Monday, February 23, 2009
Whose Beliefs Aren't Taught In Scripture and Have No History Before the Nineteenth Century?
What would you think if what you believed had no biblical basis and no history before the nineteenth century? What would you call yourself? Could you even have such a belief? Who do you think of when I ask such a question? Is it the Mormons? Is it the Jehovah's Witnesses? Is it the Campbellites? Is it Seventh Day Adventists?
You might say that what you believed was a kind of restoration movement, that other people were duped up until that point, but you were able to bring them the true doctrine. You wouldn't be the first. Of course, to do so, you would have to argue for a kind of total apostasy of doctrine or of that particular belief, the one that isn't in the Bible and has no history before the nineteenth century. You would have to have some explanation.
Do you think it would bug you that you can't find your doctrine taught by orthodox believers since the invention of the printing press, 1440-1800, except for perhaps a few radical unbelievers? I know that for myself, I would have to take a belief very seriously if I didn't have a historic basis for the belief. I recognize that we get our doctrines from Scripture. But if my scriptural doctrine had no history behind it, then I would really want to be sure that it was in Scripture. If there was no history and neither was it in the Bible, I would reject it. What about you?
For a belief to originate that was not in the Bible and had no history, someone would need to become convinced of a total apostasy. So let's ask ourselves. Do you think there was a total apostasy of a particular doctrine especially in the 16th to 18th centuries? Was that a unique time of apostasy or was there something during that time period that took place that resulted in more people reading the Bible and more conversions of sinners than there had been before that period for centuries?
If believers during the 16th to 18th century had a doctrine that they believed, do you think that they could all be fooled? Would the Holy Spirit allow that? Is that something that we see in Scripture, that every believer would be fooled on a particular doctrine for three centuries, so that there was no history of the actual true doctrine? I don't think so. I would have a very hard time believing that.
I know that a lot of new beliefs originated in the nineteenth century. This period is called post-enlightenment. "The Enlightenment" speaks of a period in the eighteenth century Western civilization during which time, for many, reason became the primary source and legitimacy for authority. What do you think of post-enlightenment Christology? What do you think of any doctrine that originated after and out of post enlightenment? Did you know that a lot of cults originated just in that time of unbelief and attack on scriptural authority? I know that I would be very, very careful with anything that arose during that period of time.
The belief I happen to be talking about is post-enlightenment bibliology. The critical text belief, the eclectic text belief was not found among professing believers before the 19th century. Across the board, you read that men believed that God has preserved His word perfectly in the available original language texts. They believed that they had in those texts, the apographa of Scripture, every Word of the original manuscripts. During the nineteenth century, we find that belief subjected to the science of textual criticism. It wasn't some new exegesis of Scripture, some level of Christian growth that led to this new belief, but the criticism of doctrine and the text of Scripture that came along with age of enlightenment.
Now we have a new doctrine of preservation of Scripture, that doesn't come from the Bible and it doesn't come from history. It comes from the minds of textual critics during the post-enlightenment period. They weren't concerned about the promises of God. They weren't concerned what Christians believed before. They didn't want to let any of those things get in the way of their developing science and their new discoveries. They believed that their reasoning was superior to what God promised in His Word and that Christians had believed.
Of course, evangelicals and fundamentalists didn't believe that, did they? They wouldn't, would they?