who is still there, and who now
breached not only peripheral matters but actually hard core matters: “The committee while maintaining its
disagreements and regret of some portions of Man as Male and Female,
which appear to question the authority of the apostle Paul (and it is
note that later we will see that at least one of Dr. Jewett’s
not believe that Paul wrote the book of Ephesians in the first place),
recommends that the seminary take no other action in the light of Dr.
proven integrity, his longstanding contribution to the upholding and
of biblical faith at Fuller, and his reassurance of loyalty to the
So what did they do when they found
him teaching false
doctrine? They said, “Well,
he’s a fine
sincere man. He has told us he’s
for our school. And he’s a man of
integrity. Therefor he can teach any false
wants. How far can you go with
that? Just as far as the committee will
let you. And when you say that Mary
Magdalene was a prostitute that had an affair with Jesus Christ,
it’s OK as
long as the committee says that this is a man of integrity and
he’s telling you
what he sincerely believes.
Dr. Lindsell says, “Here is a
tangled mass of conflicting
data which forms no coherent pattern.
Dr. Jewett, they agreed, was guilty.
The seminary doctrinal statement had been breached. But they said that Dr. Jewett is a man of
integrity, a good teacher, and a longtime employee of the school. So they sacrificed the statement of faith on
this basis to permit the continuance on the faculty of a man who openly
contradicted the confession to which he appended his signature. But since he did not really think he had done
anything wrong, even though the committee did, they agreed to forget
One of the Fuller trustees added his
word: “The committee and the
seminary are intent on
confirming the complete inspiration of Scripture and the words used by
Scripture itself, and on continuing their quest to learn more fully
means. In other words, the completely
inspired Bible has no untruth in it in the matter of faith and
they will do nothing about the professor who says that it does have
untruth, even though the seminary is committed to a trustworthy
limited to matters of faith and practice if not in matters of
scientific fact. But we shall see
shortly that Dr. Jewett is not alone, and if he were to be separated
institution, there are others of whom he, the students, the trustees,
administration have knowledge, who would also have to be separated from
school. It would constitute a wholesale
departure and breakup of the faculty if it were to be carried
So what Dr. Lindsell is saying is that
if Fuller Seminary
were to deal with this man as they should have dealt with him and said,
breached our doctrinal statement, you are teaching what is false, what
contrary to the clear statements of Scripture, you have challenged the
authority of the apostle Paul himself in major doctrinal areas: If they did it to him, they would have to do
it to others on the faculty.
Now before we take up what Lindsell
had to face then as to
what in the world are we going to call ourselves, since these people at
Seminary call themselves evangelicals, after Billy Graham’s
choice and under
his leadership: What are we going to
call ourselves who believe in an inerrant Scripture so that we can
ourselves from the people in the pews who are going to begin to catch
these problems; who are going to begin to catch on to these conflicts.
Well, first of all, that raises the
question: What is meant historically by
fundamentalism? At the end of the 19th
century, one of the things that happened in the providence of God was a
movement back to study of the Bible.
This was expressed in great Bible conferences which
were led by terrific
teachers such as C. I. Scofield of the Scofield Bible Notes fame. These men found themselves increasingly the
spokesmen against the consequences that were invading great
the historical critical method begun by Semler.
So increasingly, particularly in the 1920s, the
lines became very
clearly drawn between liberalism and fundamentalism.
But the basis, the identifying features, of
fundamentalism actually came to a climax at a conference at Niagara,
in 1895 in which these scholars put together a statement of what
New Testament Christian. Their point was
that fundamentalism represents the fundamental doctrines of Scripture. It represents what the Bible calls a
Christian, and that you cannot call yourself a Christian in the New
sense if you deny certain fundamentals.
So here were the fundamentals that
they put forth and which
have basically (these first five—there actually were 14), but
these basic five
are traditional identifying marks of the fundamentalists.
And Lindsell knows this. That’s
why we shall see Lindsell says there’s
only one thing for us to do. We’ve
to get away from using the word “evangelical” because
that’s a contaminated
word. The liberals use that.
The people who believe a Bible with mistakes
use that. Consequently, that word is
meaningless. It really has always been
meaningless. It has been a wishy-washy
word, but since the Niagara conference and those great Bible
of them prophetic conferences at the end of the 19th
word “fundamentalism” has always had content.
That’s why Billy Graham hated it.
That’s why the neo-evangelicals hated it. That’s why when they wanted to have a
to the liberals they hated the word “fundamentalism.” Billy Graham said, “I’m not a
fundamentalist. I’m an
evangelical.” What were they looking
for? They were looking for a word which
offend the liberals. By the time the
battles of the 1920s were fought, and the dust had settled, there was
in the minds of the people in the pews what a fundamentalist stood for
a liberal stood for. If you wanted to
approach a liberal, you could not say, “I’m a
fundamentalist.” He would wipe you
right out. When Graham and his boys
decided, “We want to
be accepted by the liberal community. We
want to be able to work with the World Council of Churches and the
Council of Churches, they recognized that they could not carry the
title of “fundamentalist”
because that had definite meaning. So
they went to an evasive of “evangelical” which could mean
anything to anybody.
Point number one of the five basics of
as you would expect, the inerrancy of Scripture. They
said you cannot call yourself a Christian
in the New Testament sense if you do not hold to an inerrant Bible. They said that’s what inspiration means,
that’s what the Bible teaches about itself, that it is without
The second point was the deity of
Christ. The Bible very clearly teaches
that Jesus is
the Son of God. These men said you
cannot call yourself a New Testament Christian if you do not hold to
of Christ. Fundamentalists all believe
that Jesus Christ is God.
Number three was the virgin birth. They said you cannot call yourself a New
Testament Christian if you deny the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. He was supernaturally born.
Now of course that was very important because
you had to have a Savior who did not have a sin nature.
The only way He could escape the genetic
defect of the sin nature, which is passed on through the father’s
sperm, is for
Him to be born, as the Bible indicates, without a human father. That is the significance of the virgin
birth. When the liberals wanted to make
Jesus just another natural man like any other man, they had to get rid
virgin birth concept. That was a
supernatural element, and the higher critical view that these liberals
on did not permit any supernatural idea.
The fourth point was the
substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ.
That is, that salvation was provided not by human
effort, but it was
provided by God sacrificing His own Lamb in our behalf vicariously,
substituting for us—substituting Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God
who took away
the sins of the world on behalf of the human race.
So man again could not save himself.
He had to have Christ who dies spiritually
and physically in his behalf.
The fifth point of the basics that
was the physical resurrection—the physical resurrection and
future bodily return
of Jesus Christ. That was very important
because if He is not raised from the dead, there could be no hope for
us to be
raised from the dead.
So here it was. When
anybody used the word “fundamentalist,” five factors with
immediately to the mind. You knew that a
fundamentalist believed in the inerrancy of Scripture.
You knew he believed that Jesus Christ was
God. You knew he believed that Christ
was supernaturally virgin born. You knew
that he believed Christ came as a substitute for us to pay the price of
on our behalf. You knew that he believed
in the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ and in His future bodily
this earth—that He is a man in heaven, and because He is a man in
too will follow Him as human beings, men in heaven.
Very briefly I’ll name for you
the other nine points that
constituted the identifying of fundamentalism.
These were the basic five that they worked from, but
they actually had
nine others that they also added to identify a New Testament Christian. One was the doctrine of the trinity. Another was the fall of the historical
character Adam—that Adam was a person in time and space, and he
into sin. Another was the need of a new
birth spiritually—a person must be born again spiritually,
implying that he was
born spiritually dead. Another one was
the full deliverance from moral guilt—that what Christ had done
was that He had
delivered us from moral guilt and we have no worries about moral guilt
whatsoever. A fifth one was the assurance
of salvation—that it is not a questionable thing that we may hope
for, but that
we know we have. Number six was the
centrality of Jesus Christ in the Bible—that Christ is the issue
with God, not
our religion. Number seven was the
principle of walking the Christian life by means of the Holy Spirit. Number eight was the resurrection of all
human beings, believers and unbelievers alike—everybody
who has ever lived. And number nine was
the principle of the ripening of this present age for catastrophic
Those nine points were added to this
statement of what constitutes
a fundamentalist. These five were at the
core. If you do not believe in these,
you cannot call yourself a New Testament Christian.
Dr. John E. Danish, 1980
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