Fear of Man or Fear of God? Living a Life of Conviction over Compromise

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This article was first published in the Spring 2011 issue of Bible and Spade.

Excerpt Recently I had a most disturbing conversation with a young man who was attending a prestigious Christian liberal arts college. As we chatted, I expressed the value of being involved with ABR in our quest to uphold the authority of the Bible. I was chagrined by his less than enthusiastic response; he actually became slightly distressed, and glibly commented he was concerned about his reputation if he would join ABR, because it might negatively affect his scholarly pursuits. Continue reading

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As soon as I saw his reaction, I knew what had happened to him! He was concerned about associating with a ministry that fully believes in the inerrancy of the Bible, and promotes its reliability and authority from the first verse of Genesis to the last verse of Revelation. But I was concerned that his current associations with compromised Christian academics were poisoning his pure devotion to Jesus Christ and to the Word of God. You see, at his “Christian” college the professors taught him that the Earth was not created in six days (you know that doesn’t fit with the compromises made in attempting to merge the Bible with Darwinian evolution); the Flood was not universal but local; Adam and Eve were not the first humans on earth; and much of the history of Israel is not historical and cannot be accepted as true. But of course, he believed in Jesus and even in the Resurrection—but for the life of me I don’t know why! He had already accepted the egregious compromises of secularized “Christian” academics for most of biblical history, so I wondered if by hanging on to Jesus it was just a fire insurance policy for his soul! The conversation was a tragedy. This young man’s mind and his direction in life were ruined not by secularists and atheists, but by professing Christians. Instead of being roused to join ABR in defense of the Bible, he was left worrying about what his peers would think of him.

 

Why should we be surprised? Isn’t that the same spiritual disease that was spread to him from his professors? They had compromised years before by rejecting the plain teaching of Scripture, exchanging for it the philosophies of men. Professors who had replaced Revelation with human Reason and declared that they knew better than God how the Earth was formed, how life began, and how man was to live on the Earth, and who redefined in modern terms what must have happened in the past. Would Jesus have understood that the Earth was created in six literal days? Of course! Did the Apostles and the Church Fathers understand it that way? Yes, they did! Can you imagine Jesus Christ denying that Adam and Eve were the first man and woman created, or that wholesale sections of the Old Testament never occurred as the text indicates? Just a cursory overview of how Jesus used the OT makes His views quite clear!

 

The Church and its educational “system” all too often have turned men and women AGAINST the Bible. The Church has taught them to be embarrassed by what the Bible plainly says. How many pastors simply ignore certain parts or even whole books of both the Old and New Testaments, because to teach them would make them and their congregation feel “uncomfortable”? The Church has taught people to bow down to the secularists and the humanists and even to the atheists who hate God and all He stands for. Shame on us all for contributing to this dreadful and sinful decline! We have fallen away from Christ and the truth of His precious Word.

 

Jesus said it best in Mark 8:34–38:

 

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

 

Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, spoke as one with the Father and the Spirit in the pages of the Old Testament, the very oracles of God (Rom 3:2). That speaking continued as Jesus taught, warned, and challenged His contemporaries, and culminated in His word of revelation to the Seven Churches in the last book of the New Testament. To be ashamed of ANY of the words of Scripture by denying or diminishing their validity, meaning, or force is an egregious sin that reveals unbelief, arrogance, and a false, human-centered autonomy (Rv 22:18). God forbid that we would be found to be ashamed of the words of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

 

Finally, instead of worrying about what colleagues will think or about one’s academic acceptability before peers, we should be far more concerned about what God thinks of us! Jesus knew that people could pretend to follow Him, but the proof of their discipleship would be shown by how they responded to His teaching—His words—and to all of the words of Scripture. To be ashamed of His words is to be ashamed of Him. Tragically, that is where many professing Christians are today.

 

God, grant us repentance that we might return to You and that we would believe ALL of what You have said in holy Scripture.

 

Amen.

 

Comments Comment RSS

7/21/2011 9:20 PM #

Amazing article! And so true, too. It's an utter shame that it is "Christians" who are the most compromising in their beliefs. Even the atheists are more convicted. And no wonder, too -- our example of softness does nothing to make them think of changing their already-hardened minds.

And I never thought of that -- what would Jesus have believed in terms of Biblical historicity. In the minds of these neo-Christians, He would have believed in a lie (like, literal six days, historicity of prophets and Jonah, the acceptance of OT). That would mean that Jesus supported falsehoods -- that God believed in a cultural lie!

Again, great article. I enjoyed reading it, and I think it will help me stand up for Christ again and never be afraid!

Carmela - 7/21/2011 9:20:21 PM

7/25/2011 10:20 PM #

I can honestly understand both sides of the argument presented in this article. For the past two years, I (as most of us) have been bombarded with secular and neo-Christian views on the accuracy and historicity of the Bible. Like the college student mentioned, I have felt swayed at times by "logical", "scientific", or "obvious" fallacies presented in the Bible if read literally. But throughout this time, I always wanted to believe the Bible whole-heartedly. I think that all Christians go through this questioning process, and in the end, it is a pure understanding and reliance on faith that God gives us that helps us through these spiritual battles.

Luse - 7/25/2011 10:20:14 PM

8/1/2011 3:26 PM #

I find myself in complete agreement with the premise of this article that fear of man is a sin and a snare, and the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.  I have a question about one statement, however.  Augustine makes it plain in "The Literal Meaning of Genesis" that he believed the earth was created in an instant, not over a period of six 24-hour days.  So if he is counted among the church fathers, I don't believe we can say without qualification that the church fathers believed in a six-literal-day creation.

Phil - 8/1/2011 3:26:34 PM

8/4/2011 10:05 AM #

This is indeed the apostasy we as a church must face.  Remember the Israelites on the very border of the promised land were afraid of giants, even when God promised to drive them out with hornets!  In the same way, I encourage you to go in with the small round stones in your sling and defeat those giants in the power of Jehovah!  We can and will possess the land!  We must be like Caleb, Joshua, and David.  And God does NOT intend for Christians to cower in fear!  He has promised power in the angel of Revelation 18, which will lighten the earth with glory just before the end!  It is called the LATTER RAIN.  Just as the early rain of Pentecost gave power to the start of the early church, God will give power to the church of the last days to FINISH the work!  Let's boldly go to the front lines!  Thanks for the article.

JoAnne - 8/4/2011 10:05:30 AM

10/24/2011 3:40 PM #

While I share your concerns and am in complete agreement your scripture selection beautifully indicates part of the difficulties we face these days.

Note: whoever is not themselves or their
          whoever is not their (twice)
          someone is not their
          anyone is not their
          anyone is not them
This total pollution of English grammar is caused by a near frantic effort to avoid the dreaded masculine pronoun.  Bible "translations" such as this are quite unworthy!

Bill Stillman - 10/24/2011 3:40:54 PM

11/13/2011 8:03 PM #

He was concerned about associating with a ministry that fully believes in the inerrancy of the Bible, and promotes its reliability and authority from the first verse of Genesis to the last verse of Revelation.

And yet you deny the scripture when you don't use the King James Bible.  It the preserved perfect in the English language.  
While you argument is valid, it is greatly lessened when you quote from a corrupted translation.  The correct verses follow:

Mar 8:34  And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
Mar 8:35  For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it.
Mar 8:36  For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
Mar 8:37  Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
Mar 8:38  Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.

Richard Matthews - 11/13/2011 8:03:56 PM

11/15/2011 3:52 PM #

Dear Mr. Matthews,

Thanks for commenting on the ABR website.

In this sort of forum, it is not be possible to be thorough enough to interact with your commentary on Bible translations. Frankly, it is difficult to understand why "King James Only-ism" persists so dogmatically in the church. There are so many insuperable difficulties with this position, that it is impossible to document them all. The most obvious is that the Bible itself makes no such promise of one inerrant line of inspired transmission of the text. The KJV "Only" position is one that has no basis in Scripture itself. What the Bible does promise is that:

1. God inspired the original text, and what the original authors wrote was inerrant and infallible.

2. That, in the words of Christ himself: "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away." Since Jesus is the eternally begotten Son of God, the entire corpus of the 66 books of the Bible are actually His Words. God promised preservation, but does not promise the MEANS of preservation.

The KJV was, and remains, an excellent translation. But it is just that: a translation. The Geneva Bible, Wycliffe's translations, the Bishop's Bible, the Septuagint, the Targums, and original language MSS were used to construct the KJV. The textual criticism involved in creating the KJV was an earlier version of what scholars do today. It was not an inspired process, there is no proof that it was, and there is no Biblical warrant to say that it was. It is obvious to anyone who is intellectually honest that the KJV has shortcomings that can be improved upon. Two brief examples prove that the King James is not a specially preserved, infallibly transmitted Bible.

1. The KJV translates the Hebrew "se'irim" in Isaiah 13:21 and 34:14 as "satyrs". A satyr is a creature from Greek mythology. Linguistic study and subsequent MSS reveal this is an ERROR. A better translation is "hairy male goats". Are you willing to tell an unbeliever that a "satyr" is a real animal?

2. 1 Kgs 10:28–29 refers to horses that Solomon imported from (the Hebrew word) "qowe". The KJV translators could not figure out what it meant, so they translated it "linen yarn". This is INCORRECT. The study of archaeology has shown that the correct translation is "Kue". We now know "qowe" קֹוֶה/קֹוֵא was a Neo-Hittite kingdom in Cilicia in southern Turkey named Que/Kue in the ancient texts. The KJV translators made an honest mistake, but a mistake nonetheless. See: www.biblearchaeology.org/.../...cal-Conundrum.aspx

We recently published an article in Bible and Spade, "The King James Bible and the Importance of Textual Criticism". In it, author Tani Fenwick outlines some of these problems, and also discusses the history behind the KJV. The KJV is an important and highly commendable work. See: www.biblearchaeology.org/.../product.aspx?id=146

I certainly appreciate your desire to defend the Word of God. Unfortunately, King James "Onlyism" serves only to embarrass and marginalize the church. It amounts to an irrational fideism that denies the obvious evidence.

The view of the authors of the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy is far, far better:

Article X.

WE AFFIRM that inspiration, strictly speaking, applies only to the autographic text of Scripture, which in the providence of God can be ascertained from available manuscripts with great accuracy. We further affirm that copies and translations of Scripture are the Word of God to the extent that they faithfully represent the original.

WE DENY that any essential element of the Christian faith is affected by the absence of the autographs. We further deny that this absence renders the assertion of Biblical inerrancy invalid or irrelevant.

I would strongly recommend you abandon the KJV Only view for one that has actual Biblical warrant.

Sincerely in Christ,

Henry Smith
ABR Staff

Henry Smith - 11/15/2011 3:52:58 PM

4/21/2012 6:49 PM #

I love your article and agree with your point, and yet we must be slow to judge. At times it is those you are not against us who are our allies and should not be rebuked. At other times it is those who are not with us who are against us. If he retains his faith in Christ it will serve as an anchor to his faith and he may yet be won by our faith and endurance. Let us nurture these precious young souls.

Thomas - 4/21/2012 6:49:37 PM

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