the Protestant Foundations
The second, and more effective,
weapon Rome used against the Reformation was "higher
criticism," in an effort to undermine the very foundation of
The strongest appeal of the Roman
Catholic Church lies in its claim to "apostolic succession,"
that is, that its popes descended in direct line from the apostles.
Protestants, originating in the sixteenth century, have no such appeal.
Their strong argument lies in their exact conformity with the Bible in
faith and morals. "The Bible, and the Bible only" is their
battle cry. The Bible reveals man's utter inability to attain
justification by his own works, and offers it as a "free
gift," obtained by faith in the merits of Jesus Christ alone. The
Bible presents good works only as the natural fruit of genuine faith. On
this foundation was Protestantism built. Before going further we shall
let Catholics and Protestants state their foundations.
"Like two sacred rivers
flowing from paradise, the Bible and divine Tradition contain the Word
of God, the precious gems of revealed truths. Though these two divine
streams are in themselves, on account of their divine origin, of equal
sacredness, and are both full of revealed truths, still, of the two,
Tradition is to us more clear and safe"–"Catholic
Belief," Joseph Faa di Bruno, D.D., p. 33. New York: Benziger
"But since Divine revelation is contained in the
written books and the unwritten traditions (Vatican Council, I, II), the
Bible and Divine tradition must be the rule of our faith; since,
however, these are only silent witnesses, . . we must look for some
proximate rule which shall be animate or living .... The Bible could not
be left to interpret itself." Therefore Catholics declare the
"Church to be its acknowledged interpreter.'' And under the
heading: "The Catholic Doctrine Touching the Church as the Rule of
Faith," we read: "Now the teaching Church is the Apostolic
body continuing to the end of time." But of the teachers of this
body, they say: "Unless they be united with the Vicar of Christ
[the Pope], it is futile to appeal to the episcopate in general as the
rule of faith." They then sum up their rule of faith thus:
"'Hence we must stand rather by the decisions which the pope
judicially pronounces than by the opinions of men, however learned they
may be in Holy Scripture.' "–" Catholic Encyclopedia,"
Vol. V, pp. 766- 768, art. "Faith, Rule of." The teaching
Church, with the pope at its head, is therefore the Catholic "rule
Thus we see that the Roman
Catholic Church places tradition above the Bible as more safe, and
substitutes the pope for the Holy Spirit as the guide. Christ promised
His followers: "Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He
will guide you into all truth." "He shall teach you all
things, and bring all things to your remembrance." John 16:13;
14:23. That these promises are not confined to the leaders of the
church, is made plain by John, who applies them to all Christians:
"But the anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you,
and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing
teacheth you of all things, . . . ye shall abide in Him." I John
2:27. In answer to these Scriptures the Catholic writers say: "Nor
can it be said that being a divinely inspired book, its prime Author,
the Holy Ghost, will guide the reader to the right
meaning"–" Things Catholics Are Asked About," M. J.
Scott, S. J., p. 119. New York: 1927.
Protestants have announced as
their rule of faith: "The Bible, and the Bible only," with the
Holy Spirit as its sole Interpreter. William Chillingworth, M. A., says:
"The Bible, I say, the Bible only, is the religion of Protestants!
. . . I for my part, after a long and (as I verily believe and hope)
impartial search of the true way to eternal happiness,' do profess
plainly that I cannot find any rest for the sole of my foot but upon
this rock only. I see plainly and with my own eyes, that there are popes
against popes, councils against councils, some fathers against others,
the same fathers against themselves, a consent of fathers of one age
against a consent of fathers of another age, the church of one age
against the church of another age .... In a word, there is no sufficient
certainty but of Scripture only for any considering man to build
upon." –" The Religion of Protestants," William
Chillingworth, M. A., p. 463. London: 1866.
"The Bible, I say, the Bible
only, is the religion of Protestants!' Nor is it of any account in the
estimation of the genuine Protestant, how early a doctrine originated,
if it is not found in the Bible .... "He
who receives a single doctrine upon the mere authority of tradition, let
him be called by what name he will, by so doing, steps down from the
Protestant rock, passes over the line which separates Protestantism from
Popery, and can give no valid reason why he should not receive all the
earlier doctrines and ceremonies of Romanism, upon the same
authority"–" History of Romanism," John Dowling, D. D.,
pp. 67, 68. New York: 1871.
This childlike faith in the Bible
as God's infallible word carried the Reformers above all opposition, and
swept over Europe with an irresistible force which threatened to engulf
the old, decaying structure of the Roman church. This unabated force
could be broken only by robbing Protestants of their implicit faith in
the Bible. They would then lose their power as surely as did Samson,
when he was shorn of his locks. (Judges 16:19, 20.)
Rome Undermining Protestant
Richard Simon, a Roman Catholic
priest, called the "Father of Higher Criticism," in 1678 wrote
"A Critical History of the Old Testament" in three books,
laying down the rules for a more exact translation. He advanced the new
theory that only the ordinances and commands of the books of Moses were
written by him, while the historical parts were the product of various
other writers. Simon's declared purpose was to show that the Protestants
had no assured principle for their religion. (See edition of 1782.)
"This work led to a very extended controversy and the first edition
was suppressed." *7 So
vigorous was the opposition of the learned, that his theory lay dormant
for seventy-five years.
The Catholic Encyclopedia says:
priest, Richard Simon (1638-1712), was the first who subjected the
general questions concerning the Bible to a treatment which was at once
comprehensive in scope and scientific in method. Simon is the forerunner
of modern Biblical criticism .... A reaction against the rigid view of
the Bible [was one of] the factors which produced Simon's first great
work, the 'Histoire critique du Vieux Testament' [' Critical History of
the Old Testament '] which was published in 1678 .... It entitles him to
be called the father of Biblical criticism."–Vol. IV, p. 492.
"In 1753 Jean Astruc, a
French Catholic physician of considerable note, published a little book,
'Conjectures sur les memoires originaux dont il parait que Moyse s'est
servi pour composer le livre de la Genese (Conjectures on the original
records from which it appears that Moses composed the book of
Genesis).'"–Id., same page. (See also New Schaff- Herzog
Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, Vol. I, p. 336, art, "Jean
His book is rightly named, for in
it he conjectured that the book of Genesis must have been written by two
different authors. because the Creator is there called "God"
(" Elohim") in some places, and "Lord" ("
Jehovah ") in other places. Such a line of reasoning would be as
inconsistent as to claim that Paul's Epistle to the Philippians, for
instance, must have been written by two different apostles, because our
Saviour is there called "Jesus" in some places, and
"Christ" in others. But what about the places where He is
called "Jesus Christ"? And so in Genesis. Who wrote the five
passages where He is called "Lord God" ("Jehovah Elohim")?
In 1792, Dr. Alexander Geddes, a Roman Catholic priest of Scottish
origin, carried this "fragmentary hypothesis" still further.
Absurd as this theory was, the Protestants fell into the trap set for
them, and Germany, the seat of the Reformation, became the seat of this
destructive "higher criticism." Today this inconsistent
criticism of the Bible has invaded the seminaries` colleges, and
universities of practically all Protestant denominations, and few
ministers are free from its blighting influence. Edwin Cone Bissell,
Professor in McCormick Theological Seminary, Chicago, carried out this
"fragmentary" theory in his book, "Genesis Printed in
Colors, Showing the Original Sources from Which It Is Supposed to Have
Been Compiled" (Hartford, 1892), displaying the seven colors of the
rainbow in shorter or longer fragments, each representing a different
author or editor.
Bolce spent two years
investigating American colleges from Maine to California, and wrote his
astounding findings in the Cosmopolitan Magazine, May to August, 1909.
Here are a few expressions culled from his report: "In hundreds of
classrooms it is being taught daily that the Decalogue is no more sacred
than a syllabus; that the home as an institution is doomed; that there
are no absolute evils; that immorality is simply an act in contravention
of society's accepted standards; . . . and that the daring who defy the
code [the moral law] do not offend any Deity, but simply arouse the
venom of the majority–the majority that has not yet grasped the new
idea; . . . and that the highest ethical life consists at all times in
the breaking of rules which have grown too narrow for the actual case
"There can be and are holier
alliances without the marriage bond than within it Anything tolerated by
the world in general is right The notion, . . . that there is anything
fundamentally correct implies the existence of a standard outside and
above usage, and no such standard exists. "–Pp. 665, 666, 674,
Can anyone wonder at what Dr.
Charles Jefferson declares? He says: "A theological student at the
end of the first year of his seminary course is the most demoralized
individual to be found on this earth, his early conception of the Bible
has been torn down all the way to the cellar, and he is obliged to build
up a new conception from the foundations."–" Things
Fundamental,'' pp. 120, 121.
In regard to the inevitable
result of teaching the rising generation such revolutionary ideas, and
of undermining completely their moral standards, and their belief in
God, the editor of the Cosmopolitan Magazine says in a note to Mr.
Bolce's articles: "These are some of the revolutionary and
sensational teachings submitted with academic warrant to the minds of
hundreds of thousands of students in the United States. It is time that
the public realized what is being taught to the youth of this country.
'The social question of to-day,' said Disraeli, 'is only a zephyr which
rustles the leaves, but will soon become a hurricane.' It is a dull ear
that cannot hear the mutterings of the coming storm."–
"Cosmopolitan Magazine," May, 1909, p. 665.
The Bible declares: "They
have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind." "There
is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land. By swearing,
and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they
break out, and blood toucheth blood." Hosea 8:7; 4:1, 2. (Compare 2
Timothy 3:1-5.) Yes, the saying is true, that "whatsoever a man
soweth, that shall he also reap." Galatians 6:7.
The Christian Register for June
18, 1891, page 389, commenting favorably on the work of higher
"Thomas Paine, though stigmatized and set aside as
an infidel, finds reincarnation in the modern scientific Biblical critic
.... He lived too far in advance of his age. The spirit of modern
scientific criticism had not yet come .... And now it is interesting to
find that, in a different spirit and with different tools, and bound by
certain traditions, . . . the professors in our orthodox seminaries are
doing again the work which Paine did,"
As long as these men domineered
over the Old Testament, most of the Christian teachers remained silent.
But the work did not stop there. The Lutheran Pastor Storjohan of Oslo,
Norway, says of Wellhausen: "After they have permitted him to
domineer over the Old Testament for more than twenty-five years, it is
not more than reasonable, and a just punishment, that he in his
presumption has now undertaken his war on the Gospels"–"Bibelen
paa Pinebaenk [The Bible on the Inquisitorial Rack]," p. 7.
Christiania, 1907. In closing let us briefly point out the road which
higher criticism had to travel, after it had taken the first step. When
critics had denied the historicity of the books of Moses (the
Pentateuch), they discovered that the Psalms referred to them as
acknowledged history. (Psalms 33:6, 9; 29:10; 77:23; 103:7; 105:6-45;
106:7-33.) To be consistent, the Psalms had to be rejected. They also
found that the books of Joshua, Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, and Nehemiah,
and the prophets acknowledged the Pentateuch as the inspired work of
Moses (Joshua 23:6; 1 Kings 2:3; 2 Chronicles 35:6; Nehemiah 8:1, 8;
Daniel 9:11, 13; Malachi 4:4), so these books had to be rejected.
But then they found that the New
Testament repeatedly referred to the Old Testament as inspired authority
(about eight hundred twenty-four times), and to their consternation they
discovered that Jesus declared the first five books in the Bible were
written by Moses (Mark 12:26; Luke 24:25, 44, 45), and that He asked:
"If ye believe not his [Moses'] writings, how shall ye believe My
words?" John 5:46, 47. The critics had declared that the account of
the Flood was only a myth, which no intelligent person could believe.
But Jesus said: "Noe entered into the ark," and "the
Flood came, and took them all away." Matthew 24:38, 39. He even
believed the truthfulness of the account of Jonah's being in the great
fish for three days, and of his preaching in Nineveh afterwards.
(Matthew 12:40, 41) There was, therefore, no way of reconciling Jesus to
higher criticism, so they rejected Him as the divine Son of God. For if
Jesus did not know that those Old Testament stories were only myths, He
was deceived. If He knew this, and yet taught them, He was a deceiver.
In either case He could not be divine, they reasoned.
might properly ask how Romanists dared to start higher criticism. Would
not this menace be equally dangerous to their church? Absolutely not!
The Roman church rests on an entirely different foundation. The Church,
and not the Bible, is her authority. She flourishes best where the Bible
is least circulated, as history amply shows. But Protestantism that
rejects the inspiration of the Bible, has abandoned its foundation, and
stands helpless. It is like a ship that has lost its mooring, thrown
away its chart and compass, and is drifting toward–Rome.
"If in the dawning of the
fortieth century, it shall be found that the law and the prophets are
obsolete, the Gospels and Epistles discarded, Moses forgotten, and Paul
and his writings set aside to make room for the inerrant productions of
[higher critics, . . . if it shall then appear that the hunted prophets
who wandered in sheepskins and goatskins, and were destitute, afflicted,
and tormented, of whom the world was not worthy,' have gone down before
the onslaught of the learned and well-salaried professors of modern
universities; if it shall appear that the word of the Lord which they
uttered at the loss of all things and at the peril of life itself has
paled its ineffectual fires before the rising radiance of oracular
higher criticism; if it shall then be learned that God hath chosen the
rich in this world, poor in faith, and heirs of the kingdom–who can
ten how welcome this information may prove to those who suppose that
gain is godliness, and that it is easier for a camel to go through the
eye of a needle than for a poor man to enter the kingdom of
heaven?" –" The Anti-Infidel Library," H. L. Hastings,
"More Bricks from the Babel of the Higher Critics," pp. 172,
173. Boston: Scriptural Tract Repository, 1895.