Quotables: Christ and OT Scriptures

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Every now and then I like posting something incisive that was written in the past because it speaks so well into the present. The sweet thing about this is that these guys, who are often waved away today, have dealt with a lot of the same issues while remaining simultaneously (by the modern mind) ignored.

The attitude of Christ to the Old Testament Scriptures must determine ours. He is God. He is truth. His is the final voice. He is the Supreme Judge. There is no appeal from that court. Christ Jesus the Lord believed and affirmed the historic veracity of the whole of the Old Testament writings implicitly (Luke 24:44). And the Canon, or collection of Books of the Old Testament, was precisely the same in Christ’s time as it is today. And further. Christ Jesus our Lord believed and emphatically affirmed the Mosaic authority of the Pentateuch (Matt. 5:17–18; Mark 12:26–36; Luke 16:31; John 5:46–47). That is true, the critics say. But, then, neither Christ nor His Apostles were critical scholars! Perhaps not in the twentieth century sense of the term. But, as a German scholar said, if they were not critici doctores, they were doctores veritatis who did not come into the world to fortify popular errors by their authority. But then they say, Christ’s knowledge as man was limited. He grew in knowledge (Luke 2:52). Surely that implies His ignorance. And if His ignorance, why not His ignorance with regard to the science of historical criticism? (Gore, Lux Mundi, page 360; Briggs, H. C. of Hexateuch, page 28.) Or even if He did know more than His age, He probably spoke as He did in accommodation with the ideas of His contemporaries! (Briggs, page 29.)

In fact, what they mean is practically that Jesus did know perfectly well that Moses did not write the Pentateuch, but allowed His disciples to believe that Moses did, and taught His disciples that Moses did, simply because He did not want to upset their simple faith in the whole of the Old Testament as the actual and authoritative and Divinely revealed Word of God. (See Driver, page 12.) Or else, that Jesus imagined, like any other Jew of His day, that Moses wrote the books that bear his name, and believed, with the childlike Jewish belief of His day, the literal inspiration, Divine authority and historic veracity of the Old Testament, and yet was completely mistaken, ignorant of the simplest facts, and wholly in error. In other words, He could not tell a forgery from an original, or a pious fiction from a genuine document. (The analogy of Jesus speaking of the sun rising as an instance of the theory of accommodation is a very different thing.)

This, then, is their position: Christ knew the views He taught were false, and yet taught them as truth. Or else, Christ didn’t know they were false and believed them to be true when they were not true. In either case the Blessed One is dethroned as True God and True Man. If He did not know the books to be spurious when they were spurious and the fables and myths to be mythical and fabulous; if He accepted legendary tales as trustworthy facts, then He was not and is not omniscient. He was not only intellectually fallible, He was morally fallible; for He was not true enough “to miss the ring of truth” in Deuteronomy and Daniel.

And further. If Jesus did know certain of the books to be lacking in genuineness, if not spurious and pseudonymous; if He did know the stories of the Fall and Lot and Abraham and Jonah and Daniel to be allegorical and imaginary, if not unverifiable and mythical, then He was neither trustworthy nor good. “If it were not so, I would have told you.” We feel, those of us who love and trust Him, that if these stories were not true, if these books were a mass of historical unveracities, if Abraham was an eponymous hero, if Joseph was an astral myth, that He would have told us so. It is a matter that concerned His honor as a Teacher as well as His knowledge as our God. As Canon Liddon has conclusively pointed out, if our Lord was unreliable in these historic and documentary matters of inferior value, how can He be followed as the teacher of doctrinal truth and the revealer of God? (John 3:12.) (Liddon, Divinity of Our Lord, pages 475–480.)


Men say in this connection that part of the humiliation of Christ was His being touched with the infirmities of our human ignorance and fallibilities. They dwell upon the so-called doctrine of the Kenosis, or the emptying, as explaining satisfactorily His limitations. But Christ spoke of the Old Testament Scriptures after His resurrection. He affirmed after His glorious resurrection that “all things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms concerning Me” (Luke 24:44). This was not a statement made during the time of the Kenosis, when Christ was a mere boy, or a youth, or a mere Jew after the flesh (1 Cor. 13:11). It is the statement of Him Who has been declared the Son of God with power. It is the Voice that is final and overwhelming. The limitations of the Kenosis are all abandoned now, and yet the Risen Lord not only does not give a shadow of a hint that any statement in the Old Testament is inaccurate or that any portion thereof needed revision or correction, not only most solemnly declared that those books which we receive as the product of Moses were indeed the books of Moses, but authorized with His Divine imprimatur the whole of the Old Testament Scriptures from beginning to end.

The Fundamentals : The famous sourcebook of foundational biblical truths (1:34-36). THE HISTORY OF THE HIGHER CRITICISM BY CANON DYSON HAGUE, M. A.

(HT Jason Skipper)

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