Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Is the Bible Infallible? by R. Etzenhouser 1899


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At the Methodist Book Concern, No. 150 Fifth Ave., New York City, in I897, 300 Methodist clergymen met to discuss the question, "Is the Bible Infallible?" After the discussion, the vote being called, only Dr. Shaffer voted affirmatively. Dr. Buckley, editor of the Christian Herald, was prominent on the negative.

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Dr. Chas. H. Eaton said of the proceedings: "The denial of the infallibility of the Bible is nothing new. There are very few clergymen who believe in the absolute inerrancy of the Bible. Dr. Buckley has only stated a truism, and taken the position of an intelligent scholar and critic. Any other position is absolutely indefensible. Today the heretic is not the man who takes Dr. Buckley's position, but the man who opposes it."

Dr. Lyman Abbott said: "The action of the Methodist ministers in disavowing belief in the infallibility of the Bible as it stands in the English version, does not surprise me."

Bishop John H. Vincent, D.D., LL.D., in a lecture during the Methodist conference held at Marion, Iowa, and which adjourned October 10, I898, said: "The sun is not without spots, and these have
their advantages; so with the Bible, it will be revised again and again, but will be more precious in a thousand years than now. We have the book, and we must recognize the possibilities of human errors."

Dupin, in his "Complete History of the Canon and Writers of the Books of the Old and New Testament," Vol. 2, page 108, says of Jerome's work: "When we translated the Hebrew words into Latin we are sometimes guided by conjecture."

"In short we must confess that there are many differences betwixt the Hebrew text and the version of the Septuagint which arise from the corruption and confusion that are in the Greek version we now have. It is certain that it hath been revised divers times, and that several authors have taken liberty to add thereunto, to retrench and correct divers things."

A statement from "The Corruptions of the New Testament," by H. L. Hastings, reproduced in the Herald and Presbyter of October 16, 1865, is:

"The word of God as it came from him is pure and uncorrupted. But in the long process of years there have come in, by the mistakes of copyists and translators, lapses from this word."

A. Campbell in debate with Owen, page 141, says:

"There are a thousand historic facts narrated in the Bible which it would be absurd to regard as immediate and direct revelation from the Almighty."

The editor of the Christian Evangelist, in Vol. 29, page 802, says: "That there are historical and chronological errors in our present Bible no intelligent and candid person will deny. That some of these errors are the result of copying, is probably true; but that they all so resulted, and that the original autographs were absolutely free from error in all minor details is what no man on earth knows or can prove, as the manuscripts are not in existence."

A. Campbell, in preface to his translation, says: "But some are so wedded to the common version that the very defects in it have become sacred; and an effort, however well intended, to put them in possession of one incomparably superior in propriety, perspicuity and elegance, is viewed very much in the light of making 'a new Bible,' or of 'altering and amending the very word of God.'"

A late work, "The Twentieth Century New Testament," by twenty scholars, the result of toil, is in existence, the purpose in its production being to put into modern or current English the New Testament. Not to translate or revise, but say the same thing in present terms. It is rated by various journals all the way from "just the thing" to a "desecration." One statement of comment characterizing it "almost an insult," and referring to the Revised Version as an utter failure. See Literary Digest, March 25, 1899, page 346.

Agitation proposing editing the Bible is now the order, in order to eliminate such features as Red Sea being divided; the burning bush; water from the rock; Joshua's sun and moon story; that of the fiery furnace; also of the lion's den and all similar narratives.

The Ram's Horn recently presented this in cartoon: A man "removing the supernatural from the Bible." All about his feet lay everything from Genesis to Revelation, the binding remained in his hand. What shall we have next to improve the Bible?
July 5, 1899.

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