How Scotland Lost Its Hold of the Bible

By Iain H. Murray - Posted at The Banner of Truth:



How Scotland Lost Its Hold of the Bible1 was first published in The Banner of Truth magazine, No. 623-624 (Aug-Sep 2015). The article can be downloaded as a 28-page print-ready pdf here, and may be freely printed and distributed.

Man is now thinking out a Bible for himself; framing a religion in harmony with the development of liberal thought; constructing a worship on the principles of taste and culture; shaping a god to suit the expanding aspirations of the age. … The extent of the mischief no one can calculate. A soul without faith, a church without faith, a nation without faith, a world without faith – what is to be their future? What is their present? When faith goes, all good things go. When unbelief comes in, all evil things follow. — Horatius Bonar.2

There are times when Christians are conscious that a book has come to them just when it was specially needed. It was so with me one February day in 1954 when, as a student at Durham University, a second-hand book came into my hands with the title A Critical History of Free Thought in Reference to the Christian Religion. The author was Adam S. Farrar and the volume was one of the famous series of Bampton Lectures delivered at Oxford in 1862. The date is significant. It was before the authority of Scripture was discounted in British universities, and Farrar, an evangelical, spent nearly 700 pages reviewing man’s opposition to the word of God across the centuries.3

I was then having my own experience of opposition to the trustworthiness of Scripture, and this book showed me that this was no new thing. Attacks on the word of God are as old as the time when the unregenerate mind of fallen man became ‘enmity against God’ (Rom. 8:7). I needed to learn this key to an understanding of history. It is the explanation for the hostility of the heathen nations to Israel in the Old Testament. The unique difference of Israel lay not in themselves, but in the revelation they received from heaven. God gave them prophets who affirmed, ‘The Spirit of the Lord speaks by me, and his word is on my tongue’ (2 Sam. 23:2). ‘He shows his word to Jacob, his statutes and judgments unto Israel. He has not dealt so with any other nation’ (Psa. 147:19-20). ‘What advantage then has the Jew?’ the apostle asked (Rom. 3:1) ‘Chiefly’ – in the first place – ‘because to them were committed the oracles of God.’ At its heart, the assault on Israel was war on the word of God.

Move on to the New Testament. Why the 300 years of persecution of Christians? John on Patmos tell us it was ‘for the word of God’. Sufferers are described by Christ as those who ‘have kept my word’ (Rev. 3:8), and those put to death are said to be ‘slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held’ (Rev. 6:9).

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