Radical Criticism and “Christian” Education
“Higher criticism” purports to be the “science” of exploring the backgrounds of the biblical books so as to discover the “actual” truth regarding the composition of these documents – in contrast to the alleged “superficial and traditional” views that prevailed over the prolonged centuries of a by-gone era.
For example, to the modern “critic,” who fancies himself a citizen of that rarified “ozonosphere” of the intellectually elite, it does not matter what the New Testament record says with reference to such matters as the authorship of the Old Testament documents. For example, Jesus Christ and the inspired writers of the New Testament indicated that Moses penned the Pentateuch (the first five books of the OT, called “the law” — cf. Jn. 5:47). Too, they affirmed that Isaiah was the author of that Old Testament document that goes under his name (Isa. 1:1). Additionally, Jesus said that Daniel spoke the prophecies recorded in his book (Mt. 24:15).
To the contrary, “Dr. Critic” supposes that modern analytical tools render obsolete the plain testimony of the Lord and the New Testament writers.
The critics have determined that the “real” authors of the five books of Moses are J, E, P, and D (symbols for imaginary editors), who allegedly produced these works in their present form. Then First, Second, and Third Isaiah (i.e., anonymous editors) supposedly crafted most of the messianic prophet’s work. And some Maccabean-age novelist is believed to have fabricated the book of Daniel centuries after the death of the prophet.
But think about this.
If Jesus Christ was wrong about the writers of the Old Testament, how does the Bible student know that he was right about any issue?
For example, Christ affirmed that his existence did not commence here on earth; rather, he existed eternally (Jn. 8:58), and came down from heaven to sojourn among men as a Redeemer (Jn. 6:51). Are we to surmise that this testimony may be erroneous? Did Jesus sincerely, though mistakenly, believe this – though it actually never happened that way? Did the Son of God merely accommodate his teaching to a flawed messianic expectation on the part of the Hebrews?
When Christ claimed that he cast out demons (Mt. 12:28), did he erroneously confuse ordinary “mental illnesses” with some sort of superstitious, yet seemingly-supernatural phenomenon? This is the common claim of the self-styled “critic.” But at the very heart of such rationalization is a mentality that has its origin in raw skepticism – the disposition to reject the miraculous elements of the Bible.
How may one be certain that the teaching of the Savior about human redemption, and the manner that such is to be accessed, is reliable – if he cannot trust the plain records of the New Testament writers? He can’t! Once that deadly journey down the “critical” road (with its modernistic presuppositions) has been embarked upon, all confidence and hope is dead.
Over the last half-century many educational institutions, promoted as “Christian” colleges/universities, have become so obsessed with “scholasticism,” and the acquisition of teachers who have studied at prestigious, liberal institutions, that most of these schools now are corrupted with the worst forms of theological modernism.
Critical theories, such as those alluded to above, are common fare. Parents spend tens of thousands of dollars to send their children to “Christian” schools for their education, only to have the faith of these youth corrupted with teachings that have their roots in infidelity.
Radical criticism, though “sanctified” by a “Christian” academic environment, is still what it always has been – anti-Christian rationalism. And folks who continue to fund these hot-beds of modernism share a responsibility in this corruption.
About the Author
Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.