“Higher Criticism” and Placing Men Above the Bible

9858e774c6f4b46fb1b256bb29f5447aWe were warned of this method of study.  That there would be teachers that would come in teaching that the word of God had some secret meaning in the Hebrew or Greek that can’t be understood.  Or that the inspired prophets of God did not know and understand the character of God as much as we do.   Men putting themselves above the scriptures as having a better understanding of love, justice, judgment than the prophet’s who were inspired by the Holy Ghost to write these words.

Men caviling at the word of God asking questions like what does “Judgment” or “Justice” really mean? But we have our answer, and we were told that men would come in among us professing to know better than the plain words of God.

“God’s love is represented in our day as being of such **a character as would forbid His destroying the sinner.** Men reason from their own low standard of right and justice. “Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself” ( Psalm 50:21). They measure God by themselves. They reason as to how they would act under the circumstances and decide God would do as they imagine they would do…..

The plea may be made that a loving Father would not see His children suffering the punishment of God by fire while He had the power to relieve them. But God would, for the good of His subjects and for their safety, punish the transgressor. God does not work on the plan of man. He can do infinite justice that man has no right to do before his fellow man. Noah would have displeased God to have drowned one of the scoffers and mockers that harassed him, but God drowned the vast world. Lot would have had no right to inflict punishment on his sons-in-law, but God would do it in strict justice.

Who will say God will not do what He says He will do?”—Ellen White Manuscript Releases 12:207-209;

The question is “Who will say God will not do what He says?”  Have we fallen into UNBELIEF of the plain statements concerning JUSTICE and JUDGMENT?  Are we putting our own spin on the word of God?  Saying that there is some secret hidden meaning behind these words as if we have some higher knowledge of God?  Are we accusing God of not keeping His word or preserving it?

“The truths most plainly revealed in the Bible have been involved in doubt and darkness by learned men, who, with a pretense of great wisdom, teach that the Scriptures have a mystical, a secret, spiritual meaning not apparent in the language employed. These men are false teachers. It was to such a class that Jesus declared: “Ye know not the Scriptures, neither the power of God.” Mark 12:24. The language of the Bible should be explained according to its obvious meaning, unless a symbol or figure is employed. Christ has given the promise: “If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine.” John 7:17. If men would but take the Bible as it reads, if there were no false teachers to mislead and confuse their minds, a work would be accomplished that would make angels glad and that would bring into the fold of Christ thousands upon thousands who are now wandering in error…”.  {Great Controversy 598.3}

Unfortunately there are some teachers like this, going about teaching that the judgments cannot be understood without some man to explain what the Bible really means about it and that the true meaning of scripture is veiled from our eyes, and we can’t really believe the plain statements.

As if we cannot believe the word of God because God does not really mean what He says.

“THE WARNINGS OF THE WORD OF GOD REGARDING THE PERILS SURROUNDING THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH BELONG TO US TODAY. As in the days of the apostles men tried by tradition and philosophy to destroy faith in the Scriptures, SO TODAY, BY THE PLEASING SENTIMENTS OF HIGHER CRITICISM, evolution, spiritualism, theosophy, and pantheism, THE ENEMY OF RIGHTEOUSNESS IS SEEKING TO LEAD SOULS INTO FORBIDDEN PATHS. TO MANY THE BIBLE IS AS A LAMP WITHOUT OIL, BECAUSE THEY HAVE TURNED THEIR MINDS INTO CHANNELS OF SPECULATIVE BELIEF THAT BRING MISUNDERSTANDING AND CONFUSION. THE WORK OF HIGHER CRITICISM, IN DISSECTING, CONJECTURING, RECONSTRUCTING, IS DESTROYING FAITH IN THE BIBLE AS A DIVINE REVELATION…”{Acts of the Apostles 474}

“EVEN BIBLE STUDY, AS TOO OFTEN CONDUCTED IN THE SCHOOLS, IS ROBBING THE WORLD OF THE PRICELESS TREASURE OF THE WORD OF GOD. THE WORK OF “HIGHER CRITICISM,” IN DISSECTING, CONJECTURING, RECONSTRUCTING, IS DESTROYING FAITH IN THE BIBLE AS A DIVINE REVELATION…” {Education 227}

What does this kind of Higher Criticism lead to?  Distrust of the word of God, and an exaltation of the teachers above the word of God.

William Miller had some rules of study that would help us take heed of these things:

“1. Every word must have its proper bearing on the subject presented in the Bible; 2. All Scripture is necessary, and may be understood by DILIGENT APPLICATION AND STUDY; 3. Nothing revealed in Scripture can or will be hid from those who ask in faith, not wavering; 4. To understand doctrine, bring all the scriptures together on the subject you wish to know, then let every word have its proper influence; and if you can form your theory without a contradiction, you cannot be in error; 5. SCRIPTURE MUST BE ITS OWN EXPOSITOR, since it is a rule of itself. If I depend on a teacher to expound to me, and he should guess at its meaning, or desire to have it so on account of his sectarian creed, or to be thought wise, then his guessing, desire, creed, or wisdom is my rule, and not the Bible.”  {Ellen White RH, November 25, 1884 par. 24}

William Miller was once told that he needed to understand Greek and Hebrew first before he could understand the Bible.

“…MR. MILLER THEN READ THE QUESTION WHICH CLOSED THE LETTER, NAMELY – ‘MR. MILLER, HOW DARE YOU ASSERT YOUR THEORY WITH SO MUCH CONFIDENCE WITHOUT A KNOWLEDGE OF THE HEBREW AND GREEK LANGUAGES?’ To this Mr. Miller promptly replied, ‘If I am not acquainted with the HEBREW and GREEK, I know enough to quote the English texts of the Scriptures rightly.’ – ‘Anonymous’ never made himself known, AND IT WAS THE IMPRESSION OF MANY OF THE AUDIENCE THAT THE AUTHOR OF THE LETTER, IF HE WAS SKILLED IN THE HEBREW AND GREEK, WAS EXCEEDINGLY DEFICIENT IN HIS KNOWLEDGE OF THE ENGLISH SCRIPTURES.”  (1853 SB, MWM 155.1)

In order to understand the word, it is not necessary to know the Greek or Hebrew.  That is not to say that some Hebrew or Greek cannot be helpful.  It is just not how we are to go about understanding what a verse means.   What we need to do is follow the rules above getting all scriptures on a particular topic and then let them have their proper weight.  Believing the scriptures to mean what they say.  There is a much better method of study.

“THE BIBLE IS ITS OWN EXPOSITOR. SCRIPTURE IS TO BE COMPARED WITH SCRIPTURE…”(Education 190)

It is not men who interpret scripture.  This type of study leads to exalting someone above the plain statements in the word of God, then coming to say we need some guru to help us understand the scriptures. “The scriptures are of no private interpretation” (2 Pet 1:21)  It is the Bible which interprets itself.  If I need a man to help me explain the scriptures, then I can be sure that I don’t know them myself.

EJ Waggoner once mentioned what this higher criticism leads to:

“…It is quite generally accepted in these days as a mark of ignorance to claim that the first chapter of Genesis is a record of literal fact, so it seems that we are not very far from the theology of Origen. IN FACT, THIS “HIGHER CRITICISM,” IS A DIRECT LEGACY FROM ORIGEN, AND COMES FROM THE EXCESSIVE FEDERATION IN WHICH PAGAN PHILOSOPHY HAS BEEN HELD, and the necessity that has been laid upon theological students, to study it as a stepping-stone to the study of theology. {September 22, 1892 EJW, PTUK 295.5}

“BUT LET US SEE WHAT WAS THE NATURAL RESULT OF THIS TEACHING BY ORIGEN. THE FIRST RESULT WAS TO EXALT THE RELIGIOUS TEACHERS ABOVE COMMON MEN. THEY WERE A HIGHER ORDER OF BEINGS. THIS WAS THE FIRST GRAND MOVE TOWARD THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE PAPACY. There was a great gulf fixed between them and the “laity,” and this tended to increase…”{September 22, 1892 EJW, PTUK 295.6}

“Have no fellowship with them… have no communion with them.  Come out from among them.”  See, people place their own meanings on these verses and come to the point where they are saying the opposite of what these say.  Questioning the word of God to the point that they have no confidence or faith in them whatsoever.  Communion doesn’t really mean communion, fellowship doesn’t really mean fellowship they come to believe.

“The evening and morning were the first day” We have critics and gurus that tell us that the first day was millions of years.  This is “Higher Criticism” placing a man above the scriptures.

2300 days some say is evenings and mornings and must mean 2300 evenings and mornings divided in half which is 1150.   Then again we need someone to help us understand it because it says “Unto 2300 days” (Dan 8:14) Again, we must put man’s interpretation above the plain scripture.

1 Samuel 15:2-3  Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt.  (3)  Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.

Someone will say, well that must be Satan who commanded Saul to do that, and that is not the word of God because God would not command people to kill.   No, again, this is because of our misunderstanding of right and justice.  We think we know better than God, and imagine God to be what we would be, only because we misunderstand the character of God and likely the entire context of why God would command this.

We misunderstand love, justice, and the sixth commandment.   And this comes because of “Higher Criticism”.   And this “Higher Criticism” always leads to placing men above the Bible and distrust in the word of God.  Faith comes by the word of God, and if you don’t have faith you can’t be justified.  “The Just shall live by faith” but if any man does not have faith, God cannot justify him.  So this “Higher Criticism” is right in line with the devil’s deceptions.

“Under God the angels are all-powerful. On one occasion, in obedience to the command of Christ, they slew of the Assyrian army in one night one hundred and eighty-five thousand men.”—The Desire of Ages, 700

“The plain statement would suggest that it means God commanded His angel… but that doesn’t really mean what it says…”  STOP IT.    This is again called “Higher Criticism”.   We now need some man to help us understand what this really means.   And really it doesn’t mean what it says.

“Moses then told the king that the ***angel of God*** would slay their first-born.” – (Ellen White Story of Redemption 118)

85127052Again, if we accept that God doesn’t kill, then it would be contrary to His character to command His angel to destroy.  So therefore this can’t mean what it says and we need some man to help us to understand the true meaning of the word.  This is “Higher Criticism” and placing a man above the plain statements of the word of God.  That man is now your god.

Gen 6:17 And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die.

If God doesn’t destroy, then that doesn’t mean what it says.   Where again does this lead us?   And we could go on and on and on until we have no faith in the Bible whatsoever.

“But none need be deceived by the lying claims of spiritualism. God has given the world sufficient light to enable them to discover the snare. As already shown, the theory which forms the very foundation of spiritualism is at war with the plainest statements of Scripture.” (Great Controversy Page 556)

If we are led into these theories which question “Hath God said” we are being led into the same error that Eve was led into in the beginning.   Until we have placed the opposite meaning on the scriptures just as Satan did in the garden.

“…For ages Satan with his evil angels had been seeking to control the bodies and the souls of men….
In the days of Christ the leaders and teachers of Israel were powerless to resist the work of Satan. They were neglecting the only means by which they could have withstood evil spirits. It was by the word of God  that Christ overcame the wicked one.
…He spoke as one having authority. This characteristic set His teaching in contrast with that of all others. The rabbis spoke with doubt and hesitancy, as if the Scriptures might be interpreted to mean one thing or exactly the opposite. The hearers were daily involved in greater uncertainty.
History is repeating. With the open Bible before them, and professing to reverence its teachings, many of the religious leaders of our time are destroying faith in it as the word of God. They busy themselves with dissecting the word, and set their own opinions above its plainest statements. In their hands God’s word loses its regenerating power. This is why infidelity runs riot, and iniquity is rife.
When Satan has undermined faith in the Bible, he directs men to other sources for light and power. Thus he insinuates himself. Those who turn from the plain teaching of Scripture and the convicting power of God’s Holy Spirit are inviting the control of demons. Criticism and speculation concerning the Scriptures have opened the way for spiritism and theosophy—those modernized forms of ancient heathenism—to gain a foothold even in the professed churches of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
(Desire of Ages 253, 7,8)

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