Attacks on the Biblical world view and the time of the “Apostasy”Part One; Higher Criticism
[Apostasia; defection from truth, the falling away]
2 Thessalonians 2:3
“Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction.”
2 Peter 3:3-4
“ “First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”
We live in a society today that has gone through major changes since WWII. The divorce rate has soared to 50%. Co-habitation has reached unprecedented highs, levels that have never been observed in 2000 years of the Christian history of Western Civilization.
STD’s have increased in variety and number from about 5 or 6 in 1960 to over 35 today with many, like AID’s that are deadly. Our whole view of human sexuality has changed too. Matrimony is no longer holy and no longer exclusively between man and woman. Abortion was legalized in 1973 and we’re close to legalizing same-sex marriage.
The Church has changed too. The divorce and remarriage rate is higher in the church than out of the church. Christian youth see no real problem with dressing metro sexually, getting tattoos, or boys wearing nose or ear ring, things that are superficial, for sure, but would have been shocking to their great grandmothers generation, and they also have adopted the 60s sexual revolutions values of co-habitation, and sex before marriage and view abortion and gay marriage as side issues. Many no longer think it’s that important to tie their religion to the Bible. They have no problem viewing environmental issues, energy use, and government from a very secularized view, although the direction and emphasis of most of these views had their beginning outside of Christianity and during the 1960’s. The culture is everything and they feel the best way to win the culture is to imitate it.
We have reached the point now, and its going to increase, where genuine Christian youth and adults, from Christian families, can be saved, but still dominated by the philosophies of the world in how they think, dress and in their personal philosophy. Christianity is being stripped down to the gospel of receiving Christ as Savior… (if even that) and everything else in the bible that doesn’t please or fit the culture is being reinterpreted or ignored.
How did we get here?
There were at least 4 or 5 major attacks on the authority of Scripture stating in the late 18th century, and continuing through the 19th century into our day. Some were indirect attacks on Scripture in that they attacked a biblical world view instead of directly attacking the bible itself. These types of direct and indirect attacks on the bible were largely unheard of for the first 1700 years of the church. Because of them the contemporary church now relies more on meeting emotional needs than teaching biblical truth. This could be an indicator that we have now entered the period of time called in Second Thessalonians, the Apostasy or “falling away”.
(1)The Darwinian Challenge; Darwin said, speaking of Charles Lyell’s geological theory,
“Lyell is most firmly convinced that he has shaken the faith in the Deluge far more efficiently by never having said a word against the Bible than if he had acted otherwise.” Darwin went on to say, “I have read lately’ Morley’s Life of Voltaire’, he insists that direct attacks on Christianity…produce little permanent effect: real good seems only to follow the slow and silent attacks”
Both Darwin and Lyell’s theories were the direct result of their desire to overthrow the Biblical world view and the Authority of the Bible itself.
(2) The Existential Challenge; a denial of any essential human nature or boundaries to human nature. We create ourselves, our “essence: through our own action. Christian philosophers like Kierkegaard were not atheistic, but God and His Scripture played a smaller role in defining who we are and our purpose. His view of Scripture was much more subjective…and less binding on all.
(3) The Feminist challenge: the Judeo Christian, Greek or Western view of man as a rational creature must be wrong because it is sexist…the question of who has the authority to define what sexist is and what the appropriate gender roles are, is usually left unasked and unanswered. This was an indirect attack on Scripture.
(4) The challenge of Higher Criticism; A direct attack on the Bible; Started in Germany in the early 1800’s and taught the Bible must be wrong because;
(A) They said there was no writing at the time of Moses, or the art of writing was not developed enough to be a vehicle for Moses’ religious writings, i.e. the Torah.
(B) The stories of the Patriarchs (like Abraham) couldn’t be accurate history as they had to have been made up and written centuries after they were supposed to have happened.
(C) Because of the critics faith in an anti supernatural evolutionary development of religion, they felt Jewish people couldn’t have had such a highly developed moral code and mono-theistic religion in the time period that the bible places them…1400-1100 BC
Because Darwin’s theory is dealt with consistently on this site and Tylor’s theory of the evolution of religion as well as the feminist or sexual revolution are also at least touched on, this article will deal with the first two attacks of higher criticism.
No writing at the time of Moses?
The critics said, for example; “ It (the period before and through the time of Moses). was a time prior to all knowledge of writing, a time separated by at least 400 years of which there is no history…” 1895, Schultz.
They were sure of that and said that even much later, in the time of David, writing was only sparingly used. Therefore the writings of Moses had to have been made up later and were just loosely based on history or total fabrications. However, like all the other “assured results of higher criticism” this pre-supposition was proven false again and again by later archeological discoveries. To the point where Sayce would say for example;
“The Babylonians of the age of Abraham had a more highly educated society than the England of King George the third.” ( time of American Revolution.)
In many places in Canaan, for example in what is now Syria, in a dig called Ras Shamra, evidence of extensive writing on clay tablets have been found, evidence of poetry, religious, and written business records were kept on a daily basis, this was also true in Babylon, Egypt, and Crete and in other areas. The script and style of poetry from the Canaanites is very similar to that of the writings of Moses such as The Song of Deborah.
The Historicity of The Patriarchs
In Genesis chapter 14, we read an account of a series of alliances and infighting among various kings, including four kings who captured Abrams nephew, Lot, while taking spoil in Sodom and Gomorrah. These four kings had been raiding through out the land and we are given a list of all the people’s and areas they had raided. Abram, with his 318 armed retainers pursued these kings, attacked them at night and rescued Lot as well as the spoil.
Probably the first scholar to apply German rationalism was Theodore Noldeke, who wrote a pamphlet about this chapter (Gen.14) calling it a forgery and describing Abrahams rescue as fictitious.
Julius Wellhausen was next, who said the entire story with; “all its superficial characteristics” was written many years later and just, “projected backward into hoary antiquity”. Never happened. Albright chipped in by assuring us that the story was simply borrowed or, ‘invented by use of haggadic processes.”
The cities didn’t exist, and there was no such route at that time, they said. The kings didn’t exist and besides they didn’t travel that much, and on and on. Other scholars of higher criticism would attach other parts of the Old Testament and almost no part of it would escape their withering attacks. And who could stand against them? These were the men of the day. Great scholars who could read any number of languages both dead and extent, to whom those of academic circles bowed in awe. But those great scholars would in time look more like buffoons than sophisticates, though the story of their folly isn’t told often enough. Their problem wasn’t their academic credentials. The problem was their worldview.
However, within thirty years the route would be authenticated by archeologists, as well as the exact towns. The names of the kings would be identified and associated with several Bronze Age burial mounds of that exact period of history. Other long buried tablets would be dug up that indicated that extensive travel like that of the kings in Gen. 14 was quite common place at that time.
Eventually Calger, Vos and even Albright would admit, “There seems to be no reason to question the factual basis of Genesis chapter 14.” However, this admission didn’t make into the tabloids, magazines or newspapers of the day, it just wasn’t considered news. Or at least, not the type of news that a world newly awash in Darwinism wanted to hear.
If you think this particular case is unusual, don’t. I could go on for pages explaining how the “rationalists” assured us the Hittites never existed, a law as complex as the Mosaic was totally out-of-place for that time period, the list is endless. As Mendenhall would later admit, “Wellhausens theory of the history of Israelite religion was very largely based on a Hegelian philosophy of history, not upon his literary analysis. It was an a priori evolutionary scheme which guided him in the utilization of his sources.”
Another example would be Josephs being sold into slavery for twenty shekels in Gen. 37:28. This story also was cast aside as mere myth and how could anyone writing the story centuries later know the actual price of a slave in that ancient time period? But if some one made it up, they made a good guess…because from the extensive records we now have from that time period we know that was the exact price of slave in that period. Before that time they were much cheaper and shortly afterward the price of a slave quickly inflated.
Even though these pre-suppositions were proven false, the damage done to the idea of the Scriptures being historically accurate was never really corrected…the press and media never told the whole story, and with Darwin’s theory becoming the hottest news item ever….The Bible remains in most people’s minds as a collection of Jewish fairy tales.
No matter how pragmatic an atheistic argument may appear and no matter how rational it may sound, an argument based on an atheistic philosophy is always doomed to fail, in a created world.
Below is a chart giving a better sense of when these various attacks began to take place in earnest and which shows how the level of their intensity picked up in the last two centuries. See also, The Apostasia, part 2, The Youth Culture; https://notmanynoble.wordpress.com/2010/12/17/the-apostasia-part-two/
|AD 33 Church Starts||Christ is physically resurrected and church begins to expand across the world|
|From 33 AD to late 1700’s||Bible sometimes repressed, banned, or not available in common languages, sometimes controlled by church hierarchy, sometimes placed under church hierarchy, but never attacked or doubted in its God given authority or historical accuracy. The Church had plenty of trouble with false teaching and practice but for almost 1800 years there were no concentrated efforts to use science or philosophy or atheistic theories to over throw the common mans faith in the historicity or authority of the Bible. This continues for almost 1800 years.|
|Late 1700’s||Hume and others began to challenge the existence of anything supernatural and place mans reason (guided by an atheistic world view) above all other authority.|
|1800’s||Kant, Barth, Kierkegaard and many others began to suggest the Bible is only subjectively true, not historically or objectively accurate. Darwin and Lyell attack Biblical teachings on biological creation and Age of the Earth as found in Genesis and the “higher critics” attack the historical accuracy of the Bible at every level.|
|1900’s||Feminism begins to question the Biblical view of gender roles, pushing the boundaries on homosexuality, sex outside of marriage, roles of men and women in general. Youth Culture begins. Drug use takes off and Divorce rates soar (1960’s), Abortion legalized (1973) AIDs hits and STD’s multiply (1980’s). Church begins to rely on meeting emotional needs instead of teaching Biblical truth.|
|2000’s||Pressure to legislate or sanction homosexual “unions” increases. Co- habitation levels become common among Christian kids, large numbers of Christian youth adopt 60’s ideas about politics, sex, environment, metro-sexual dress, tattoos, even if they have received Christ as Savior. The idea of a Physical return of Christ to earth is increasingly considered largely irrelevant.|