The Rising Tide of Modernism and Modern Bibles
"The Revisers had a wonderful opportunity. They might have made a few changes and removed a few archaic expressions, and made the Authorized Version the most acceptable and beautiful and wonderful book of all time to come. But they wished ruthlessly to meddle. Some of them wanted to change doctrine. Some of them did not know good English literature when they saw it... There were enough modernists among the Revisers to change the words of Scripture itself so as to throw doubt on the Scripture." Herald and Presbyter (Presbyterian), July 16, 1924, p. 10.
BECAUSE of the changes which came about in the nineteenth century, there arose a new type of Protestantism and a new version of the Protestant Bible. This new kind of Protestantism was hostile to the fundamental doctrines of the Reformation. Previous to this there had been only two types of Bibles in the world, the Protestant, and the Catholic. Now Protestants were asked to choose between the true Protestant Bible and one which reproduced readings rejected by the Reformers.
A new Protestantisn which is not Protestant
The new Protestantism arose from the new doctrine concerning the Person of Christ. The deep love of all Christians for Christ makes them ready listeners to any teachings which seem to exalt Jesus and increase the glory of Christ. For this reason Protestants easily fell in with the new doctrines concerning Christ which were entirely different from those held by the Reformers. The new Protestantism rejected the sole authority of the Scriptures. They held that the church was instinct with a mysterious life which they called the Person of Christ. They taught that this life came into all humanity when Jesus was manifest in the flesh; not simply the flesh of Jesus of Nazareth, but in the flesh of all humanity. They held that this life was progressive, and therefore, from time to time, it led the church to new doctrines. The Bible was secondary. This life was communicated through the sacraments, and the participants in the sacraments graduated from one experience to a higher experience. So Christ had two bodies, — His own body in which divinity and humanity were united, and His "theanthropic" life common to all believers, which life constituted the body of the church, or Christ's second body.
This new Protestantism captured most of the Church of England, permeated other Protestant denominations in Great Britain, and flooded the theological seminaries of America. One college professor, alarmed at the atmosphere of paganism which had come into American universities and denominational colleges, investigated them and reported that "ninety per cent or more teach a false religion as well as a false science and a false philosophy."(1)
False science teaches the origin of the universe by organic development without God, and calls it evolution. German philosophy early taught the development of humanity through the self-evolution of the absolute spirit. The outstanding advocates of this latter philosophy, Schelling and Hegel, were admitted pantheists.(2) Their theory was applied to theology in the hands of Schleiermacher whose follower was Dr. Schaff, and whom Dr. Schaff characterizes as "the greatest theological genius" since the Reformation. He also said, "There is not to be found now a single theologian of importance, in whom the influence of his great mind is not more or less to be traced."(3) The basis of Schleiermacher's philosophy and theology was acknowledged by such men as Dorner to be "thoroughly pantheistic."(4)
One definition of pantheism is the belief that "the totality of the universe is God." God is in the grass, the trees, the stones, earth, man, and in all. Pantheism confounds God with matter. Gnosticism is essentially pantheistic. "Dr. Schaff says there is 'a pantheistic feature which runs through the whole system' of Popery."(5) Both Gnosticism and Pantheism are at war with the first verse of the Bible which reads, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." This verse places God before matter, makes Him the Creator of matter, and hence apart and distinguished from the material universe.
Modernism, or the new Protestantism, is essentially pantheistic and therefore anti-Scriptural and anti-Protestant. Schaff says that by following this new theology, modern evangelical Germany is as widely separated from the Reformation as the Reformation was from Roman Catholicism. The Reformers taught that every child of God is in immediate contact with Christ and grows in grace and the knowledge of God through the Word and through the Spirit. The new theology taught that Christianity was not "a system of truth divinely revealed, recorded in the Scriptures in a definite and complete form for all ages," but that Christianity is Christ. The church is the development of Christ very much as in this false philosophy, the universe is the development of God. This, of course, is pantheistic, though perhaps all who profess this teaching are not avowed pantheists. The new theology changed the Protestant conception of Christ; then very naturally it changed all the fundamental doctrines and consequently made the Bible secondary as the fountain of faith, while nominally giving the Bible its customary usages. However, like the Gnostics of old, this new theology would not scruple to change sacred passages to support their theology.
The Glorification of the Vaticanus and Sinaiticus
Why was it that at so late a date as 1870 the Vatican and Sinaitic Manuscripts were brought forth and exalted to a place of supreme dictatorship in the work of revising the King James Bible? Especially when shocking corruptions of these documents betray a "systematic depravation"? On this Dean Burgon says: "The impurity of the texts exhibited by Codices B and (æ) is not a matter of opinion, but a matter of fact. These are two of the least trustworthy documents in existence... Codices B and (æ) are, demonstrably, nothing else but specimens of the depraved class thus characterized."(6)
Dr. Salmon declares that Burgon "had probably handled and collated very many more MSS, than either Westcott or Hort" and "was well entitled to rank as an expert."(7) Nevertheless, there has been a widespread effort to belittle Dean Burgon in his unanswerable indictment of the work of Revision. All assailants of the Received Text or their sympathizers feel so keenly the powerful exposures made by Dean Burgon that generally they labor to minimize his arguments.
Concerning the depravations of Codex (æ), we have the further testimony of Dr. Scrivener. In 1864 he published "A Full Collation of the Codex Sinaiticus." In the Introductions he makes it clear that this document was corrected by ten different scribes "at different periods." He tells of "the occurrence of so many different styles of handwriting, apparently due to penmen removed from each other by centuries, which deform by their corrections every page of this venerable-looking document." Codex (æ) is "covered with such alterations, brought in by at least ten different revisers, some of them systematically spread over every page."
Each of these manuscripts was made from the finest skins and was of rare beauty. "The Codex Sinaiticus of the fourth century is made of the finest skins of antelopes, the leaves being so large, that a single animal would furnish only two... Its contemporary, the farfamed Codex Vaticanus, challenges universal admiration for the beauty of its vellum."(8)
Evidently these manuscripts had back of them royal gold. They were reasonably suspected to be two of the fifty Greek Bibles which the Emperor Constantine ordered at his own expense. Why should ten different scribes, through the centuries have spread their corrections systematically over every page of the beautiful Sinaiticus? Evidently no owner of so costly a document would have permitted such disfigurements unless he considered the original Greek was not genuine and needed correcting.
As the Vaticanus and Sinaiticus are evidently the product of Gnosticism, what would be more natural than that the Catholicism of Cardinal Newman and the Gnosticism of his followers, who now flood the Protestant churches, would seek, by every means possible, to reinstate in leadership, Gnosticism's old title-papers, the Vaticanus and Sinaiticus?
The Gnosticism of the Revisers
Cardinal Newman believed that tradition and the Catholic Church were above the Bible. Westcott and Hort, great admirers of Newman, were on the Revision Committee in strong leadership. Dean Stanley believed that the Word of God did not dwell in the Bible alone, but that it dwelt in the sacred books of other religions as well.(9) Dr Schaff sat in the Parliament of Religions at the Chicago World's Fair, 1893, and was so happy among the Buddhists, Confucianists, Shintoists, and other world religions that he said he would be willing to die among them.(10) The spirit of the Revisionists on both sides of the ocean was an effort to find the Word of God by the study of comparative religions.(11) This is the spirit of Gnosticism; it is not true faith in the inspiration and infallibility of the Bible.
How far the new theology has been adopted by the editors of the many different kinds of modern Bibles, is a question space does not permit us to pursue. In the main, all these new editions conform to the modern rules of textual criticism. We have already mentioned Fenton, Goodspeed, Moffatt, Moulton, Noyes, Rotherham, Weymouth, Twentieth Century, the Polychrome, and the Shorter Bible. To these the names of others might be added. The Fenton Farrar translation opens thus in Genesis, first chapter:
"By periods God created that which produced the Solar Systems; then that which produced the Earth... This was the close and the dawn of the first age."
Here is plenty of scope for evolution, Gnosticism, and the æon theory.
The latest sensation is "A New Commentary," by Bishop Gore (formerly of Oxford, and a descendant of the Tractarians), and others. According to this publication David did not kill Goliath, Noah never had an ark, Jonah was not swallowed by a whale, the longevity of Methuselah was an impossibility, and certain Gospel miracles are regarded with skepticism.
"Every theological seminary of standing in this country, we are told," says one of the most widely read weeklies of America, "has been teaching for a quarter of a century almost everything contained in the new Commentary."(12)
Under these circumstances, how can these theological seminaries regard the Hebrew and the Greek of the Bible as dependable or attach to them any degree of inspiration?
When Doctors Westcott and Hort called "vile" and "villainous" the Received Text which, by the providence of God, was accounted an authority for 1800 years, they opened wide the door for individual and religious sects to bring forth new Bibles, solely upon their own authority.
It will be necessary to cite only two texts to show why the Protestants cannot use the Douay or Catholic Version in its present condition.
Genesis 3:15 reads: "I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel."
This rendering opens the way to exalt the Virgin Mary as a redeemer instead of her divine Seed. Hebrews 11:21 reads: "By faith Jacob dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and adored the top of his rod."
What is this, if it is not image worship? One has only to read the 13th chapter of Daniel in the Douay, a chapter which does not exist in the King James, to be shocked at one of the corruptions of the Word of God, which the martyrs rejected. What becomes, then, of the statement that all versions are good, and that all versions contain the true, saving Word of God? The numerous modern Bibles, translated from the Westcott and Hort text, or from one built on similar principles, are no better in many respects than the Douay.
Will not God hold us responsible for light and knowledge concerning His Word? Can we escape His condemnation, if we choose to exalt any version containing proved corruptions? Shall we not rather, avoid putting these versions on a level with God's true Bible?
And what is the practical result of this tide of modernism which has largely engulfed England and is sweeping the theological schools and popular Protestant churches in America? It renders such a missionary useless in the foreign field. He will find that the heathen have been in possession of a philosophy like his for 3,000 years. He is no more certain of his ground than they are. It is sad to see the heathen world deprived of the Bread of Life because of modernism.
Uniformity in expressing the sacred language of the one God is highly essential. It would be confusion, not order, if we did not maintain uniformity of Bible language in our church services, in our colleges and in the memory work of our children. "For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints." 1.Corinthians 14:33. It is not those who truly love the Word of God, who wish to multiply various versions, which they design shall be authorized for congregational use or exalted as authority for doctrine. Let the many versions be used as reference books, or books for study, but let us have a uniform standard version.
NOTE: How revolutionary have been the effects of that movement in England which embraced Ritualism and Revision, let the following statements from a book just off the press (1929), by H.L. Stewart, entitled "A Century of Anglo-Catholicism," speak:
"Condemned or sanctioned, the Movement is now admittedly beyond all stopping. What seemed chimerical a hundred years ago seems irresistible to-day. Four bishops, out of forty-three, are still definitely hostile."(13)
"On the other hand, two thousand two hundred Anglican priests have lately published their unalterable conviction about the Sacrament in terms which no honest man can pretend to think different in any essential respect from those of the Church of Rome."(14)
Speaking of Reservation, the practice of consecrating the sacramental elements some time in advance of the hour when they are to be used, and of worshiping them, H.L. Stewart gives good authority to indicate over 800 churches and institutional chapels "where the sacramental Elements were not only reserved but adored." And, "One finds in Crockford's Clerical Directory for 1927, a forecast that ten years of further decline like that of the ten just ended would wipe the Church of England out of existence."(15)
In referring to the Prayer Book controversy, which lately has repeatedly convulsed England and which arose from the new Prayer Book so arranged as to make a ritual like the Catholic legal in the Church of England, this new volume says:
"Mr. Rosslyn Mitchell told the House of commons that if the English clergy were armed with the Alternative Prayer Book, they could make England Roman Catholic within a generation."(16)
Speaking of the controversy in England between Higher Criticism and belief in the Bible, he further says:
"Making its normal speed of progress, according to the rate at which new thought travels westward, it has now reached America, to divide the churches of the United States into Modernist and Fundamentalist."(17)
(1) Confessions of a College Professor, Sunday School Times, Phila., p. 18
(2) Princeton Review, Jan. 1854, p.168
(3) Ibid, pp. 169, 170
(4) Ibid, p. 170
(5) Ibid, p. 167
(6) Burgon, Revision Revised, pp. 315, 316
(7) Dr. Salmon, Some Criticism of the Text, p. 23
(8) Scrivener, Introduction, Vol. I, p. 23
(9) Stanley, Essays, p. 124
(10) Life of Schaff, p. 486
(11) G.F.Nolloth, The Person of Our Lord, p. 3
(12) Literary Digest, Dec.29, 1928
(13) H.L. Stewart, A Century of Anglo-Catholicism (1929), p. VI
(14) Ibid, p. 326
(15) Ibid, p. 362
(16) Ibid, p. 344
(17) Ibid, p. 198
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