Challenging the Higher Critics
A Review by David P Griffiths
Remembering the great nights of conviction at the Aintree Gospel Mission of the 1950’s I ask where has that all gone? Where in the Western World do we find sinners on their knees repenting before God aware of the Saviour who has just saved them from the fires of hell?
I review three books so as to find some answers.
The first is Sir Robert Anderson’s The Bible and Modern Criticism Forgotten Books 2012 – Original Publication 1905.
From 1905 Sir Robert informs his readers of a Christianised scepticism that abounds comparing this to the Christian martyrs who were prepared to die for their faith.
Anderson points out that with the new “further knowledge and higher culture” the Bible is read in an entirely different way in that certain statements in the Bible are true but that other parts were added on by a “sub-apostolic writer.”
This approach has become common place in “Bible” Colleges and Seminaries of our day. It certainly was when I was at Elim Bible College, this extract from a paper of the European Pentecostal Theological Association being embraced. Here is part of this paper written by Professor Petts, who is pictured here, then Principal of AOG Mattersey Hall. He refers to what he calls “formula” quotations by Matthew, in relation to the doctrine of healing in the atonement, this in his view not being applicable to today but for a time in the future.
Simply dealing with this one page and Petts heresies cover a whole paper, we read an example of modern day "higher criticism" based on the principles Sir Robert Anderson exposed in 1905. In just one page of this paper Petts:
1) Relates Matthew editing the material available to him, issues of authorship, readership and theological principles being unresolved thus proving Petts is coming from the "higher critical no absolute" school rather than using the Biblical approach of revelation. There is no mention of this.
2) He refers to Matthew's understanding of "fulfilment" rather than God's thus placing the Gospel under human thinks rather than through God's inspiration.
3) Petts refers to "quotations from" or "allusions" from the Old Testament in Matthew's Gospel. The Oxford Dictionary defines the word allusion as a noun, an expression designed to call something to mind without mentioning it explicitly, an indirect or passing reference.
Let us look at this with the Biblical reference Petts gives.
Matthew 8:16-17 King James Version (KJV)
When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick:
That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.
Casting out spirits must involve the infallible word, the inerrant (without error) word for how can it be possible to cast out spirits with a word that has error?
The healing "all that were sick" is very explicit when it relates to Isaiah the Prophet and what Jesus took to the cross, his sacrifice bringing the conditions for healing to manifest today as opposed to Petts view of healing being "ultimately" in the atonement.
4) Petts refers to ten "formula quotations" from Matthews as "asides" of the evangelist rather than the inspired truth of God thus bringing his presentation in line with what Anderson exposed.
5) Petts refers to the use of these scriptures as "proof texts" saying they cannot be used this way clearly contrary to 2 Timothy 3:15-17 following.
6) Petts concludes this page with an academic analysis that misses the whole point of the context of the scripture.
His approach as a leading Minister in AOG is entirely opposite to that given by his own denomination that warned of this approach in July 1924.
AOG Redemption Tidings Article, July 1924
Replying to Petts and his “formula quotations” we have to say that one cannot simply dismiss parts of scripture as being part of the main text.
This is because Jesus declared scriptures must be fulfilled and that the critical approach takes away that fulfilment, a clear blasphemy to Christ Jesus.
Jesus here is referring to all the scriptures and this includes what he was to die for:
Matthew 26:55-57 King James Version (KJV)
In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes,
Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me.
But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled.
And they that had laid hold on Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled.
Now Petts is referring to sacred scriptures of the prophets in the fulfilment scriptures of Matthew 8, not just part of Matthew 8, but all of Matthew 8. To dismiss scripture as a mere “aside of the evangelist” is dismissing the God breathed word of Almighty God. Jesus expounded all the scriptures of all the prophets including Isaiah concerning himself, not just part of them.
Luke 24:27 King James Version (KJV)
And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto
them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
In the early days of the Assemblies of God in Great Britain and Ireland Smith Wigglesworth approach with the Word was the primary doctrine of this once great movement, a far cry from what is believed today.
The Word of God has not to be prayed about; the Word of God is to be received and obeyed.
The Bible is the Word of God: supernatural in origin, external in duration, inexpressible in valour, infinite in scope, regenerative in power, infallible in authority, universal in interest, personal in application, inspired in totality.
Read it through, write it down, pray it in, work it out, and then pass it on.
Truly the Word of God changes a man until he becomes an "epistle" of God." It transforms his mind, changes his character, moves him on from grace to grace, and makes him an inheritor of the very nature of God. God comes in, dwells in, walks in, talks through, and sups with him who opens his being to the Word of God.
The scriptures declare that we are in Christ, and Christ is in God. What is able to move you from that place of omnipotent power? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword (Romans 8:35)? Shall death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers (v38)? Nay, In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us (v37)?
But we must be found in Him! There is a place of seclusion, a place of rest and faith in Jesus where there is nothing else like it.
The "higher critical" infiltration into Pentecostal Churches has meant a life of isolation for traditional fundamentalists who believe the inerrancy (without error) of scripture. Pulpits we would have once preached regularly at are closed to us as for years rejected ministries like ours have hired halls to preach to small remnant pockets of people, even to halls with nobody in them as we have stood on the word that declares that the preaching of the word cannot be returned void!
Matthew 21:42 King James Version (KJV)
Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?
The questioning of the Word is the questioning of Jesus himself and his credibility. Jesus referred to himself as “The Word” and to dismiss the completed canon is heresy indeed.
Luke 4:20-22 King James Version (KJV)
And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.
And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.
And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph's son?
John 1:1 King James Version (KJV)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
The revealing of the mystery of the gospel is associated in scripture with the prophets and to dismiss even one dot of the revealed work is dismissing the real truth of who we believers are in Christ Jesus.
Romans 16:25-27 King James Version (KJV)
Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,
But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:
To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen.
Ephesians 5:31-33 King James Version(KJV)
For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.
Ephesians 6:18-20 King James Version(KJV)
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching there unto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,
For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
Paul continues to proclaim the fulfilling of the Word of God in relation to this liberating secret, of us being the manifestation of Christ Jesus, the Word – not just part of it – but all of it!
Colossians 1:25-27 King James Version(KJV)
Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;
Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:
To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
1 Corinthians 6:17 King James Version (KJV)
But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.
The culture of “further knowledge and higher culture” as Anderson puts it brings about a persecution against those born of the spirit and this is certainly the case as regards to the new breed of Pentecostal and Evangelical ministers. They will persecute, isolate and even put into prison those who stand for the old truths.
We have recently experienced this being reported to government authorities by such people, it being fact that had we been found guilty then it would have likely for me to face five years in prison.
One cannot downgrade the spiritual torment of this for such people watch our every move to catch us out.
Psalm 56:1-6 King James Version (KJV)
Be merciful unto me, O God: for man would swallow me up; he fighting daily oppresseth me.
Mine enemies would daily swallow me up: for they be many that fight against me, O thou most High.
What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.
In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.
Every day they wrest my words: all their thoughts are against me for evil.
They gather themselves together, they hide themselves, they mark my steps, when they wait for my soul.
Galatians 4:29-31 King James Version (KJV)
But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.
Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.
So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.
It is not surprising we now have a sub culture of sin and immorality in the Church for unless all of the scripture is accepted there is no possibility for a Church without spot or wrinkle. Sanctifying and cleansing comes by the Word, not just part of it but all of it, the Word in fact not being an “it” but a person.
2 Timothy 3:15-17 King James Version (KJV)
And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
Ephesians 5:26-28 King James Version(KJV)
That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself
Petts work is of ultimate heresy for prophecy was not given for private interpretation but to be embraced fully and stood upon.
Proclaiming such blasphemous heresy is illegal in Britain, the Monarch being obligated by the 1534 Act of Supremacy to "repress and extirpate all errors, heresies and other enormities and abuses.", this act being restored to the Statute Book in the Elizabethan Settlement.
We wonder today how many are prepared to say that "No" to Baal. Nearly all the Bible College/Seminaries have adjusted there statements of faiths so as to accommodate Baal. How many are saying "No" to Baal. Can we shout it from the hilltops? "No" to Baal!
Romans 11:4-5 King James Version (KJV)
But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.
Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.
Those who have not said "No" to Baal, namely the "Higher Critics" have done untold harm to the fabric of our society that once stood on the inerrant Word.
It is an act of highest treason in my view to question the Word in the way Petts has done. It is clear that the evidence being shown here proves that he and all "higher critics" have been found guilty of the highest treason, through their questioning of the Word our Monarch swore upon to become Queen in 1953.
Those who stand for the inerrancy (no error) of scripture can give no heed to having fellowship with those who have damaged move after move of God through the private interpretation and in effect removal of scriptures as being “mere asides.”
2 Peter 1:19-21 King James Version (KJV)
We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:
Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
2 Corinthians 6:14-15 King James Version(KJV)
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?
By dismissing parts of scripture as “mere asides of the evangelist” it is my conviction we are dealing with gross sin of Baal for the dismissal of scripture is in effect the removal of it.
Deuteronomy 4:2 King James Version (KJV)
Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.
Revelation 22:18 King James Version (KJV)
For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
Anderson goes onto refer to the post-Reformation age in which the Bible became asserted to be a human book and there was only an unintelligent orthodoxy that maintained that “it was only and altogether Divine.” Anderson in referring the Word to Christ Jesus declares that Jesus was not half man and half God but “absolutely human, and yet absolutely Divine.” The Bible is no different. Anderson declares:
While it is absolutely the Word of God, it is also the most thoroughly human book in the world. Hence its amazing power over the hearts and minds of men. And our condemnation of the Higher Critics must not blind us to the fact that if they have not actually rescued this truth, they have brought it into prominence and made it real, But on the other hand our debt to them in this regard cannot be allowed to outweigh, or even to palliate, the evil of their system.
An area coming out of all of this is discussed by R. Scott Smith: Truth and the New Kind of Christian Crossway Books, Wheaton, Illinois 2005. He refers to the modern “Church” as understanding an ethos of deconstructionism.
Quoting Tony Jones he defines deconstructionism as:
A philosophical movement and theory of literary criticism that questions traditional assumptions about certainty, identity, and truth, and asserts that words can only refer to other words, and attempts to demonstrate how statements about any text subvert their own meanings.
Progressing from this point R. Scott Smith deals with issue of no absolutes which is the heart of the critical approach, Jesus,however was and will always be absolute, hence the “I ams” of John’s Gospel:
John 6:35 King James Version (KJV)
And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
John 8:12 King James Version (KJV)
Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
John 10:9 King James Version (KJV)
I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.
John 10:11 King James Version (KJV)
I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
John 11:25 King James Version (KJV)
Jesus said unto her,I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
John 14:6 King James Version (KJV)
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
John 15:1 King James Version (KJV)
I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
Those of us who have ministered in western countries over the last twenties years know the spirit of “questioning everything”, R Scott Smith relates this to deconstructionism.
Deconstructionism causes people to question everything, and when we do, we often find that behind the scenes, what really is motivating some viewpoint is a quest for power.
We now have ministers in the “Church” motivated by a quest for power. Power that has brought in such demonic approaches as “heavy shepherding” and the Pastor –people, clergy –laity system which is completely opposed to the approach in God’s Word. I can relate to this statement of Jesus. Without him I can do nothing. I need to have those around me who know my vulnerability so I can move in his strength.
John 5:30 King James Version (KJV)
I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.
This is our vulnerability. It is because of the stand we have taken that we have lost earthly goods and need those of the Royal Priesthood of believers around us to support us, to love us and accept and understand our frailties to enable us all to move in his strength.
1 Corinthians 4:9-11 King James Version (KJV)
For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.
We are fools for Christ's sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised.
Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling place;
1 Peter 2:8-10 King James Version (KJV)
And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;
Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 King James Version (KJV)
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
Finally I come to Paul Smith’s excellent summary of today’s situation, New Evangelicalism: The New World Order Calvary Publishing, Costa Mesa, California 2011.
Paul Smith develops the point of “no absolutes” in saying,
Man is the centre of all things and the measure of all things. However, the average person does not realise that this conclusion is based on the philosophical proposition that there is no personal infinite God and man can determine truth within himself.
Paul Smith relates the origin to all of this to the Alexandrian Greek approach to philosophy pointing out that it is this that has infused itself into every fabric of our society over the last eight centuries. This humanistic approach is the offspring says Smith of Greek Platonism and Gnosticism that views man’s mind as the centre of reality rather than God.
God calls us to be separate from this, completely separate and that includes not being part of “Church” groupings that move in this for they will convince you before you convince them. It is only the conviction of the Spirit that can save them for by trying to convince through dialogue you are becoming part of the humanistic process.
John 17:14-17 King James Version (KJV)
I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.
They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
Paul warned of another gospel emerging, indeed of another “Jesus.” He warned of philosophies of men and whilst he openly challenged men by the Spirit of God he did not become a part of them, Smith pointing out the warnings of Harold Lindsell and Francis Schaeffer that when any Christian institution leaves its position on the inerrancy of scripture, those institutions rarely return to their original position.
If I am to do anything in my limited time on this earth I would love to bring the precious Elim movement back to its original inerrant position. I cry from my heart over God’s word to me to not accept the degree they offered through Manchester University but inerrancy, the questioning of God’s word I can have nothing to do with or those who perpetrate that doctrine.
They as with many Pentecostal and Evangelical movements have embraced “another gospel” and another “Jesus” from whom we all need to separated, all need to be divorced from for their work has affected us all else we would all be moving in the signs and wonders so promised by God.
Hence on this website, the divorce from the critical Baal and the full embracing of our marriage in true union with Christ Jesus as one spirit is vital, the true union message being the ultimate absolute.
Colossians 2:7-9 King James Version (KJV)
Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
We bear with those who preach the other gospel and the other Jesus so that the true Jesus might manifest but we must be aware of our position in the true Christ Jesus fully one in him, the fullness of the Godhead. That true Jesus is to manifest through us, yet not us but Him for those in union are the manifestation of the true Jesus.
2 Corinthians 11:4 King James Version (KJV)
For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.
John 17:21 King James Version (KJV)
That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
1 John 4:17 King James Version (KJV)
Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.