ANOTHER ATTACK ON THE BIBLE
Throughout the ages the Bible has been the constant object of attack. The devil knows that if he can destroy the Bible, he can destroy the Church of Christ. And so his relentless and bitter attacks have never ceased.
A Scats minister by the name of Rev. Andrew Morton has recently taken it upon himself to prove that not all the epistles usually said to be written by the apostle Paul were actually written by him. In fact, he claims that only Romans, I and II Corinthians and Galatians were written by Paul, while the rest of the epistles—Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, I and II Thessalonians, I and II Timothy, Titus, Philemon—were actually written by at least three other men. The means he used to come to this conclusion are rather interesting. He reasoned that any author of any work has his own unique style of writing. This will show itself in various subconscious ways, among them the use of certain words. So he took the word “and” and tested his theory with certain ancient Greek authors. He found that this theory was correct. So he decided the same method could be used in determining the authorship of the Pauline epistles. He fed all the sentences of all the books usually attributed to Paul into some giant computer. He used this machine to count the times the word “and” appeared, and to determine the pattern in which the word “and” was used. He used the book of Galatians for his standard since he was sure that this book at least was written by Paul. When the computer finished its computations, it was clearly evident, according to him, that Paul could not have written all these books which the Church has claimed were written by him; that, in fact, only four books are truly his. In his own words,
There are four Epistles which were written by a man whose vocabulary had a proportion of “ands” in it, who used his “ands” in a consistent pattern and who, by definition, must be the Apostle Paul. The other ten Epistles exhibit diverse characteristics and must have come from at least three other hands.
What then about the fact that Paul himself says, in these books, that he is the author? No matter, says this Scot minister; the Bible cannot be taken literally anyway.
Thus he shows that really all his research was intended as an attack on the Scriptures. To quoteTime magazine,
Morton believes his discovery to be a hard blow against all hinds of Fundamentalists, who take the Bible literally. “This is one in the eye for all the Bible thumpers,” he says. But he argues that his study “in no way detracts from the Epistles’ value as church scripture,” since the churches have always accepted them, regardless of authorship, as accurate reflections of Pauline teaching.
It is true, of course, that the secondary authorship of any book of the Bible is not a matter of supreme importance. We do not know for sure, e.g., who wrote the epistle to the Hebrews. Nor do we know who wrote the book of Esther. But this is a relatively unimportant question only because the Holy Spirit Himself is the primary Author of all Holy Scripture. This the Church has always insisted upon. This the Scotsman denies. And, because the Holy Spirit is the primary Author of all Scripture, all Scripture is also the absolutely infallible rule of doctrine and life. All that Scripture says is true. And when Scripture itself says that Paul wrote Timothy, this is true. No modern computer can overthrow the testimony of the Spirit.
It is the miracle of God’s gift of faith to His people that the Bible has stood unscathed as the living confession of all the saints of all ages against all the attacks of so many wicked men.
ANOTHER MERGER PROPOSAL
During the 18th Century, the Church of England, founded under the influence of Calvinism in that country, became somewhat weak and sunk in dead orthodoxy. John Wesley, who set about to reform the Church and call her back from the ways of spiritual lethargy, succeeded only informing a new denomination—the Methodist Church in England which has grown since that time to become the second largest denomination in the island. Several weeks ago the first steps were taken to bring these two Churches back together.
If the plan goes into effect, each denomination will have to make one major concession. The Church of England, better known as the Anglican Church, will have to give up its status as the State Church. This means that it will have to ask Parliament to pass a bill cutting it off from the privileges and protection of the British government. Methodists, on their part, will have to accept the Anglican doctrine of Apostolic succession. The Anglicans teach that the rule of their bishops descended, through the laying on of hands, directly from the twelve Apostles. Methodists are traditionally and bitterly opposed to this.
The plan to achieve union is well prepared in advance. First it must be considered by both the Anglican Convocation which meets in May; then by the Methodist Conference meeting in July. Then the proposal is to be discussed on the parish and district level for two years. Only after this, when discussions are over, will other problems be faced such as whether the Methodists should use wine instead of grape juice in their communion services. But if the churches agree to move ahead, then a period of “intercommunion” will be held. Churches and chapels across the nation will share in “reconciliation services.” If all goes well, the new church will be called the Church In (rather than “Of”) England, with the Methodists becoming a sort of evangelical branch.
It will be a large denomination since the Anglican Church has 9,748,000 confirmed members, while the Methodist Church has 1,081,000 members. No mention has been made up to this time of the fact that the Anglican Church rests upon the comparatively strict Calvinistic Confession—The Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England with the Lambeth Articles; while the Methodist Church is historically Arminian; But then, this follows the general pattern of church merger—unity without consideration of doctrine. It is also interesting to note that the Anglican Church has talked recently about possible relations with the Roman Catholic Church. This certainly is an added factor.
In a Roman Catholic newspaper there recently appeared an interesting article concerning the observance of Lent in the southern part of the United States. Part of the observance of Lent is supposed to be self-denial as a means of penance. One article, appearing elsewhere in the paper, headlined “Through self-denial, we climb to sanctity and help atone for the sins of the world.”
It seems however, that, while the law in the Roman Catholic Church in this country is that-its members must abstain from meat on Friday as a means of doing penance, this is not true in Mexico. Evidently, centuries ago the Pope granted a dispensation (i.e., a right to refrain from obeying certain Church laws without penalty) to Spain and all her territories, which permitted these countries, including Mexico, to eat meat on Friday. Now a problem has come up. El Paso is a border town in southern Texas, and just south of the border lies Juarez, Mexico. The Catholics who live in and around El Paso always-do their shopping on Friday so that they can slip across the border for supper and eat meat without committing a sin. When the author of this particular article questioned certain of her friends about it, they answered that they could see nothing wrong in it; that, in fact, many priests did the same. The author felt that there was something wrong with it all, although she had to admit it was not a sin. She didn’t think Christ would do it.
An article like this, while perhaps of minor importance, certainly shows the utter folly of making rule upon rule and piling precept upon precept. All it does is destroy the true worship of God and make detestable hypocrites’ of people. But that’s what Lent does.
TAX REFORM AND CHARITY CONTRIBUTIONS
Income tax reform and tax cuts are big news items these days.
There is a provision in President Kennedy’s tax proposals which church leaders are discussing with considerable dismay. This proposal of the tax bill deals with charitable contributions. In previous years the tax law permitted deductions of charitable contributions up to 20% of gross income and up to 30% in the case of donations to churches, educational institutions and hospitals. If this were done, the tax payer was obligated to itemize his deductions. If he chose not to itemize them, he could claim a standard deduction of about 10% of his income.
The new tax bill proposes to change all this. If the proposal is adopted by, Congress and made law, (this seems to be highly doubtful according to news commentators), all deductions, whether given to churches, schools, or hospitals would be subject to a 5% “floor.” This would mean, in effect, that itemized deductions would be limited to those in excess of 5% of a taxpayer’s adjusted gross income. A tax payee; would have to add up all his deductions (including charitable deductions, medical expenses, interest payments, etc.) and then reduce them by 5% of his adjusted gross income.
Church leaders have expressed grave concern about this new proposal. They are very much afraid that, if this proposal should become law, contributions to churches and to schools would drop alarmingly. They claim it is difficult enough now to raise money without the added burden of trying to raise money when contributions are not deductible in full from income tax.
This fear on the part of church leaders implies that people gives to churches only because they can escape greater tax payments. If this escape is closed, their contributions would cease. This does not speak very highly of the spiritual life of church members.
Many times one hears this kind of a charitable giving advanced as proof of the theory of “common grace”—that the unregenerate man is capable of performing a surprising amount of good in the world. Now it seems as if Church leaders are not so sure of this “good” even among church members. That spirit of humanitarianism and concern for the well-being of one’s fellow man is perhaps not quite as great as it was thought to be. It evidently was a giving that was simply an escape from paying the government while at the same time making a name for one’s self.
But this is not the kind of giving of which Scripture speaks. When God commanded Israel to bring their offerings for the building of the tabernacle, God said to Moses, “Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering.” Exodus 25:2. Jesus commends a widow for giving her penny while the Pharisees cast in an abundance. But the widow gave “of her penury” and “cast in all the living that she had.” Luke 21:1-4. Paul urges upon the Corinthian Church the need for contributing to the collections for the Jerusalem Church with this encouragement: “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” II Corinthians 9:7. In other words, the giving which is approved by God is, that which comes from a heart that loves the kingdom of God and the cause of that kingdom in this world. He gives then out of love and devotion to God apart from any other consideration—income tax included.