Thomas Franklin Day.

The new Bible-country online

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things constitute its ultimate purpose. I will not
attempt to give all the reasons which support
this conviction, but I will instance one or two.

Its purpose cannot have been to unroll the
panorama of history; for the way in which the
Bible deals with historical events shows an utter
indifference to order and proportion, such as the
historian would naturally observe. There are
unaccountable breaks in the narrative, wide gaps
left for conjecture to fill up, redundancies, loiter-
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The New Bible-Country

ings by the way, expansion of personal details,
which in a history proper would take a secondary
place, if inserted at all. The interest of the
biblical writers centered in just those things which
charm us most, viz., personalia, individual traits
of character, every-day happenings. These writers
had access to documents from which they could
have constructed a more extensive and orderly nar-
rative of events. The fact that they did not choose
so to use these documents, even while making
selections from them, proves that they had an-
other purpose in mind.

Again, the purpose of the Bible is not to teach
science. This almost seems too obvious to call
for proof. One thing is certain, the inhabitants
of the new country spend no time in seeking to
harmonize the statements of the Bible with the
conclusions of modern science, for the simple
reason that such harmony is impossible and un-
necessary. They think one might as well try to
harmonize the Ptolemaic with the Copernican
system of astronomy. The so-called science of
the Bible is not science in the strict sense. It
cannot be judged by the standards of the present
day. The new-country scholars find it more
profitable to study these primitive statements in
the light of their own time than to indulge in what
they regard as artificial and useless modes of har-
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The New Bible-Country

monization. If the purpose of the Bible was some-
thing other than a scientific purpose, then why,
say they, should we hold the Bible to strict account
for its statements regarding matters that fall
within the domain of science ?

Keeping to the facts, and by their light inquir-
ing what is the Bible's supreme purpose, they
find it to be this, and this only: the revealing of
God's character and will to men, and the recovery
of sinful men to God. The Bible, it is believed,
must be judged in the light of this purpose alone.
Therefore, the men of the new country hold fast,
in a large and luminous way, to the doctrine of
inspiration. They judge the Bible by its fruits.
They believe it to be the product of a unique
inspiration, and therefore the supreme book of
the world, because light from God shines from it
most clearly, and in it man can read his duty
most accurately.

The Bible serves its purpose unerringly. It
reveals the character and will of God, and it is
the instrument of grace in recovering sinful men
to God. This has been its history in the past
ages, and this shall be its glory through all coming
time. The Bible has not failed, it does not fail,
and it never can fail, in the accomplishment of
this one sovereign and gracious purpose. In this
respect the Bible stands forever impregnable.

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To speak of any other kind of inerrancy is quite
aside from the Bible's real purpose.

People who live in the new country are not sur-
prised, therefore, when they are told that historical
statements of the Bible are not always free from
error, and that the science of the Bible cannot be
brought into accord with the science of our time.
It is true that in the days of our fathers the doc-
trine of inspiration was so defined as to involve
the absolute inerrancy of every part of Scripture.
Such of their children, however, as live in the new
country, hold that the Bible nowhere claims for
itself such infallibility, but is itself a witness to
the contrary. The infallibility lies in its power to
accomplish its spiritual purpose. In fulfilling this
purpose the Bible presses to the forefront of the
world's literature and stands there forever in
splendid isolation. It is infallible, not because it
tells the story of the flood, or the story of David
and Goliath with literal accuracy, but because it
tells the story of God's self-revelation to man with
satisfying fullness.

The supreme position which the Bible holds
to-day is due to the perfect revelation of divine
wisdom and grace which it gives in its portraiture
of Jesus Christ. In the transcendent personality
of Christ is the real and final inerrancy. Infalli-
bility is essentially the characteristic, not of a book,
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The New Bible-Country

but of a person, a spiritual person, a divine-human
person. The doctrine of infallibility comes to
rest in Jesus. What though the Bible be defec-
tive in some of its historical statements, imperfect
in its explanation of natural phenomena ? It shows
us unerringly Him who is the life and truth and
grace of God incarnate, and we come to faim that
we may have life, that we may know the truth,
that we may be saved by grace.

Jesus' own attitude to the Old Testament, it is
claimed, confirms this view. For He repealed
outright certain long-standing doctrines, some of
them having Old Testament sanction. "It was
said to them of old time but I say unto you."
If we believe in the infallibility of Jesus, we cannot
believe even in the moral infallibility of every
particular passage of Scripture.

The foregoing recital does not include all the
beliefs that are current among the inhabitants of
the new Bible-country. It was not my intention
to describe these exhaustively. I fear that what
I have presented to you will occasion misunder-
standing, and possibly create alarm; and some
of you, perhaps, may think that it is a very unsafe
country to live in. You may suspect that the
government is unstable, that the people are lawless
and indifferent to sacred things. You may at
least think that the climate must be variable and
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The New Bible-Country

changes of weather frequent. You may possibly
entertain a suspicion that there are no safeguards
against intellectual vagaries, that every man can
think as he pleases, and that opinions change
incessantly.

It is true that in the new country a greater de-
gree of freedom prevails than in the old country,
but it is a freedom sanctioned and regulated by
law. The government of the old country may be
likened to an absolute monarchy, while that of the
new country is framed after the model of a republic.
The interpretation of the Bible is dominated in the
old country by a more rigid theory of inspiration
than that which prevails in the new country. A
larger measure of liberty, therefore, is accorded to
criticism and private judgment in the new country
than would be thought advisable in the old
country.

It is a common objection that the new-country
folk are greatly given to controversies among
themselves, and are often at a disagreement in
important matters. The same might be said of
the American Republic. But all who live under the
Stars and Stripes are content with their surround-
ings, despite the conflict of parties. The old coun-
try has perplexing problems of its own to deal with,
and many real difficulties to face. To some minds
these problems become insoluble, and the diffi-
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The New Bible-Country

culties unbearable, and the only way of escape is
through emigration.

Without stopping to argue whether the old Bible-
country or the new is the better country to live in,
it only remains to be said that the new country is
rapidly filling up with emigrants from the old.
Speaking geographically, England, Scotland, Ger-
many, Canada, and the United States have sent
large and influential companies of settlers, who
have made their home in the new country. Within
recent years the flow of emigration has been de-
cidedly on the increase.

The new country is "a far-stretching land,"
and offers unlimited possibilities of growth. In
extent it is larger than the old country, but much
of it is still unexplored and promises rich results
to the enthusiastic and diligent laborer. It is a
land where hard and honest toil will reap great
rewards. The facilities for extensive and success-
ful study are abundant. Libraries abound.
Books and periodicals circulate freely. The
people point with pride to their eminent scholars
and to the vast array of great books which are the
product of their untiring industry. Though it is
a land of magnificent distances, travelling is be-
coming easier, and distant points are becoming
more accessible.

There was once bitter strife between the holders
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The New Bible-Country

of the new opinions and the champions of the old,
as there was strife between Abram's herdmen and
those of Lot. Now, as then, it has been discovered
that the way of separation is the way of peace.
By this I do not mean that the men of the new
country have broken off social relations with
their fellows, or left the church of their fathers,
or forsaken the land of their birth. I mean
simply that they have found room to dwell in, in
the wide realm of thought, without engaging in
personal disputes with their neighbors who do not
agree with them. The boundaries of both coun-
tries are so well defined that every man who thinks
may soon discover to which he naturally belongs.
The process of naturalization in the new country
is sufficiently difficult to make exclusion laws
unnecessary. So far as my knowledge goes, there
are few, if any, " undesirable citizens."

Intercommunication between the two countries
is to be encouraged. Mutual acquaintance is de-
sirable. The inhabitants of the old country,
especially, ought to know the character and ways,
the prevailing ideals and beliefs of the people
who dwell in the new country. There can be no
compulsory emigration, but the tourist should
be in evidence on both sides of the dividing sea.

If the old country, with its staid, old-fashioned
and venerable customs, satisfies you ; if you dare
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not risk the excitement and hardship incident to
life in a new country, the only thing to do is to
remain where you are, happy in the grace of God
that shines from the open sky above you. But if
you are dissatisfied with your present intellectual
home ; if you feel restricted ; if difficulties attend
your study of the Bible, which the traditional ex-
planation fails to clear up ; if you would know the
Bible as newly interpreted, you will find in the new
country not less law but more freedom; and out
of the same open sky, that now beams upon you,
grace will flow from the same God whose chil-
dren dwell both in the old land and in the new.



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UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA LIBRARY





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Online LibraryThomas Franklin DayThe new Bible-country → online text (page 2 of 2)