"Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." 1 Thess. v.21.
"Buy the truth and sell it not." Prov. xxiii.23.
"Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you and exhort you that you should earnestly contend for the faith that was once delivered unto the saints." Jude 3.
"Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word or our epistle." 2 Thess. ii.15.
"I am set for the defense of the gospel." Paul, Phil. i.17.
It is a question among earnest Christian men, who are busily engaged in the work of the Master, as to whether we should turn aside long enough to make reply to the destructive critics. It is affirmed that, as the Word of God has already passed through all the attacks that have been made upon it, it will defend itself in the future as in the past -- that our duty is to preach the gospel. Certainly the victories of the gospel are a noble defense of its truth and power to save. There should be no respite from this work. But there are vast multitudes of people that permit the critics to do their thinking for them. They are not well informed concerning the Scriptures, and consequently are not prepared to repel the attacks of skepticism, nor to reply to the specious arguments or positive assumptions of the critics. These multitudes are in danger of casting aside the Word of God, and missing the offer of eternal life.
The fact of the increased activity of the enemies of the truth must be known to Christian people. Their organized and persistent use of the press has gained for them a wide hearing. Shall the Christian people deny themselves this instrumentality of getting a hearing for God and his truth before the world? Would not silence be construed by the world as meaning that the cause dear to the heart of God's people is indefensible?
It should be known to all lovers of the truth that the skepticism widely sown by the destructive critics has entered the Protestant Church and many of our institutions of learning.
"Read the utterances of representative men and teachers in her communion, who deny the Incarnation, repudiate vicarious sacrifice, make light of the story of the resurrection, and refine the risen Son of God into nothing more than the spirit and essence of truth; or, at most, the disembodied ghost of a man who called himself a Messiah, mistaken in his claims, but authoritative in his morals." (Rev. I.M. Holdeman.)
The author of this statement refers also to the fact that there are "modern professors of theology who convict the very prophets whom they hold up as exemplars of righteousness, of absolute literary fraud, and deliberate piracy." They "demonstrate with cool precision that the higher critics of to-day are better informed concerning the mistakes of Moses than was he who claimed that Moses wrote of him, and prove to their own satisfaction and the belief of many followers that Jesus Christ, our Lord, was limited in intelligence, and would, if he were here to-day, deny some of the statements he once so unqualifiedly made."
We may not shut our eyes to the fact that many of our colleges are more or less infected with this rationalistic criticism. Some of our theological professors have substituted the theory of evolution for the Scriptural doctrine of creation by the Word of God. Our young men preparing for the work of the ministry are under the influence and instruction of some of these teachers here in our own country.
It is a matter for thanksgiving that we have literary and theological institutions into which the destructive critics have never entered -- institutions that stand for the Word of God as given by the Holy Spirit, and believed in by God's servants in the past and to-day.
We do well to recognize the further fact concerning the effort to eliminate the supernatural from the Bible, that the work of the rationalists has permeated the literature of the day. In this age of reading fiction, that form of literature has become a convenient vehicle for taking everything out of the hands of Providence. It has become easy to leave God out of his universe and supplant him with the heroic in man. Hence, the literary appetite, ever craving the human instead of the divine, turns away from the truth that confronts the conscience of the reader with God and his claims.
For the defense of truth we have the example of prophets, apostles, and Christ himself. Much of the work of the prophets of the Old Testament was devoted to the exposure of the "New Thought" of their times. Moses dealt thoroughly with the new theology that asserted: "These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt." The heresy was ended as suddenly as it was introduced.
The Epistle to the Galatians was Paul's reply to the Judiazing teachers who would substitute ceremonials for the doctrine of justification by faith. His Epistle to the Ephesians was a constructive work, in answer to Jewish prejudice and teaching, in which he set forth the unity of Jews and Gentiles in one Church, which is the body of Christ. In his Epistle to the Corinthians he answered their false views of marriage. He shamed their partisan spirit, in which some claimed to be of Paul, some of Apollos, some of Christ. He labored most earnestly to convince them of their false views concerning the resurrection, and dealt faithfully with the errorists concerning the inquiry that was coming to the Church through their magnifying and perverting the use of the gift of tongues. He showed them a more excellent way.
There should be no turning aside from preaching a full and free gospel, nor should there be any halting in its defense, or against the effort to eliminate the supernatural from the Word of God. The critical work that logically leaves us a Savior ignorant of the Scriptures, or, if knowing them, afraid to meet Jewish prejudice by correcting their mistakes, should be kindly, candidly, and manfully met by those to whom the truth has given life.