"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of truth." — (Psalm 60:4)
"Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them." — (Isaiah 13:2)
Devoted To The Defense Of The Church Against All Errors And Innovations
Vol.X No.II Pg.2-3a
February 1948

Raising An Issue

Cled E. Wallace

In the January issue of the Vermont Avenue Church Bulletin an editorial appears on "Great

Issues." Brother R. N. 'Squire, the author of it,

"is one of the elders of the Vermont Avenue Church. He also supervises our program of church music." The meeting house of this church is situated on the campus of Pepperdine College and Dr. Ralph Wilburn is the preacher. Both he and Brother Squire are teachers in the college. Brother Squire evidently thinks he has raised an issue in the following paragraph of his editorial, and I'm afraid he has.

"Again, in Paul's writings one reads that God rewarded Abraham for faith while holding Abraham's works in disregard: and in James' writings one reads that God rewarded Abraham in accordance with Abraham's works and not according to his faith. To some this apparent discrepancy in the teaching of James and Paul is an obstacle, even a hazard: Persons who would take a view of 'verbal inspiration' which would move them to declare, 'We do not interpret the Bible: we read it and do what it says": or which would move them to refuse to study the Scripture in its setting and its application both as to time and to contextual reference, would drive themselves (not seeing that James thought of works as manifesting faith and that Paul thought of faith as begetting works) to being 'Paulists' or what not. Such a consequence would represent a turning out of the main channel."

"Its application both as to time and to contextual reference" may "drive" me to be more critical of some things in this paragraph than I would normally be. Pointed charges of unsound teaching in the Bible Department, "school of religion" or whatever it is in Pepperdine College, have been made by some men who are supposed to know what they are talking about. This unsoundness is on the modernistic side. Many disquieting rumors are floating about. The position of the school for doing great good or great harm guarantees that its pronouncements on religious issues will be critically perused. If there is no sound ground for criticism, the school has nothing to fear or be jittery about. Otherwise it will be rightly subjected to unsavory publicity based on such facts as may develop from time to time. The claim has been made that the schools will furnish ninety-five percent of the qualified preachers and elders for the churches. You may be sure that churches and brethren generally will be interested in what is taught in these schools...

That "verbal inspiration" which Brother Squire puts in quotation marks catches my eye. I am not interested in theories of inspiration. I do firmly believe in the inspiration the Bible claims for itself. Jesus said to his disciples: "Be not anxious how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father that speaketh in you." (Matt. 10:19, 20) "Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate beforehand how to answer: for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay." (Luke 21:13-14) Paul claims that the things he preached and wrote were inspired by "the spirit which is from God; that we might know the things that were freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Spirit teacheth, (I Cor. 2:12,13) Paul thought that he was using the "words" of the Spirit. That sounds like verbal inspiration to me and I am not tempted to use quotation marks. Just what sort of inspiration does Brother Squire believe in? If the Holy Spirit revealed the truth to men and exercised such influence over them as to guarantee the correct expression of that truth, then you have verbal inspiration or its equivalent. There would not be enough difference to argue about.

The idea seems to be that if you believe in verbal inspiration you will be tempted to read the Bible and do what it says "and refuse to study the Scripture in its setting and its application both as to time and to contextual refer‑

ence." Well now, I confess that I read the Bible and try to do what it says and I have not been tempted as far as I know "to refuse to study the Scripture in its setting and its application both as to time and to contextual reference." Whether inspired or not, any writing that is worth studying should be studied with due regard to such circumstances. The accepted laws of language are to be applied alike to all writings regardless of whether or not they are inspired. Inspired writings are bound to be true while others may or may not be, according to circumstances. The question of whether or not we have an infallible Bible seems to be bound up in this "great issue."

Whether or not his views of inspiration have anything to do with it is not clear, but the brother has apparently missed "the main channel" in his reference to Paul and James. Both were verbally inspired to tell the truth and they told it without contradiction. Paul says that justification is "by faith" and not by works that make faith "void" such as those of the law of Moses or any other kind that would justify on the ground of human merit and give the justified an occasion for boasting. He does not say that obedience to the gospel is not a condition of justification. He emphasizes the necessity of obedience as strongly as James does.

James says that justification is "by works," the kind that make faith "perfect." He makes it clear that it is not by faith only and Paul did not say it was. And James did not say that justification is by the works of the law of Moses, or any other kind that Paul says it is not by. A man does not have to put verbal inspiration in quotation marks and make faces at it as though it were a superstition, to reconcile Paul and James or to be more exact, to recognize the fact that they are in perfect agreement on a "great issue."