Is the Bible the Inerrant Word of God

By R. A. Torrey

Chapter 2



"God hath said, ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, ye shall not surely die." — Gen. 3:3, 4.

My subject this morning is:" Who Says, "The Bible is not the Inerrant Word of God"? You will find my text in Gen. 3:3, 4:"God hath said, ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, ye shall not surely die."

Last Sunday morning we considered the question, Who says, "The Bible is the Inerrant Word of God"? We saw that our Lord Jesus Christ says so, that the voice of history says so, that the voice of history proclaims the Bible to be the Inerrant Word of God in three ways: First, by the uniform outcome of all the attempts that have been made through eighteen centuries to discredit and destroy the Bible; second, by fulfilling its prophecies, fulfilling them exactly and minutely; third, by exhibiting before the eyes of us all the Divine Power this Book has had, as an absolutely certain fact of history, in the lives of individuals and in the history of nations. Next, we saw that all the men and women who live nearest God and know God best, say that the Bible is the Inerrant Word of God; and finally, we know that the Holy Spirit, Who lives and speaks to men today, also says so.

Now, this morning, let us frankly and honestly and fairly and fully look at the other side, and see who they are who say, "The Bible is not the Inerrant Word of God." So, my subject this morning is the exact counterpart of my subject last Sunday morning. My subject last Sunday morning was: Who says, "The Bible is the Inerrant Word of God"? My subject this morning is: Who says, "The Bible is not the Inerrant Word of God"?

There are many in this day in which we are living who say so. Just who are they? There are six classes •of persons who say, "The Bible is not the Inerrant Word of God."

I. The Vilest Elements of Society Say that the Bible is not the Inerrant Word of God

First of all, then, the vilest elements of society say so. We shall see directly that they are not by any means the only class that say so, but they constitute one large class who say so. Let me repeat it: the vilest elements of society say that the Bible is not the Inerrant Word of God. Go to the slums of any city, and among the drunkards, the prostitutes, the thieves, the gunmen, the anarchists, the Bolshevists, and the men and women in general who contend against law and order and good government, and moral decency, you will find plenty of men and women, men and women, oftentimes, of gifted minds and fine culture, but who have gone down through lust or drink or some other form of sin, who ridicule the idea of the Bible being the Inerrant Word of God. They have the arguments, or the jeers, of Tom Paine and Robert Ingersoll, and, also, of the so-called "Modern School of Critics," at their tongue's end.

I met, one morning, in a store in Minneapolis, a man of fine education and brilliant mind, but who had gone down through drink, gone so far down that from being the most brilliant lawyer in that part of the world he had reached almost the bottom. I approached him and began to speak to him about his moral and spiritual condition. He was partially intoxicated at the time. In reply to my words, he said, "Torrey, I don't like you; you are too narrow." "Now," he continued, "See here. Honor bright, what do you think would become of me if I should drop dead right here now?" I replied, "John, you would go straight to hell, and you would deserve to." "What have I done?" he asked. I replied, "I will tell you what you have done. You have got your wife's heart right under your heel, and are grinding the very life out of it, and what is. worse than that, you are trampling under foot the Son of God." "Ah!" he said, with a laugh, "You are too narrow. I believe in the New Theology," and then he began to mention some of the leading teachers in a prominent theological seminary that had gone astray from the truth. A little later still, when he had sunk still lower, I met him on Washington Avenue near Third Avenue South. He was the very picture of wretchedness and ruin. I stopped him again and began to talk to him. He listened, for he was beginning to get thoroughly tired of the wreck and ruin that had come into his life and into his home through sin, but when I pressed upon him an immediate acceptance of Christ, he replied, "I do not believe in your Christ, and I do not believe in your Bible. I am an agnostic." I answered, "It does not make a particle of difference, John, what you believe. If you accept the Lord Jesus Christ, He will save you; if you reject Him, you are a lost man." He turned and went down the street with a hollow laugh, a very bitter laugh. He sank deeper and deeper, bolstered up in his ruinous course by his denial that the Bible was the Inerrant Word of God. He became a tramp in the City of New York, and then he came to his senses and threw to the winds his agnosticism and his denial that the Bible was the Word of God, and accepted the Bible as the Word of God and Jesus Christ as the Son of God and his own Divine Savior, and was lifted by the power of that book and of the Christ of that book out of his utter ruin to become one of the most honored men in the whole country.

Of course, you can find in the purlieus of our cities some of the wrecks of society who have not lost all traces of the faith in which godly fathers and mothers instructed them in their innocent childhood, and who, because of this fact, are won back to God and to noble lives, but "the slums" of society is one of the places where infidelity in all its forms, the substantial denial that the Bible is the Inerrant Word of God, most thrives.

You can go out among the wild and lawless in the deserts and mountains, and you will find among them plenty of men and women who say with most confident and most vehement assurance, "The Bible is not the Inerrant Word of God." A friend of mine, in the mountains of West Virginia, was driven by a storm to seek refuge in a lonely hut, late at night. This friend, to her dismay, found that the hut was inhabited by a desperate old woman, who made most of her living by selling bootleg whisky across the river, near at hand. She was one of the most prominent members of the notorious McCoy gang. The female outlaw gave her shelter for the night. My friend asked for something to read and this desperate old woman brought out a book in which she kept the family record of births and deaths, such as Christians kept in the olden days in the family Bible. What do you think the book was? — Ingersoll's "Mistakes of Moses," from which, along with its progenitor, Tom Paine's "Age of Reason," "the modern critical school" have borrowed so copiously. That was her Bible.

In my first pastorate, I lived, for a time, in the home of a man who professed to be an infidel, and he was a very decent man in many ways. An infidel lecturer came to town, and I went to hear what he had to say, and this respectable infidel went also. When I looked around and saw the character of the crew that was gathered to hear this man, who, with quite a little ability, retailed the cheap jokes of Robert Ingersoll and Tom Paine, I did not feel quite in my element. When we got home, I said to my infidel friend, "How did you enjoy the lecture?" He replied, "I did not like the kind of crowd that was there." I replied, "That is the kind of a crowd your view of the Bible creates." And it is so.

Go to the publishers of obscene literature and the manufacturers of instruments for all kinds of illicit and indecent purposes and you will find plenty of men and women who deny that the Bible is the Inerrant Word of God. Indeed, the publishers of obscene literature in the United States had Colonel Robert Ingersoll as their attorney when they were resisting the Government's attempts to suppress their nefarious, disgusting and outrageous business. Colonel Robert Ingersoll was their idol. In England, also, two of the ablest and, in some ways, most decent leaders of infidelity, whom I shall not name, one a man and the other a woman, were both incarcerated for publishing an indecent book and promulgating, for the practice of married and unmarried women, a disgusting and illegal way of preventing the conception of children. Yes, the vilest elements of society say that, "The Bible is not the Inerrant Word of God." We shall see, directly, that far more respectable and reputable elements of society say so too. But we must consider the subject both honestly and fully and it is well to always bear in mind the fact that this class of society says, "The Bible is not the Inerrant Word of God; that just as all the men and women who live nearest God, and know God best, are the most positive in their assertions that "the Bible is the Inerrant Word of God," so, also, the men and women who live farthest from God, and who know God least, are the ones who are the most positive in their assertion that, "the Bible is not the Inerrant Word of God."

II. Men Who Are Puffed Up in Their Fleshly Mind

In the second place, men who are puffed up in their fleshly mind, because of a small measure of intellectual superiority in scientific or philosophical lines to the average man, say that "The Bible is not the Inerrant Word of Cod." I do not wish you to think, for one moment, that I maintain that it is only the vilest and most dangerous elements of society who deny that "the Bible is the Inerrant Word of God." No, not at all. I began with them because I wished to begin at the bottom and lead up to those who are higher and better, and lead you on to the very best, before I ask you to decide between the two classes of witnesses — those who say, "The Bible is the Inerrant Word of God," and those who say, "The Bible is not the Inerrant Word of God."

There are men and women who have a measure of intellectual superiority, usually, it is true, a rather small measure of superiority, in scientific or philosophic attainments above the average man or woman, and who have become puffed up because of the consciousness of this superiority, and love to pose as "the Scholarly Class," as if they had a monopoly on all the scholarship there is in the world today, and forget or deliberately ignore the fact that the really great Semitic scholars, as, for example, Professor Robert Dick Wilson, of Princeton, and Professor David Samuel Margoliouth, pi Oxford University, England, and almost all the great archaeologists who have done actual, original field work, are definitely arrayed on the conservative side — I say, there is this class of studious men, of no mean intellectual caliber, who say that, "the Bible is not the Inerrant Word of God." And they are cocksure that it is not, and they have a very supercilious contempt, or, at least, a great patronizing pity, for the preachers and other people, whom they characterize as "Reactionaries," or "Obscurantists," or "Mediaeval," or "Archaic" or "Antediluvian," who still hold to the belief that "the Bible is the Inerrant Word of God." The fundamental trouble with these men is set forth by God Himself in a remarkable sentence in Rom. 1:22, "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools." Of course, I mention no names, most of you can supply numerous names for yourselves.

III. Men of Real Ability in Other Lines of Thought, but Who Have Not Given the Bible the Special Thought and Thorough Attention and Careful Study that Is Demanded to Make One an Authority in That Special Line

There is a third class who say that "The Bible is not the Inerrant Word of God," men of real and unusual ability in other lines of thought, but who have not given the Bible the special thought and thorough attention and careful study that is demanded to make one an authority in that particular line. There are many men whose real and rare ability in the lines in which they specialize, and in which they justly shine as leaders, and whose authority in their own line we gladly acknowledge, but who have given to the Bible very little of that special thought, and thoroughgoing attention, and careful and complete study, that is necessary to give anyone's opinion any great weight in any line of research, who hold very tenaciously to their opinion, and are very outspoken in their declaration of their opinion, that "the Bible is not the Inerrant Word of God." But the fact that a man is a master thinker in Astronomy does not necessarily make his opinion of any great value along geological lines. The fact that a man is the most advanced and greatest thinker in the world in the domain of Chemistry does not make his opinion of any great value in questions of Civics and Political Economy. The fact that a man knows more about Constitutional Law than any other man now living, does not make his opinion of as much value in the field of Therapeutics as that of an obscure country doctor. And the fact that a man is a great thinker in the domain of Physical Science or Metaphysical Philosophy does not, necessarily, give his opinion any great weight in the field of Theology or Biblical Criticism. I take off my hat to Thomas Edison in questions about electricity, but when it comes to God, or the Bible, I know a multitude of Sunday-School boys and girls whose opinion is of more value than his. When it comes to the matter of designing and manufacturing weapons to slaughter our fellowmen in ruthless war, I acknowledge the authority of Hiram Maxim; but when it comes to questions about Ethics and God and the Bible, I would prefer the opinions of someone who knows something concerning what he is talking about. It is both amazing and ludicrous the way in which the enemies of the Bible call in as expert wit nesses men who have never given any attention what ever to that line of study . They do it in no other branch of study in the world. They would be considered fools if they did. But they do it constantly, when it comes to questions about God and the Bible. This method is thoroughly unscientific, illogical, and irrational . No one ever thought of seeking Charles Darwin's opinion about music. One of the most pathetic incidents in his life was when Ole Bull wished to play the violin for him. The old man (with tears, if I remember correctly) acknowledged that he had allowed that part of his natural make-up to become atrophied by disuse. But Darwin has constantly been cited as an authority in religion, a subject about which, alas! he knew very little, and, therefore, his opinion about the Bible is of less value than that of a washer-woman, who has taken the time and made the sacrifices necessary to get acquainted with God.

IV. Men and Women Who Do Not Think for Themselves, But Accept, Without Careful Investigation, Whatever Is Called "Scholarly?'

There is a fourth class of men and women who say that, "the Bible is not the Inerrant Word of God," men and women who do not think for themselves, but simply accept with avidity and without question or careful investigation, whatever is dubbed "scholarly ." Some people in bygone days were frightened by the word, "orthodox"! Far more, in these days, are frightened by the word, "scholarly." Many a twentieth-century preacher would rather sacrifice the sacred convictions of his parents, and of his own pure and earnest and consecrated young manhood, than have anyone whisper that he was not "scholarly," or "up to date," or "modern," or "abreast of the times." The word "scholarly" is a twentieth-century bug-a-boo to frighten fools with, and it is frightening a lot of them. Tell some men that such and such a view of the Bible presents "the consensus of opinion of the most advanced scholars," and they will swallow it as eagerly as a bull-head will swallow bait, hook and sinker. A very large proportion of the seemingly intelligent people, preachers, college professors, and high school teachers, and Y. W. C. A. secretaries, who deny that the Bible is the Inerrant Word of God, belong to this class. These people are by no means fools or illiterate, but they are not real students, or careful thinkers. They do not think; they simply gorge, and they have been fed up on the wrong kind of provender. They have been told that "all scholars agree," and that settles it for them. They take it for granted that the statement is true, and as they eagerly desire to be numbered with the "scholars," they say so, too. They are merely echoes, and, unfortunately, they echo the wrong voices. There are in these days a vast host of half educated, or rather, half instructed people who fancy that it is a, mark of advanced scholarship to be a theological "Liberal," or "Modernist," and so they join that party. It is much easier to get a reputation for scholarship that way, than by doing the hard work and the hard thinking that are necessary to become a real scholar, and so they adopt that plan, and this sort of Brummagem scholarship goes as well with the mass of men as the real article.

Some years ago, there was in the South a young Methodist Episcopal preacher. He was not altogether without brains, but he had had little education. He had some education, he had gone as far as the Sophomore year in a special course in one of the Georgia Colleges; and yet this half-baked "theologian" undertook to criticize the Bishop, who had been President of the very College where he had gone as far as the Sophomore year in a special Course. The Bishop was a scholar, and he was a Bible scholar. He carried the Hebrew Bible with him wherever he went, and studied it constantly. He was also a conservative. But this professedly "scholarly," but really very meagerly educated, preacher said, "Oh! you know the Bishop is no scholar." That sort of thing is common. A woman of this type has recently been teaching a class of teachers of the various Sunday-Schools of one of our suburbs, and, with a very superior air, has been airing her ignorance about the supposedly contradictory accounts of creation in the first and second chapters of Genesis. The woods are full of them. And many of our Sunday-Schools and Churches are submitting to that sort of mischievous and soul-destroying nonsense without a protest .

V. Men Who Have the Purely Intellectual Equipment, the Mental Vigor and Grasp, and the Technical Knowledge of the Languages in Which the Bible Was Originally Written, to Be Intelligent Bible Students and Who Really Have Studied the Bible Minutely and Carefully and Profoundly, But Who Lack the Spiritual Insight That Is Necessary to Make Their Estimates of a Preeminently Spiritual Book of Any Real Value

There is a fifth class, a class of far higher order than any I have mentioned so far, who also say that, "The Bible is not the Inerrant Word of God," vis., Men who have the purely intellectual equipment, the mental vigor and grasp, and the technical knowledge of the languages in which the Bible was originally written, to fit them to be intelligent Bible students and who really have studied the Bible minutely and carefully and profoundly, but who lack the spiritual insight that is necessary to make their estimates of a preeminently spiritual book of any real value. It needs no argument to prove that it takes spiritual discernment to qualify one to be an authoritative judge regarding a spiritual book. Paul certainly had common sense on his side, as well as the Divine inspiration to which he lays claim in the immediate context, when he said in I Cor. 2:14, "Now the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; and he cannot know them, because they are spiritually judged." A thorough knowledge of Greek, and of Hebrew, and of Aramaic, and of the cognate languages, no more qualifies a man to be a competent judge of the authorship of the Bible, because the Bible was written in these languages, than a thorough knowledge of paints qualifies one to be a competent critic of art. To be that, a man needs esthetic sense, and to be able to judge the Bible, a man needs spiritual sense. I would as soon expect a man to appreciate the Sistine Madonna because he was not color blind, as to expect an unspiritual man to understand and appreciate the Bible simply because he understands the laws of the grammar and the vocabulary of the languages in which the Bible was written. I would as soon think of setting a man to teach Art merely because he understood paints, as to set him to teach the Bible merely because he understood Greek and Hebrew and Aramaic. Here is where the Church of Jesus Christ is making today not only a stupendous blunder, but an almost incredible blunder. It is filling its theological Seminaries with teachers of bright minds and of abundant scholarship, of a certain sort, but without the clearness of spiritual vision that comes from an intelligent, deliberate, unreserved surrender of their will to God, and from a realization of the utter insufficiency and worthlessness in the things of God of our own natural wisdom, and of the need that they themselves be taught by the living Spirit of God, before they are competent to teach others, who are to become ministers of the Gospel. No wonder that some of our theological Seminaries have become cemeteries — graveyards of spiritual life, and also volcanoes that are belching forth the confusing and smothering smoke and gas and destroying hot lava of a host of practical infidels to corrupt the life and doctrine of the Church, and to destroy its spiritual fertility.

VI. The Men Who Were Directly Responsible for the Awful War that Has Recently Ended

There is a sixth class of men and women who say that, "The Bible is not the Inerrant Word of God," vis., the men who were responsible for the awful world war, from which we are just emerging. This awful war, with its staggering cost in money and men, with its wrecked homes and ruined characters, its shipwreck of nations, and its aftermath of hatred, immorality, violence, murder, anarchy, personal and social madness, world-wide bankruptcy, starvation, gloom, and general social and political and international damnation, is directly due to the teaching of destructive criticism in German Universities. The destructive criticism of Graf, Wellhausen, and their compeers, which so many professors in Theological Seminaries, and so many writers on theological themes, are trying so hard to force upon our pulpits and our pews, upon our preachers, our Sunday-School teachers, and even young Sunday-School scholars, by a thoroughly and skillfully organized propaganda, not only at home, but in China and other foreign fields — this destructive criticism was responsible for the great war. It undermined the faith of the German people in the authority of the Book of God. It got them to substitute "the good old German God of War " for the God of this Book, and thus made possible the most damnable war in all history. When I was a student in the University of Leipzig, one night, in a meeting which some of us American students had weekly with Professor Franz Delitzsch, one of us asked him how we should present these views to the people. He looked at the questioner with amazement, almost indignation, "Present them to the people?" he exclaimed, "They are none of the people's business. They are only for scholars." We assured him that even if that would work in Germany, it would not work in America, but that what scholars knew now, the people would soon know. And it did not work even in Germany. The people got to know the practical infidelity that there was in the hearts of many of their preachers, and German faith in the Bible as the Inerrant Word of God went by the board, and the infidelity of Graf, Wellhausen & Company took its place, and the war came as a logical consequence.

Professor Shailer Matthews of Chicago University, in his just indignation against the awful war, and in his clear discernment that that war was the legitimate child of present-day German Philosophy, speaking in this city, and I think in this building, at a National gathering of Teachers and Educators of America not many years ago, demanded that we give up, and shut out of our educational institutions in America, the German Philosophy that was responsible for this war. But this same Professor Shailer Mathews, as I pointed out at the time, is himself one of the persons most responsible here in these United States for trying to force the very worst feature of German Philosophy and thinking, its philosophy and thinking regarding the Bible, upon our Theological Seminaries, our Universities, our Colleges, our High Schools, and even upon our Sunday-Schools.

Such are the men who say that "the Bible is not the Inerrant Word of God." I will not stop to sum up in detail who they are, but will simply say that if you will stop to think, you will see that there is not one among them whose opinion on a subject like this is worth ten cents.

Here, then, the case stands, awaiting your verdict. On the one side, we have our Lord Jesus Christ saying that "the Bible is the Inerrant Word of God," and we have eighteen centuries of history proclaiming that the Bible is the Inerrant Word of God, and we have all the men and women who live nearest God, and know God best, declaring that, "the Bible is the Inerrant Word of God," and we have the Holy Spirit, Who lives today, crying with no uncertain voice in our individual hearts, "the Bible is the Inerrant Word of God." And on the other hand, you have only the six classes I have described, not one of them possessing any well-grounded authority in such a matter, declaring that "The Bible is not the Inerrant Word of God." Which will you believe? It is up to you. Decide for yourselves. I know how you will decide, for I am addressing, for the most part, intelligent and honest-minded men and women, who really wish to know and obey the truth.

Oh, blessed Book of God! Whose every statement is to be believed, whose every promise is to be trusted, whose every warning is to be heeded, whose every commandment to be obeyed, and whose every privilege, for time and eternity, is to be appropriated.