Scripture and the Church

Is God's Word Entirely True? - Scripture and the Revoice Movement

By Dr. Paul M. Elliott
In our time a cancerous evil - the notion of so-called "LGBTQ+ Christianity" - is spreading in the church as a direct result of higher criticsm.

From the TeachingtheWord Bible Knowledgebase

"The entirety of Your Word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever" (Psalm 119:60)

Today some teachers, even in nominally conservative churches and seminaries, are attempting to deconstruct the Bible, drawing lines between the parts they judge to be inerrant and the parts they claim are not. Such teaching reveals not only a failure to believe the Bible, but also a more serious failure to believe the God of the Bible and to bow before His lordship and holiness. In our time a cancerous evil - the notion of so-called "LGBTQ+ Christianity" - is spreading in the church as a direct result of such ungodly thinking.

Higher Criticism & Its Effects

Much of the falsehood we see in the church today has its roots in the higher criticism that originated in Europe, especially Germany, two centuries ago. Higher criticism views the Bible as principally - and often exclusively - a human book, denying the supernatural inspiration of Scripture. The higher critic asserts that because the Bible is a human book it contains contradictions, factual errors, and scientific fallacies. The higher critic denies the miraculous, the deity of Christ, and the historicity of the Bible, especially the first eleven chapters of Genesis, placing most of the Bible, especially the Old Testament, in the category of myth. The higher critic also asserts that because we no longer have the original manuscripts, we cannot identify the authentic text of the Bible with certainty.

In the later 19th century and onward, many British and American Bible scholars went to Germany for graduate studies, and came under the influence of higher criticism. Many of them thus made a spiritual shipwreck of their own lives, and influenced tens of thousands of pastors who embraced their unbelief. Men like J. Gresham Machen were among the minority who struggled against higher criticism's ungodly influence and maintained their faith in the Bible as the only supernatural book. Machen's major writings, such as Christianity and Liberalism, The Virgin Birth of Christ, and The Christian View of Man, were refutations of higher criticism rooted firmly in the truth that "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

But voices like Machen's were among the minority. Bruce M. Metzger, considered by liberals and even many self-described conservatives to have been the greatest textual scholar of the 20th century, was a product and promoter of higher criticism and gained far wider influence - incredibly, even among men who claimed Machen as their spiritual model. Metzger denied the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture, viewed the first eleven chapter of Genesis as myth, and called the Book of Job a fable. In the New Oxford Annotated Bible he called the Old Testament Scriptures, which he asserted were not written beginning with Moses but date only from the time of David and Solomon onward, the product of "a matrix of myth, legend, and history." He asserted that there were errors of fact and history in the Gospels (including statements of Jesus himself), denied that the epistles to Timothy and Titus were actually written by the Apostle Paul, and denied that Peter was the actual writer of his second epistle. Yet men like Robert L. Sumner (1922-2016), who identified with fundamentalism during his long ministry, declared that they trusted Metzger as a textual scholar.

Daniel Fuller, long-time professor of theology, apologetics, and hermeneutics at Fuller Theological Seminary (founded by his father, evangelist Charles E. Fuller), studied under Metzger at Princeton and later earned a doctorate at a liberal university in Switzerland. He was heavily influenced by higher criticism. When he returned from Europe and became dean of Fuller Seminary's School of Theology in the 1960s, Daniel Fuller openly denied the complete inerrancy of Scripture.

Under Daniel Fuller's leadership, Fuller Seminary's official doctrinal statements moved from a 1947 statement that asserted the inerrancy of Scripture (though only in the original autographs), to a 1972 doctrinal statement asserting that Scripture is inerrant only in matters of "faith and practice", to statements in the later 1970s and onward that Scripture is only inerrant when it speaks of "salvation" - which Fuller professors no longer defined as Scripture does. Fuller Seminary's brand of higher criticism, which spread from its California base to most evangelical seminaries and Bible colleges in North America and beyond, has now poisoned the thinking of several generations of pastors and teachers.

The Revoice Movement - A Product of Higher Criticism

Let us fast-forward to what is perhaps the most egregious example of the influence of higher criticism in the present day.

Vocally supported by highly influential segments of both the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) and the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), the Revoice Movement promotes the vile notion of LGBT+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and other perversions indicated by the "plus" sign) "Christianity". As one writer who has closely investigated the Revoice Movement describes it,

The idea of "LGBTQ Thriving in Historic Christian Tradition" is the theme of Revoice. The movement began in 2017 as Nate Collins, teacher of the New Testament at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Albert Mohler, President) and Presbyterian Church of America pastor Scott Sauls (Tim Keller protege') traveled from Nashville to St Louis to join a fervent team of Covenant Theological Seminary (PCA) graduates and activists to plan the 2018 debut Revoice event.

The controversy created by the brazen promotion of LGBT+ "Christianity" has continued through two SBC annual meetings and two PCA General Assemblies. The SBC leaders most closely associated with Revoice may be making strides in their efforts to hide Revoice's SBC origins. Albert Mohler of SBTS educated and employed Revoice's founder, while Russell Moore's ERLC team [the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission] has endorsed Revoice and one ERLC consultant has both spoken in its 2018 and 2019 events and taken a leadership role in it. [1]

The Revoice Movement began with the false idea that as long as a sexual pervert does not act on his or her lusts, the lusts themselves do not constitute sin and are therefore "okay". But it is rapidly moving, as all such apostasies do, to full embrace of the LGBTQ+ agenda.

How is the Revoice Movement a product of higher criticism? It promotes the notions that the Bible is inerrant only when it speaks on certain matters, and that sinful man stands in judgment over the Word of God. Therefore the leaders and supporters of the Revoice Movement ignore or explain away the veritable avalanche of plain statements of Scripture - of which we here cite only a few:

You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:27-29)

Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. (Romans 1:24-32)

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)

But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, according to the glorious Gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust. (1 Timothy 1:8-11)

But there shall by no means enter it [the New Jerusalem] anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb's Book of Life. (Revelation 21:27)

Standing Fast In This Evil Day

Dear friends, we live in a tremendously evil day. The evil is not only out in what we think of as "the world" - it is in the visible church. Because many who profess to be Christians have effectively denied that "The entirety of Your Word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever" those evils are a rapidly-spreading cancer within the visible body. Truly the Spirit exhorts us through the Apostle Paul,

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. And their message will spread like cancer. (2 Timothy 2:15-17)

In the face of cancerous false teachings spawned by higher criticism, true believers need more than ever to cling to the certainty that every word of Scripture is true and unfailing - because God, the Author, is true and unfailing. This is the "anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast" (Hebrews 6:19).

The focus of the ministry of TeachingTheWord is to call Christ's church to trust fully in the authority of God's unfailing Word, and to submit to the authority of Scripture in every area of life and ministry. We are grateful for your prayers and financial support as we endeavor to be faithful to Christ's commission.

References:

1. Thomas Littleton, "PCA's Defiant Greg Johnson Scheduled to Speak at Revoice 2020 as PCA Splits" as published in The Aquila Report (http://www.theaquilareport.com/pcas-defiant-greg-johnson-scheduled-to-speak-revoice-2020-as-pca-splits/), February 14, 2020.

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