Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 30, 1955

Goodpasture's Defense Of Modernism

Robert C. Welch, Louisville, Kentucky

A series of articles was run in the Gospel Guardian, in which a number of serious cases of modernism were cited in the literature published by the Gospel Advocate. The author of the literature was not revealed to the public by its publisher. The articles pointed out that since the author was unnamed the editor would have to take the responsibility for the erroneous teaching in the literature. The articles were written in the hope that Brother Goodpasture would make suitable apologies for the insertion of such destructive material in his literature and seek to keep all future writings clear of such modernism. This has not been his course. He has chosen to justify the inclusion of the modernistic statements and to protect their soundness. His defense is in an editorial of May 26, 1955, under the title, "Here and There."

In the same editorial he took a proud view of the bigness of the Advocate's circulation and influence. And he almost called somebody a "barking dog" who would be critical of his big schemes. Of course, he neither mentioned any names in the first section about his bigness, nor in the second in his defense of the modernism in his literature. He is making a drive for one hundred thousand subscriptions and he must be as popular as possible, he could not afford to give anyone the impression that he is talking about someone. Some of the passages from Paul which are cited in his editorial contain the names of the people about whom Paul was writing, but, of course, in these MODERN days that is not the best course to pursue. We must use psychology in these days. Only a "fundamentalist, legalist" would mention the name of the person about whom he is writing. But enough of irony.

Exposing His Sophistry

He evaded the point completely in his defense. No one has argued that the inspired men were incapable of exercising their own volition, reasoning, and emotions about things. He would have the readers think that we teach such a doctrine. Those purposes, reasonings and emotions may be described in the scriptures. But, inspiration caused the statement about such emotions to be made; the purposes or the emotions themselves were not the cause of its being written. His literature has the doctrine of modernism that the emotions and the circumstances themselves caused the writer to say what he did. Now, his editorial defends the literature's position on the grounds that they did have such emotions and circumstances in life. Of course they did, but Paul spoke in words "which the Spirit teacheth." (I Cor. 2:13.)

His editorial says that Luke made "investigation and research in the preparation" of his Gospel. Then he quotes a statement from Luke in proof thereof. Then he concludes about Luke, "Was he a modernist because he made investigation?" It is readily granted that Luke had made investigation, because he said he had. But this is the question: "was Luke "moved" to say what he did by the Holy Spirit? Did Luke write in words of his own choosing what he had found by investigation? or, were the words written by Luke dictated to him by the Holy Spirit? The Advocate literature says the writers of the scriptures were caused to write what they did by their feelings and experiences. This denies verbal inspiration and even thought inspiration. Brother Goodpasture has dodged the issue on this point.

The Advocate editorial next takes some statements of the same nature about Paul. He said Paul did not know how many he baptized at Corinth, that he investigated the conditions of the Thessalonians, that he knew of the divisions at Corinth through Chloe, that he was comforted by a certain report. All of that is true, but that is not the question, the experience of such human elements by an inspired man has nowhere been denied. We know that Paul was a human being with human emotions, perceptions and actions, but, we also know that Paul was inspired to write what he did. Did Paul make the statement about not knowing how many he baptized merely because he did not remember, or because the Holy Spirit gave him the words? It is not the concern of those opposed to modernism whether or not Paul was comforted at the report of Titus. But they are concerned about statements to the effect that Paul wrote such words only as a result of his being comforted. The Advocate editor has again sought to justify his literature's modernism by evading the issue. If Brother Brewer were analyzing his argument he would possibly tell him that he has engaged in a sophism known in logic as Ignoratio Elenchi, for, by design he has misapprehended the question.

Again, the editorial says: "Paul quoted, and endorsed the words of a heathen writer, but that did not make him a pagan." That is true, but, did Paul quote the heathen writer merely because he had learned the quotation in his studies and thought by his own reasoning powers that it would be appropriate? That is modernism. That is the means used to deny the inspiration of the Bible. Paul quoted the heathen writer because he was moved to make the quotation by the Holy Spirit. That is the difference between modernism and belief in real inspiration of the scriptures, Brother Goodpasture, and you have failed to grapple with the issue.

Furthermore, when Paul quoted from the heathen writer, the inspired man did not try to make it appear that the quotation was a piece of his own literature. If the statement had been his own application, Paul was not a Plagiarist. The writer of the literature in question has copied bodily from a modernist author, without giving any credit to the author. Paul told them that it was not his words on this occasion. If he had done like the writer of the Advocate literature, Brother Goodpasture, he would have been heathenish. You, yourself, have in times past denounced such plagiarism in terms of equal reproach.

Ambiguous Definition Of Inspiration

Another statement of the editorial attempts to tell us what inspiration is, but it likewise does not deal with the matter specifically. He says, "It was intended to make one infallible in the reception and transmission of God's will." But the statement does not specify the degree or the manner of the reception and transmission. Fosdick will say that the Bible is inspired, but he will deny the virgin birth. Brother Goodpasture will not deny the virgin birth; but will he unequivocally give answer to these questions:

  1. Did The Holy Spirit Give The Words Which Were Written By The Writers Of The Scriptures?

  2. Were The Writers Of The Scriptures Inspired In The Manner Of The Correct Thoughts Being Given To Them Sometimes Only By Means Of Their Feelings And Experiences?

These questions are stated in the "yes or no" form; but such a simple answer would not be expected. The answer to these questions will help us to know whether Brother Goodpasture goes along with the modernism found in his literature, or whether he has inadvertently let it be inserted.

In an editorial in the Gospel Guardian, Brother Tant stated that the modernism in the Advocate was not of the extreme kind, but that it is only in the beginning stages. In the series of articles in the Guardian it was predicted that if the Advocate attempted to justify its teachings it would be on the grounds that they have not taught the extreme forms, such as denial of the virgin birth; and that they would evade the question of the degree and manner of inspiration. This is exactly the course which the editor has taken thus far. We hope he will not leave us in the dark about his position with reference to inspiration. DOES HE BELIEVE IN VERBAL INSPIRATION OF THE SCRIPTURES? Or, if there is an equivalent in degree and manner let him so describe it that we can know that he does not endorse the modernism which has been cited in his literature.