Rather than reading the Bible through the eyes of modern secularism, this provocative six-part course teaches you to read the Bible through its own eyes—as a record of God’s dealing with the human race. When you read it at this level, you will discover reasons to worship God in areas of life you probably never before associated with “religion.”
© Charles A. Clough 1999
Charles A. Clough
Biblical Framework Series 1995–2003
Part 5: Confrontation with the King
Chapter 2: The Birth of the King
Lesson 110 – The Virgin Birth: Gentile and Modern Opposition (Romans 1)
14 Jan 1999
Fellowship Chapel, Jarrettsville, MD
Last week the Russians had some comment about what’s been going on in Washington, and it’s interesting, there’s a lawyer in Russia that’s trying to impeach Yeltsin. This article was going on about it, and in Russia it’s just a question of power politics, pure and simple, without any pretense of following law. The Russian public doesn’t really understand what the big thing in America is going on here, what’s the big deal. I thought this was a very interesting comment. The former Mayor of Moscow had come here, I guess to do reporting, and he came back and wrote an interesting article in the Russian Observing Gazette, “Why Americans Take Perjury so Seriously”. This is one of the most insightful remarks and it comes from the Mayor of Moscow. Listen to this remark. This is really insightful, and I’m not commenting on what’s going on in Washington per se, I stay out of that, but this is a comment by a Russian, culturally external to us, who looks from the outside at our culture and is addressing this issue. Listen to what he says. “For an American, abiding by the law is something basic.” This is a comment on why that’s so in our culture. He says, “In America there was no state that insured its power with fear and force. In America there was respect for law instead. If this should disappear from the American way of life, then the whole edifice of American democracy will be undermined.” Isn’t that an astute observation by someone outside that can look inside and see a difference. “In America there was no state that ensured its power with fear and force.” “… that ensured its power with fear and force.” Do you see the difference?
One of the differences historically why America has that view and the Russian culture doesn’t is actually because of Christology, the very subject we’re studying. The Eastern wing of the Christian church, the Greek Orthodox, on through the Russian Orthodox, historically had a very weak view of Jesus Christ and because they did, when they tried to say Jesus Christ is Lord, because they had a view of Christ they had a weak view of what Lord meant. Whenever you have a weak view of Jesus Christ as Lord, you create a vacuum into which oozes all kinds of substitutes and surrogates. And in the Eastern Europe Theater, that whole eastern culture, what oozed into the vacuum was the power of the secular state, so that the state became Kurios. For example, the word Czar comes from Kaiser. Until 1917 and then basically communism just perpetuated it under a new label, you still had kingdom politics and power politics and it was the ruler who decreed right and wrong.
It was an interesting observation and it shows really good insight, and insight which we as Christians should be conscious of. There’s an attempt by the intelligentsia today to dismiss the Christian position as something that’s right wing, extremist; it’s odd, it never was really part of American culture, maybe in Salem, Massachusetts or something, but basically nowhere else. That’s an utterly false view of our culture. When it comes to that, it’s just frankly a lie. The people that promote this are either historically ignorant and haven’t done their homework, or actually they have done their homework and they’re outright deceptive deceivers.
We want to continue building the foundation under the biblical doctrine of the Lord Jesus Christ. We have made a case the past two or three classes of the virgin birth. Keep in mind the method that we’re using. We always associate a doctrine or a truth with an event. You always have an event of history and then you have a truth that God reveals through that event. That’s the way you want to learn Scripture because if you don’t learn it this way, what happens is that you can get to the point where you can start dismissing the historicity of Scripture, thinking all the time you’re going to hold on to the truth. But if you’ve learned from the get go that you cannot accept truths unless the reality behind those truths is valid, then that insulates you, or it sets up a litmus test in your brain, so when these events are endangered, warning bells go off, and you realize wait a minute, if we compromise this event then we dismiss the doctrine that goes with the event. So it’s important that we understand this. Plus the fact that it’s easier to believe the truth when you know that the truth actually occurred in history, and you’re not the first person that walked and breathed that thought about this, struggled with this, and had to deal with it before the Lord. Lots of other people did in other centuries. Misery loves company so we might as well enjoy the struggles of the saints of the past.
What we are doing in the New Testament, we’re taking the same methodology and looking at the event of the virgin birth, and we’re going to associate that event with what is called the hypostatic union of the Lord Jesus Christ. We’ll explain that term as we get into that doctrine, but right now we’re looking at the event of the virgin birth. There are three reasons from the Scripture why the virgin birth is necessary. It’s prophetically necessary because of Jeremiah 22 and Isaiah 7. It is necessary because of a legal unity that we all have in Adam, therefore the Lord Jesus could not be a descendant of Adam in the same sense we are, because if He was, then He inherits imputed sin. We also said it’s a spiritual necessity because He couldn’t continue in the fallen lineage of Adam or He would have had inherent sin; since Jesus Christ is a “Lamb without spot or blemish,” He must go to the cross sinless. He can’t go to the cross sinless if He has the fallen flesh. He can’t have the fallen flesh except by the virgin birth which interrupts the transmission of the sin nature.
That’s why the virgin birth is sine qua non, you cannot avoid it. Maybe you wonder why I’m making such a big deal out of the virgin birth. We’re going to see why, historically why. The virgin birth is necessary to cut off inherent sin transmission to the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s necessary to absolve Him from the imputed sin of Adam; yet He must be true humanity. He must be of the seed of the woman. The only way He can do that is through a virgin birth, where He inherits His humanity through the female and He does not get it through the male. We covered that as a background necessity.
Last time we started going into the responses, because as we go through the life of Christ we’re to do something new that we didn’t do in all the other events, all the other doctrines that we learned. What we’re going to do is reason this way: If Jesus is the light of the world, why doesn’t everyone recognize that? After all, if you turn the lights on you’d think people would recognize that. So the question now becomes instead of us, unbelief, judging Jesus and calling Him a carpenter and something else, there’s not enough evidence that He’s the Son of God, etc., the point we want to make is what John said in John 3. The reason is because men love darkness, and neither come to the light lest their deeds be reproved. Men’s rejection of the Lord Jesus Christ is not a reflection on God or His revelation, its clarity, its logic, or any characteristics of it. Rejection of the Lord Jesus Christ is a condemnation of the reject-or, not the object of the rejection. So the issue doesn’t come back to Jesus, it comes back to the person who disbelieves in Jesus. If you walk into a group of people, it’s a dark room, and you turn on the lights and somebody says I can’t see the light, what do you say? You must be blind! Ironically, the person who objects, I don’t believe in Jesus, after being exposed, simply does nothing except reveal their own blindness.
What we want to do is study the blindness, because in each one of the phases of the life of Christ we’re going to learn something about the pathological nature of unbelief. We started last week on page 25 where we dealt with the ancient and modern versions of the rejection of the virgin birth. We’re going to take every aspect of Christ’s life and show how unbelief opposes it, suppresses it, reinterprets it and rejects it. We want to watch what happens. Last time we dealt with the ancient Jewish rejection of the virgin birth claim. The Jews are very frank, the quotes I gave all through the Mishnaic writings, the Jews simply say that Jesus was a bastard and Mary fornicated. That is the Jewish answer to the virgin birth, very clear, very unambiguous, hey, that’s the way we believe. Fine, let’s be honest in our communication.
But the point is, that there’s a good thing in all that rejection, because what does that rejection tell you about the virgin birth claim? If you’ve got Mishnaic writings and evidences that the Jews sin the 1st century were saying that of Jesus and Mary, what does that do when you have to deal with the modern Gentile critics who say that the virgin birth claim was just an add-on that the church later on put in the Gospels. One criticism negates the other one. If the Jews were already calling Mary a fornicator and Jesus an illegitimate son in the 1st century that tells you they were reacting to something. What was it they were reacting to? The virgin birth claim. What does that prove? The virgin birth claim was early; it’s not a late add-on by the church. It came very, very early and if it didn’t, then why do the Jews object to it? Simple, the enemies of the gospel knew very well what one of the essential claims was, and they were bound and determined to refute it.
Now we’re going to deal with modern Gentile rejection. We go from the ancient Jewish rejection to the modern Gentile rejection. Turn to John 3 because this is the structure of the unbelief, whether we’re going to deal with this detail this week and another detail next week, what we want to see is the spiritual principle that’s operating here because it operates in us. Every time we disbelieve, we share this kind of mentality. You pick it up like you do a virus, because it’s all around us. Frankly, none of us are immune from this.
John 3:16, right after the verse everybody knows, verse 17, “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world; but that the world should be saved through Him.  He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already,” why is that? The Second Advent hasn’t happened, how can he be judged already? That’s because “he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”  And this is the judgment,” verse 19 expounds why unbelievers are already considered, theologically and spiritually to be judged. The judgment is this, “that light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil.  For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.” There’s the explanation, biblically, of unbelief.
It is not an intellectual problem, it’s a spiritual problem. I don’t want to get too close to this gospel thing because I know very well that that brings my memory and my mind, and all my consciousness to heightened awareness that I am responsible for my life before the God who created me and the rest of the universe. That is an awesome responsibility and we don’t like to be reminded of that kind of responsibility, so we flee. It’s part of the sinful fallen sinful nature, to flee that thing. Were it not for the grace of God, we’d all be fleeing. It’s because He has personally intervened in our lives, graciously, to call us to Himself.
We’ve seen that men love darkness so they invent a cover story. The mechanism for the cover story… there’s another passage in the New Testament parallel to John 3 in mechanism. Turn to Romans 1, there’s a few vocabulary words that we want to look at there, because the rest of tonight we’re going to develop those words. The picture we get in the Scripture is when man rejects God’s revelation there are certain things that begin to happen inside the person; certain things that happen in the brain, certain things that happen in the soul. This is a self-destructive response to revelation. That’s why it’s so serious. It’s self-destructive, it starts a self-destructive process.
In Romans 1:18 Paul says, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” Why? He’s talking about all kinds of men, whether they’ve heard the gospel or they haven’t heard the gospel. “…who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” What is the truth that all men suppress; ALL men suppress this truth. He goes on to explain,  “because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them,” in the King James “God has shown it unto them.  For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” The word “excuse” is without a defense in a trial, it’s a technical term there, it’s not just an excuse, “without excuse is” anapologeia. Apologeia is the word from which we get an apology, or the apologetic; “an” is a Greek negative, so it’s “anapologetous,” the people are “without a defense.” What that means is, that technical word, “without excuse,” means that at the final judgment of history for the unbeliever, at that point if he had F. Lee Bailey or Johnny Cochran, or whoever, you could have all the lawyers you want Paul says, but you can’t make your case.
What would an unbeliever want to make a case for at the final judgment? To gain forgiveness, to gain an excuse, why he didn’t believe the gospel? The unbeliever would have to come up with something. What would you come up with? Let’s think imaginatively. You’re facing God in the final judgment, you have not believed in the gospel, so you’ve got to come up with something, and basically you have to answer for your life. What are you going to make your case on? Well, I think I would try to make the case on the fact that I don’t think the gospel is clear; I’d say something like that. Or the Bible’s got errors in it and I couldn’t believe that. You can name 115 different things that you can come up with.
But what Paul says here is that they are without excuse. Verse 20 says that regardless of what the excuse is in the protracted defense against the judgment of God, we are held accountable for the knowledge of God known through the creation. Therefore it’s neutral whether you ever ran across a New Testament in your life, that’s not the basis of the condemnation. The basis of the condemnation is because you lived, slept, breathed and ate in God’s creation, and all the while you knew that, because the verbs in verse 20—look at the verbs. What’s one of the heavy main verbs in that text? It says “clearly seen.” It’s emphasis, not just “seen,” but in the Greek it’s katahorao, the Greek word from which we get oracle, etc., to see, but the kata prefix intensifies the meaning of the main verb. So this is they “clearly see.” Not only is the verb intensive in its stem, but it’s in the present tense. Isn’t that interesting? It doesn’t say they clearly saw. It says it’s clearly being seen. How is it clearly being seen? It’s clearly being seen since the creation of the world. Does that include all people? Is everybody created? So that means everybody who’s been created is responsible. And the basis of our accountability is not whether we heard the gospel or not, it’s whether we were a creature or not. Do you see how basic and fundamental that is.
What Paul says goes on, and here’s the ominous mechanism of rejection.  “For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks,” there’s the response of the creature to the Creator, personal, it’s not just intellectual, it’s a personal response. Be thankful, isn’t that interesting, of all the different ways we could respond, it doesn’t say obey Him, notice that, just honor Him and give thanks, just be thankful, because wrapped up in this is we can’t give thanks unless we believe all of this. “… but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.  Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.” That list of actions in verses 21-22 shows the self-destructive mechanism that sets in whether a person has an IQ of 140 or an IQ of 40, it doesn’t make any difference what the IQ is, the self-destructive effects of rejection set in.
Let’s spell out what those things are. “They became mataiotes, futile,” that’s the New Testament Greek word that they translate the Hebrew word “vanity” in Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs, remember the theme there, “vanity, vanity, all is vanity.” This is that same word, it occurs in Ephesians 4 and in Colossians. Anywhere the mind of unbelief is discussed in the New Testament you will see this Greek word, mataiotes, it means emptiness; it means vanity. It’s very interesting, it means that once unbelief begins it begins to affect our thinking, because that’s what speculations are, our thinking, and it’s basic things, it’s dialogue, it’s basic gut-level the things that you believe most ardently. The presuppositions of your whole life get screwed up; thinking at the most basic level gets ruined by unbelief.
So it’s not true that a person can remain unaffected by rebellion against God. That negative rejection always produces damage, and the damage is mataiotes in their thinking. Their thinking looks like it has substance, but underneath it all, it’s vanity. We studied some of that and we’ll get into some of the specifics, but right now I just want you to see the general principle from the text.
Then it says “their hearts were darkened,” and it’s the same kind of idea, they are wandering around without light, their hearts are darkened meaning that now they are basically self-blinded. What the New Testament is saying here, it’s amazing, it’s saying that in our unbelief, if we rebel against God’s Word, if we turn off Him, we wind up punching out our own eyes. What else can it mean, when their hearts became dark? It means that their ability to see reality is gone. So “they became mataiotes in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”
Then verse 22 tells you what they’re saying with their lips while inside the self-destructive mechanism is taking over. They’re saying with their lips, “Professing,” means publicly speaking, “Claiming to be wise,” and yet while they are claiming to be wise, i.e., this is a heightened form of wisdom to be able to say no to Jesus, that shows how intelligent I am. It takes extra thinking to deny creation and substitute evolution. This takes an act of wisdom, its higher order intelligence, you low class people that still believe in creation … “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.” That’s what actually happened. The Greek word here isn’t very flattering, it means “morons.” That’s the word, they “moron-ized” themselves, they became idiots. This is the result and all the while they are professing to be wise. I would venture to say there are probably more morons with PhD’s after their names than probably any other strata of society, because that’s where your rejection is the strongest. Think about it. So Paul teaches us to evaluate this whole problem. Then he goes on to all the other aberrant things that happen. But in John 3 and Romans 1 look at the mechanism: unbelief blinds.
On Page 26 of the notes, now we’re going to trace a bit of history. It’s one of these areas where I wish someone would create a short church history for us fundamentalists of what happened in this century. All of you probably have access to books, pamphlets, and stuff your parents read or your grandparents read, and if you could go back and look at that reading material of your ancestors in this century, say from 1910-1930, somewhere in that period of time, it would give you some insights into your own family, and some of the ideas that have crept into our family tree. We’re going to look at where some of this weird stuff came from. I came out of a family where my father and mother came out of this generation that I’m going to talk about. My grandparents came out of the previous generation, before this assault on the Christian faith. And it was just as clear to me growing up as a young boy that I could see the difference between the way my grandparents believed and the way my parents believed. Totally different, two different worlds! I never really understood it until later in life I began to study American church history and then the pieces began to fall together. So we’re going to go through these pieces.
Just some quick background. God can never move without Satan making a counter move, and there are two words, the Reformation and the Renaissance. The Reformation was the Holy Spirit moving in Europe to get people into the Word of God. The Reformation started centuries before Luther. Actually it started during the time of the awful plagues. People don’t realize this, but Wycliffe, Huss, those men who are the great heroes of translating the Bible. Do you know why they were doing it? Why did they suddenly decide to translate the Bible? Are they the first people to think about that? No.
Here’s what happened, an amazing work of God in providence. The Black Death went across Europe and killed people by the thousands, the tens of thousands. It would go from one village to the next; people would be dying by the hundreds in every village. As the plague spread, the Roman Catholic priests fled the villages; that left the deacons of the church. What were they going to do without a priest to recite the mass? They had to have something, and it was out of that social turmoil that they began to say we need the Scripture. And a couple of guys here and there, etc. began to translate the Word of God. It came in response to this awful social upheaval. The priests took off, there was nobody around to be spiritual fathers, so they began to dig into the Scripture, one thing led to another and finally the whole Reformation ignited. So the Reformation was a return to truth.
But simultaneously with that was this Renaissance thing. The Renaissance is going back to the classes, and it’s always looked upon as the new birth. I want you to look at the vocabulary because we’ve all learned this in our history courses and we’ve all, to that degree, sucked this up without thinking carefully. Think about this vocabulary. We’ve all heard Renaissance, the new birth, the Dark Ages, the age of enlightenment, what kind of picture in your mind does that vocabulary denote? Dark Ages, when were the dark ages? During the time when Christianity alone held society together in Europe—Dark Ages? Then after the Dark Ages we have the enlightenment, when philosophy and science began, the new birth. What was that? That was unbelief. Men call light darkness and darkness they call light. “Professing themselves to be wise, they become fools,” and we all buy it in our history courses.
It is exactly the opposite. We’re not saying everything was great in the Middle Ages, but the Middle Ages were not dark. There was a long line of Christians, largely emanating through Switzerland, who kept the light of the gospel, at the price of their own blood, kept the light of the gospel throughout Europe. So a lot of Christians were available. Hospitals, medical hospices, care for the orphans, care for the widows, books and libraries and valuable source materials were kept. Do you know who kept them all? It wasn’t the vandals, our ancestors with their loin cloths spearing everybody all over Europe. Those weren’t the clowns that kept Europe together. It was the Christians. And all this is just swept aside … Dark Ages …Dark Ages … Dark Ages! That’s the way we’ve all learned history, we’ve all learned the same vocabulary. And it was all the agenda of the humanists to get us to demean the effect and the role of Christians down through history. You’ve got to watch these agendas that function here.
So we have these two words. In the notes what I do is out of the Renaissance, “unbelief became more clearly defined and widely expounded.” In other words, what happened in the age of the enlightenment? Actually, it’s good in one sense, because what happened is that unbelief became more out in the open. You can study these thinkers and realize they’re brilliant guys, I really think that if you are involved in the education pipe and you’re going to get your bachelor’s degree and you’re thinking about taking graduate courses or you’re interested in that kind of thing, prepare yourself by reading Calvin on one side and on the other side go to Immanuel Kant; at least read this guy. Read Aristotle, Plato, read some of these guys and see the contrast. Put them side-by-side. Always read side-by-side, always read with the Scripture or the men who defend the Scripture over against the men who attack the Scripture; don’t just read the Scripture, read some of the attacks. It trains you to see where the attacks are coming from.
Here are the men, Kant and Hegel. They are the two biggies in this period of time, right around the birth of our country. These guys expounded unbelief in such a way that they wanted to reinterpret Christian in terms of unbelief. I’ve drawn this thing a dozen times, the amoeba idea, that here you are and this big slurpy amoeba comes and wants to slurp you up into itself. That’s why you have these things that occur in family gatherings, oh Mary, she became a Christian but you know, she’s such a weak person; she needs God as a prop, God as a crutch. That’s the operation amoeba; we’re going to psychologically explain why Mary believed the gospel. We as Christians can always turn it around, we can run an operation amoeba too, we just run it the other way around. Oh, I understand why John rejects the gospel, so would I if I knew I had to face a God without any atonement, without any grace, I’d think of every excuse I could why the Bible was wrong. Now what are we doing? We’re taking unbelief and we’re absorbing it into our framework. Two can play that little game.
What happened with Kant and Hegel was that they tried to take Christianity and suck it up into their amoeba of unbelief and reinterpret it. Out of that they began to affect… they taught men who taught men who taught men who taught men, who finally taught gospel ministers. And this crept into the seminaries; it crept into the mainline denominations. The quote on page 26 is an example, “a faculty member of Presbyterian Western Seminary in Pittsburgh,” Western Seminary has promulgated tremendous preachers of the gospel, and here’s this guy, on the faculty at a Christian seminary, paid for with donated money, these guys never earn their own money, they always mooch off of Christian contributors; it burns me up. If you want to say what you want, hey, freedom of speech, fine, go out and earn you own way but don’t parasite off of contributions by God-fearing people who have tithed, who have made sacrifices in their family budgets to pay, and these clowns have the gall to live off that kind of contributions. We see it all the time.
Here’s a guy, a faculty member, and what better place can Satan have these guys than at seminary, because that way you can contaminate all the ministers and then you’ve already aced out hundreds of pulpits in the next generation; slick trick. This quote shows you how they’re responding to the virgin birth claim. This gives you a flavor of how (quote) “sophisticated” people think about the virgin birth. If you go to The First Liberal Church some place and hear the pastor talking all about Jesus, be careful, he may be talking about a different Jesus than you’re thinking about. There are 110 different Jesuses out there, the question is, which is the biblical Jesus?
Here’s his Jesus. “He wrote: ‘If Jesus knew of the tradition of his virgin birth, he never pressed it. After all, who should have decided between him and any number of demigods and heroes for whom such a birth was claimed. It was the church that added these mundane traditions to its Gospels.” Do you see what he’s saying? We’re going to get more of this throughout the year, because I want you to see what modern unbelief does to the New Testament so that when you hear this you won’t be shocked; the shock has worn off, you’ve already heard, you’ve already heard the bullets whistling in. Here’s where the guns are coming from. This is where the rounds are originated. Their point is that the New Testament is not the truth, the New Testament is a book compiled by the church with all the different ideas of the church in it, but what the real truth was we really don’t know. This is a self-contradictory statement, because you know what they’ve basically said? If they say they don’t know what the truth is and the Bible is just a compilation they’ve already said that they know something, they know namely that the Bible is false. Well, if you don’t know anything, how do you know that? It’s always amusing, you hear the liberals say John could not have written the Gospel of John, you know, there were a million people living in that time in history and 999,000 of them could have written the Gospel except one person, we know that for sure, the man that the Gospel says wrote it can’t write it, that we know, but we don’t know anything else.
This is the structure of unbelief. Here’s this guy who says the church added these traditions. See, he knows so much about all the historical details; he knows so much about the real Jesus that he can distinguish between the historically true Jesus and what the New Testament says. And what the New Testament says is an add-on, the church added that. Notice the middle sentence in this quote, “who should have decided between him and any number of demigods and heroes for whom such a birth was claimed.” Do you remember when I started the virgin birth, what did I say? In Isaiah 7 what does Isaiah do with the noun “virgin?” “The virgin,” and remember I said watch the text carefully because if Isaiah used the article with the noun “virgin,” “the virgin,” it must mean that “virgin” was well known in the ancient world.
It was an idea that was circulating all over the place. Yeah, it was. What this guy does, he knows very well it was because everybody knows that, but look in that second sentence what he’s doing with the historical fact. He knows like we know that the virgin story was circulating all through the ancient world, in distorted form, mythological versions of it. The constellation Virgo was named back then, what was that named for? It was named long before Jesus. So what was going on here? Where did that start? What did we say when we dealt with Isaiah 7, the idea of “the virgin” came from Genesis 3, Eve was going to be the mother of all living, and it says “her sperm,” “her seed,” “her sperm shall conquer the sperm of Satan.” Obviously something’s wrong. You don’t have to be an expert in the birds and bees to know there’s something strange about that expression. It’s found no where else.
So it’s clear that this tradition of a coming virgin was rampant in the ancient world. Now Satan had twisted it and turned it. This guy sees all that, but he interprets it as of equal validity, the mythological virgin stories were of equal validity to the New Testament virgin story. He lumps them all together, failing to see that the other virgin stories are corrupt forms of the Noahic tradition passed down through Shem, Ham and Japheth to all the people groups in the world.
So watch these statements, if you look carefully at them, just like the Jewish statement that Jesus was a bastard and Mary was a fornicator, look carefully at that statement because that tells you something neat, it tells you the claim was being made. And here this guy unintentionally lets the cat out of the bag. He’s saying that he knows very well there were these virgin stories running all over the place, and this is just another one. He gives a wrong spin to it but behind it he has to testify, yes, there were [can’t understand words] the Isaiah 7 story.
We come down to our era. This happened in every family in America. It happened to your family, if you knew all the facts you could probably trace it in your own family. I want you to follow me in the notes because I’m going to quote from a most famous sermon. It it’s something that I would like to just go through this sermon with people because it’s a great sermon, one of the most famous sermons ever given in the 20th century, made newspapers from New York to California when it was given. Today you can read a history book and nobody ever knows that a sermon was even given.
“This revisionist or ‘Modernist’ movement,” there’s the vocabulary word, “Modernist,” what does that word mean? It was a term coined by the Christians the early part of this century to designate this liberalism that was coming into American, the Modernist. They were modernizing the New Testament and denying the faith. The opposite word to Modernist was Fundamentalists. Those two are the big key buzzwords. They are two different distinct positions held in the early parts of this century, and the fundamentalists, by the way, were men like Robert Dick Wilson of Princeton University, fluent in twenty-six languages, and other uneducated people. So don’t get into this excuse why fundamentalists are always stupid people. Robert Dick Wilson, J. Gresham Machen, Benjamin Brackenfield Warfield, we have all these guys, brilliant men, wonderful Christians, into the Word of God, great scholars, and they insisted that you could modernize Christianity.
Here’s where the two words come from. Let me give you an explanation for the two vocabulary words. The liberals wanted to modernize Christian, get rid of the virgin birth, get rid of the blood atonement, get rid of all these primitive features and modernize it, make it applicable to modern man. The fundamentalists however, on the other side said, there are certain fundamentals and you can’t give up the fundamentals without destroying the faith. One of the fundamentals was the virgin birth, and the modernist became apoplectic about this, they were so angry at these fundamentalists going around the country of America, in California and New York, Chicago and all these places and taught you have to believe in the virgin birth; what kind of primitive kind of stuff is this. [blank spot]
Think what is at stake. What have we said about the virgin birth? It’s the only vehicle to get a sinless Savior into the world. You’ve got to have a virgin birth. These guys are absolutely right. What the liberals and modernists didn’t like was that they got caught, they got exposed, their unbelief got exposed because it was a particular question that Mary Q in the pulpit could come up to the pastor after a Sunday service and say, Rev. So-and-So, do you believe in the virgin birth, and what is the guy going to do? He’s got to say yes or no, right? It gave a tool to probe, to find out where’s the modernism, where’s the modernism, where’s the unbelief, where’s the liberalism, and they hated it, because every time someone kept asking that question in Sunday School, on the church boards, in church conferences they would squirm because they could talk about Jesus from now until hell froze over, but when they started questions like “do you believe in the virgin birth,” Rev. So and So, now what are you going to do. Well, er, ah, hmm, and that’s all that Mrs. So and So needed, she’s out of here, bye. And people started leaving. So that’s what was going on here.
In the middle of all this struggle, here’s this guy in June, 1922, he’d had it, Harry Emerson Fosdick. He was a Baptist clergyman, and if you look in the book shelves of your family, somewhere back in the 1920s and 1930s, if they shared in this culture, you should find books by Fosdick. He was the Norman Vincent Peale of his time. He was as well known in that generation as Billy Graham is today. That’s how powerful this guy was. One of the key books was this one, it was called The Manhood of the Master. If you’re in a used book store sometime you might get it. You can tell from the title, what has he already done? What has he done to the deity of Christ? You can talk about Jesus as a man, but when it gets to talking about Jesus as God, ooh, we can’t do that … it’s primitive. Here he is, he gets up, he was a guest speaker at the First Presbyterian Church in New York City. It was a big pulpit, New York Times and all the big newspapers in those days would cover what these big pulpits said on Sunday. On Monday you could read it in the paper. That was how papers used to follow things. Now we follow whatever happened in the football game.
“In the pulpit of the First Presbyterian Church of New York City, a famous Baptist clergyman and author, Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick, delivered a guest sermon entitled ‘Shall the Fundamentalists win?’ a sermon which ignited a full public exposure of the simmering Modernist-Fundamentalist controversy. Fosdick’s sermon specifically attacked the Fundamentalist defense of the virgin birth claim.” Here’s what he said, I’m going to read this, and imagine this guy with charisma, I don’t have any, but imagine some guy with charisma, that smooth voice, impressive, speaking from one of the largest pulpits in America, on the radio. Think of how this sounds. Talk about somebody that’s slick.
“‘Here for example, is one point of view: that the virgin birth is to be accepted as historical fact; it actually happened; there was no other way for a personality like the Master to come into this world except by a special biological miracle. That is one point of view, and many are the gracious and beautiful souls who hold it. But, side by side with them in the evangelical churches” please notice, “evangelical churches, “is a group of equally loyal and reverent people who would say that the virgin birth is not to be accepted as an historic fact …. Here in the Christian churches are these two groups and the question which the Fundamentalists raise is this, Shall one of them throw the other out?” Nasty people, imagine that, here we have this blessed Christian group and the fundies are saying I’m going to throw you out, what kind of nasty people are these fundamentalists? “Is not the Christian church large enough to hold within her hospitable fellowship people who differ in points like this…? The Fundamentalists say not. They say the liberals must go….’”
“Of course, the Fundamentalists failed in their attempt; instead they themselves were thrown out. Godly, Bible believing scholars like the great Greek expert, J. Gresham Machen,” who wrote the basic Koine Greek text book used by every first-year student of the New Testament Greek, still to this day, was “defrocked, disciplined, and kicked out of these denominations by the Modernists.” They not only threw him out of the church, they excommunicated the guy. Why? Machen had a war inside the Presbyterian Church. It was something that was covered in the newspapers as a result of this. Machen said part of my job as a faculty member here at Princeton is to teach New Testament Greek in the seminary, and because of my faculty position I’ve been appointed to the Presbyterian Board of Missions and I’m on the missions committee. And I’ve been bothered, we interview these people that want to go out in the mission field and they want to help people. They want to go into medical work, they want to do this and that, but they’re not theologically prepared. Last week I interviewed somebody from the missions board of the Presbyterian Church, and he didn’t believe in the virgin birth. Now I just don’t think as a good Presbyterian I want to have my money supporting this mission. Ooh, the most sensitive portion of the human anatomy, take a look at that. When this gets involved, all of a sudden things really begin to roll, and Machen decided he was going to cut off the money to anybody who didn’t believe the fundamentalists. Oooh, thousands of dollars suddenly at stake, ooh, now these fundies not only are calling us names, they’re not only going to throw us out of church, they’re turning off the money, we can’t have that. So they maneuvered and they kicked Machen out. He went across from New Jersey over to Pennsylvania and started Westminster Seminary.
That’s the history of our wonderful county in the 1920s. You’ve heard of the roaring 20s, now you know what the roaring was all about. It wasn’t everybody dancing a jig in funny looking dresses. It was the theology that was in an uproar during this whole period of time, from 1920-1930; by 1930 every major denomination had been captured by the modernists. Do you realize what that cost us as a nation? That meant they controlled the libraries. Now where does the conservative godly guy that wants to go study for the ministry go, there’s no libraries, they didn’t have CD ROMs, didn’t have the Internet, where do you go get training? It’s gone. In ten years every denomination in this country, every major denomination fell, and then the depression came, then World War II, and it was only after World War II that five men, Donald Grey Barnhouse up in Philadelphia, Billy Graham, and three or four other people got together and decided the country is in a wreck, this is like we’ve had a nuclear war. And what we see as Christian work today is largely a result of the work that happened after World War II. It’s pretty amazing; it’s a long, very thin thread in the 20th century. We were a basket case in the 20s and 30s. You think we have a problem today, the apostasy that set in between World War I and the depression was one of the worst things that ever happened to this country. That’s where the roots of modernism came from.
We want to look at page 27 and I want to go back to the principles that I showed earlier, John 3, Romans 1. There’s another sermon; I want you to see this one, because what I want to show you is that the non-Christian had to deny the virgin birth, not that he could have denied it, he had to. He couldn’t remain consistent with this growing powerful unbelief and allow the virgin birth and these kinds of claims to survive.
Look at this guy, Charles Eliot; when I was going to MIT I remember we Christians guys used to go up to see the Christian buddies at Harvard and they used to live in Eliot Hall, it’s the name of a dormitory now. “Charles Eliot, the famous Unitarian president of Harvard, who presented the following ideas to the Summer School of Theology of 1909 in his closing address,” look at the date, 1909, the time of our grandparents, in 1909 this was going on. Look where it was going on, “the Summer School of Theology,” sponsored by Harvard. Now do we wonder why we seem to be obscure, why we’re the minority? “‘The new thought of God will be its most characteristic element’” in the religion of the future. “This ideal will comprehend the Jewish Jehovah, the Christian Universal Father, the modern physicist’s omnipresent and exhaustless Energy, and the biological conception of a Vital Force….’” And I have in italics [the next sentence]; do you see the idea there? [“Note here the Continuity of Being, treating the personal God as basically the same ‘stuff’ as impersonal forces”.]
What have I shown time and time again? What are the two basic ideas? You’re going to hold to the Creator/creature distinction, or you’re going to hold to this Continuity of Being where God, rocks, man and everything else sort of share in the same goo. That’s paganism. Look at this, “the ideal will comprehend the Jewish Jehovah, the Christian Universal Father,” that’s the liberal buzzwords for Old and New Testament, while it’s dismissing the obvious discontinuity there, at least those two views hold to the Creator/creature distinction.
Look at the next one, “the modern physicist’s omnipresent and exhaustless Energy,” the Force, anyone? “the biological conception of a Vital Force,” the evolutionary upward struggle of life, this mystical thing we call life that’s evolving itself into existence, it’s all here, 1909. “The new religion rejects absolutely the conception…” they are dogmatic, they reject absolutely “that God is alienated from the world. It rejects also the entire conception of man as a fallen being….” Now we get rid of the fall. Well, let’s just keep at it here, see what else we can erode, what do we have here, the evil problem. There are only two views. The Christian view has a fall, it shows that the universe was at one time good and will one day be good again, or you drop that whole thing and you’ve good and evil forever and ever both ways, infinitely backward and infinitely forward. Wonderful place to live! It rejects the entire conception of man as a fallen being. “In all its theory and all its practice it [the religion of the future] will be completely natural. It will place no reliance on any sort of magic, or miracle, or other violation of, or exception to, the laws of nature.’”
In Genesis 1-10 what were we talking about? The laws of nature, and how the uniformitarian principle is just encapsulated, 2 Peter 3 exposes it; in the Christian view there aren’t laws of nature, there are only decrees of God. Nature doesn’t make laws, God makes the rules and God rules in heaven, so when I measure something and I repeatedly drop something, and I say F=MG and I say that that’s a law… no it isn’t, it’s a description of what happens 999,000 times when I dropped my pen. I haven’t decreed anything, I don’t think the pen has made a law, has it made a law. The rug hasn’t made a law. Gravity hasn’t made a law. Who has? God’s rule. What does Paul say in Romans 1, remember what every man knows since the creation of the world? His ever-working power. So all the laws and all this nature stuff is just a vocabularized form of unbelief that proves that whoever talks about natural law has already touched the regularity of God. And instead of confessing it as the regularity of a decreeing sovereign Creator, we’ve redone the vocabulary; we’ve put a little spin on it and call it natural law.
It goes on, and I want to point out two more quotes, both by Machen. He was the man who was the fundamentalist who opposed all this, he lived in this time. These men, it must have been terrible for them because they had grown up at the end of the 19th century, when basically you could say that not all was well, but that Christianity still held a dominant role in our culture. By the time these men were 60 years old or 70, they had lived through the collapse of the Christian culture. By the time Machen died, and by the time Warfield died, when these men were on their way to their own funerals, they could not look anywhere in America and see anything that remotely corresponded to the way they remembered it as children growing up in the late 1800s. That’s what these men lived through. And Machen wrote a fantastic book, it’s out of print now, it’s Christianity and Liberalism, it’s outdated for modern liberalism, but if you want to gain insight into what these men fought, and God bless them because if they hadn’t fought we probably wouldn’t be here, because we’ve been taught by men who’ve been taught by men who’ve been taught by men out of their resources.
Machen’s book called Christianity and Liberalism was a classic attack against modernism. This is his answer to Fosdick. If you read that book you’ll get a flavor of what on earth was going on in America in this period of time. Here’s a quote from it. “The overwhelming majority of those who reject the Virgin Birth reject also the whole supernatural content of the New Testament….” Is he right? What did that Unitarian guy from Harvard say? We not only reject the virgin birth, we reject everything. Why? Because we believe in natural law. Was Machen being an extremist with that statement? Here’s this radical right-wing fundie again, always attacking somebody, always negative. But is it true? “The overwhelming majority of those who reject the Virgin Birth reject also the whole supernatural content of the New Testament …. The issue does not concern individual miracles, even so important a miracle as the Virgin Birth. It really concerns all miracles. And the question concerning all miracles is simply the question of acceptance or rejection of the Savior that the New Testament presents.” His point there being that the Lord Jesus Christ is presented in a matrix or miracle; if you reject the miracles, feeding the 5,000 and all the rest of it, you reject Jesus. It’s very simple.
Top of page 28 “As Machen says, “The liberal preacher insists on the possibility of believing in Christ no matter which view be adopted as to the manner of his entrance into the world. Is not the person the same no matter how He was born?” That’s what the liberals are saying. “The impression is thus produced upon the plain man that the preacher is accepting the main outlines of the New Testament account of Jesus, but merely had difficulties with this particular element in the account.” Watch the grease, Machen’s cutting through the grease. “But such an impression is radically false. It is true that some men have denied the Virgin Birth and yet have accepted the New Testament account of Jesus as a supernatural Person. But such men are exceedingly few and far between.” Today they’re basically nonexistent.
The diagram I’ve drawn there, all I’m trying to show you is that you can take the virgin birth claim, you come at it with one or the other world view, you come at the New Testament with a world view that’s sympathetic to the revelation that’s gone before, all the Old Testament revelation, the revelation and creation all around us, the Noahic gospel, all that, or you come to the virgin birth with what Romans 1 says is mataiotes, it’s a self-destruction of the intellect, it is a heart that has darkened, it is a pagan view of the Continuity of Being and the normalcy of evil. Faced with that position you come to the claim of the virgin birth and you reject it.
Next week we’ll carry on further, we want to start to get into the formulation of the positive doctrine.
We’re going to start next week getting into some heavy stuff because we’ve got to deal with the God-man nature of Christ, how it’s revealed in the New Testament, and once we do that, then that involves us in the Trinity. So, big stuff coming up. What I’d like to do is throw it open to questions that would be prior to that, or anything we’ve covered, maybe Old Testament background to where we’re going, or maybe some of the points of church history that we made tonight. If you haven’t, you ought to really think back in your own family lineage what your parents and grandparents, where they were when all this was going on, where they were in their thinking because I think it will give you some insight into your own spiritual heritage.
Question asked: Clough replies: It didn’t happen overnight. The question is in order for all this to burst forth in the church in the 20th century, what went on before that to permit entrenched unbelief in pretty high places. I think theologically it’s almost like Israel in the Old Testament, you think of Israel, they saw miracles, they saw God’s Shekinah glory, they had living prophets. Think of the Exodus generation, you don’t have to go see Prince of Egypt to realize that that generation saw fantastic stuff, and yet within the same generation they didn’t believe, and started worshiping … started worshiping falsifying the theology of the Exodus. And it had happened to them thirty or forty years ago. So that’s how rapidly this stuff can happen.
What apparently happened in America was that… our country has been kind of a funny place for Christian because it has blossomed and then waned. Church historians tell us that Christianity was quite vigorous in Virginia, the Virginia Colonies, basically Episcopalian; Rhode Island basically Baptist; and Massachusetts and the Bay area was very strong Congregational. You had different denominations but ideologically and theologically they were what we would conservative, by our standards today. What had happened though was that this country at its founding had a large number of people who had already bought into Unitarianism. Unitarianism flourished in Massachusetts and spread from there, fed by rationalism out of Europe. It infected Harvard very early, Yale, this is like a toxin, you know viruses attack your body and they go for your throat, and unbelief creeps into the most strategically sensitive areas imaginable.
And what is the most strategically sensitive area? The training of the next generation. So wherever you have education you’ll usually have the infestation. It always seems to trigger that. So where do you think that young pastors in America, in order to get their advanced degrees, to teach, went? They’d go to Germany. Out of continental rationalism, the Continuum tradition, Hegelian tradition, that had already affected European universities. Men were writing critical textbooks on the New Testament, that, for example, you can’t really believe that Moses wrote all of Exodus, and this kind of stuff. So the textbooks about biblical history were already being infected. These, because there were no other texts, became the beaching tools of these seminaries.
We can look back and Monday morning quarterback, we’re good at that. I think what happened is that the generation didn’t see it coming. I think all during the 19th century there were other things that preoccupied America, we had the Civil War, we had the slavery issue, we had the great revival under Jonathan Edwards at the beginning of the 19th century, that seemed to be a recovery because if you read biographies the country went to spiritual rot between the American Revolution and the War of 1812. In fact, some Christians commented the reason why the British invaded Washington D.C. was it’s God’s hand to stir up Americans because of their apostasy. Drinking and drugs were very strong in the early 1800s, the West Indies Tea Company, it was more than tea that they were importing. So you had a lot of that stuff going on, and God gave a great revival. The tentacles of that revival spread, you had the Methodists were good at… they went into the Midwest, Methodism had an ability to be the circuit riders, they went into new areas, into the Appalachians, lone riders just teaching the Word of God, patterned after John Wesley.
What I’m trying to say is that each denomination that we can identify, the Baptists, the Congregationalists, the Presbyterians, the Methodists were basically majority conservative. But in their schooling they were all getting the same kind of vibes. By 1840 for example, Uniformitarian geology had already been established. There were already questions in Bibilotheca Sacra in 1844 about the liberalness in the days of Genesis, and tolerated by the conservatives. The conservatives in the 19th century basically saw science developing, this was new. They didn’t really know how to handle it. And they didn’t want to look like fools, so they started backing up, giving it more room, more room, more room, and what unfortunately happened was… this explains why today you have Henry Morris and the strict creationists, it’s not because guys like Henry Morris are historical illiterates, it’s not because we don’t think about issues, it’s precisely because we know, the last 200 years of church history we recognize that in the 19th century there was a strategic mistake. The Christians backed up and hoped, hoped that this would correct itself; it was something that they wouldn’t have to bother with. It just got worse and worse.
So I would say in answer to your question that the seeds had been prepared largely through the intelligentsia, the libraries, the books that were written, etc. The men who held the line, that’s why your fundamentalists like Machen and Robert Dick Wilson are such wonderful men to read because when you read these guys, I’ve got a book, The Old Testament and Scientific Investigation by Robert Dick Wilson, here he is a professor of Old Testament at Princeton Seminary, and he’s the guy that knew twenty-six languages. I don’t even remember the names of twenty-six languages, let alone be able to read them. This guy was the Old Testament professor, and what is stunning when you read these guys is they were really trying to interact with the Germans over all this rationalism, they really were, they were studying it, you’d see it in their footnotes and bibliographies, they were interacting with it, but the problem was they were shooting at specific targets, instead of digging out the foundations. They hadn’t yet come to an awareness that something was rotten down in the foundational level, they didn’t perceive that.
Apologetics, in the 19th century on into most of the 20th century has always been Christians trying to justify their faith to the canon of reason, to show that Christianity is (quote) “reasonable,” to show that Christianity fits the facts. What happens is that you had men like Warfield and Hodge, let’s say this is the criteria of the facts of history, so Hodge and Warfield would take that as the criteria, or they would take reason as the criteria. Then they would say we want you to accept Christ, and we’re going to show you in order to accept Christ that our gospel meets these tests. The problem was that they were naïve about how seriously sin had already affected these, that reason itself is contaminated, that you don’t have anything that’s pure fact in history. All facts are observations that in turn have been filtered through an observer. So it was naïveté, and I think in that degree it’s a repeat of what we’re going to see in the coming weeks about the doctrine of the Lord Jesus Christ.
It’s pretty stunning and sobering to realize that the church did not get its act together on defining who Jesus was until close to 500 years after He died. Why did it take the church 450-500 years to finally get it together? It was because we’re sheep, and we kind of wander all over the place, getting ourselves in all kinds of messes and then when we finally get in a mess, the wolves come and bite us and all kinds of thing happen, and then oh maybe we need the shepherd. Finally the shepherd comes and he gets his crook and gets us out of the ditch, and pulls us over here, okay stupid, stay here. We learn that one, and then we go wandering around somewhere else. What happened in the doctrine we’re going to see is the church wandered into Arianism; Arianism is a belief that Jesus was a man on whom came the Spirit of God, and they tried to deal with the biblical data.
The next lesson has Old Testament streams, pay attention to the verses that I list; there are a lot of Old Testament texts in it. The reason I’m giving you all that biblical material is that was what the church was struggling with because they had people inside the church that were denying the deity of Christ, the Arians. And you had the Sabellians and they were all screwed up on the Trinity. The church fought this. Look at the hymn book, because this illustrates what I’m talking about, look at the section at the end where we have the creeds. This is a great illustration. Look at the Apostle’s Creed - that was done in the 1st century. Look at what the church says. “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell; the third day He arose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty,” etc. A whole paragraph is devoted to the Lord Jesus Christ. All this is true, the church was right. But what happened was you had weasel words and the greasy people that stayed inside the church, inside the church, not outside the church, and they wanted to make Jesus less than pure whole deity. They were able to survive The Apostle’s Creed. The Apostle’s Creed did not screen out that kind of unbelief, it was a course screen.
Notice what happens in The Nicene Creed, see what they’ve done, they’ve tightened up the screen a little bit. Now how does the Creed read, “We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.” Notice what they’ve added to God’s creation. Why do you suppose they did that? What missing in The Apostle’s Creed? God created angels. They were trying to make Jesus half God and half angel, so the Nicene Creed came in and corrected that, they said no, “all things visible and invisible,” we mean all angels are created and therefore Jesus can’t be an angel. So that little clause was tacked on to screen out some more unbelief. Now look what they did when they got to Jesus. Look at what they did in the next sentence. “And in one Lord, Jesus Christ,” look at the commas; look at the number of appositional phrases here. “… the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father, before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father. By whom all things were made,” now they go into the history of Jesus. Do you sense what the writers of the Nicene Creed are trying to do here? Why are this putting this fantastic screen up, they’re just filtering out every single particle that they can get because they were fighting to define Jesus Christ on the basis of the Scriptures that we’re going to study. The Scriptures I quote in the notes all came up historically in these councils for discussion.
And we don’t have one of the great Creeds which follow this, and I’ll try to get copies of it in the next handout. The Chalcedon Creed, that was the capstone after all this fighting was going on, and you’ll see what they did to improve the Nicene Creed. They went through all these stages, trying to state what the New Testament said, and the reason is because the guys who wrote the Apostle’s Creed thought they had it down, and then what happened? Satan came along, and we have certain unbelief, certain heresies, Sabellianism, Arianism, etc. Then the church says okay, we didn’t make it tight enough, so they get back together, they go into a church council and they go into a huddle. Look guys, what are we going to do, we’ve got to deal with this, we’ve got to study these Scriptures more carefully because we’ve got all these heretics in the pulpits… pulpits by the way. So the church got together and formulated the Nicene Creed. Then this wasn’t enough because after the Nicene Creed some more guys came and started arguing another thing, yea, Jesus is both God and man but it’s mixed together in one person. That denies the Creator/ creature distinction. So they had to come up with a third creed, the Chalcedon creed.
Let me warn you about something, when you get Jehovah’s Witnesses or somebody at your door, attacking the person of Christ, what they’re going to tell you is that these Creeds are all made by man, and you Christians, Jesus isn’t fully God, Jesus is like Michael the archangel or something, but He’s not God, the Bible says He’s not God, there’s lots of evidence He’s not God. And you just can’t go by this Trinity stuff and this hypostatic union stuff, it’s all men’s words. Yes, it is men’s words. We believe, however, they’re Spirit taught words, a mature reflection of the Scriptures. And if you read church history, these things weren’t invented, the guy didn’t sit down at the barber shop on Saturday morning, got nothing else to do, no games today so we’re going to talk about theology, so they all gather around the stove, it’s a cold day and they warm themselves in a theological discussion and say by golly, we made the Nicene Creed today, what are we going to do next week guys.
That’s not how these creeds came about. They came about because there were serious factions, arguments, excommunications going on throughout the church over these issues, and they had to bring peace to the church, so the creeds were devised to summarize Bible doctrine in such a manner that everyone could communicate here is what we believe, because remember, they didn’t all carry New Testaments around. So they’d memorize these creeds. These were all memorized; people out there couldn’t read; lots of people were illiterate. They weren’t stupid, they probably could think a lot better than the TV generation. These people were smart people, it’s just that they were illiterate and they didn’t have their own copies of the Bible. So here’s what they did, they memorized the creeds. And they saved them; that saved generations of Christians from drifting off into apostasy. So that’s what happened.
The answer to the final question is that similar things happened in the 19th century and we’re still dealing with the aftereffects of that. That’s why presupposition apologetics, I believe, is God’s answer in the 20th century. I think Cornelius VanTil and other men who have honed this tool, it’s never been there before. It was there in the Scripture but we never really used it. So we need tools, we need a framework. That’s why I’m trying to teach an event and doctrine, because we live in a greasy generation. Everybody yak yak yaks about Jesus this and Jesus that, well so are the Arians, the issue is what is the gospel, how does a guy get saved, what did God do to save us, what is He going to do to judge us. Those are the fundamentals. That is exactly the opposite to the way the world wants to treat the whole thing today. We want to emote and we want to slide around. That’s the story today. So we need to pick up the pieces, we’re still in the generation picking up the pieces from what happened in the early 20th century.