Newton, R.-Right and Wrong Uses of the Bible

This work explains the misuse (and correct use) of the Bible.

Contents.

Preface

The Unreal Bible.This theory has no sufficient sanction by the Church.
The Bible nowhere makes any such claim of infallibility for itself.
The Bible carries the refutation of this claim upon the face of its writings.
The growth of this theory is plain to us, and discredits its authority.
This theory is incapable of a statement which is not self-stultifying.
This theory of our Bible is, in our age, seen to be the same theory which all peoples have entertained of their bibles.
The Real Bible.These books have the venerableness which belongs to ancient writings.
These books form the literature of a noble race.
This literature of the Jewish nation and of the Christian Church is intrinsically noble.
This literature has been very influential in the development of progressive civilization.
Israel’s specialty in history was religion.
Israel’s literature became thus a religious literature.
Israel’s literature presents us, in the various moods and tenses of her life, with the various phases of religion.
Israel’s literature presents us with the record of a continuous growth of religion upward through its normal stages.
Israel’s literature records the forcing forward of this growth of religion, as by some Power back of man, shaping its ends, rough-hew them as it might.
Israel’s literature thus presents the picture of a nation’s patient, insistent pressing forward, through long centuries, toward the fruition of its ideal, the realization of true religion.
The literature of Christian Israel records the realization of this long sought ideal, the fruition of this organic growth.
This organic growth of a national religion into a catholic ideal, not without parallels elsewhere, is, however unique in respect to the conditions for a truly Universal Religion.
Of the literature of the people through whom came this organic evolution of the keystoning religion of earth what can we say but that it records a real revelation coming through genuine personal inspirations from on high!.
The Wrong Uses of the Bible.It is a wrong use of the Bible to set it in its entirety before all classes and all ages.
It is a wrong use of the Bible to accept its utterances indiscriminately as the words of God, to quote every saying of every speaker in its pages, or every deed of every actor in its histories as expressing to us the mind of God.
It is a wrong use of the Bible to accept everything recorded therein as necessarily true.
It is a wrong use of the Bible to consult it as a heathen oracle for the determining of our judgments and the decision of our actions.
It is a wrong use of the Bible to go to it, as the heathen went to their oracles, for divination of the future.
The Wrong Uses of the Bible.It is a wrong use of the Bible to go to it as an authority in any sphere save the spheres of theology and of religion.
It is a wrong use of the Bible, for the purposes of theology or religion, to give its language any other meaning than that which similar language would have under similar circumstances.
It is a wrong use of the Bible to construct a theology out of it, by the mechanical system of proof texts in vogue in the churches.
It is a wrong use of the Bible to disregard the chronological order of its parts in constructing our theology.
It is a wrong use of the Bible to cite its authors as of equal authority, even in the spheres of theology and religion.
It is a wrong use of the Bible to manufacture cut of it any one uniform, system, of theology, as the fixed and final form of thought in which religion is to live.
The Right Critical Use of the Bible.Every aid of outward form should be used to make these books appear as living “letters” to us.
Each writing having an intrinsic unity should, by such aids, be studied as a whole.
Each great book should, as a whole, be read in its proper place in Hebrew and Christian history.
The books which are of a composite character should be read in their several parts, and traced to their proper places in history.
These writings should be read critically, until we can decipher the successive hands working upon them, and interpret them accordingly.
The Right Historical Use of the Bible.The Epoch of Moses: B.C. 1300(?).
The heroic age: B.C. 1300-1100..
The period of the monarchy, down to the epoch of the great prophets: B. C. 1100-800..
The era of the great prophets, before the exile: B.C. 800-586..
The Epoch of the Exile: B.C. 586-536..
The period of the Restoration, from B.C. 536..
The Right Ethical and Spiritual Use of the Bible.We have here the simple, homely, prudential aspects of virtue, which have always been particularly powerful on certain ages and classes.
These laws of life that work for our health and wealth loom, however, into mystic and sacred forms, as of the laws heavenly and eternal, whose “seat is the bosom of God.”
The Law thus mystic and sacred is seen to be both the law of nature and the law of the human soul.
The Bible leads us on to that sense of sin, in the presence of this “Law,” which no lower thought of law can quicken.
The Bible wakens in the breast of man an ethical passion for the ideal and eternal law, which, apart from early Buddhism, has no parallel in history.
The Bible reveals these ethical ideals as no mere alluring visions, but as the substantial realities of being.
The Bible thus inspires a buoyancy and exhilaration which feed the fresh forces of all noble life.
The Bible leads this sense of Law into that awful vision wherein “Conscious Law is King of kings.”
God speaks in a man.
“When Sir Walter Scott lay in his last illness…”

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