Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 19, 1955

Modernism In Gospel Advocate Literature

Robert C. Welch, Louisville, Texas

This series has been chiefly a review of the Adult Gospel Quarterly, spring, 1951, published by the Gospel Advocate. Since the author is not named, the editor must accept the responsibility for what is said in his literature. Beyond the shadow of a doubt, the quarterly contains modernism of a most serious nature. It may be necessary for the reader to refer to the former articles of this series for background.

The Use Of Modernist Authors

Attention has been called to the fact that the quarterly has frequently quoted from modernist authors, both with and without their works being cited. The quarterly has shown a preference for the book, Preaching From the Prophets, by Kyle M. Yates, who at one time was a professor in the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, which has gone modernist. Many of those from whom the quarterly quotes were destructive critics with whom McGarvey tangled over a half century ago. What are the ideas of this man whom the quarterly copies oftentimes as if it were the quarterly author's own ideas? Here are some statements in the book by Yates concerning the inspiration of the books of prophecy. "In the main we may say that these men remained normal human beings even though consciousness of divine control exerted a strong influence upon their personalities. They were sensitive souls keenly alive to the hand of God upon them." (p. 5.) This statement seems rather tame, and not too much can be criticized in it, unless one already knows the extent to which he really goes. In this statement he is suggesting that the prophetic statements are coming from the prophets' normal reasoning. Also, he denies any direct work of the Holy Spirit in producing the prophecies. His contention is that the only degree of inspiration is that of influence. The excellencies of their words are dependent upon the sensitiveness of their souls, according to Yates. Hence, when the Advocate quarterly copies from this man one may expect to find this theory of vague inspiration presented. Now notice a stronger statement of this theory:

In no sense was he passively open so that, without effort, the words could flow through him, without being colored by his own mind, background and personality. It was truly the message of God to the people, but it was stated in the language of the men whom God honored with the responsibility of translating His teaching to human minds." (p. 6.)

There you have it. The prophets were capable of giving God's word the coloring that suited their own personalities and understanding. God could not say to men what He wanted them to know in words of His own choosing, but had to leave that up to the prophets. God only gave them the thought, and they had to translate that thought to men in the language of each prophet. This is Yates.

That kind of a theory is modernism; the author of the book would admit it, and anybody else can see it. That theory pervades the statements which the Advocate quarterly has copied. Did the Advocate recognize the book's modernism, and copy from it anyhow? Perhaps the scholarly author of the quarterly was so engrossed in his studies that he did not know he was copying from a book of modernism. It is readily agreed that there are differences in the phraseology of the writers of the Bible. Does that mean they had to translate God's thoughts into words of their own choosing? Certainly not. God could give them the words that would suit their linguistic abilities, as easily as He could give them the thought. Did they have to actively think out their statements, or were they passive in the reception of revelation? Here is the manner and degree of inspiration of the apostles of Christ: "Be not anxious how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father that speaketh in you." (Matt. 10:19-20.) The "Insight" of Malachi The quarterly gives a statement of Ward's which teaches that Malachi depended upon his own originality and insight in the production of the book bearing his name. The Advocate has again taken the exact statement which is quoted by Yates. Not only does this quotation assert this lack of inspiration on the part of Malachi, but it also teaches the same thing of all the prophets.

"Ward says: 'If he lacked the originality and insight of some of the former prophets, he certainly possessed power to enter the lists with evil, and to wrestle against entrenched abuses. Undismayed by his adversaries, with indomitable bravery Malachi girded himself for what the hour might bring forth, he feared no man because he feared God so much. With rapier thrust, he struck home. Skillfully he stripped off the skeleton of wickedness'."

How beautifully phrased is the above statement; but it is draped in the garb of modernism. Malachi's prophecy did not originate with him; it was not dependent upon his originality or lack of it compared to the originality of other prophets. Such a theory degrades the writings of the Bible to those literary works of uninspired authors. Notice another description of Malachi given in the quarterly:

"His method has been described as follows: 'Socrates, who about this time was making war on the Sophists of Athens, displays no greater dialectic than Malachi'."

There is no complaint about comparing an inspired writer to an uninspired one, if its purpose is to show the difference between inspiration and literary genius. But this comparison has the appearance of merely being a comparative study of authors, with their respective writing talents. When the literary value of a book of the Bible is judged by other literary works it is time to question the motive of the one making such a comparison. Does he consider the Bible merely as a book of literature? or, is it the revelation of God to man and not to be judged worthy of belief purely on its literary qualities?

Further Copying From Yates

Many of the following statements do not contain any intimation of modernism, but they are given to show how profusely he has copied from Preaching From the Prophets, by Yates. When such plagiarism is engaged in by a writer, it is not surprising to find just any kind of theory presented.

"Carelessness and indifference in worship are the first steps in spiritual decline." "7. Carelessness and indifference in worship may be the first step in spiritual decline."
"Carelessness in worship and looseness in living tend to blunt one's spiritual perceptions." "9. Carelessness in worship and looseness in living blunt man's moral appreciations."
"Insincerity in worship is an insult to God." "3. Insincerity in worship is an insult to God."
"Spiritual temperature can be judged by our response to God's requirements on giving." "10. Spiritual temperature can be judged by our response to God's requirements on giving."
"When preachers fail to study and teach the truth, the morals of the people suffer." "12. When God's minister fails to study and teach truth and morals the people suffer."
"Every man may determine for himself whether the Great Day of God will be a day of terror or a day of triumph." "14. Each man may determine for himself whether the Day of Yahweh is to be a day of terror or a day of joy." (pp. 218, 219.)

All this has been taken from Yates with only the change of a word now and then, with not one bit of credit given for the source. If you really want to study the prophets from the angle of a modernist, may I humbly suggest that Yates' book is far better written than the garbled copy as contained in the Gospel Advocate literature. All these statements are taken from the chapter on Malachi. The same thing is done for the entire quarterly on the minor prophets.

Yates, together with a host of other modernists, uses the spelling "Yahweh" for Jehovah. When the quarterly was copying statement number 14 from Yates, why did the author not go ahead and say "Yahweh" instead of saying "God"? Could it have been that the author decided his readers were not yet ready in their "evolution" to accept the modern spelling and pronunciation? This writer has the idea that the time is a long way off for getting Christians with their fundamental faith in the inspiration of the Bible to accept any of these theories of modernism to be found in this quarterly.