The Authority of the Bible to Control the Actions of Men

IT must be evident to all who pay close attention to the spiritual conditions of our day that there is being made at this time a very determined and wide-spread effort to set aside entirely the authority of the Bible. One of the unique characteristics of that Book is that it claims the right to control the actions of men. It speaks "as one having authority." It assumes, and in the most peremptory and uncompromising way, to rebuke men for misconduct, and to tell them what they shall not do. It speaks, not as from the human plane, or even from the standpoint of superior human wisdom and morality; but as from a plane far above the highest human level, and as with a wisdom which admits of no question or dispute. Its attitude throughout is that of demanding from man unqualified submission.

But this assumption of control over men is in direct antagonism to the democratic spirit of the times, which brooks no authority higher than that of "the people," that is to say, of Man himself.

To establish and to make universal the principles of pure democracy is the object, whether [12] consciously or unconsciously, of the great thought-movements of our era; and the essence and marrow of democracy is the supreme authority of Man. Hence the conflict with the Bible.

Not only is the Bible, with its peremptory assertion of supremacy and control over mankind, directly counter to the democratic movement, but it is now the only real obstacle to the complete independence of humanity. If only the authority of the Scriptures be gotten rid of, mankind will have attained the long-coveted state of absolute independence, which is equivalent to utter lawlessness.

The state of ideal democracy would be accurately described as "lawlessness," since it is manifest that an individual or a society which is under no restraint except such as is self-imposed, is really under no restraint at all. To attain this ideal state is the end and purpose of present day movements; and, in order to promote these movements, that mighty spiritual Intelligence who is designated "the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience" (Eph. ii. 2) very wisely, and with consummate subtlety, directs the attack, from many different quarters, against the authority of the Bible.

The great mass of men, including the majority of the leaders of the age, are already completely absorbed in the activities of the world and utterly indifferent to the claims of the Bible. As to these, it is only necessary to take care that they are not [13] aroused from their indifference. But the Bible nevertheless, by reason of its hold upon the consciences of the few, exerts, upon society as a whole, a mighty restraining influence, against which the assaults are now being directed.

In some quarters the authority of the Bible is directly assailed and its Divine origin disputed in the name of "Science" and of "Scholarship." Much of the learning and theological activity of the day are concentrated upon the attempt to discredit the Bible, and to disseminate views and theories directly at variance with its claims of divine inspiration and authority.

In other quarters the attack takes the form of a pretence of conceding the inspiration of the Bible, coupled with the claim that other writers and other great literary works were equally inspired. "God is not limited," we are told, "and can speak to man, and does speak to man, in our day, in like manner as in the days of Moses, Isaiah, or Paul." This method of assailing the Scriptures (sometimes called by those who employ it "the Historical Method") is very successful, and it has the great advantage of being available to those enemies of the truth who wish to be called "christians."

Manifestly it makes practically no difference whether the Bible be dragged down to the level of other books, or other books be exalted to the level [14] of the Bible. The result is the same in both cases, namely, that the unique authority of the Bible is set aside.

But even in quarters where the Divine origin of the Bible is fully recognized, the enemy is actively at work with a view to weakening its influence. There is much teaching abroad (heard usually in connection with certain spiritual manifestations which have become quite common of late) to the effect that those who have the Spirit dwelling in them, and speaking directly to and through them, are independent of the Word of God. This is the form which the idea of a continuing revelation takes in quarters where a direct attack on the authority of Scripture would fail. But the result is the same.

In such a state of things it is manifestly of the very highest importance to insist unceasingly upon the sufficiency, finality and completeness of the Revelation given by God in His Word. With the desire to serve this purpose, even though it be in a very small degree, these pages are written. It would be, however, a task far beyond the capacity of the writer to present all the unique characteristics of the Bible, whereby it is so distinguished from other books that it occupies a class by itself. The writer has, therefore, singled out for consideration one special attribute or characteristic of the Holy Scriptures, namely, that signified by the word "living." For this task the writer’s previous [15] studies and inquiries in the domain of the natural sciences have (humanly speaking) in some measure qualified him; but in entering upon it, his reliance is not upon these natural qualifications, but upon the Spirit of God, Whom we (believers) have received in order "that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God" (I. Cor. 2:12).

If one is able to apprehend, however feebly, the tremendous fact that the Word of God is a LIVING Word, such knowledge will go far towards affording him protection from what is perhaps the greatest danger of these "perilous times."

- Phillip Mauro, Life in the Word, 1909.