II. The Trustworthiness of Ancient Bible History

Christ and the New Testament guarantee the historicity and literality of the early chapters of the Bible. The Lord and His apostles everywhere treat them as narratives of actual events, and even draw afrom them instructive deductions. Matt.19:4-9; Rom.5:12-21; I Cor.15:21,22; I Tim.2:13,14; Jas.3:9; I John 3:12; Rev. 20:2. 'If therefore the New Testament is truth, then so is Gen.1-3 history.'

It is impossible to maintain an unbroken faith in Christ and at the same time to put away this evident fact, perhaps with the help of certain speculations concerning the self-humiliation(kenosis) of Christ, or by denying the freedom from error of the incarnate Son of God, or even by believing that, against His better knowledge(!), for educative purposes, Christ accommodated Himself to the errors of His contemporaries. That the Lord accommodated Himself to the language of His time is evident. But that He accommodated Himself to the errors of His time is utterly irreconcilable with His perfect truthfulness.

The attempt to explain the narratives of ancient history as 'allegorical language' on the ground that the early history and the final history belong together and the final history, especially the Revelation, is obviously foretold in allegorical language, cannot be maintained.

The same applies to the assertion, frequently made today, that the Old Testament can still be 'God's Word' even if the events therein stated(e.g. the early histories) did not literally happen; that it matters less what were the happenings of the past than what is the message for the present; that we are not spectators, but those addressed.

For whatever truth there may be in the last statement, the first is unintelligible and illogical; for the Old Testament does not give these narratives in visions or apocalyptic symbols, as does the Revelation of John, nor in the form of manifest myths, pictures, and parables, but as actual history(e.g.Gen.1-3), or, as regards the prophecies of Daniel, as actual predictions. Therefore these narratives, in the meaning of their writers, must be esteemed as actual history, without modifying the conception of 'history'. For God's Spirit can never promote divine truth by error and pious falsification. Therefore only as historical events that came to pass does the 'sacred history' still come to pass in us today.

The right of textual research as well as of literary and historical inquiry, as also for comparative studies of cultural and religious facts, is not thereby denied. Even so in exegesis, the underlying spiritual principles and typical meanings, which are contained in those past events, must at the same time be most forcibly emphasized.

It would exceed the space of our book to discuss in further detail the tension between the Biblical view of the world and that of modern natural philosophy which arises from the above matters of fact. Our task is not apologetic, nor defence of the faith, but only a history of salvation, and this only in outline. The Bible pictures quite simply the historical connexions in God's plan, and forgoes all detailed, philosophical, apologetic discussions. Elsewhere these are doubtless of great significance and to be heartily endorsed. Nevertheless, in the compass of an historical survey, before all else the reference to the authority of the Lord Jesus must suffice.

Appendices Part 1/Table of Contents