Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 24, 1956

Destructive Criticism Or Modernism

Robert H. Farish, Lexington, Kentucky

Half a century ago faithful brethren were combating an attitude toward the scriptures which they referred to as "Destructive Criticism." Those who cultivated and sought to maintain this attitude which had its origin in Germany, very naturally refused the title which so accurately described the result of their attitude and efforts. They vigorously denied the logical fruits of the attitude insisting that the Bible would not be degraded nor the faith of man destroyed by the "new scientific method." This attitude was opposed with vigor by J. W. McGarvey, David Lipscomb, Hall Calhoun and others of that day. The success of their efforts was in a large measure due to the fact that they steadfastly referred to this movement in terms that accurately described the character and result of the attitude.

The same spirit or attitude is operating, with appalling success in our day, under the alias modernism. It is the same old hag, with the same nature, clothed in same garb and engaged in the same occupation of seducing men from the faith, merely by introducing or having herself introduced as "modernism."

'Still more dangerous is the condition in which the attitude of the destructive critics or modernist is held but not identified or acknowledged as such. Those in this condition are afflicted with some fundamental characteristics of modernism while still giving lip service to "conservative" views. They bitterly deny being modernist yet continue to employ the terminology of the modernist to express their views. Such indifference to "sound words which cannot be condemned" is inexcusable.

In view of current conditions the complacent cry of "peace! peace"! is out of place. Brethren need to be aroused to the dangers confronting the church of the Lord. We must be caused to realize that our problems largely stem from an improper attitude toward the authority of the scriptures, which attitude finds congenial conditions for growth in the general worldliness and indifference to spiritual things so much in evidence today.

Brother Hall L. Calhoun wrote a tract reviewing and combating "Destructive Criticism." This tract deserves to be made available to the public of our day. The conviction that a wide circulation of the tract will aid in saving some from making shipwreck of the faith is the reason for publishing this tract in the Gospel Guardian. I believe that it should also be put into tract form and suggest to others who think as I do, that they write the editor urging him to reprint this tract.

It is interesting to note that at the time Brother Calhoun wrote this he was still trying to "go along" with the "missionary agencies" of the digressive church. Brother Calhoun finally repudiated the missionary societies and the instrumental music. These innovations can get in only where an improper attitude toward the authority of the scriptures exists. This would become evident to one with the mental and spiritual powers of Brother Calhoun; and upon identifying these innovations as fruits of destructive criticism his great soul would not be capable of endorsing them by a continued fellowship with those who practiced such things.