ATTACKS ON THE BIBLE IN SOUTH AFRICA

 

 

Subj: Info from S.A. (ascii - part 1/2)
Date: 97-07-23 03:41:57 EDT
From: jason@intekom.co.za (Jason)
Reply-to: jason@intekom.co.za
To: stevevann@aol.com

The following is three pages from the booklet Religious Deception - delusions in churches and theological seminaries by Prof. J.S. Malan, Patmos Letters (div. Of Trumpet Publishers) c 1997 by Trumpet Publishers, P.O. Box 2234, Alberton 1450, South Africa.

REJECTING THE BIBLE

It is strange that the Bible as the inerrant and verbally inspired Word of God should first become an endangered Book in theological seminaries - the very place where its integrity should have been defended! Various departments in the Faculty of Theology at the University of South Africa have in recent years become notorious for their attacks on traditional views about the Bible, the relativisation of Christianity, and the arranging of interfaith seminars.

One of the latest attacks in the battle for the Bible came from Prof. I.J.J. Spangenberg of the Department of Old Testament at Unisa. In a lecture presented at the University of Stellenbosch on 3 September 1996, he said that the following three paradigm shifts occurred in the history of the biblical sciences:

* Originally the Bible was regarded as The Word Of God, and the historical literal method of interpretation was used. The church reformers held this view. They believed that the Bible is the Word of God that was written by individual believers under the direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit. God revealed Himself through His Word.

* After that, the Bible was regarded as God's Word In Human Language.  This view gave rise to the historical critical method of interpretation (`higher criticism'). It is based on the premise that the Bible consists of religious writings by limited, fallible men.   Their manuscripts were often revised and extended and only contain certain insights into the faith of their time.

* Presently, the Bible is regarded as Words About God that should be interpreted as any other literature. In the modern science of literature the emphasis has shifted from the author to the text, and eventually to the reader. It resulted in describing the Bible as a compilation of myths and stories with a moral application. The stories can be deconstructed and interpreted in various ways.

In His lecture, Prof. Spangenberg said, among others:

"The Dutch Reformed Church (DRC, or NG Kerk) is faced with two great challenges at the beginning of the 21st century: The first one concerns the view of the church about the Bible and the second one its view about other religions. These two views are interrelated: Is the church prepared to change its view about the Bible and concede that books like Jonah are only stories... or will it be intolerant towards those who hold other views? Is the church prepared to acknowledge that the Christian religion can't exclusively claim revelation, and that other religions can help people to discover purpose in Life?"

"If the church refuses to take these paradigm shifts seriously, the [hand] writing is, according to me, on the wall: the church will become a strange phenomenon in society. Members won't be able to live in a society where they daily have to rub shoulders with the members of other religions.. "

In his article on modernism and pluralism, Robert Cook makes an important statement that DRC can take to heart:

"We must acknowledge that theology is emergent and progressive...and we must take heed of human discoveries from whatever discipline.   Further, we should be open to insights from earlier religions, for, as C. Pinnock asks, `Why do we look so hopefully to Plato and expect nothing from Buddha?' I think we are now entering a period in history when the world religions will begin to impinge on theology as philosophy has always done'."

Rev. D.E. Malan if Newcastle [Natal S.A.] replied as follows to Prof. Spangenberg's statements in Beeld [local Afrikaans newspaper] of 11 September 1996:

"Prof. Spangenberg's view that the Bible contains the thoughts of people about God's Word does not surprise me. I recently attended a post-graduate course in New Testament in the Faculty of Theology at the University of Pretoria. The lecturers maintained that the New Testament reflects a Christian tradition of a particular time in history. We should not regard and proclaim this tradition as absolute truth to people, but reinterpret the Bible for our time and thus make it live on.

Prof. Spangenberg, therefore, does not stand alone in his denial of the authority of the Bible. The great majority of theologians in the faculties of Pretoria and Stellenbosch are to a greater or lesser extent in agreement with him. We are already in a dead-end street as far as the view of churches on the authority of the Bible is concerned... It is only a matter of time before the Dutch Reformed Church will recognise the Koran on the same level with the Bible."

In a personal letter to Prof. Spangenberg, Rev. Malan asked him the following questions:

"If the Bible originated in the same way as other religious literature, is there still any justification to refer to it as the Bible? Is the Bible still different, and, if so, what makes it different? If we deny the Bible's own claims to divine origin and inspiration , what good is it to still attach any truth ot the Bible?   What purpose does it serve for you to be a theologian? Why are you a professor in Old Testament, and not in Plato or Homerus? Is it your calling to tell people that the Bible can no longer be an anchor to their souls?

"Do you deny the prophecies uttered by the prophets of the Old Testament that were (and will be ) literally fulfilled in the New Testament? Isn't that proof of divine inspiration? IF I understand you correctly, you want to entrust the authority and interpretation of the Bible to the philosophers of the new world order.   You say: `We find yourselves in a totally new society in which Christianity is treated equally with the other religions.' You should admit that your views are contradicting various biblical statements 180deg. I can't understand why you keep on wasting your time with the Bible. Does the Bible still mean anything to you? I have no other choice than to  equate your changed paradigm with unbelief."

 

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