This article was first published in the Spring 2006 issue of Bible and Spade.
The explosion of the modern-day creationist movement began in the early 1960s with the publication and release of the Whitcomb/Morris classic, The Genesis Flood. It was a much needed and overdue response to 100 years of Darwinism, which had reshaped the educational establishment and indoctrinated millions with evolutionary dogma. Since the release of The Genesis Flood, the Christian community has risen up to refute the bankruptcy of evolutionary thought and demonstrate that Biblical creationism is a much more viable explanation for the origin of the universe and its biological life forms.
The situation regarding the history of the rest of the Bible, however, has been much different. The Biblical record has always been under attack in one way or another. There are certain attacks, however, that direct thousands away from the truths contained in the Bible, ultimately causing them to reject their need for salvation through the Son of God. One such attack was Wellhausen’s Documentary Hypothesis in the late 19th century. Wellhausen hypothesized that Moses was not the author of the Pentateuch. Instead, the first five books of the Bible were written centuries later by multiple authors. Although much work has been done to refute Wellhausen, his theory caused severe damage in the church and in seminaries—damage still being felt today.
Seminaries had already begun moving away from emphasizing apologetics, and combined with compromise regarding the doctrine of inerrancy, the end result was an almost universal acceptance of Wellhausen’s theory both outside and inside the church. Great institutions like Princeton Theological Seminary began their tragic slide into liberalism. When Wellhausen’s theory was combined with the effects of Darwinism and Marx’s Communist Manifesto, the result was devastating. Skeptics were emboldened, and many within the church were “tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming” (Ephesians 4:14). An unfortunate circumstance, indeed!
In the late 19th century, Biblical archaeologists began to uncover evidence that upheld the history of the Bible. Many discoveries undermined Wellhausen’s theory. In fact, the church at large was involved in the funding of Biblical archaeology. Unfortunately, this did not last for long. As seminaries began to churn out new graduates who did not see the great need for apologetics, churches simply became disinterested in funding archaeological research. Today, the church does very little to fund evangelical Biblical archaeological research at all.
Secular universities were being armed with millions of dollars of funding, and became the primary researchers in the field. Most “Biblical archaeologists” today are not evangelicals, and can be characterized as minimalists or moderates at best. Rarely do we find the sentiments of inerrancy and infallibility in the field. Many aspects of the Biblical record are dismissed as mythical or reinterpreted to conform to contemporary thinking. The result: Biblical history is subjected to skepticism and undermined at every turn.
These unfortunate events can be summarized as follows:
1) Seminaries moved away from Biblical inerrancy and apologetics. Church leaders followed this trend.
2) Wellhausen’s theory, combined with the effects of Darwin and Marx, was a serious attack launched against the Biblical record.
3) Funding for evangelical Biblical archaeology dried up.
4) Biblical archaeology largely was taken over by skeptics and secularists who did not treat the Bible as a serious historical document.
5) Today there are only a few evangelical scholars who are working to uphold the history of the Bible in the field of Biblical archaeology.
The staff of ABR stands with only a few in defending the Biblical record with archaeological research and fieldwork. Today’s historical landscape for the evangelical Biblical archaeologist resembles 1960 for the evangelical creation scientist. Will the body of Christ begin to rise up regarding Biblical archaeology, as it has regarding creationism? Will the church go on the offensive, taking back the history of the Bible and refuting claims that undermine its accuracy? Will the seminaries begin to reemphasize apologetics in a culture that so desperately needs it? Will Christians begin to see the desperate need to fund evangelical Biblical archaeological research and fieldwork?
We hope so. And we challenge the reader to see the critical need ABR fills. As you read this current issue of Bible and Spade, be reminded that God has entrusted all believers to take His Word seriously and with great reverence. God has acted in history. We must defend that history when it comes under attack. And we must continue to demonstrate that alternative historical theories and explanations that contradict the Biblical record do not hold up to scrutiny.
It feels like 1960! But with your support, we can expand our work in the field of Biblical archaeology, and achieve in this field what our creationist friends have achieved in theirs. We know God is faithful in blessing efforts to uphold His Holy Writ. We humbly ask for your prayers and your support. To God be the Glory!
Recommended Resources for Further Study
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