The Advanced Bible School A Success
Venture of epochal importance has just been completed this past summer —the Advanced Bible School, offering graduate work for our college and academy Bible teachers. Conducted at Pacific Union College for a twelve-week period, under the direction of the General Conference, and staffed by a corps of qualified instructors and special lecturers, it was considered a success by all who participated, both student body and faculty.
It may rightfully be denominated epochal, because we believe it will ultimately prove to be a turning point in our educational work, stemming disturbing trends through providing constructive and needed scholastic opportunity, and at the same time giving impetus to higher and more adequate standards in our Bible teaching and ministerial training. We believe it will continue and enlarge, and will not only constitute a permanent institution, but, in a very real and tangible sense, be a strong conservation measure for the cause we love and serve. There has been recognized weakness at this point. Providing for all other groups, we have not heretofore cared for this obvious need.
Just as physicians must have periodic postgraduate work, else their skill wanes and they fall behind their colleagues professionally, so must our Bible teachers have opportunity to broaden their knowledge and enlarge their equipment for the highest and most delicate teaching work in the entire field of pedagogy. Otherwise, stagnation or deterioration is inevitable—which is unthinkable in our program. Our Bible departments should and must be the peer of any and all others in power and influence, resulting from sheer knowledge, spiritual life and understanding, and pedagogical skill. We must adequately meet the solemn demands of this work.
L. E. F.
The New Testament Canon No. 11
Thus the twenty-seven books of the New Testament were given to us, one by one, by the appointed founders of the church—the apostles whom Christ had chosen to be the authoritative proclaimers of His gospel. But after all were individually written, still there was no New Testament as such. The writings were scattered, and more or less isolated, as we have seen. The first steps toward a canon were taken, as noted, by assembling small collections in various places, so that our full New Testament is, in a sense, a collection of those collections.
We have, in our study of the formation of the canon, systematically surveyed (1) the credential of apostolic authority requisite to full and free acceptance of the New Testament canon by the Christian church; (2) the satisfying evidence of historical authenticity available for receiving the individual and assembled parts of our present canon as the very word of God to man, penned in the first century by the human instruments of divine choice; and (3) the historic record of the initial projection, later assemblage, and general acceptance of the component books during the first four centuries of the Christian era,—tracing this first by centuries and well-defined periods, and then in the chronological order of the writing.
As a result, the New Testament speaks to us afresh with the inescapable voice of divine authority, differentiated from all other books by this very authoritativeness that is not the product of literary genius on the part of the disciples, nor of the selective instinct of ecclesiastical councils in early ages, but springs from the inspired and inherent truth of the writings themselves in conveying God's message to man, in harmony with His sovereign plan and provision. Thus they constitute the very embodiment of divine authority, the provided rule or standard of belief and conduct in the Christian church,—for every well-ordered organization must have such a norm of belief and action.
This authority, we have seen, is discovered, first externally, by apostolic authorship, and acceptance in the oldest and principal apostolic churches, with proper transmission to later generations; and second, internally, through the inherent power by which the several books authenticate themselves as inspired. This latter may be denominated their moral credential, but constitutes proof only to the individual receiving it, and cannot be made evidence to another.
The assaults of modern critics are simply a denial of the value and validity of historical evidence. But to be diverted from this sound basis for our confidence by their irrational attacks would be to flaunt the universally accepted principle of sound historical evidence which governs in every investigation of this character. It would leave the growth of the Christian church and its inseparable Book without an adequate explanation, with mankind headed for the great port of destiny devoid of dependable chart or compass. Indeed, the omission of a single book that has been attacked would mar the unity and symmetry of the whole, and break the completeness and perfection of the inspired collection. With such destructive objectives and tactics we have no part nor sympathy.
We must therefore conclude, on the basis of the evidence submitted, that the original or antecedent cause of writing was the great commission of Christ to His apostles;-the immediate cause was the particular circumstance that made the penning of the individual book necessary; the motivating cause of assemblage and recognition was the rise of the sects, revealing the danger of unrestrained individualism, and leading inevitably on to the authorized acceptance of the universally recognized writings, as the norm of faith of the universal church, not imposed, but received; and as the inevitable culmination, the transmitting cause, projecting them through the centuries for the blessing of all nations, was the manifest human need coupled with the divine provision of supply, impressed upon devout scholars by the Holy Spirit. So back of it all stands God watching over His word, and forming the New Testament of His grace and love.
L. E. F.
(Bibliography will appear in next issue.)