It is the definite conviction of this writer, deliberately expressed, that the human mind, unaided in its quest for truth, will at times inevitably become confused if it depends for its conclusions solely upon its own reasoning powers and judgment, and upon the sheer findings and dictums of human scholarship. And this principle, particularly evident in the field of history, we would likewise carry into the realm of Biblical interpretation. This is true because scholars of equal eminence and authority differ in conclusions based upon the same set, or partial set, of facts. And, obviously, there is a seemingly sufficient foundation for these divergent opinions, or reputable scholars would not be lined up behind opposite positions.
The limitations of the human mind and the often unconscious prejudices or preconceptions of the historical narrator, together with the frequently biased or inadequate sources of his information, impose at times limitations that cannot be surmounted without outside aid. To come to unity of view in such situations, we must have an authoritative arbiter in which all can have implicit confidence. It is to furnish the needed help under such conditions that we believe the Spirit of prophecy was given, in one particular phase of its full-rounded operation. And we believe, furthermore, that when this gift has spoken, we are to accept the light disclosed as the decisive factor in reaching our personal conclusions in such perplexing matters.
But, someone asks, Have we not the promise of guidance into all truth by the Spirit? Yes, we reply, but the Spirit of prophecy is perhaps the most distinctive and direct means employed by the Holy Spirit, in these last days, in guiding into all truth and accuracy, and away from subtle error and grave mistake. Truly the Holy Spirit speaks to all yielded minds, stimulating and guiding; and at times in a marked way, as we all know. But there are limitations even to such guidance because of the human element, the background, viewpoint, faulty or inadequate sources of information, conscious or unconscious prejudices involved,—and for this reason the Spirit of prophecy was given, choosing an instrument for complete control so that these limiting elements are virtually eliminated in the communication of the counsel of God.
So we repeat, with emphasis, that there are crucial times and places in our searchings and reasonings wherein it is not safe to trust our own faulty and fallible judgment. But when the Spirit of prophecy has decisively spoken thereupon, we who accept the writings of that gift as of heavenly origin are to take the counsel of the divine Spirit that uses that designated gift as the medium through which to give clear and unimpeded expression of the mind and judgment, the knowledge and wisdom, of the Spirit of God. And this counsel is to bring unity otherwise unattainable. Hence, its indispensability.
Furthermore, when this gift has not spoken upon a moot point, it will doubtless prove to be of but relative importance, or at least one upon which further light is yet to be revealed. We are constrained, therefore, to believe that personal opinions should not, under such a condition, be pressed and made the self-imposed test of another's orthodoxy or loyalty to truth, as some have been prone to do, and for which unsound course they have been rebuked by that authoritative gift.
L. E. F.