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The Right Attitude to the Word

The Right Attitude to the Word

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Published by glennpease


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Published by: glennpease on Feb 28, 2013
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THE RIGHT ATTITUDE TO THE WORDBY W. GARRETT HORDERIn a previous chapter certain passages out of har-mony with faith in the perfect Fatherhood of Godhave been considered, and, so far as was possible tothe writer, set in their proper hght. But the Bibleitself, to which men turn as the authority for theirFaith, when wrongly regarded and interpreted,has often put the most serious obstacles in the wayof many to complete confidence in the great Father-hood. In this and the chapters which follow theattempt is made to set forth what the writerbelieves is the right attitude to the Scriptures.What is commonly called the Holy Bible consistsof two parts : the first. The Preparation ; the second,The Fulfilment, ù the Old Testament, reveaUng theeducation of a nation for giving birth to the trueRevealer of the Father; and the New Testament,describing Him and the Faith He founded. Yetthis bringing together of the preparation and itsfulfilment within the covers of a single volume wassure to lead, and it has led, to much confusion of thought ù the preparatory in the Old Testament150THE RIGHT ATTITUDE TO THE WORD 151often being put on a level with the fulfilment inthe New, whilst, beyond this, the use of these twoparts in public worship without any distinction beingdrawn between them has led, and still leads, tomany erroneous ideas.The use of parts of the book of the Jews by Chris-tians was inevitable and desirable, since the NewTestament does not provide certain things theyneeded ; for example, material for praise such asthat contained in the book of Psalms, for whichpractically no provision is made in the pages of theNew Testament, to say nothing of the rich poeticwords of the prophets. This has led to other partsof the Old Testament, such as the historical books of Kings and Chronicles, of ten quite out of harmony withthe Christian idea and feeling, being brought intounsuitable use in the Christian Church, and has ledto the Old Testament in its entirety being sent forthto peoples we are seeking to win to the ChristianFaith ù which is really placing before them bothJudaism and Christianity for their acceptance, often
to their confusion and repellence from the ChristianFaith, whilst at home the stock objections of sceptical speakers and writers to the Christian Faithare drawn chiefly from the Old Testament.This has caused great confusion in the past andis causing it to-day to those taught by their clergythat the whole Book, from Genesis to Revelation,is the Word of God. For that astounding positionis still held. Quite recently a vicar declared that" the Bible was the Word of God from the first152 THE GOD THAT JESUS SAWchapter of Genesis to the last of Revelation " !For an accredited teacher of the Christian Faith toattribute to God all the terrible doings and sayingsrecorded in the Old Testament shows a closing of themind to the hght which Bibhcal research has thrownupon the Scriptures, and, even worse, a shrinkingfrom the prompting of the heart against all ascriptionof the low, mean, and cruel to the Great Father.It did not need the findings of what is called theHigher Criticism to show that much in the OldTestament ascribed to God is only the low andimdeveloped estimates of men of primitive times.Even as a child my heart revolted against muchthat is in the Old Testament ; my heart assured methat all that was low, mean, and cruel was wronglyascribed to God. The unsophisticated heart of thechild is often a surer judge than the most learnedtheologian. As Jesus declared, " things hidden fromthe wise and prudent are revealed imto babes."And if the vicar to whom I have referred would letwhat remains in him of the child-heart speak, hewould soon be led to wortliier ideas of the GreatFather. But, even if the child-heart in him does notspeak, as a teacher of the people he is bound to bringto them every proved conclusion of Scripturescholars.Were he a physician he would be bound to knowand act upon the latest discoveries of the bacteriolo-gists, which have revolutionised the science of medicine. To fail in this would be to fail in hisduty in the healing art and to his patients. ATHE RIGHT ATTITUDE TO THE WORD 153like obligation rests upon him, as a teacher of theChristian Faith, to present that Faith in the fullestlight accessible in our day. I notice that Sir A.Macalister is establishing a post-graduate school for
medical practitioners, to which they can resort tolearn the latest findings of medical and surgicalscience. A similar school is sadly needed for manypreachers, where they could hear of the new lightthrown upon the Scriptures and the larger ideas of the Christian rehgion which have grown up in ourday. Large numbers of those who teach from ourpulpits to-day need themselves to be taught.Let me pause here for a moment to utter my pro-test against children in schools being led through theOld to the New Testament Scriptures, and beingtaught stories of God which are put out of courtby the fuller and higher revealing of Jesus Christ.It is the testimony of teachers well quahfied to judge that some of the stories of the Old Testament,such as the ordering of Abraham to sacrifice hisson Isaac by Jehovah, greatly trouble many sensitivescholars and sometimes lead to wakeful and agitatednights. " Did Isaac's mother know what was goingto happen to him ? " questioned an eight-year-old,adding, *' I am sure she would never have let himgo if she knew what his father was going to do."^The Director of Religious Instruction of theDiocese of Manchester says :" From one of the healthiest and happiest of 1 Present-day Problems in Religious Teaching, by Hetty Lee.P-73.154 THE GOD THAT JESUS SAWschools, after the story had been told by one of thegentlest and kindest of teachers, a little boy wenthome, and in the evening, as he sat by the fire, weptdisconsolately for an hour or more, as he thoughtover the story of the morning. Others have shownin other ways that the story has done them harm inthe mental and spiritual impression it has made,and mothers have asked that their httle ones shouldnot be told the story again."A child taught on the old lines remarked one dayto his mother apropos of these Old Testamentstories, " God has improved since then, hasn't He,mother ? "^I fail utterly to see why ethically imperfectrepresentations of God, which need all the teacher'sskill to explain, the explanations being often for-gotten and the story remembered, should be taughtto children at all, for they wound their young andsensitive hearts, and, though their wounds may be

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