It produced a dramatic headline in the London Times (July 23, 2001). A prominent clergyman in the Church of England was banned from preaching in the town (Uppingham, Rutland) where he lives in retirement. Derek Stanesby, who has preached before the Queen on a number of occasions, was expelled from the pulpit where he often was invited to speak.
What created the ruckus? The liberal Anglican minister had one of his sermons published in the bulletin of the Society of Ordained Scientists. Therein, the former Canon of Windsor attacked the Bible, denying that it is “the word of God.”
Stanesby contended that “the elevation of the Bible” to a “divine status” has “done more damage to the Christian message than all the slings and arrows of the skeptics.” He charged: “The Bible helps to point to the word of God, but it is not the word of God.” The eminent “divine” asserted that the Bible contains “great wisdom,” but it was written strictly by the hand of man.
Stanesby is the author of a book titled, Science, Reason and Religion, which is but another outlet for his infidelity. He openly challenges the credibility of the Christian message. Let us offer several observations relative to the gentleman’s thesis.
First, let it be made clear that the Scriptures — the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament — assert divine authorship. If one is inclined to dispute the claim, he is welcome to try; but do not insult our intelligence by feigning ignorance of this compelling fact.
More than 3,800 times in the Old Testament alone, the prophets declared that they are speaking by the authority of God (cf. 2 Sam. 23:2; Jer. 1:9, etc.). There are some 175 claims of inspiration —just in Psalm 119.
The New Testament is no less explicit. In citing Exodus 3:6, Jesus asked: “Have you not read that which was spoken by God?”. In Acts 1:16, Peter quotes Psalm 69:25, and comments that “the Holy Spirit spoke by the mouth of David.” In a letter to the saints in Thessalonica, Paul commends those brethren because they received his teaching as “the word of God” (1 Thes. 2:13).
If, then, the Bible affirms of itself that it is the word of God, and if, as Stanesby contends, it can be demonstrated that it is not, then the Scriptures are false. They are a pompous lie, a fraud foisted upon humanity for centuries upon centuries. It cannot be said, therefore, with any fair import of language, that the library of biblical documents contain “great wisdom,” as the popular cleric suggests, in a thinly veiled attempt to absolve himself of his scandalous charge.
Further, if the Bible is a volume of false claims, how may it function as some sort of guide that “helps point to the word of God?” Does that affirmation make any sense at all? It is bereft of any semblance of logic.
Finally, if the Bible is merely an imperfect instrument which “helps point to the word of God,” exactly where is that “word of God”? I can tell you exactly where it is, according to the ideology of Stanesby and his associates of the Society of Ordained Scientists. The “word of God” will be wherever and whatever they want it to be. They will fashion a “revelation” of their own desires, one that caters to their personal inclinations of what religion ought to be.
The “powers that be” in that little church at Uppingham were courageous in ousting the skeptical Stanesby. In other matters we could not commend them; in this act, they deserve congratulations. And to many other churches, we might admonish: “Go thou, and do likewise.”