How the Holy Bible Is Regarded
THERE are many religions in Christendom, the realm where the Bible has been most widely circulated. And today some people say, “It doesn’t matter much which church you go to. They’re all teaching the Good Book, the Bible.” But are they?
Agreed that all of Christendom’s churches use the Bible. But how do they regard it? Do church leaders really accept it as the inspired Word of God, reliable and true, free from error? Do they teach their church members that the Bible contains divine standards by which people must abide if they want life? Let us see.
MODERN RELIGIOUS ATTITUDE
Consider first the attitude toward the Bible in religious seminaries where future ministers are taught and trained. Religious editor Louis Cassels quotes Presbyterian theologian John R. Bodo as saying that a young man “should have a shockproof faith” if he decides to attend a seminary. Why? Because of the erosion of faith that often results. As Cassels goes on to say: “The more famous the seminary, the more corrosive the atmosphere of skepticism pervading its faculty and student body is apt to be.”
An evidence of the degree of skepticism is seen in the statement by the dean of a very prominent Episcopalian seminary that ‘very few of his students engaged in private prayer.’ The reason: ‘most of them didn’t believe in the kind of personal God to whom one might pray’!
Perhaps you find this strange, rather difficult to believe. Well, remembering that Jesus said that a ‘tree is known by its fruits’ (Matt. 7:16-20), consider some of the fruitage of these seminaries: the ministers they have produced.
Under the heading “What Is Faith?” an article in the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner (January 24, 1968) discusses a survey made of 3,000 Protestant ministers throughout the United States. What did it show? The article says: “A majority of the younger clergymen could not be said to believe any longer in the virgin birth, or to regard Jesus as divine in the traditional way in which most older Protestants were brought up. And the Bible had lost stature: ‘The Bible is not only not to be taken literally—less than five per cent of the whole sample did so—but also there is little specific guidance in it for specific problems,’ the surveyors concluded.”
Illustrating the lack of faith in the Bible’s divine inspiration, a leading American Protestant weekly, The Christian Century (August 19, 1970), carried an article by United Presbyterian clergyman Dr. R. E. Willis. He accused the Bible of containing anti-Semitic passages and says these portions will have to be “branded as enemies of the truth of God.” “To achieve this aim,” this minister continues, “the church will need to develop a description of the truth of God that is not slavishly dependent on accepting the New Testament in toto as the Word of God.”
But is this attitude only characteristic of Protestant faiths? Evidently not. The Morning Record of Meriden, Connecticut (March 26, 1970), reports on a talk given by priest Edward J. McLean of the Hartford Catholic Information Center. Among other things, the priest is quoted as saying, “The story of Adam and Eve is not an historical account of human origins . . . It’s a theological account, an allegory or literary form.” The ‘stories of Paradise, Noah and the tower of Babel were meant to be interpreted the same way,’ according to this Catholic clergyman.
Another source, the Daily Oklahoman of April 30, 1971, reports on the views of Dr. Gregory Baum, a leading Catholic theologian. He is quoted as saying that ‘more and more religious people are turning from the “invisible friend” kind of God that many find they can no longer talk to, and are beginning to find the new God in their everyday experiences.’ This “new God,” according to the Catholic theologian, will be found ‘through self-knowledge, through talking with other people and deciding through political and social growth what is right and what is wrong.’ No longer, he says, will there be ‘specific doctrines’ imposed on church members. Where does this leave the Bible with its revelation of God and its specific doctrines?
THE “FUNDAMENTALIST” VIEW
True, not all of Christendom’s churches and religious leaders regard the Bible in these ways. Some, such as the so-called “Fundamentalist” churches, still claim to accept the entire Bible as inspired. But what of the doctrines in their church creeds? For example, the Bible states: “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” (Ezek. 18:4, Authorized Version) Do these churches teach that? Or do they teach that the human soul is immortal?
The Bible says that “the wages of sin is death,” and that the “dead know not any thing.” (Rom. 6:23; Eccl. 9:5, AV) Is this the doctrine of these churches? Or do they teach that the wages of sin is eternal fiery torment in conscious suffering?
Jesus is quoted in the Bible as saying: “My Father is greater than I.” (John 14:28, AV) Is that what these churches teach? Or do they present Jesus as part of a trinity, as “coequal and coeternal” with his Father? What does your own church teach? Have you ever investigated?
THE VIEW OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES
What is the viewpoint of the Christian congregation of Jehovah’s witnesses toward the Bible? Does it compare with that of the modernist clergy who doubt the complete inspiration of the Bible? Or is it like that of the “Fundamentalist” churches? Neither.
Jehovah’s witnesses accept the entire Bible as inspired of God. Rather than skepticism, they have full confidence and conviction as to its truthfulness. One reason why is that they have found that its counsel works, that by applying Bible principles and teachings in their daily lives they have the way to solve their problems and lead happy, fruitful lives. Yes, they have proved that, as the psalmist said to God, “your word is a lamp to my foot, and a light to my roadway.”—Ps. 119:105.
These Christian witnesses find that the Bible’s revelation of God and of his grand purposes for mankind is one of the most convincing proofs of its authenticity and divine inspiration. Though once discouraged by the frustration of trying to find God and to make real meaning out of life simply through “self-knowledge” and political and social activity, they now see how the Bible’s prophecies marvelously illuminate the happenings of our day and point to a righteous new order of God’s making.
While recognizing that the Bible contains parables and expressions that are symbolic and figurative, Jehovah’s witnesses do not try to ‘water down’ other parts obviously meant to be taken literally. They accept the Bible’s history as authentic, not mere allegory. They agree with Jesus and his apostles as to the factualness of the Bible’s account of the creation of man in Eden, the coming of the Flood and other historic events. (Matt. 19:4-6; 24:37-39; 1 Cor. 15:45-48; 2 Pet. 2:5) They have only one creed: the Bible itself, and they do not try to alter its teachings to conform to creedal teachings of a trinity of deities, inherent immortality of the soul, or eternal torment.
Stop and think. If a person doubts your word, doubts its truthfulness, is this not an insult to your integrity? If a person misrepresents your word or advocates things contrary to it while pretending to accept it, is this not treachery, a hypocrisy that you find disgusting? Then, if, with regard to God’s Word, Christendom’s churches are guilty of either of these courses, do you believe that God is pleased with those churches? Will he be pleased with you if you associate with and support such churches? Or should you now be looking for and associating with those who firmly and honestly support, teach and live by God’s Word, the Bible?
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JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES—Their Teachings and Practices
They really believe the Bible and endeavor to live by it, using it as their guide in all matters of life.—2 Tim. 3:16, 17.
There is no clergy-laity distinction among them.—Mark 10:42-45.
Their religion is not a set of rituals but a way of life.—Rom. 12:1, 2.
“Perhaps the most notable thing about the Witnesses is their insistence upon their primary allegiance to God, before any other power in the world.”—“These Also Believe,” C. S. Braden (Acts 5:29).
They honor and respect and use God’s own name, Jehovah.—Ps. 83:18.
They believe that Jesus Christ is truly God’s Son and that all hope for future life is dependent on faith in him.—Acts 4:12.
Instead of warring against their fellowman, they have in every country ‘beaten their swords into plowshares . . . neither will they learn war anymore.’—Isa. 2:4.
Each Witness has a part in sharing the good news from God’s Word with others. They are active today in 206 lands.—Matt. 28:19, 20.