Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 5, 1955
NUMBER 1, PAGE 1,10b

Modernism In Gospel Advocate Literature

Robert C. Welch, Louisville, Kentucky

A former article called attention to the modernism being taught in the Bible study literature which is written, edited and published by the Gospel Advocate. In that article quotations were given from the Adult Gospel Quarterly, second quarter, 1951, concerning the prophet Hosea. Those quotations stated that the prophet was moved to write as he did by his own family conditions and by his emotions. Also, quotations were given from McGarvey, in his book, Biblical Criticism, showing that the Advocate statements are modernism of the rankest sort. Of course, the writers and editor are not avowed modernists. They are just beginning to launch out into this field. Perhaps the writer and editor are unwitting tools in the hands of the modernists whom they study and from whom they so freely quote.

Trice And Roberson Give This Explanation Of Modernism:

"Modernism is based on Psychology, i.e., upon subjective feeling. Psychological theology deals not with God, but with man's religious feelings and sentiments. So also psychological ethics deal not with an objective morality, but with man's own feelings and sentiments. This is fundamental with modernism." (Bible vs. Modernism, p. 113.)

The Advocate's comments about Hosea are clearly epitomized in this statement. It seems that the Advocate writers have forgotten that inspired prophecy comes as men are moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21), hence, is not dependent upon man's emotions, his feelings and sentiments. The same quarterly continues to comment on the Minor Prophets in the same vein.

Emotionalism Of Nahum

The prophet, Nahum, is considered by the Gospel Advocate to be a man on the verge of a nervous breakdown. The way they describe him he must have had strong tendencies toward paranoia and dementia-praecox. He is said to have "sensitive emotions," to have "hatred of others," to be "almost fanatical," to have a "vivid imagination," and of course, to be a good "poet." Read carefully the description in the Quarterly:

"He was a patriotic individual, with extremely sensitive emotions; and he possessed an abiding hatred for the Assyrians. He had seen repeated evidence of their godless cruelty and inhuman conduct toward others, and he was almost fanatical in his exultation of the impending doom of the wicked city. He had a vivid imagination; and to him the seas, the hills, the storms, the clouds and the river were symbols of God's fury and wrath. As a poet he had few equals. His sense of a holy God, outraged by wicked and unscrupulous men, drove him to lengths unreached by others." ,(p. 38.)

This is the kind of thing that one might expect to read about the author of some type of sadistic twenty-five cent book; but, surely, we are not to expect the book of God to come from such fleshly emotions and demented minds. How can a teacher speak to a group of reasonable people about a Book which is addressed to the reason so as to produce faith, when he has as a commentary the Gospel Advocate Quarterly which says that the writer was "almost fanatical" in the writing of that book? Who can say, "Nay," to the fanatical behavior of the "holiness" sects, while at the same time present the Bible as a book coming from fanatics? It is entirely possible for the Holy Spirit to cause the Bible to be written in words according to the "style" of the various authors. But that is not the same as attributing its production to their styles, emotions and imaginations.

Nahum had a "vivid imagination," according to the Advocate scholar. So vivid was his imagination that he could dream up likenesses of God's wrath in the hills, storms, seas, and rivers. What is happening? The writer is attributing an inspired book with its figures and illustrations to the product of an hallucination and poetic imagination. He is representing the prophet as outreaching others in the height of his production by his "sense of holy God, being outraged." Did the prophet write the book because he was outraged? or, did he write it because he was moved by the Holy Spirit? Modernism, together with the Gospel Advocate, says the former; the Scriptures say the latter.

McGarvey quoted Professor Sanday of Oxford, whom he classifies among the number of higher critics, as saying some things about the inspired writers which correspond to the above idea of Nahum:

"I know nothing which would mark off these merely as narratives from others of the same kind outside the Bible. I know of nothing which should isolate them, and prevent us from judging them as we should other similar narratives. Their authority must needs rise or fall according to the relation of the writer to the events; some will rank higher, some lower; some will carry with them better attestation than others. But so far as the Bible itself instructs us on the point, I do not see how we can claim for them a strict immunity from error." (From Biblical Criticism, p. 52.)

When you have read this statement of modernism, turn back and read the Advocate's comment on Nahum. Notice that Nahum is considered a better poet and better writer, with a more vivid imagination, than others. Sanday says "some will rank higher, some lower, some will carry with them better attestation than others." The Advocate avers this of Nahum in comparison with the other writers of the Scriptures.

There are three quotations given in this lesson on Nahum from the Advocate literature which should be presented here because they go right along with the Quarterly's own comment:

"The doom of Nineveh has been delineated by one upon whom besides the gift of prophecy, God bestowed the highest poetical powers." (Gandell.)

"His language is strong and brilliant; his rhythm rumbles and rolls, leaps and flashes, like the horseman and chariots he describes." (George Adam Smith.)

"The most vivid and passionate fragment of declamation in all literature." (Brice.)

Reading From Modernist Authors

One of the above authors is classified by McGarvey in Biblical Criticism as belonging to the group of higher critics, whose theory is now called modernism. The Advocate has freely quoted from other authors who are placed in this same category by McGarvey. These have been noted: George Adam Smith, Parker Cadman, and S. R. Driver. What about Yates and Ward, and possibly some others from whom he freely quotes? It shows that he has a high regard for them in his preparation of these lessons, yet they teach modernism.

A profound scholarship may be demonstrated by the use of, and quotations from, these men who deny inspiration from God, but such a course of study will destroy faith in God as He is revealed in the Bible. Is this the kind of teaching we must be forced to accept when the Advocate succeeds (?) in isolating all those who do not follow her leadership in church-supported-institutions practice? Perhaps these brethren, who are being honored with the publication of their testimonials of, "how the Old Reliable has helped them," have never seen these things in her literature. Perhaps the elder who wants the Advocate to print a list of banned preachers has been put to sleep by the Miscellanea editorial and did not study his Sunday morning Bible lesson to see what kind of faith killing modernism was being taught under the protection of the century-old title.

(More to follow)