Nothing New |

TBC Staff

[TBC: The effort to discredit the Bible is nothing new. Neither is it a new thing that some in evangelical churches are joining the battle against the sure word of Scripture. Consider this excerpt from an article by Pastor J.W. Garvey, originally published February 11, 1893 and addressing those who would deny that Moses wrote Leviticus.]

If we take the Pentateuch as an example, it would certainly make no difference as to its intrinsic value, whether it was written by Moses, or by some other writer equally competent. But suppose we say with these critics, that it was written by men who lived from seven to nine hundred years after the time of Moses, and who were therefore from seven to nine centuries farther removed from the time of the events; would that make no difference? Well, even that would make no difference, if these writers were inspired with a miraculous knowledge of the events concerning which they write; but this is denied by the critics, and it is stoutly affirmed that they knew only that which had come down to them in oral and written traditions. Furthermore, it is boldly affirmed that these writers wrote many things which are not historically true. It becomes, then, a very serious question, how we shall regard the Old Testament books, if we accept the dates assigned to them by these gentlemen. I propose to discuss the question in this article with respect to one of the least important of all the books for either instruction or edification under the Christian dispensation. At least, it is generally so regarded, though it would be easy to show that it is of far more present value than most men suppose. I mean the Book of Leviticus.

This book sets out in its first sentence with the claim that the laws which it contains were given by God to Moses at the tent of meeting: "And Jehovah called unto Moses, and spake unto him out of the tent of [16] meeting, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them." It closes with these words: "These are the commandments, which Jehovah commanded Moses for the children of Israel on mount Sinai." Thus, in its first and in its last sentence, it asserts that its contents came from God through Moses to the children of Israel.

Now, if our critics are correct, every one of these statements, soften and mollify the assertion as you may, is a falsehood; and the writer or writers who, in the midst of the Babylonian captivity, wrote this book, set these statements down knowing them to be false. This is admitted by the critics. They say that it was not considered, in that age, immoral to attach a great name to a book or an ordinance in order to give it weight with the people, which otherwise it would not have. In other words, the religious writers of that day, the men who wrote the Bible, did not think it was wrong to lie in order to gain for their writings credit and veneration to which they were not entitled. This is not surprising when we hear it from Graf, Wellhausen, Kuenen, and other avowed rationalists; but what shall we think of that class of critics who, after espousing this theory, still reiterate that the writers of Leviticus were "inspired men"? Do they mean, inspired with a lying spirit sent out from the Lord, as in the case of Ahab's false prophets? No. Inspired, they say, by the Spirit of God; that Spirit whose title is "The Spirit of Holiness," "The Spirit of Truth." Well, if the writers of Leviticus did not know that it was wrong to lie, the Holy Spirit did; and it seems to me a very near approach to the sin against the Holy Spirit of which the Pharisees were guilty, to assert that these writers were inspired, and then say that much which they wrote was false, and known to be false when they wrote it.

Quite different from the view of Leviticus, held by these scholars, is that held by our Saviour. To the first leper whom he healed, he said: "Go thy way, show thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing the things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them" (Mark:1:44). The directions referred to are found in the fourteenth chapter of this Book of Leviticus. Jesus here ascribes it to Moses, and he treats the law cited as one still to be enforced. And if this law of the leper was from Moses, so we must suppose the whole book to have been, unless there are some parts which, for special reasons, must be otherwise regarded. Again, when Jesus was called on by a lawyer representing a body of Pharisees, to declare which was the greatest commandment in the law, he gave the first in a quotation from the Book of Deuteronomy (6:5); and the second, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself," he took from the Book of Leviticus (19:18). Whom shall we credit with correct knowledge on the subject, Jesus our Lord and Saviour, or our modern destructive critics?