Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
NUMBER 5, PAGE 11-13a

What Destructive Criticism Destroys (II.)

Hall Laurie Calhoun

Before surrendering one's self to the destructive view of things, would it not be wise to look squarely in the face the losses which would come should one do so? What would the acceptance of destructive criticism destroy?

1. It would destroy absolutely the foundation of all Christian faith, if "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Rom. 10:17). When one gives up divine authority and the infallible truth of the Bible as the word of God, what, becomes of his faith? If there is no word of God, or if I cannot be sure what the word of God is, how can any faith come? If faith is the belief with gall the heart of the word of God, when one gives up the Bible as the word of God he gives up the means of securing Christian faith. The acceptance of the truth of the very same statements because they are approved by inner consciousness would not be faith, for faith comes by accepting the word of God, and not by the dicta of inner consciousness. Faith is confidence in God; the acceptance of the dicta of inner consciousness is confidence in man. Faith is as much superior, as a principle of life, to the dicta of inner consciousness as God's wisdom and knowledge are superior to those of man.

2. It would destroy the compelling power of conscience. If one can be guided by nothing better than his own view of what is right and wrong, then his conduct will vary just as the shade of his opinion changes, and all the appeals of human appetite and passion become to him the voice of God in his inner consciousness. If not, why not? There is no possible escape from this conclusion. Such persons become opportunists in the fullest sense of the word. The impulse of conscience is diminished by just so much as one's confidence in the infallible wisdom and power of God is less than his confidence in the correctness of his opinion.

The facts of history amply sustain this position. France, abolishing God and the Bible for reason or inner consciousness, was plunged into the shameless deeds of the French Revolution. Germany, the country in modern times most completely dominated by destructive criticism, claiming that it must get rid of the Hebrew God and the Hebrew Bible, and that it could make a better God and a better Bible than the Hebrews had made, surpassed the records of all antiquity in the shameless and vicious deeds performed during the last war, going beyond, in cruelty and vileness, the lowest tribes of heathenism known today. There does not appear to have been any restraint whatsoever from conscience; lust and violence dominated everything — treaties and solemn agreements were classed as mere scraps of paper. History furnishes no example of a nation or an individual lifting itself up morally by its own impulses. As well might one expect to lift himself physically by his own bootstraps.

The history of our own brotherhood affords some striking examples of this weakness of conscience. Institutions of learning built and endowed by men and women who believed the Bible to be the divinely inspired word of God have been shamelessly perverted to the service of the very views which the donors wished to see opposed. Missionary agencies accepting money known to come from churches and individuals utterly opposed to the tenets of destructive criticism have used such money in ways directly antagonistic to the known wishes of those who gave it. Nor do we stand alone in such conduct. Other religious bodies containing men Hof destructive views have done the same thing with apparent pride, rather than shame, yet in the political or business world such conduct would merit and receive the just contempt of all right-minded people. Truly it would seem time to pause when the standard of morals set up by destructive critics sinks below even that of the political or business world.

3. A third thing which destructive criticism destroys is all confidence in the "restoration of apostolic Christianity." Why should any one desire or expect to restore something that has no divine authority back of it? That is simply the conception of things gas those old Jews saw them nearly two thousand years ago! If everything else in the world has progressed beyond the achievements of that age, why should not Christianity do the same. If all the doctrines and practices of that day and age simply sprang from the inner consciousness of the Christians of that day and age, why may we not have as much liberty of thought and action as they had. This makes it plain why some of the "forward-looking" men among us think that we should become a disappearing brotherhood, and that we can afford to waive any mere forms and ceremonies in order to achieve Christian union. In fact, there are numbers of people among the "forward-lookers" who think the only union desirable or practicable is that we be united in the willingness for each one to do as he pleases, and no one find fault with any one else for so doing; or, to express it more nearly in the language of the "forward-lookers," "each age should interpret 'Christianity for itself, and so the Restoration movement must needs be 'restated in the terms of this age, in order to make it applicable to present-day problems." At least, this is what another teacher in one of our colleges thinks.

Compare the above with the view of those who launched the Restoration movement. They believed the Bible to be the only and all-sufficient and perpetual rule of faith and practice, divinely authoritative in all its requirements and infallibly true in all its statements, universal and perpetual in its applicability. It becomes at once apparent how utterly impossible it is for two groups of people holding such absolutely contradictory views to work together in harmony. As well expect daylight and darkness to agree. Of course it is true that a "forward-looking" man can consistently make any compromise necessary to keep in touch with the other group, so long as they put up the money and allow him to use it to exploit his own views and teachings; and that is the absurd position among us as a people today. If it were not so tragic, it would be supremely ridiculous to see otherwise intelligent people making such laughing-stocks of themselves, while the "forward-lookers" simply wink at each other and keep on preaching "patience" and "trust in our leaders." One can not help feeling that, if the great Author of the Christian religion were on earth today in the flesh, He would make a scourge and drive this whole horde of money-changers and place-seekers out of the courts of His earthly temple, the church, as He did once before; nor would He stop His good work till every missionary organization, college and pulpit among us was manned by those loyal to Him in doctrine and practice. Some timid and short-sighted persons are crying "Peace! Peace!" But there can be no peace while the very foundations of the Christian religion are being undermined by this most specious and subtle form of infidelity or agnosticism. Shall we lie supinely on our backs till the chains of such error are securely bound upon us?

They tell us we are weak and unable to cope with such powerful organizations as the destructive critics have built up. I am persuaded that there are among us more than a million souls who are loyal to Jesus and His word, and that if that one million souls will rouse themselves and fight with the spirit of those who launched this great movement, the enemy can be driven quickly into the sea of infidelity, where they belong.

4. A fourth thing that destructive critics destroy is all the benefits to be derived from prayer, except what they are pleased to call the subjective or reflex influences. That simply means that you go to a great king with a petition for help and blessing, and the king is amply able to help, and he has promised to help, and he has invited you to come even boldly to his throne for help; and then when you do come, relying upon his promises, and ask for help, all you get is the benefit of the exercise you took in coming and presenting your petition. But you ask, How can men hold such views of prayer in the face of the Bible teaching on this subject from Genesis to Revelation? Oh, all those instances given in the Bible of prayers answered are simply misconceptions of otherwise good, but superstitious, people — they never really happened, you know; the people simply thought they did, but they were mistaken. Abraham's prayer for Sodom is simply a fiction — never happened at all. Moses' "prayers for Israel were the inventions of a later legalistic writer. Even David's penitential prayers are the inventions of a later writer blinded by superstition, who put into David's mouth what he thought would have been appropriate for David to say under such circumstances. Yes, the very prayers of Jesus are the compositions of His deluded disciples, who greatly over-magnified the divine character of the peasant of Nazareth, who Himself really only reflected the Jewish notions of the day and age in which He lived. And it is extremely doubtful that we have even two or three short sentences that He ever spoke.

5. A fifth thing that destructive criticism destroys is the divine foundation of the home, the state and the church. If inner consciousness is man's only guide in the world, then all three of these institutions are the result of the workings of inner consciousness, and they can claim only such authority for their existence. What one generation of men has made, the next may change. Why should the laws of marriage and the fidelity of husband and wife to each other be maintained? It is a well-known fact today that there are many persons in the world advocating the overthrow of the Christian home and all its sacred restraints. They are demanding that men and women be allowed to mate and unmate at will. The conduct of Germany during and since the great war is enough to show what a nation dominated by destructive leaders may do. It is a fact which no informed man will deny, in that land of "supermen," women were bred like brood-mares, irrespective of whether married or not, to produce boys for the "Fatherland." And thousands of virtuous women captives were forced to submit, without any hint of marriage, to the dictates of German lust. Am I saying that destructive teachers and preachers among us are advocating such conduct? By no means. But what have they to oppose to such teachings and conduct? Absolutely nothing but their own inner consciousness, which is the very thing in the advocates of such procedure appeal to in attempted justification of their course. How different and weak such defense is when compared to, that of him who believes that God ordained the union of one man and one woman in the holy bonds of matrimony, and that any other kind of union is contrary to His will as expressed in His word — the word of a holy and all-wise God as opposed to the opinions of weak and fallible men.

What is it that today is causing Christian statesmen more concern than any other one thing? Is it not the fact that the very principles of human governments are being brushed aside for the whims of inner consciousness by those who call themselves Bolshevists? But who are Bolshevists and what is Bolshevism? Bolshevism is but the application to human government of those principles that destructive critics plead for in religion. Am I saying that those teachers and preachers among us who are destructive critics are advocating Bolshevism? No, but I am saying that they stand powerless to oppose its advance when they have nothing but their own inner consciousness to present to those who are advocating it. Naturally the Bolshevist prefers the dictates of his own inner consciousness to those of his opponents. What becomes of patriotism in the face of teaching such as these? Why should I love and defend the dictates of the inner consciousness of men who lived in ages past, when my own inner consciousness has equal liberty and intelligence with theirs? But if "the powers that be are ordained of God," and if "Jesus was God manifest in the flesh," and if He said "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesars," then truly there is a divine sanction of human governments, and patriotism becomes not only possible as a principle, but a duty to both God and man.

What shall I say of the church of Christ? It does seem that mere respect for that institution, which was sanctified by the blood of its Founder, glorified by the death of every apostle save one, honored by the heroism of all the martyrs of the ages, and cherished by the love of the purest and best men and women of all the earth, should have caused it to be let alone. But, no, her Founder has been branded a bastard, her apostles have been dubbed mere enthusiasts, her martyrs are pitied as ignorant victims of superstition, and her devotees have been labeled as hidebound liberalists. Her sacred doctrines have been dragged down to the level of mere human opinions, her teachings about God and heaven and eternal life and hope are relegated to the realm of superstitious ignorance, and h e r commands and ordinances are degraded to the ranks of narrow, legalistic Jewish requirements.

Stripped of all her glorious garments of light, and bleeding from a hundred wounds received in the house of her pretended friends, she stands before you today labeled as the product of the discredited inner consciousness of a past age, while her traducers, assuming the seats of authority which she herself created, hale her before the tribunals of their own inner consciousness and condemn her as inadequate to meet the needs of this "forward-looking" age. Lives there a man among us with soul so dead that he will sit idly by while this tragedy, more cruel than that of Calvary, is being enacted. Rouse, ye Christians! Rouse, ye men of faith! Strike for your homes, your country and your Christ. Panoplied with the armor of truth, go forth and fight, and yours shall be victory.