1. Meaning of the Words Enthusiasm and Mysticism
In the popular sense of the word, enthusiasm means a high state of mental excitement. In that state all the powers are exalted, the thoughts become more comprehensive and vivid, the feelings more fervid, and the will more determined. It is in these periods of excitement that the greatest works of genius, whether by poets, painters, or warriors, have been accomplished. The ancients referred this exaltation of the inner man to a divine influence. They regarded persons thus excited as possessed or having a God within them. Hence they were called enthusiasts (ἔνθεος). In theology, therefore, those who ignore or reject the guidance of the Scriptures, and assume to be led by an inward divine influence into the knowledge and obedience of the truth, are properly called Enthusiasts. This term, however, has been in a great measure superseded by the word Mystics.
Few words indeed have been used in such a vague, indefinite sense as Mysticism. Its etymology does not determine its meaning. A μύστης was one initiated into the knowledge of the Greek mysteries, one to whom secret things had been revealed. Hence in the wide sense of the word, a Mystic is one who claims to see or know what is hidden from other men, whether this knowledge is attained by immediate intuition, or by inward revelation. In most cases these methods were assumed to be identical, as intuition was held to be the immediate vision of God and of divine things. Hence, in the wide sense of the word, Mystics are those who claim to be under the immediate guidance of God or of his Spirit.
- The Philosophical Use of the Word
Hence Mysticism, in this sense, includes all those systems of philosophy, which teach either the identity of God and the soul, or the immediate intuition of the infinite. The pantheism of the Brahmins and Buddhists, the theosophy of the Sufis, the Egyptian, and many forms of the Greek philosophy, in this acceptation of the term, are all Mystical. As the same system has been reproduced in modern times, the same designation is applied to the philosophy of Spinoza, and its various modifications. According to Cousin, “Mysticism in philosophy is the belief that God may be known face to face, without anything intermediate. It is a yielding to the sentiment awakened by the idea of the infinite, and a running up of all knowledge and all duty to the contemplation and love of Him.”
For the same reason the whole Alexandrian school of theology in the early Church has been called Mystical. They characteristically depreciated the outward authority of the Scriptures, and exalted that of the inward light. It is true they called that light reason, but they regarded it as divine. According to the new Platonic doctrine, the Λόγος, or impersonal reason of God, is Reason in man; or as Clemens Alexandrinus said, The Logos was a light common to all men. That, therefore, to which supreme authority was ascribed in the pursuit of truth, was “God within us.” This is the doctrine of modern Eclecticism as presented by Cousin. That philosopher says, “Reason is impersonal in its nature. It is not we who make it. It is so far from being individual, that its peculiar characteristics are the opposite of individuality, namely, universality and necessity, since it is to Reason we owe the knowledge of universal and necessary truths, of principles which we all obey, and cannot but obey.… It descends from God, and approaches man. It makes its appearance in the consciousness as a guest, who brings intelligence of an unknown world, of which it at once presents the idea and awakens the want. If reason were personal, it would have no value, no authority beyond the limits of the individual subject.… Reason is a revelation, a necessary and universal revelation which is wanting to no man, and which enlightens every man on his coming into the world. Reason is the necessary mediator between God and man, the Λόγος of Pythagoras and Plato, the Word made Flesh, which serves as the interpreter of God, and teacher of man, divine and human at the same time. It is not indeed the absolute God in his majestic individuality, but his manifestation in spirit and in truth. It is not the Being of beings, but it is the revealed God of the human race.”
Reason, according to this system, is not a faculty of the human soul, but God in man. As electricity and magnetism are (or used to be) regarded as forces diffused through the material world, so the Λόγος, the divine impersonal reason, is diffused through the world of mind, and reveals itself more or less potentially in the souls of all men. This theory, in one aspect, is a form of Rationalism, as it refers all our higher, and especially our religious knowledge, to a subjective source, which it designates Reason. It has, however, more points of analogy with Mysticism, because, (1.) It assumes that the informing principle, the source of knowledge and guide in duty, is divine, something which does not belong to our nature, but appears as a guest in our consciousness. (2.) The office of this inward principle, or light, is the same in both systems. It is to reveal truth and duty, to elevate and purify the soul. (3.) Its authority is the same; that is, it is paramount if not exclusive. (4.) Its very designations are the same. It is called by philosophers, God, the Λόγος, the Word; by Christians, Christ within us, or, the Spirit. Thus systems apparently the most diverse (Cousin and George Fox!) run into each other, and reveal themselves as reproductions of heathen philosophy, or of the heresies of the early Church.
Although the Alexandrian theologians had these points of agreement with the Mystics, yet as they were speculative in their whole tendency, and strove to transmute Christianity into a philosophy, they are not properly to be regarded as Mystics in the generally received theological meaning of the term.
- The Sense in which Evangelical Christians are called Mystics
As all Evangelical Christians admit a supernatural influence of the Spirit of God upon the soul, and recognize a higher form of knowledge, holiness, and fellowship with God, as the effects of that influence, they are stigmatized as Mystics, by those who discard everything supernatural from Christianity. The definitions of Mysticism given by Rationalists are designedly so framed as to include what all evangelical Christians hold to be true concerning the illumination, teaching, and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Thus Wegscheider says, “Mysticismus est persuasio de singulari animæ facultate ad immediatum ipsoque sensu percipiendum cum numine aut naturis coelestibus commercium jam in hac vita perveniendi, quo mens immediate cognitione rerum divinarum ac beatitate perfruatur.” And Bretschneider2 defines Mysticism as a “Belief in a continuous operation of God on the soul, secured by special religious exercise, producing illumination, holiness, and beatitude.” Evangelical theologians so far acquiesce in this view, that they say, as Lange, and Nitsch,2 “that every true believer is a Mystic.” The latter writer adds, “That the Christian ideas of illumination, revelation, incarnation, regeneration, the sacraments and the resurrection, are essentially Mystical elements. As often as the religious and church-life recovers itself from formalism and scholastic barrenness, and is truly revived, it always appears as Mystical, and gives rise to the outcry that Mysticism is gaining the ascendency.” Some writers, indeed, make a distinction between Mystik and Mysticismus. “Die innerliche Lebendigkeit der Religion ist allezeit Mystik” (The inward vitality of religion is ever Mystik), says Nitsch, but “Mysticismus ist eine einseitige Herrschaft und eine Ausartung der mystischen Richtung.” That is, Mysticism is an undue and perverted development of the mystical element which belongs to true religion. This distinction, between Mystik and Mysticismus, is not generally recognized, and cannot be well expressed in English. Lange, instead of using different words, speaks of a true and false Mysticism. But different things should be designated by different words. There has been a religious theory, which has more or less extensively prevailed in the Church, which is distinguished from the Scriptural doctrine by unmistakable characteristics, and which is known in church history as Mysticism, and the word should be restricted to that theory. It is the theory, variously modified, that the knowledge, purity, and blessedness to be derived from communion with God, are not to be attained from the Scriptures and the use of the ordinary means of grace, but by a supernatural and immediate divine influence, which influence (or communication of God to the soul) is to be secured by passivity, a simple yielding the soul without thought or effort to the divine influx.
- The System which makes the Feelings the Source of Knowledge
A still wider use of the word Mysticism has to some extent been adopted. Any system, whether in philosophy or religion, which assigns more importance to the feelings than to the intellect, is called Mystical. Cousin, and after him, Morell, arrange the systems of philosophy under the heads of Sensationalism, Idealism, Skepticism, and Mysticism. The first makes the senses the exclusive or predominant source of our knowledge; the second, the self, in its constitution and laws, as understood and apprehended by the intellect; and Mysticism, the feelings. The Mystic assumes that the senses and reason are alike untrustworthy and inadequate, as sources of knowledge; that nothing can be received with confidence as truth, at least in the higher departments of knowledge, in all that relates to our own nature, to God, and our relation to Him, except what is revealed either naturally or supernaturally in the feelings. There are two forms of Mysticism, therefore: the one which assumes the feelings themselves to be the sources of this knowledge; the other that it is through the feelings that God makes the truth known to the soul. “Reason is no longer viewed as the great organ of truth; its decisions are enstamped as uncertain, faulty, and well-nigh valueless, while the inward impulses of our sensibility, developing themselves in the form of faith or of inspiration, are held up as the true and infallible source of human knowledge. The fundamental process, therefore, of all Mysticism, is to reverse the true order of nature, and give the precedence to the emotional instead of the intellectual element of the human mind.”2 This is declared to be “the common ground of all Mysticism.”
If this be a correct view of the nature of Mysticism; if it consists in giving predominant authority to the feelings in matters of religion; and if their impulses, developing themselves in the form of faith, are the true and infallible source of knowledge, then Schleiermacher’s system, adopted and expounded by Morell himself in his “Philosophy of Religion,” is the most elaborate system of theology ever presented to the Church. It is the fundamental principle of Schleiermacher’s theory, that religion resides not in the intelligence, or the will or active powers, but in the sensibility. It is a form of feeling, a sense of absolute dependence. Instead of being, as we seem to be, individual, separate free agents, originating our own acts, we recognize ourselves as a part of a great whole, determined in all things by the great whole, of which we are a part. We find ourselves as finite creatures over against an infinite Being, in relation to whom we are as nothing. The Infinite is everything; and everything is only a manifestation of the Infinite. “Although man,” says even Morell, “while in the midst of finite objects, always feels himself to a certain extent free and independent; yet in the presence of that which is self-existent, infinite, and eternal, he may feel the sense of freedom utterly pass away, and become absorbed in the sense of absolute dependence.” This is said to be the essential principle of religion in all its forms from Fetichism up to Christianity. It depends mainly on the degree of culture of the individual or community, in what way this sense of dependence shall reveal itself. Because the more enlightened and pure the individual is, the more he will be able to apprehend aright what is involved in this sense of dependence upon God. Revelation is not the communication of new truth to the understanding, but the providential influences by which the religious life is awakened in the soul. Inspiration is not the divine influence which controls the mental operations and utterances of its subject, so as to render him infallible in the communication of the truth revealed, but simply the intuition of eternal verities due to the excited state of the religious feelings. Christianity, subjectively considered, is the intuitions of good men, as occasioned and determined by the appearance of Christ. Objectively considered, or, in other words, Christian theology, it is the logical analysis, and scientific arrangement and elucidation of the truths involved in those intuitions. The Scriptures, as a rule of faith, have no authority. They are of value only as means of awakening in us the religious life experienced by the Apostles, and thus enabling us to attain like intuitions of divine things. The source of our religious life, according to this system, is the feelings, and if this be the characteristic feature of Mysticism, the Schleiermacher doctrine is purely Mystical.
- Mysticism as known in Church History
This, however, is not what is meant by Mysticism, as it has appeared in the Christian Church. The Mystics, as already stated, are those who claim an immediate communication of divine knowledge and of divine life from God to the soul, independently of the Scriptures and the use of the ordinary means of grace. “It despairs,” says Fleming, “of the regular process of science; it believes that we may attain directly, without the aid of the senses or reason, and by an immediate intuition, the real and absolute principle of all truth,—God.”
Mystics are of two classes; the Theosophists, whose object is knowledge, and with whom the organ of communication with God, is the reason; and the Mystics proper, whose object is, life, purity, and beatitude; and with whom the organ of communication, or receptivity, is the feelings. They agree, first, in relying on the immediate revelation or communication of God to the soul; and secondly, that these communications are to be attained, in the neglect of outward means, by quiet or passive contemplation. “The Theosophist is one who gives a theory of God, or of the works of God, which has not reason, but an inspiration of his own for its basis.” “The Theosophists, neither contented with the natural light of reason, nor with the simple doctrines of Scripture understood in their literal sense, have recourse to an internal supernatural light superior to all other illuminations, from which they profess to derive a mysterious and divine philosophy manifested only to the chosen favorites of heaven.”
Mysticism not identical with the Doctrine of Spiritual Illumination
Mysticism, then, is not to be confounded with the doctrine of spiritual illumination as held by all evangelical Christians. The Scriptures clearly teach that the mere outward presentation of the truth in the Word, does not suffice to the conversion or sanctification of men; that the natural, or unrenewed man, does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them; that in order to any saving knowledge of the truth, i.e., of such knowledge as produces holy affections and secures a holy life, there is need of an inward supernatural teaching of the Spirit, producing what the Scriptures call “spiritual discernment.” This supernatural teaching our Lord promised to his disciples when He said that He would send them the Spirit of truth to dwell in them, and to guide them into the knowledge of the truth. For this teaching the sacred writers pray that it may be granted not to themselves only, but to all who heard their words or read their writings. On this they depended exclusively for their success in preaching or teaching. Hence believers were designated as πνευματικοί, a Spiritu Dei illuminati, qui reguntur a Spiritu. And men of the world, unrenewed men, are described as those who have not the Spirit. God, therefore, does hold immediate intercourse with the souls of men. He reveals himself unto his people, as He does not unto the world. He gives them the Spirit of revelation in the knowledge of himself. (Eph. 1:17.) He unfolds to them his glory, and fills them with a joy which passes understanding. All this is admitted; but this is very different from Mysticism. The two things, namely, spiritual illumination and Mysticism, differ, firstly, as to their object. The object of the inward teaching of the Spirit is to enable us to discern the truth and excellence of what is already objectively revealed in the Bible. The illumination claimed by the Mystic communicates truth independently of its objective revelation. It is not intended to enable us to appreciate what we already know, but to communicate new knowledge. It would be one thing to enable a man to discern and appreciate the beauty of a work of art placed before his eyes, and quite another thing to give him the intuition of all possible forms of truth and beauty, independent of everything external. So there is a great difference between that influence which enables the soul to discern the things “freely given to us of God” (1 Cor. 2:12) in his Word, and the immediate revelation to the mind of all the contents of that word, or of their equivalents.
The doctrines of spiritual illumination and of Mysticism differ not only in the object, but secondly, in the manner in which that object is to be attained. The inward teaching of the Spirit is to be sought by prayer, and the diligent use of the appointed means; the intuitions of the Mystic are sought in the neglect of all means, in the suppression of all activity inward and outward, and in a passive waiting for the influx of God into the soul. They differ, thirdly, in their effects. The effect of spiritual illumination is, that the Word dwells in us “in all wisdom and spiritual understanding” (Col. 1:9). What dwells in the mind of the Mystic are his own imaginings, the character of which depends on his own subjective state; and whatever they are, they are of man and not of God.
It differs from the Doctrine of the “Leading of the Spirit.”
Neither is Mysticism to be confounded with the doctrine of spiritual guidance. Evangelical Christians admit that the children of God are led by the Spirit of God; that their convictions as to truth and duty, their inward character and outward conduct, are moulded by his influence. They are children unable to guide themselves, who are led by an ever-present Father of infinite wisdom and love. This guidance is partly providential, ordering their external circumstances; partly through the Word, which is a lamp to their feet; and partly by the inward influence of the Spirit on the mind. This last, however, is also through the Word, making it intelligible and effectual; bringing it suitably to remembrance. God leads his people by the cords of a man, i.e., in accordance with the laws of his nature. This is very different from the doctrine that the soul, by yielding itself passively to God, is filled with all truth and goodness; or, that in special emergencies it is controlled by blind, irrational impulses.
It differs from the Doctrine of “Common Grace.”
Finally, Mysticism differs from the doctrine of common grace as held by all Augustinians, and that of sufficient grace as held by Arminians. All Christians believe that as God is everywhere present in the material world, guiding the operation of second causes so that they secure the results which He designs; so his Spirit is everywhere present with the minds of men, exciting to good and restraining from evil, effectually controlling human character and conduct, consistently with the laws of rational beings. According to the Arminian theory this “common grace” is sufficient, if properly cultured and obeyed, to lead men to salvation, whether Pagans, Mohammedans, or Christians. There is little analogy, however, between this doctrine of common, or sufficient grace, and Mysticism as it has revealed itself in the history of the Church. The one assumes an influence of the Spirit on all men analogous to the providential efficiency of God in nature, the other an influence analogous to that granted to prophets and apostles, involving both revelation and inspiration.
2. Mysticism in the Early Church
The Montanists who arose toward the close of the second century had, in one aspect, some affinity to Mysticism. Montanus taught that as the ancient prophets predicted the coming of the Messiah through whom new revelations were to be made; so Christ predicted the coming of the Paraclete through whom further communications of the mind of God were to be made to his people. Tertullian, by whom this system was reduced to order and commended to the higher class of minds, did indeed maintain that the rule of faith was fixed and immutable; but nevertheless that there was need of a continued supernatural revelation of truth, at least as to matters of duty and discipline. This supernatural revelation was made through the Paraclete; whether, as was perhaps the general idea among the Montanists, by communications granted, from time to time, to special individuals, who thereby became Christian prophets; or by an influence common to all believers, which however some more than others experienced and improved. The following passage from Tertullian gives clearly the fundamental principle of the system, so far as this point is concerned: “Regula quidem fidei una omnino est, sola immobilis et irreformabilis.… Hac lege fidei manente, cetera jam disciplinæ et conversationis admittunt novitatem correctionis; operante scilicet et proficiente usque in finem gratia Dei.… Propterea Paracletum misit Dominus, ut, quoniam humana mediocritas omnia semel capere non poterat, paulatim dirigeretur et ordinaretur et ad perfectum perduceretur disciplina ab illo vicario Domini Spiritu Sancto. Quæ est ergo Paracleti administratio nisi hæc, quod disciplina dirigitur, quod Scripturæ revelantur, quod intellectus reformatur, quod ad meliora proficitur?… Justitia primo fuit in rudimentis, natura Deum metuens; dehinc per legem et prophetas promovit in infantiam; dehinc per evangelium efferbuit in juventutem; nunc per Paracletum componitur in maturitatem.”
The points of analogy between Montanism and Mysticism are that both assume the insufficiency of the Scriptures and the ordinances of the Church for the full development of the Christian life; and both assert the necessity of a continued, supernatural, revelation from the Spirit of God. In other respects the two tendencies were divergent. Mysticism was directed to the inner life; Montanism to the outward. It concerned itself with the reformation of manners and strictness of discipline. It enjoined fasts, and other ascetic practices. As it depended on the supernatural and continued guidance of the Spirit, it was on the one hand opposed to speculation, or the attempt to develop Christianity by philosophy; and on the other to the dominant authority of the bishops. Its denunciatory and exclusive spirit led to its condemnation as heretical. As the Montanists excommunicated the Church, the Church excommunicated them.
- The so-called Dionysius, the Areopagite
Mysticism, in the common acceptation of the term, is antagonistic to speculation. And yet they are often united. There have been speculative or philosophical Mystics. The father indeed of Mysticism in the Christian Church, was a philosopher. About the year a.d. 523, during the Monothelite controversy certain writings were quoted as of authority as being the productions of Dionysius the Areopagite. The total silence respecting them during the preceding centuries; the philosophical views which they express; the allusions to the state of the Church with which they abound, have produced the conviction, universally entertained, that they were the work of some author who lived in the latter part of the fifth century. The most learned investigators, however, confess their inability to fix with certainty or even with probability on any writer to whom they can be referred. Though their authorship is unknown, their influence has been confessedly great. The works which bear the pseudonym of Dionysius are, “The Celestial Hierarchy,” “The Terrestrial Hierarchy,” “Mystical Theology,” and “Twelve Epistles.” Their contents show that their author belonged to the school of the New Platonists, and that his object was to propagate the peculiar views of that school in the Christian Church. The writer attempts to show that the real, esoteric doctrines of Christianity are identical with those of his own school of philosophy. In other words, he taught New Platonism, in the terminology of the Church. Christian ideas were entirely excluded, while the language of the Bible was retained. Thus in our day we have had the philosophy of Schelling and Hegel set forth in the formulas of Christian theology.
The New Platonists taught that the original ground and source of all things was simple being, without life or consciousness; of which absolutely nothing could be known, beyond that it is. They assumed an unknown quantity, of which nothing can be predicated. The pseudo-Dionysius called this original ground of all things God, and taught that God was mere being without attributes of any kind, not only unknowable by man, but of whom there was nothing to be known, as absolute being is in the language of the modern philosophy,—Nothing; nothing in itself, yet nevertheless the δύναμις τῶν πάντων.
The universe proceeds from primal being, not by any exercise of conscious power or will, but by a process or emanation. The familiar illustration is derived from the flow of light from the sun. With this difference, however. That the sun emits light, is a proof that it is itself luminous; but the fact that intelligent beings emanate from the “ground-being,” is not admitted as proof that it is intelligent. The fact that the air produces cheerfulness, say these philosophers, does not prove that the atmosphere experiences joy. We can infer nothing as to the nature of the cause from the nature of the effects.
These emanations are of different orders; decreasing in dignity and excellence as they are distant from the primal source. The first of these emanations is mind, νοῦς, intelligence individualized in different ranks of spiritual beings. The next, proceeding from the first, is soul, which becomes individualized by organic or vital connection with matter. There is, therefore, an intelligence of intelligences, and also a soul of souls; hence their generic unity. Evil arises from the connection of the spiritual with the corporeal, and yet this connection so far as souls are concerned, is necessary to their individuality. Every soul, therefore, is an emanation from the soul of the world, as that is from God, through the Intelligence.
As there is no individual soul without a body, and as evil is the necessary consequence of union with a body, evil is not only necessary or unavoidable, it is a good.
The end of philosophy is the immediate vision of God, which gives the soul supreme blessedness and rest. This union with God is attained by sinking into ourselves; by passivity. As we are a form, or mode of God’s existence, we find God in ourselves, and are consciously one with him, when this is really apprehended; or, when we suffer God, as it were, to absorb our individuality.
The primary emanations from the ground of all being, which the heathen called gods (as they had gods many and lords many); the New Platonists, spirits or intelligences; and the Gnostics, æons; the pseudo-Dionysius called angels. These he divided into three triads: (1.) thrones, cherubim, and seraphim; (2.) powers, lordships, authorities; (3.) angels, archangels, principalities. He classified the ordinances and officers and members of the Church into corresponding triads: (1.) The sacraments,—baptism, communion, anointing,—these were the means of initiation or consecration; (2.) The initiators,—bishops, priests, deacons; (3.) The initiated,—monks, the baptized, catechumens.
The terms God, sin, redemption, are retained in this system, but the meaning attached to them was entirely inconsistent with the sense they bear in the Bible and in the Christian Church. The pseudo-Dionysius was a heathen philosopher in the vestments of a Christian minister. The philosophy which he taught he claimed to be the true sense of the doctrines of the Church, as that sense had been handed down by a secret tradition. Notwithstanding its heathen origin and character, its influence in the Church was great and long continued. The writings of its author were translated, annotated and paraphrased, centuries after his death. As there is no effect without an adequate cause, there must have been power in this system and an adaptation to the cravings of a large class of minds.
Causes of the Influence of the Writings of the pseudo-Dionysius
To account for its extensive influence it may be remarked: (1.) That it did not openly shock the faith or prejudices of the Church. It did not denounce any received doctrine or repudiate any established institution or ordinance. It pretended to be Christian. It undertook to give a deeper and more correct insight into the mysteries of religion. (2.) It subordinated the outward to the inward. Some men are satisfied with rites, ceremonies, symbols, which may mean anything or nothing; others, with knowledge or clear views of truth. To others, the inner life of the soul, intercourse with God, is the great thing. To these this system addressed itself. It proposed to satisfy this craving after God, not indeed in a legitimate way, or by means of God’s appointment. Nevertheless it was the high end of union with him that it proposed, and which it professed to secure. (3.) This system was only one form of the doctrine which has such a fascination for the human mind, and which underlies so many forms of religion in every age of the world; the doctrine, namely, that the universe is an efflux of the life of God,—all things flowing from him, and back again to him from everlasting to everlasting. This doctrine quiets the conscience, as it precludes the idea of sin; it gives the peace which flows from fatalism; and it promises the absolute rest of unconsciousness when the individual is absorbed in the bosom of the Infinite.
3. Mysticism during the Middle Ages
- General Characteristics of this Period
The Middle Ages embrace the period from the close of the sixth century to the Reformation. This period is distinguished by three marked characteristics. First, the great development of the Latin Church in its hierarchy, its worship, and its formulated doctrines, as well as in its superstitions, corruptions, and power. Secondly, the extraordinary intellectual activity awakened in the region of speculation, as manifested in the multiplication of seats of learning, in the number and celebrity of their teachers, and in the great multitude of students by which they were attended, and in the interest taken by all classes in the subjects of learned discussion. Thirdly, by a widespread and variously manifested movement of, so to speak, the inner life of the Church, protesting against the formalism, the corruption, and the tyranny of the external Church. This protest was made partly openly by those whom Protestants are wont to call “Witnesses for the Truth;” and partly within the Church itself. The opposition within the Church manifested itself partly among the people, in the formation of fellowships or societies for benevolent effort and spiritual culture, such as the Beguines, the Beghards, the Lollards, and afterwards, “The Brethren of the Common Lot;” and partly in the schools, or by the teachings of theologians.
It was the avowed aim of the theologians of this period to justify the doctrines of the Church at the bar of reason; to prove that what was received on authority as a matter of faith, was true as a matter of philosophy. It was held to be the duty of the theologian to exalt faith into knowledge. Or, as Anselm expresses it: “rationabili necessitate intelligere, esse oportere omnia illa, quæ nobis fides catholica de Christo credere præcipit.” Richard à St. Victore still more strongly asserts that we are bound, “quod tenemus ex fide, ratione apprehendere et demonstrativæ certitudinis attestatione firmare.”
The First Class of Mediæval Theologians
Of these theologians, however, there were three classes. First, those who avowedly exalted reason above authority, and refused to receive anything on authority which they could not for themselves, on rational grounds, prove to be true. John Scotus Erigena (Eringeborne, Irish-born) may be taken as a representative of this class. He not only held, that reason and revelation, philosophy and religion, are perfectly consistent, but that religion and philosophy are identical. “Conficitur,” he says, “inde veram philosophiam esse veram religionem conversimque veram religionem esse veram philosophiam.” And on the crucial question, Whether faith precedes science, or science faith, he decided for the latter. Reason, with him, was paramount to authority, the latter having no force except when sustained by the former. “Auctoritas siquidem ex vera ratione processit, ratio vero nequaquam ex auctoritate. Omnis autem auctoritas, quæ vera ratione non approbatur, infirma videtur esse. Vera autem ratio, quum virtutibus suis rata atque immutabilis munitur, nullius auctoritatis adstipulatione roborari indiget.” His philosophy as developed in his work, “De Divisione Naturæ,” is purely pantheistic. There is with him but one being, and everything real is thought. His system, therefore, is nearly identical with the idealistic pantheism of Hegel; yet he had his trinitarianism, his soteriology, and his eschatology, as a theologian.
The Second Class
The second and more numerous class of the mediæval theologians took the ground that faith in matters of religion precedes science; that truths are revealed to us supernaturally by the Spirit of God, which truths are to be received on the authority of the Scriptures and the testimony of the Church. But being believed, then we should endeavor to comprehend and to prove them; so that our conviction of their truth should rest on rational grounds. It is very evident that everything depends on the spirit with which this principle is applied, and on the extent to which it is carried. In the hands of many of the schoolmen, as of the Fathers, it was merely a form of rationalism. Many taught that while Christianity was to be received by the people on authority as a matter of faith, it was to be received by the cultivated as a matter of knowledge. The human was substituted for the divine, the authority of reason for the testimony of God. With the better class of the schoolmen the principle in question was held with many limitations. Anselm, for example, taught: (1.) That holiness of heart is the essential condition of true knowledge. It is only so far as the truths of religion enter into our personal experience, that we are able properly to apprehend them. Faith, therefore, as including spiritual discernment, must precede all true knowledge. “Qui secundum carnem vivit, carnalis sive animalis est, de quo dicitur animalis homo non percipit ea, quæ sunt Spiritus Dei.… Qui non crediderit, non intelliget, nam qui non crediderit, non experietur, et qui expertus non fuerit, non intelliget.” “Neque enim quæro intelligere, ut credam, sed credo, ut intelligam. Nam et hoc credo, quia, nisi credidero, non intelligam.”3 (2.) He held that rational proof was not needed as a help to faith. It was as absurd, he said, for us to presume to add authority to the testimony of God by our reasoning, as for a man to prop up Olympus. (3.) He taught that there are doctrines of revelation which transcend our reason, which we cannot rationally pretend to comprehend or prove, and which are to be received on the simple testimony of God. “Nam Christianus per fidem debet ad intellectum proficere, non per intellectum ad fidem accedere, aut si intelligere non valet, a fide recedere. Sed cum ad intellectum valet pertingere, delectatur, cum vero nequit, quod capere non potest, veneratur.”
A third class of the schoolmen, while professing to adhere to the doctrines of the Church, consciously or unconsciously, explained them away.
- Mediæval Mystics
Mystics were to be found in all these classes, and therefore they have been divided, as by Dr. Shedd, into the heretical, the orthodox, and an intermediate class, which he designates as latitudinarian. Much to the same effect, Neudecker,3 classifies them as Theosophist, Evangelical, and Separatist. Ullmann makes a somewhat different classification. The characteristic common to these classes, which differed so much from each other, was not that in all there was a protest of the heart against the head, of the feelings against the intellect, a reaction against the subtleties of the scholastic theologians, for some of the leading Mystics were among the most subtle dialecticians. Nor was it a common adherence to the Platonic as opposed to the Aristotelian philosophy, or to realism as opposed to nominalism. But it was the belief, that oneness with God was the great end to be desired and pursued, and that that union was to be sought, not so much through the truth, or the Church, or ordinances, or Christian fellowship; but by introspection, meditation, intuition. As very different views were entertained of the nature of the “oneness with God,” which was to be sought, so the Mystics differed greatly from each other. Some were extreme pantheists; others were devout theists and Christians. From its essential nature, however, the tendency of Mysticism was to pantheism. And accordingly undisguised pantheism was not only taught by some of the most prominent Mystics, but prevailed extensively among the people.
Pantheistic tendency of Mysticism
It has already been remarked, that the system of the pseudo-Dionysius, as presented in his “Mystical Theology” and other writings, was essentially pantheistic. Those writings were translated by Scotus Erigena, himself the most pronounced pantheist of the Middle Ages. Through the joint influence of these two men, a strong tendency to pantheism was developed to a greater or less degree among the mediæval Mystics. Even the associations among the people, such as the Beghards and Lollards, although at first exemplary and useful, by adopting a system of mystic pantheism became entirely corrupt. Believing themselves to be modes of the divine existence, all they did God did, and all they felt inclined to do was an impulse from God, and therefore nothing could be wrong. In our own day the same principles have led to the same consequences in one wing of the German school of philosophy.
It was not only among the people and in these secret fellowships that this system was adopted. Men of the highest rank in the schools, and personally exemplary in their deportment, became the advocates of the theory which lay at the foundation of these practical evils. Of these scholastic pantheistical Mystics, the most distinguished and influential was Henry Eckart, whom some modern writers regard “as the deepest thinker of his age, if not of any age.” Neither the time nor the place of his birth is known. He first appears in Paris as a Dominican monk and teacher. In 1304 he was Provincial of the Dominicans in Saxony. Soon after he was active in Strasburg as a preacher. His doctrines were condemned as heretical, although he denied that he had in any respect departed from the doctrines of the Church. From the decision of his archbishop and his provincial council, Eckart appealed to the Pope, by whom the sentence of condemnation was confirmed. This decision, however, was not published until 1329, when Eckart was already dead. It is not necessary here to give the details of his system. Suffice it to say, that he held that God is the only being; that the universe is the self-manifestation of God; that the highest destiny of man is to come to the consciousness of his identity with God; that that end is to be accomplished partly by philosophical abstraction and partly by ascetic self renunciation.
“Although union with God is effected mainly by thinking and consciousness, still it also requires a corresponding act of the will, something practical, such as self-denial and privation, by which man rises above all that is finite. Not only must he lay aside all created things, the world and earthly good, and mortify desire, but more than all he must resign his ‘I,’ reduce himself to nothing, and become what he was before he issued forth into this temporal state. Nay, man must rise above the chief good, above virtue, piety, blessedness, and God himself, as things external and superior to his spirit, and it is only when he has thus annihilated self, and all that is not God within him, that nothing remains except the pure and simple divine essence, in which all division is brought into absolute unity.”
Another distinguished and influential writer of the same class was John Ruysbroek, born 1293, in a village of that name not far from Brussels. Having entered the service of the Church he devoted himself to the duties of a secular priest until his sixtieth year, when he became prior of a newly instituted monastery. He was active and faithful, gentle and devout. Whether he was a theist or a pantheist is a matter of dispute. His speculative views were formed more or less under the influence of the writings of the pseudo-Dionysius and of Eckart. Gerson, himself a Mystic, objected to his doctrines as pantheistic; and every one acknowledges that there are not only forms of expression but also principles to be found in his writings which imply the pantheistic theory. He speaks of God as the super-essential being including all beings. All creatures, he taught, were in God, as thoughts before their creation. “God saw and recognized them in himself, as somehow, but not wholly, different from himself, for what is in God, is God.” “In the act of self-depletion, the spirit loses itself in the enjoyment of love, and imbibes directly the brightness of God, yea, becomes the very brightness which it imbibes. All who are raised to the sublimity of this contemplative life are one with deifying (deifica) brightness, and become one and the same light as that which they behold. To such a height is the spirit elevated above itself, and made one with God, in respect that in the oneness of that living original in which, according to its uncreated being, it possesses itself, it enjoys and contemplates boundless treasures in the same manner as God himself.” Ullmann, who quotes these and similar passages, still maintains that Ruysbroek was a theist, because, as he says, Ruysbroek “distinctly recognizes not only the immanence of God, but what no pantheist can do, his transcendence.” Moreover, he “too frequently and too solicitously avers that, in the oneness of the contemplative man with God, he still recognizes a difference between the two, to permit us to ascribe to him the doctrine of an absolute solution of the individual into the Divine substance.” A man may aver a difference between the waves and the ocean, between the leaves and the tree, and yet in both cases assert a substantial unity. It is true that no one can intelligently affirm the transcendence of God, and still hold the extreme form of pantheism which makes the world the existence-form of God, his whole intelligence, power, and life. But he may be a Monist. He may believe that there is but one Being in the universe, that everything is a form of God, and all life the life of God. Pantheism is Protean. Some moderns speak of a Christian Pantheism. But any system which hinders our saying “Thou,” to God, is fatal to religion.
Bernard of Clairvaux, Hugo and Richard of St. Victor, Gerson, Thomas à Kempis and others, are commonly referred to the class of evangelical Mystics. These eminent and influential men differed much from each other, but they all held union with God, not in the Scriptural, but in the mystical sense of that term, as the great object of desire. It was not that they held that “the beatific vision of God,” the intuition of his glory, which belongs to heaven, is attainable in this world and attainable by abstraction, ecstatic apprehension, or passive reception, but that the soul becomes one with God, if not in substance, yet in life. These men, however, were great blessings to the Church. Their influence was directed to the preservation of the inward life of religion in opposition to the formality and ritualism which then prevailed in the Church; and thus to free the conscience from subjection to human authority. The writings of Bernard are still held in high esteem, and “The Imitation of Christ,” by Thomas à Kempis, has diffused itself like incense through all the aisles and alcoves of the Universal Church.
4. Mysticism at, and after the Reformation
- Effect of the Reformation on the Popular Mind
Such a great and general movement of the public mind as occurred during the sixteenth century, when the old foundations of doctrine and order in the Church, were overturned, could hardly fail to be attended by irregularities and extravagancies in the inward and outward life of the people. There are two principles advanced, both Scriptural and both of the last importance, which are specially liable to abuse in times of popular excitement.
The first is, the right of private judgment. This, as understood by the Reformers, is the right of every man to decide what a revelation made by God to him, requires him to believe. It was a protest against the authority assumed by the Church (i.e. the Bishops), of deciding for the people what they were to believe. It was very natural that the fanatical, in rejecting the authority of the Church, should reject all external authority in matters of religion. They understood by the right of private judgment, the right of every man to determine what he should believe from the operations of his own mind and from his own inward experience, independently of the Scriptures. But as it is palpably absurd to expect, on such a subject as religion, a certainty either satisfactory to ourselves or authoritative for others, from our own reason or feelings, it was inevitable that these subjective convictions should be referred to a supernatural source. Private revelations, an inward light, the testimony of the Spirit, came to be exalted over the authority of the Bible.
Secondly, the Reformers taught that religion is a matter of the heart, that a man’s acceptance with God does not depend on his membership in any external society, on obedience to its officers, and on sedulous observance of its rites and ordinances; but on the regeneration of his heart, and his personal faith in the Son of God, manifesting itself in a holy life. This was a protest against the fundamental principle of Romanism, that all within the external organization which Romanists call the Church, are saved, and all out of it are lost. It is not a matter of surprise that evil men should wrest this principle, as they do all other truths, to their own destruction. Because religion does not consist in externals, many rushed to the conclusion that externals,—the Church, its ordinances, its officers, its worship,—were of no account. These principles were soon applied beyond the sphere of religion. Those who regarded themselves as the organs of God, emancipated from the authority of the Bible and exalted above the Church, came to claim exemption from the authority of the State. To this outbreak the grievous and long-continued oppression of the peasantry greatly contributed, so that this spirit of fanaticism and revolt rapidly spread over all Germany, and into Switzerland and Holland.
The Popular Disorders not the Effects of the Reformation
The extent to which these disorders spread, and the rapidity with which they diffused themselves, show that they were not the mere outgrowth of the Reformation. The principles avowed by the Reformers, and the relaxation of papal authority occasioned by the Reformation, served but to inflame the elements which had for years been slumbering in the minds of the people. The numerous associations and fellowships, of which mention was made in the preceding section, had leavened the public mind with the principles of pantheistic Mysticism, which were the prolific source of evil. Men who imagined themselves to be forms in which God existed and acted, were not likely to be subject to any authority human or divine, nor were they apt to regard anything as sinful which they felt inclined to do.
These men also had been brought up under the Papacy. According to the papal theory, especially as it prevailed during the Middle Ages, the Church was a theocracy, whose representatives were the subjects of a constant inspiration rendering them infallible as teachers and absolute as rulers. All who opposed the Church were rebels against God, whom to destroy was a duty both to God and man. These ideas Münzer and his followers applied to themselves. They were the true Church. They were inspired. They were entitled to determine what is true in matters of doctrine. They were entitled to rule with absolute authority in church and state. All who opposed them, opposed God, and ought to be exterminated. Münzer died upon the scaffold; thus was fulfilled anew our Lord’s declaration, “Those who take the sword, shall perish by the sword.”
- Mystics among the Reformers
Few of the theologians contemporary with Luther took any part in this fanatical movement. To a certain extent this however was done by Carlstadt (Bodenstein), archdeacon and afterwards professor of theology at Wittenberg. At first he coöperated zealously with the great Reformer, but when Storch and Stübener claiming to be prophets, came to Wittenberg during Luther’s confinement at Wartburg, and denounced learning and Church institutions, and taught that all reliance was to be placed on the inward light, or supernatural guidance of the Spirit, Carlstadt gave them his support and exhorted the students to abandon their studies and to betake themselves to manual labor. Great disorder following these movements, Luther left his place of seclusion, appeared upon the scene, and succeeded in allaying the tumult. Carlstadt then withdrew from Wittenberg, and ultimately united himself with Schwenkfeld, a more influential opponent of Luther, and who was equally imbued with the spirit of Mysticism.
Schwenkfeld, a nobleman born 1490, in the principality of Lignitz, in Lower Silesia, was a man of great energy and force of character, exemplary in his conduct, of extensive learning and indefatigable diligence. He at first took an active part in promoting the Reformation, and was on friendly terms with Luther, Melancthon, and the other leading Reformers. Being a man not only of an independent way of thinking, but confident and zealous in maintaining his peculiar opinions, he soon separated himself from other Protestants and passed his whole life in controversy; condemned by synods and proscribed by the civil authorities, he was driven from city to city, until his death, which occurred in 1561.
That Schwenkfeld differed not only from the Romanists, but from Lutherans and Reformed on all the great doctrines then in controversy, is to be referred to the fact that he held, in common with the great body of the Mystics of the Middle Ages, that union or oneness with God, not in nature or character only, but also in being or substance, was the one great desideratum and essential condition of holiness and felicity. To avoid the pantheistic doctrines into which the majority of the Mystics were led, he held to a form of dualism. Creatures exist out of God, and are due to the exercise of his power. In them there is nothing of the substance of God, and therefore nothing really good. With regard to men, they are made good and blessed by communicating to them the substance of God. This communication is made through Christ. Christ is not, even as to his human nature, a creature. His body and soul were formed out of the substance of God. While on earth, in his state of humiliation, this substantial unity of his humanity with God, was undeveloped and unrevealed. Since his exaltation it is completely deified, or lost in the divine essence. It followed from these principles, First, That the external church, with its ordinances and means of grace, was of little importance. Especially that the Scriptures are not, even instrumentally, the source of the divine life. Faith does not come by hearing, but from the Christ within; i.e. from the living substance of God communicated to the soul. This communication is to be sought by abnegation, renunciation of the creature, by contemplation and prayer. Secondly, as to the sacrament of the supper, which then was the great subject of controversy, Schwenkfeld stood by himself. Not admitting that Christ had any material body or blood, he could not admit that the bread and wine were transubstantiated into his body and blood, as Romanists teach; nor that his body and blood were locally present in the sacrament, in, with, and under the bread and wine, as Luther held; nor could he admit the dynamic presence of Christ’s body, as taught by Calvin; nor that the Lord’s Supper was merely a significant and commemorative ordinance, as Zwingle taught. He held his own doctrine. He transposed the words of Christ. Instead of “This (bread) is my body,” he said, the true meaning and intent of Christ was, “My body is bread;” that is, as bread is the staff and source of life to the body, so my body, formed of the essence of God, is the life of the soul.
A third inference from Schwenkfeld’s fundamental principle was that the redemption of the soul is purely subjective; something wrought in the soul itself. He denied justification by faith as Luther taught that doctrine, and which Luther regarded as the life of the Church. He said that we are justified not by what Christ has done for us, but by what He does within us. All we need is the communication of the life or substance of Christ to the soul. With him, as with Mystics generally, the ideas of guilt and expiation were ignored.
The succession of mystical writers was kept up by such men as Paracelsus, Weigel, Jacob Boehme, and others. The first named was a physician and chemist, who combined natural philosophy and alchemy with his theosophy. He was born in 1493 and died in 1541. Weigel, a pastor, was born in Saxony in 1533, and died in 1588. His views were formed under the influence of Tauler, Schwenkfeld, and Paracelsus. He taught, as his predecessors had done, that the inner word, and not the Scriptures, was the source of true knowledge, that all that God creates is God himself, and that all that is good in man is of the substance of God. The most remarkable writer of this class was Jacob Boehme, who was born near Gorlitz in Silesia, in 1575. His parents were peasants, and he himself a shoemaker. That such a man should write books which have proved a mine of thoughts to Schelling, Hegel, and Coleridge, as well as to a whole class of theologians, is decisive evidence of his extraordinary gifts. In character he was mild, gentle, and devout; and although denounced as a heretic, he constantly professed his allegiance to the faith of the Church. He regarded himself as having received in answer to prayer, on three different occasions, communications of divine light and knowledge which he was impelled to reveal to others. He did not represent the primordial being as without attributes or qualities of which nothing could be predicated, but as the seat of all kinds of forces seeking development. What the Bible teaches of the Trinity, he understood as an account of the development of the universe out of God and its relation to him. He was a theosophist in one sense, in which Vaughan defines the term, “One who gives you a theory of God or of the works of God, which has not reason, but an inspiration of his own for its basis.” “The theosophists,” says Fleming,2 “are a school of philosophers who mix enthusiasm with observation, alchemy with theology, metaphysics with medicine, and clothe the whole with a form of mystery and inspiration.”
- Its general character
Tholuck says “There is a law of seasons in the spiritual, as well as in the physical world, in virtue of which when the time has come, without apparent connection, similar phenomena reveal themselves in different places. As towards the end of the fifteenth century an ecclesiastical-doctrinal reformatory movement passed over the greater part of Europe, in part without apparent connection; so at the end of the seventeenth a mystical and spiritual tendency was almost as extensively manifested. In Germany, it took the form of Mysticism and Pietism; in England, of Quakerism; in France, of Jansenism and Mysticism; and in Spain and Italy, of Quietism.” This movement was in fact what in our day would be called a revival of religion. Not indeed in a form free from grievous errors, but nevertheless it was a return to the religion of the heart, as opposed to the religion of forms. The Mystics of this period, although they constantly appealed to the mediæval Mystics, even to the Areopagite, and although they often used the same forms of expression, yet they adhered much more faithfully to Scriptural doctrines and to the faith of the Church. They did not fall into Pantheism, or believe in the absorption of the soul into the substance of God. They held, however, that the end to be attained was union with God. By this was not meant what Christians generally understand by that term; congeniality with God, delight in his perfections, assurance of his love, submission to his will, perfect satisfaction in the enjoyment of his favour. It was something more than all this, something mystical and therefore inexplicable; a matter of feeling, not something to be understood or explained. A state in which all thought, all activity was suspended. A state of perfect quietude in which the soul is lost in God,—an “écoulement et liquefaction de l’âme en Dieu,” as it is expressed by St. Francis de Sales. This state is reached by few. It is to be attained not by the use of the means of grace or ordinances of the Church. The soul should be raised above the need of all such aids. It rises even above Christ, insomuch that it is not He whom the soul seeks, nor God in him; but God as God; the absolute, infinite God. The importance of the Scriptures, of prayer, of the sacraments, and of the truth concerning Christ, was not denied; but all these were regarded as belonging to the lower stages of the divine life. Nor was this rest and union with God to be attained by meditation; for meditation is discursive. It implies an effort to bring truth before the mind and fixing the attention upon it. All conscious self-activity must be suspended in order to this perfect rest in God. It is a state in which the soul is out of itself; a state of ecstasy, according to the etymological meaning of the word.
This state is to be reached in the way prescribed by the older Mystics; first, by negation or abstraction; that is, the abstraction of the soul from everything out of God, from the creature, from all interest, concern, or impression from sensible objects. Hence the connection between Mysticism, in this form, and asceticism. Not only must the soul become thus abstracted from the creature, but it must be dead to self. All regard to self must be lost. There can be no prayer, for prayer is asking something for self; no thanksgiving, for thanksgiving implies gratitude for good done to self. Self must be lost. There must be no preference for heaven over hell. One of the points most strenuously insisted upon was a willingness to be damned, if such were the will of God. In the controversy between Fénélon and Bossuet, the main question concerned disinterested love, whether in loving God the soul must be raised above all regard to its own holiness and happiness. This pure or disinterested love justifies, or renders righteous in the sight of God. Although the Mystics of this period were eminently pure as well as devout, they nevertheless sometimes laid down principles, or at least used expressions, which gave their enemies a pretext for charging them with Antinomianism. It was said, that a soul filled with this love, or reduced to this entire negation of self, cannot sin; “sin is not in, but outside of him;” which was made to mean, that nothing was sin to the perfect. It is an instructive psychological fact that when men attempt or pretend to rise above the law of God, they sink below it; that Perfectionism has so generally led to Antinomianism.
- Leaders of this Movement
The principal persons engaged in promoting this remarkable religious movement were Molinos, Madame Guyon, and Archbishop Fénélon. Michael Molinos, born 1640, was a Spanish priest. About 1670 he became a resident of Rome, where he gained a great reputation for piety and mildness, and great influence from his position as confessor to many families of distinction. He enjoyed the friendship of the highest authorities in the Church, including several of the cardinals, and the Pope, Innocent XI., himself. In 1675 he published his “Spiritual Guide,” in which the principles above stated were presented. Molinos did not claim originality, but professed to rely on the Mystics of the Middle Ages, several of whom had already been canonized by the Church. This, however, did not save him from persecution. His first trial indeed before the Inquisition resulted in his acquittal. But subsequently, through the influence of the Jesuits and of the court of Louis XIV., he was, after a year’s imprisonment, condemned. Agreeably to his principle of entire subjection to the Church, he retracted his errors, but failed to secure the confidence of his judges. He died in 1697. His principal work, “Manuductio Spiritualis,” or Spiritual Guide, was translated into different languages, and won for him many adherents in every part of the Catholic world. When he was imprisoned, it is said, that twenty thousand letters from all quarters, and many of them from persons of distinction, were found among his papers, assuring him of the sympathy of their authors with him in his spirit and views. This is proof that there were at that time thousands in the Romish Church who had not bowed the knee to the Baal of formalism.
The most prominent and influential of the Quietists, as they were called, was Madame Guyon, born 1648 and died 1717. She belonged to a rich and noble family; was educated in a cloister, married at sixteen to a man of rank and wealth and of three times her age; faithful and devoted, but unhappy in her domestic relations; adhering zealously to her Church, she passed a life of incessant labour, and that, too, embittered by persecution. When still in the cloister she came under the influence of the writings of St. Francis de Sales, which determined her subsequent course. Enthusiastic in temperament, endowed with extraordinary gifts, she soon came to regard herself as the recipient of visions, revelations, and inspirations by which she was impelled to write, and, in the first instance, to devote herself to the conversion of Protestants. Failing in this, she considered it her vocation to become the mother of spiritual children, by bringing them to adopt her views of the inner life. To this object she devoted herself with untiring energy and great success, her adherents, secret and avowed, being numbered by thousands, or, as she supposed, by millions. She thus drew upon herself, although devoted to the Church, the displeasure of the authorities, and was imprisoned for seven years in the Bastile and other prisons in France. The latter years of her life she spent in retirement in the house of her daughter, burdened with physical infirmities, hearing mass every day in her private chapel and communicating every other day. Her principal works were, “La Bible avec des Explications et Réflexions, qui regardent la Vie Intérieure,” “Moyen court et très-facile de faire Oraison.” This little work excited great attention and great opposition. She was obliged to defend it in an “Apologie du Moyen Court,” in 1690, and “Justifications” in 1694, and in 1695 she was forced to retract thirty-five propositions selected therefrom. She published an allegorical poem under the title “Les Torrens.” Her minor poetic pieces called “Poésies Spirituelles,” in four volumes, are greatly admired for the genius which they display. Archbishop Fénélon, one of the greatest lights of the Gallican Church, espoused the cause of Madame Guyon, and published, 1697, “Explication des Maximes des Saints sur la Vie Intérieure.” As the title intimates, the principles of this book are derived from the earlier Mystics, and specially from the latest of the saints, St. Francis de Sales, who was canonized in 1665, only thirty-three years after his death. Although Fénélon carefully avoided the extravagances of the Mystics of his own day, and although he taught nothing which men venerated in the Church had not taught before him, his book forfeited for him the favour of the court, and was finally condemned by the authorities at Rome. To this condemnation he submitted with the greatest docility. He not only made no defence, but read the brief of condemnation in his own pulpit, and forbade his book being read within his diocese. To this his conscience constrained him, although he probably did not change his views. As the Pope decided against him he was willing to admit that what he said was wrong, and yet what he intended to say he still held to be right.
6. The Quakers or Friends
This widely extended and highly respected body of professing Christians constitute the most permanent and best organized representatives of the principles of Mysticism which have appeared in the Church. They have existed as an organized society nearly two centuries and a half, and number in Europe and America several hundred thousands.
- Their Origin and Early History
They took their origin and name from George Fox, who was born at Drayton, Leicestershire, England, in 1624. He received only the rudiments of an English education, and was by trade a shoemaker. From boyhood he was remarkable for his quiet, secluded habits. He devoted his leisure to the reading of the Scriptures and meditation. The age in which he lived was one of corruption in the Church and agitation in the State. He was so impressed by the evils which he saw around him that he lost confidence in the teachers of religion and in the ordinances of the church. At last he felt himself called of God, by direct revelation and inspiration, to denounce the existing Church, its organization and officers, and to proclaim a new and spiritual dispensation. This dispensation was to be new only relatively to what had long existed. It was designed as a restoration of the apostolic age, when the church was guided and extended by the Spirit, without the intervention of the written Word, or, as Fox and his followers maintained, of a special order of ministers, but every man and every woman spake as the Spirit gave them utterance.
They were called Quakers either because they themselves trembled when under the influence of the Spirit, or because they were in the habit of calling on those whom they addressed to quake in fear of the judgment of God. The designation has long ceased to be appropriate, as they are characteristically quiet in their worship, and gentle toward those who are without. They call themselves Friends because opposed to violence, contention, and especially to war. At first, however, they were chargeable with many irregularities, which, in connection with their refusing to pay tithes, to take oaths, and to perform military service, gave pretext to frequent and long continued persecutions.
The Quakers were at first, as a class, illiterate, but men from the educated classes soon joined them, and by their influence the irregularities connected with the movement were corrected, and the society reduced to a regularly organized form. The most prominent of these men were George Keith, Samuel Fisher, and William Penn. The last named, the son of a British admiral, proved his sincerity by the sacrifices and sufferings to which his adherence to a sect, then despised and persecuted, subjected him. From the influence which he possessed, as the friend and favorite of James II., he was able to do much for his brethren, and having received a grant from the crown, of what is now Pennsylvania, he transported a colony of them to this country and founded one of the most important States of the American Union. The man, however, who did most to reduce the principles of George Fox to order, and to commend them to the religious and literary public, was Robert Barclay. Barclay was a member of a prominent Scottish family, and received the benefit of an extended and varied education. He was born in 1648, and died in 1690. His principal work, “Theologiæ Christianæ Apologia,” is an exposition of fifteen theses which he had previously written and printed under the title, “Theses Theologicæ omnibus Clericis et præsertim universis Doctoribus, Professoribus et Studiosis Theologiæ in Academiis Europæ versantibus sive Pontificis sive Protestantibus oblatæ.”
- Their Doctrines
It is impossible to give a satisfactory view of the doctrines of the Quakers. They have no authoritative creed or exposition of doctrine which all who call themselves Quakers acknowledge. Their most prominent writers differ in their views on many important points. The opinions of no one, nor of several authors, can be fairly taken as representing the views of the Society. There are in fact three classes of Quakers.
First. Those who call themselves orthodox, and who differ very little from the great body of evangelical Christians. To this belongs the great majority of the Society both in this country and in Great Britain. This appears from the testimonies repeatedly issued by the “Yearly Meetings,” the representative bodies of the Society. This is a much more satisfactory witness of the general faith of the body than the declarations of individual writers, however eminent, for which the Society is not responsible. A very clear and comprehensive summary of the doctrine of Friends is to be found in the “History of Religious Denominations in the United States,” compiled by I. Daniel Rupp. The articles in this work were written by eminent men belonging to the several denominations whose views are represented. That which relates to the Quakers was written by the late Thomas Evans, a prominent minister of the Society, and a truly representative man. Without referring to the peculiar doctrines of the Society, the following extracts show how near the orthodox Quakers (i.e., the Society itself, as represented in its yearly meetings) come to the common faith of Protestant churches.
Doctrines of the Orthodox Friends
- As to God, it is said, Quakers “Believe in one only wise, omnipotent, and everlasting God, the creator and upholder of all things visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, the mediator between God and man; and in the Holy Spirit which proceedeth from the Father and the Son; one God blessed forever. In expressing their views relative to the awful and mysterious doctrine of “the Three that bear record in heaven,” they have carefully avoided the use of unscriptural terms, invented to define Him who is undefinable, and have scrupulously adhered to the safe and simple language of Holy Scripture, as contained in Matt. 28:18, 19.”
- As to the person and work of Christ, “They own and believe in Jesus Christ, the beloved and only begotten Son of God, who was conceived of the Holy Ghost, and born of the Virgin Mary.… They believe that He alone is the Redeemer and Saviour of man, the captain of salvation, who saves from sin as well as from hell and the wrath to come, and destroys the works of the devil. He is the seed of the woman that bruises the serpent’s head; even Christ Jesus, the Alpha and Omega, the first and last. He is, as the Scriptures of truth say of him, our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we may be saved.”
“The Society of Friends have uniformly declared their belief in the divinity and manhood of the Lord Jesus: that He was both true God and perfect man, and that his sacrifice of himself upon the cross was a propitiation and atonement for the sins of the whole world, and that the remission of sins which any partake of, is only in, and by virtue of, that most satisfactory sacrifice.”
- As to the Holy Ghost, “Friends believe in the Holy Spirit, or Comforter, the promise of the Father, whom Christ declared he would send in his name, to lead and guide his followers into all truth, to teach them all things, and to bring all things to their remembrance.… They believe that the saving knowledge of God and Christ cannot be attained in any other way than by the revelation of this Spirit;—for the Apostle says, ‘What man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God, that we might know the things which are freely given to us of God.’ If, therefore, the things which properly appertain to man cannot be discerned by any lower principle than the spirit of man; those things which properly relate to God and Christ, cannot be known by any power inferior to that of the Holy Spirit.”
- As to man, “They believe that man was created in the image of God, capable of understanding the divine law, and of holding communion with his Maker. Through transgression he fell from this blessed state, and lost the heavenly image. His posterity come into the world in the image of the earthly man; and, until renewed by the quickening and regenerating power of the heavenly man, Christ Jesus, manifested in the soul, they are fallen, degenerated, and dead to the divine life in which Adam originally stood, and are subject to the power, nature, and seed of the serpent; and not only their words and deeds, but their imaginations, are evil perpetually in the sight of God. Man, therefore, in this state can know nothing aright concerning God; his thoughts and conceptions of spiritual things, until he is disjoined from this evil seed and united to the divine light, Christ Jesus, are unprofitable to himself and to others.”
- As to the future state, “The Society of Friends believe that there will be a resurrection both of the righteous and the wicked; the one to eternal life and blessedness, and the other to everlasting misery and torment, agreeably to Matt. 25:31–46; John 5:25–30; 1 Cor. 15:12–58. That God will judge the world by that man whom He hath ordained, even Christ Jesus the Lord, who will render unto every man according to his works.”
- As to the Scriptures, “The religious Society of Friends has always believed that the Holy Scriptures were written by divine inspiration, and contain a declaration of all the fundamental doctrines and principles relating to eternal life and salvation, and that whatsoever doctrine or practice is contrary to them, is to be rejected as false and erroneous; that they are a declaration of the mind and will of God, in and to the several ages in which they were written, and are obligatory on us, and are to be read, believed, and fulfilled by the assistance of divine grace.… It looks upon them as the only fit outward judge and test of controversies among Christians, and is very willing that all its doctrines and practices should be tried by them, freely admitting that whatsoever any do, pretending to the Spirit, which is contrary to the Scriptures, be condemned as a delusion of the devil.”
It thus appears that the orthodox Friends are in sympathy, on all fundamental doctrines, with the great body of their fellow Christians.
Secondly. There is a class calling themselves Friends, and retaining the organization of the Society, and its usages as to dress, language, and mode of worship, who are really Deists. They admit of no higher authority, in matters of religion, than the natural reason and conscience of man, and hold little if anything as true beyond the truths of natural religion. This class has been disowned by the Society in its representative capacity.
Thirdly. There is a third class which does not constitute an organized or separate body, but includes men of very different views. As has been already remarked, great diversity of opinion existed among the Quakers, especially during the early period of their history. This diversity related to the common doctrines of Christianity, to the nature of the inward guiding light in which all professed to believe, and to the authority due to the sacred Scriptures. Some explicitly denied the doctrine of the Trinity and the satisfaction of Christ; some seemed to ignore the historical Christ altogether, and to refer everything to the Christ within. Others, while admitting the historical verity of the life of Christ, and of his work on earth, regarded his redemption as altogether subjective. He saves us not by what He has done for us, but exclusively by what He does in us. This, as we have seen, is the characteristic tendency of Mysticism in all its modifications.
- The Doctrine of Friends as to the Inward Light given to all Men
Still greater diversity of views prevailed as to the nature of the inward light which constitutes the distinguishing doctrine of the Society. The orthodox Quakers on this subject, in the first place, carefully distinguish this “light” from the natural reason and conscience of men; and also from spiritual discernment, or that inward work of the Spirit, which all Christians acknowledge, by which the soul is enabled to know “the things of the Spirit” as they are revealed in the Scriptures, and without which there can be no saving faith, and no holiness of heart or life. This spiritual illumination is peculiar to the true people of God; the inward light, in which the Quakers believe, is common to all men. The design and effect of the “inward light” are the communication of new truth, or of truth not objectively revealed, as well as the spiritual discernment of the truths of Scripture. The design and effect of spiritual illumination are the proper apprehension of truth already speculatively known.
Secondly. By the inner light the orthodox Quakers understand the supernatural influence of the Holy Spirit, concerning which they teach,—(1.) That it is given to all men. (2.) That it not only convinces of sin, and enables the soul to apprehend aright the truths of Scripture, but also communicates a knowledge of “the mysteries of salvation.” “A manifestation of this Spirit they believe is given to every man to profit withal; that it convicts of sin, and, as attended to, gives power to the soul to overcome and forsake it; it opens the mind to the mysteries of salvation, enables it savingly to understand the truths recorded in the Holy Scriptures, and gives it the living, practical, and heartfelt experience of those things which pertain to its everlasting welfare.” “He hath communicated a measure of the light of his own Son, a measure of the grace of the Holy Spirit—by which he invites, calls, exhorts, and strives with every man, in order to save him; which light or grace, as it is received and not resisted, works the salvation of all, even of those who are ignorant of Adam’s fall, and of the death and sufferings of Christ; both by bringing them to a sense of their own misery, and to be sharers of the sufferings of Christ, inwardly; and by making them partakers of his resurrection, in becoming holy, pure, and righteous, and recovered out of their sins.”
Thirdly. The orthodox Friends teach concerning this inward light, as has been already shown, that it is subordinate to the Holy Scriptures, inasmuch as the Scriptures are the infallible rule of faith and practice, and everything contrary thereto is to be rejected as false and destructive.
While such are the views of the orthodox Friends, it must be admitted that many hold a different doctrine. This is true not only of those whom the Society has disowned, but of many men most prominent in their history. This difference relates both to what this light is, and to its authority. As to the former of these points the language employed is so diverse, and so figurative, that it is difficult to determine its real meaning. Some of the early Quakers spoke as though they adopted the doctrine of the earlier Mystics, that this inward principle was God himself, the divine substance. Others speak of it as Christ, or even the body of Christ, or his life. Others as “a seed,” which is declared to be no part of the nature of man; no remains of the image of God in which Adam was created; neither is it the substance of God. Nevertheless, it is declared to be “a spiritual substance,” in which the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are present. This seed comes from Christ, and is communicated to every man. In some it lies as a seed upon a rock, which never shows any sign of life. But when the soul receives a visitation of the Spirit, if his influence be not resisted, that seed is vivified, and develops into holiness of heart and life; by which the soul is purified and justified. We are not justified by our works. Everything is due to Christ. He is both “the giver and the gift.” Nevertheless our justification consists in this subjective change. He distinguished indeed between a twofold redemption; the one “performed and accomplished by Christ for us in his crucified body without us; the other is the redemption wrought by Christ in us.” “The first is that whereby a man, as he stands in the fall, is put in a capacity of salvation, and hath conveyed unto him a measure of that power, virtue, spirit, life, and grace that was in Christ Jesus, which, as the free gift of God, is able to counterbalance, overcome, and root out the evil seed, wherewith we are naturally, as in the fall, leavened. The second is that whereby we witness and know this pure and perfect redemption in ourselves, purifying, cleansing, and redeeming us from the power of corruption, and bringing us into unity, favour, and friendship with God.”2
With regard to the authority of this inward light, while the orthodox make it subordinate to the Scriptures, many of the early Friends made the written, subordinate to the inner, word; and others, as Barclay himself, make the two coördinate. Although in this matter he is hardly consistent with himself. He expressly denies that the Scriptures are to us “the fountain” of truth; that they are “the principal ground of all truth and knowledge, or yet the adequate primary rule of faith and manners.” They are, however, “to be esteemed a secondary rule subordinate to the Spirit.” Nevertheless, he teaches with equal plainness that what “cannot be proved by Scripture, is no necessary article of faith.” Again, he says: We are “willing to admit it as a positive and certain maxim, that whatsoever any do, pretending to the Spirit, which is contrary to the Scriptures, be accounted and reckoned a delusion of the devil.”2 He “freely subscribes to that saying, Let him that preacheth any other gospel than that which hath already been preached by the Apostles, and according to the Scriptures, be accursed.” We look on the Scriptures, he says, “as the only fit outward judge of controversies among Christians, and that whatsoever doctrine is contrary unto their testimony, may therefore justly be rejected as false.”4 His whole book, therefore, is an effort to prove from Scripture all the peculiar doctrines of Quakerism.
His theory is, (1.) That all men since the fall are in a state of spiritual death from which they are utterly unable to deliver themselves. He is severe in his denunciation of all Pelagian and semi-Pelagian doctrine. (2.) That God determined, through his Son our Lord Jesus Christ, to make provision for the salvation of all men. (3.) The work of Christ secures the opportunity and means of salvation for every man. (4.) Through him and for his sake “a seed” is given to every man which, under the influence of the Spirit, may be developed into righteousness and holiness, restoring the soul to the image and fellowship of God. (5.) To every man is granted “a day of visitation” in which the Spirit comes to him and exerts an influence which, if not resisted, vivifies this divine seed, and thus gives the opportunity of being saved. (6.) The measure of this divine influence is not the same in all cases. In some it is irresistible, in others, not. In some it is as abundant as in the prophets and Apostles, rendering its subjects as authoritative as teachers as the original Apostles. (7.) The office of the Spirit is to teach and to guide. It is not merely intended to enlighten the mind in the knowledge of truths contained in the Scriptures. It presents truth objectively to the mind. It does not reveal new doctrines, much less doctrines opposed to those revealed in the Scriptures; but it makes a new and independent revelation of old doctrines. On this point Barclay is very explicit. His discussion of his second and third propositions,—the one concerning “immediate revelation,” and the other, “the Scriptures,”—sets forth this doctrine at length. “We distinguish,” he says, “between a revelation of a new gospel and new doctrines, and a new revelation of the good old gospel and doctrines; the last we plead for, but the first we utterly deny.” Natural reason reveals certain doctrines, but this is not inconsistent with a new revelation of the same doctrines in the Scriptures. So the fact that the gospel is revealed in the Scriptures is not inconsistent with its immediate objective revelation to the soul by the Spirit.
Besides the great doctrines of salvation, there are many things the Christian needs to know which are not contained in the Scriptures. In these matters he is not left to his own guidance. The Spirit “guides into all truth.” “Therefore,” says Barclay, “the Spirit of God leadeth, instructeth, and teacheth every true Christian whatsoever is needful for him to know.” For example, whether he is to preach; and, if called to preach, when, where, and what he shall preach; where he is to go, and in any emergency what he ought to do. So the Spirit teaches us when and where we are to pray, and what we are to pray for. As the Spirit’s guidance extends to everything, it should be sought and obeyed in all things.
Quakerism ignores the distinction between inspired and uninspired men, except as to the measure of the Spirit’s influence. He dwells in all believers and performs the same office in all. As the saints of old, before the giving of the law, were under his instruction and guidance, so they continued to enjoy his teaching after the law was given. All through the Old Testament dispensation the people of God received immediate revelations and directions. When Christ came there was a more copious communication of this influence. These communications were not confined to either sex or to any class in the Church. They were not peculiar to the Apostles, or to ministers, but to everyone was given a manifestation of the Spirit to profit withal. The state of the Church, as set forth in the New Testament as to this matter, continues to the present time, except that the gifts bestowed are not of the same miraculous character now that they were then. But as to his revealing, enlightening, teaching, guiding operations, He is as much present with believers now as during the apostolic age. Then all spake as the Spirit gave them utterance. When Christians assembled together everyone had his gift: one a psalm, one a doctrine, another a revelation, another an interpretation. Everyone could speak; but it was to be done decently and in order. If anything were revealed to one sitting by, he was to hold his peace until his time came; for God is not the author of confusion. In 1 Cor. 14 we have the Quaker ideal or model of a Christian assembly. And as the Apostles went hither and thither, not according to their own judgment, but supernaturally guided by the Spirit, so the Spirit guides all believers in the ordinary affairs of life, if they wait for the intimations of his will.
As this doctrine of the Spirit’s guidance is the fundamental principle of Quakerism, it is the source of all the peculiarities by which the Society of Friends has ever been distinguished. If every man has within himself an infallible guide as to truth and duty, he does not need external teaching. If it be the office of the Spirit to reveal truth objectively to the mind, and to indicate on all occasions the path of duty; and if his revealing and guiding influence be universal, and immediate, self-evidencing itself as divine, it must of necessity supersede all others; just as the Scriptures supersede reason in matters of religion. The Quakers, therefore, although, as has been shown, acknowledging the divine authority of the Scriptures, make far less of them than other denominations of evangelical Christians. They make very little of the Church and its ordinances; of the Sabbath; of a stated ministry; and nothing of the sacraments as external ordinances and means of grace. In all these respects their influence has been hurtful to the cause of Christ, while it is cheerfully admitted that some of the best Christians of our age belong to the Society of Friends.
7. Objections to the Mystical Theory
The idea on which Mysticism is founded is Scriptural and true. It is true that God has access to the human soul. It is true that He can, consistently with his own nature and with the laws of our being, supernaturally and immediately reveal truth objectively to the mind, and attend that revelation with evidence which produces an infallible assurance of its truth and of its divine origin. It is also true that such revelations have often been made to the children of men. But these cases of immediate supernatural revelation belong to the category of miracles. They are rare and are to be duly authenticated.
The common doctrine of the Christian Church is, that God has at sundry times and in divers manners spoken to the children of men; that what eye hath not seen, or ear heard, what never could have entered into the heart of man, God has revealed by his Spirit to those whom He selected to be his spokesmen to their fellow-men; that these revelations were authenticated as divine, by their character, their effects, and by signs and wonders, and divers miracles and gifts of the Holy Ghost; that these holy men of old who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, communicated the revelations which they had received not only orally, but in writing, employing not the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; so that we have in the sacred Scriptures the things of the Spirit recorded in the words of the Spirit; which Scriptures, therefore, are the Word of God,—i.e., what God says to man; what He declares to be true and obligatory,—and constitute for his Church the only infallible rule of faith and practice.
Romanists, while admitting the infallibility of the written Word, still contend that it is not sufficient; and hold that God continues in a supernatural manner to guide the Church by rendering its bishops infallible teachers in all matters pertaining to truth and duty.
Mystics, making the same admission as to the infallibility of Scripture, claim that the Spirit is given to every man as an inward teacher and guide, whose instructions and influence are the highest rule of faith, and sufficient, even without the Scriptures, to secure the salvation of the soul.
Mysticism has no Foundation in the Scriptures
The objections to the Romish and Mystical theory are substantially the same.
- There is no foundation for either in Scriptures. As the Scriptures contain no promise of infallible guidance to bishops, so they contain no promise of the Spirit as the immediate revealer of truth to every man. Under the Old Testament dispensation the Spirit did indeed reveal the mind and purposes of God; but it was to selected persons chosen to be prophets, authenticated as divine messengers, whose instructions the people were bound to receive as coming from God. In like manner, under the new dispensation, our Lord selected twelve men, endowed them with plenary knowledge of the Gospel, rendered them infallible as teachers, and required all men to receive their instructions as the words of God. It is true that during the apostolic age there were occasional communications made to a class of persons called prophets. But this “gift of prophecy,” that is, the gift of speaking under the inspiration of the Spirit, was analogous to the gift of miracles. The one has as obviously ceased as the other.
It is true, also, that our Lord promised to send the Spirit, who was to abide with the Church, to dwell in his people, to be their teacher, and to guide them into the knowledge of all truth. But what truth? Not historical or scientific truth, but plainly revealed truth; truth which He himself had taught, or made known by his authorized messengers. The Spirit is indeed a teacher; and without his instructions there is no saving knowledge of divine things, for the Apostle tells us, “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Cor. 2:14.) Spiritual discernment, therefore, is the design and effect of the Spirit’s teaching. And the things discerned are “the things freely given to us of God,” i.e., as the context shows, the things revealed to the Apostles and clearly made known in the Scriptures.
The Apostle John tells his readers, “Ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things” (1 John 2:20), and again, ver. 27, “The anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you; but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in Him.” These passages teach what all evangelical Christians admit. First, that true knowledge, or spiritual discernment of divine things, is due to the inward teaching of the Holy Spirit; and secondly, that true faith, or the infallible assurance of the truths revealed, is due in like manner to the “demonstration of the Spirit.” (1 Cor. 2:4.) The Apostle John also says: “He that believeth on the Son of God, hath the witness in himself.” (1 John 5:10.) Saving faith does not rest on the testimony of the Church, nor on the outward evidence of miracles and prophecy, but on the inward testimony of the Spirit with and by the truth in our hearts. He who has this inward testimony needs no other. He does not need to be told by other men what is truth; this same anointing teaches him what is truth, and that no lie is of the truth. Christians were not to believe every spirit. They were to try the spirits whether they were of God. And the test or criterion of trial was the external, authenticated revelation of God, as spiritually discerned and demonstrated by the inward operations of the Spirit. So now when errorists come and tell the people there is no God, no sin, no retribution, no need of a Saviour, or of expiation, or of faith; that Jesus of Nazareth is not the Son of God, God manifest in the flesh, the true Christian has no need to be told that these are what the Apostle calls lies. He has an inward witness to the truth of the record which God has given of his Son.
If the Bible gives no support to the Mystical doctrine of the inward, supernatural, objective revelation of truth made by the Spirit to every man, that doctrine is destitute of all foundation, for it is only by the testimony of God that any such doctrine can be established.
Mysticism is contrary to the Scriptures
- The doctrine in question is not only destitute of support from Scripture, but it contradicts the Scriptures. It is not only opposed to isolated declarations of the Word of God, but to the whole revealed plan of God’s dealing with his people. Everywhere, and under all dispensations, the rule of faith and duty has been the teaching of authenticated messengers of God. The appeal has always been “to the law and testimony.” The prophets came saying, “Thus saith the Lord.” Men were required to believe and obey what was communicated to them, and not what the Spirit revealed to each individual. It was the outward and not the inward word to which they were to attend. And under the gospel the command of Christ to his disciples, was, “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mar. 16:15, 16),—believeth, of course, the gospel which they preached. Faith cometh by hearing. “How,” asks the Apostle, “shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Rom. 10:14.) God, he tells us, hath determined to save men by the foolishness of preaching. (1 Cor. 1:21.) It is the preaching of the cross he declares to be the power of God. (Verse 18.) It is the gospel, the external revelation of the plan of salvation through Jesus Christ, he says in Rom. 1:16, “is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek; for therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith.” This idea runs through the whole New Testament. Christ commissioned his disciples to preach the gospel. He declared that to be the way in which men were to be saved. They accordingly went forth preaching everywhere. This preaching was to continue to the end of the world. Therefore, provision was made for continuing the ministry. Men called and qualified by the Spirit, were to be selected and set apart to this work by divine command. And it is in this way, so far, the world has been converted. In no case do we find the Apostles calling upon the people, whether Jews or Gentiles, to look within themselves, to listen to the inner Word. They were to listen to the outward Word; to believe what they heard, and were to pray for the Holy Spirit to enable them to understand, receive, and obey what was thus externally made known to them.
Contrary to the Facts of Experience
- The doctrine in question is no less contrary to fact than it is to Scripture. The doctrine teaches that by the inward revelation of the Spirit saving knowledge of truth and duty is given to every man. But all experience shows that without the written Word, men everywhere and in all ages, are ignorant of divine things,—without God, without Christ, and without hope in the world. The sun is not more obviously the source of light, than the Bible is the source of divine knowledge. The absence of the one is as clearly indicated as the absence of the other. It is incredible that an inward revelation of saving truth is made to every man by the Holy Spirit, if the appropriate effects of that revelation are nowhere manifested. It is to be remembered that without the knowledge of God, there can be no religion. Without right apprehensions of the Supreme Being, there can be no right affections towards him. Without the knowledge of Christ, there can be no faith in him. Without truth there can be no holiness, any more than there can be vision without light. As right apprehensions of God, and holiness of heart and life, are nowhere found where the Scriptures are unknown, it is plain that the Scriptures, and not an inward light common to all men, are, by the ordinance of God, the only source to us of saving and sanctifying knowledge.
There is a sense in which, as all evangelical Christians believe, the Spirit is given to every man. He is present with every human mind exciting to good and restraining from evil. To this the order, and what there is of morality in the world, are due. Without this “common grace,” or general influence of the Spirit, there would be no difference between our world and hell; for hell is a place or state in which men are finally given up of God. In like manner, there is a general providential efficiency of God by which He coöperates with second causes, in the productions of the wonderful phenomena of the external world. Without that coöperation—the continued guidance of mind—the cosmos would become chaos. But the fact that this providential efficiency of God is universal, is no proof that He everywhere works miracles, that He constantly operates without the intervention of second causes. So, also, the fact that the Spirit is present with every human mind, and constantly enforces the truth present to that mind, is no proof that He makes immediate, supernatural revelations to every human being. The fact is, we cannot see without light. We have the sun to give us light. It is vain to say that every man has an inward light sufficient to guide him without the sun. Facts are against the theory.
No Criterion by which to judge of the Source of Inward Suggestions
- A fourth objection to the Mystical doctrine is that there is no criterion by which a man can test these inward impulses or revelations, and determine which are from the Spirit of God, and which are from his own heart or from Satan, who often appears and acts as an angel of light. This objection, Barclay says, “Bespeaketh much ignorance in the opposers.… For it is one thing to affirm that the true and undoubted revelation of God’s Spirit is certain and infallible; and another thing to affirm that this or that particular person or people is led infallibly by this revelation in what they speak or write, because they affirm themselves to be so led by the inward and immediate revelation of the Spirit.” It is admitted that there is an inward and infallible testimony of the Spirit in the hearts of believers to the truths objectively revealed in the Scriptures. It is admitted, also, that there have been immediate revelations of truth to the mind, as in the case of the prophets and Apostles, and that these revelations authenticate themselves, or are attended with an infallible assurance that they come from God. But these admissions do not invalidate the objection as above stated. Granted that a man who receives a true revelation knows that it is from God; how is the man who receives a false revelation to know that it is not from God? Many men honestly believe themselves to be inspired, who are under the influence of some evil spirit,—their own it may be. The assurance or certainty of conviction may be as strong in one case as in the other. In the one it is well founded, in the other it is a delusion. Irresistible conviction is not enough. It may satisfy the subject of it himself. But it cannot either satisfy others, or be a criterion of truth. Thousands have been, and still are, fully convinced that the false is true, and that what is wrong is right. To tell men, therefore, to look within for an authoritative guide, and to trust to their irresistible convictions, is to give them a guide which will lead them to destruction. When God really makes revelations to the soul, He not only gives an infallible assurance that the revelation is divine, but accompanies it with evidence satisfactory to others as well as to the recipient that it is from God. All his revelations have had the seal both of internal and external evidence. And when the believer is assured, by the testimony of the Spirit, of the truths of Scripture, he has only a new kind of evidence of what is already authenticated beyond all rational contradiction. Our blessed Lord himself said to the Jews, “If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works.” (John 10:37, 38.) He even goes so far as to say, “If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin.” (John 15:24.) The inward teaching and testimony of the Spirit are Scriptural truths, and truths of inestimable value. But it is ruinous to put them in the place of the divinely authenticated written Word.
The Doctrine productive of Evil
- Our Lord says of men, “By their fruits ye shall know them.” The same rule of judgment applies to doctrines. Mysticism has always been productive of evil. It has led to the neglect or undervaluing of divine institutions,—of the Church, of the ministry, of the sacraments, of the Sabbath, and of the Scriptures. History shows that it has also led to the greatest excesses and social evils. The Society of Friends has in a good degree escaped these evils. But it has been by a happy inconsistency. They have not carried out their principle. For, while they teach that the inward revelations of the Spirit present the “formal object” of faith; that they are clear and certain, forcing “the well-disposed understanding to assent, irresistibly moving it thereto;” that they are the primary, immediate, and principal source of divine knowledge; that they are not “to be subjected to the examination either of the outward testimony of the Scriptures, or of the natural reason of man, as to a more noble or certain rule or touchstone;” yet they also teach that nothing not contained in the Scriptures can be an article of faith; that we are bound to believe all the Bible teaches; that everything contrary to its teaching is to be rejected as “a delusion of the devil,” no matter from what source it may come; and that the Scriptures are the judge of controversies among Christians; and thus they, as a society, have been preserved from the excesses into which Mystics have generally run. Nevertheless, the Mystical principle of immediate, objective revelation of truth to every man, as his principal and primary rule of faith and practice, has wrought with Friends its legitimate fruit, inasmuch as it has led to comparative neglect of the Scriptures and of the ordinances of the Church.
Please Help Us Keep These Thousands of Blog Posts Free for All
THOUSANDS OF FREE BIBLE-BASED CHRISTIAN ARTICLES AND GROWING
CPH BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS
Translation and Textual Criticism
The King James Bible was originally published in 1611. Some have estimated that the number of copies of the King James Version that have been produced in print worldwide is over one billion! There is little doubt that the King James Version is a literary masterpiece, which this author has and will appreciate and value for its unparalleled beauty of expression. This book is in no way trying to take away from what the King James Version has accomplished. The King James Version is a book to be commended for all that it has accomplished. For four centuries, when English-speaking people spoke of “the Bible,” they meant the King James Version. The question that begs to be asked of those who favor the King James Bible is, Do You Know the King James Version? What do most users of the King James Bible not know about their translation? Whether you are one who favors the King James Version or one who prefers a modern translation, Andrews will answer the questions that have long been asked for centuries about the King James Bible and far more.
THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO BIBLE TRANSLATION (CGBT) is for all individuals interested in how the Bible came down to us, as well as having an insight into the Bible translation process. CGBT is also for those who are interested in which translation(s) would be the most beneficial to use. The translation of God’s Word from the original languages of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek is a task unlike any other and should never be taken lightly because it carries with it the heaviest responsibility: the translator renders God’s thoughts into a modern language. It is CGBT’s desire to take challenging and complex subjects and make them easy to understand. CGBT will communicate as clearly and powerfully as possible to all of its readers while also accurately communicating information about the Bible. …
We have come a long, long way from the time that the KJV was The Bible in English and the many translations available today. Finding the right Bible for the right person can be daunting, with almost too many choices available. However, it is still possible to divide the options into two broad categories: literal translations and dynamic equivalents. What is the difference, and why should you care? Bible publishers used to say that literal translations are good for study purposes, and dynamic equivalents are better for reading. So literal translations were advertised with terms like “accurate,” “reliable,” and, of course, “literal.” For dynamic equivalent translations, terms like “contemporary,” “easy to read,” and “written in today’s English” were used. Naturally, publishers do not advertise the negatives, so they did not point out that the literal translations might be a little harder to read, or that the dynamic equivalents might not be entirely faithful to the original languages of the Bible. However, more recently, some scholars have been taking this analysis in a new direction, assessing literal translations as less desirable than dynamic equivalents even for accuracy and reliability.
Many have asked Edward D. Andrews as a Chief Translator, “In studying the modern Bible translations, I have come across some verses that are left out but that are in my King James Version or even my New King James Version, such as Matthew 18:11; 23:14; Luke 17:36. I have gotten conflicting opinions on social media. Can you please clear this up for me?”
Have you experienced this? The book of Revelation warns: “if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.” Yes, removing a true part of the Bible would be a serious matter. (Rev. 22:19) But had this happened? Do you know why these verses are omitted from modern translations? You might wonder, ‘Is my modern Bible translation lacking something that the King James Version has?’ The reader of the King James Version may feel that they have something that the modern Bibles do not. Andrews will help the reader find the answers to whether verses are being omitted and far more when it comes to the differences between the King James Bible and the Modern Bible translations.
The fascinating story of how we got the English Bible in its present form starts 1,120 years ago. HISTORY OF ENGLISH VERSIONS OF THE BIBLE covers the fascinating journey of the Bible from the 9th century AD to the beginning of the 20th-century. The chief translator of the Updated American Standard Version Edward D. Andrews invites readers to explore the process of from the early manuscripts to contemporary translations today.
And so, it was that translators like William Tyndale were martyred for the honor of giving the people a Bible that could easily be understood. What a price they had paid, however; it was a priceless gift! Tyndale and others before and after him had worked with the shadow of death towering over their heads. However, by delivering the Bible to many people in their native tongue, they opened up before them the possibility, not of death, but life eternal. As Jesus Christ said in the Tyndale Bible, “This is lyfe eternall that they myght knowe the that only very God and whom thou hast sent Iesus Christ.” (John 17:3) May we, therefore, know the value of what we can now hold in our hands, and may we diligently study God’s Word.
JOHN 8:58 has been one of the most hotly debated verses in the Bible for centuries. For the first time, an impartial, unbiased, objective investigation begins and ends here. BEFORE ABRAHAM WAS I AM is for all individuals interested in how John 8:58 should be translated, as well as how it should be interpreted. The book impartially (objectively) offers the two different translation views on this verse, as well as two different interpretational views. The reader is given the opportunity to see both perspectives, and then, he or she can decide for themselves. The reader does not have to know Biblical Greek, as we have taken every measure to make this small book easy to understand. We have used the Greek interlinear with the English above the Greek. We have translated all the Greek herein. We have tried to define and explain every uncommon term. Views on translating John 8:58 include NT commentator with the historical setting Kenneth O Gangel, Bible background Clinton E. Arnold and Craig S. Keener, Exegetical commentator D. A. Carson, NT Greek scholar Daniel B. Wallace, Textual scholar B. F. Westcott, Senior Bible Translator of the NASB Don Wilkins, and Chief Translator of the UASV and textual scholar Edward D. Andrews.
FROM SPOKEN WORDS TO SACRED TEXTS is an introduction-intermediate level coverage of the text of the New Testament. Andrews begins by introducing the reader to New Testament textual studies by presenting all the essential, foundational details necessary to understand New Testament textual criticism. With Andrews’ clear and comprehensive approach to New Testament textual studies, FROM SPOKEN WORDS TO SACRED TEXTS, will remain popular for beginning and intermediate students for decades to come. This source on how the New Testament came down us will become the standard book for courses in biblical studies, as well as the history of Christianity. FROM SPOKEN WORDS TO SACRED TEXTS is assured of becoming a reliable, clear-cut resource for generations of Bible students to come.
The Greek New Testament was copied and recopied by hand for 1,500 years. Regardless of those scribes who had worked very hard to be faithful in their copying, errors crept into the text. How can we be confident that what we have today is the Word of God? FROM SPOKEN WORDS TO SACRED TEXTS introduces its readers to New Testament textual studies of the Greek New Testament. Herein the reader will find plain language as Edward D. Andrews gives the reader an in-depth view of the history of the New Testament. We will discover how the New Testament books were transmitted. The intentional and unintentional scribal errors that crept into the text for some 1,500 years of corruption by copyists, followed by over 400 years of restoration work by textual scholars who gave their entire lives to give us today a restored New Testament text. In this book, the reader will gain an appreciation for the vast work that has been carried out in preserving the text of the New Testament and finding renewed confidence in its reliability. Andrews’ work on FROM SPOKEN WORDS TO SACRED TEXTS was carried out with an apologetical mindset to assist Christians in their defense of God’s Word.
INTRODUCTION TO THE TEXT OF THE NEW TESTAMENT is a shortened 321 pages of Andrews and Wilkins 602 page TEXT OF THE NEW TESTAMENT without losing the value of content. The foremost thing the reader is going to learn is that the Greek New Testament that our modern translations are based on is a mirror-like reflection of the original and can be fully trusted. The reader will learn how the New Testament authors made and published their books, the secretaries in antiquity and their materials like Teritus who helped Paul pen the epistle to the Romans, and the book writing process of the New Testament authors and early copyists. The reader will also discover the reading culture of early Christianity and their view of the integrity of the Greek New Testament. The reader will also learn how textual scholars known as paleography determine the age of the manuscripts.
The reader will learn all about the different sources that go into our restoring the Greek New Testament to its original form. Then, Andrews will cover the ancient version, the era of the printed text, and the arrival of the critical text. After that, the reader will be given a lengthy chapter on examples of how the textual scholar determines the correct reading by his looking at the internal and external evidence. Finally, and most importantly, the reader will find out the truth about the supposed 400,000 textual errors within the Greek New Testament manuscripts. The last chapter will be faith-building and enable you to defend the Word of God as inerrant.
THE READING CULTURE OF EARLY CHRISTIANITY provides the reader with the production process of the New Testament books, the publication process, how they were circulated, and to what extent they were used in the early Christian church. It examines the making of the New Testament books, the New Testament secretaries and the material they used, how the early Christians viewed the New Testament books, and the literacy level of the Christians in the first three centuries. It also explores how the gospels went from an oral message to a written record, the accusation that the apostles were uneducated, the inspiration and inerrancy in the writing process of the New Testament books, the trustworthiness of the early Christian copyists, and the claim that the early scribes were predominantly amateurs. Andrews also looks into the early Christian’s use of the codex [book form], how did the spread of early Christianity affect the text of the New Testament, and how was the text impacted by the Roman Empire’s persecution of the early Christians?
The Bible has been under attack since Moses penned the first five books. However, the New Testament has faced criticism like no other time over the 50-70-years. Both friend and foe have challenged the reliability of our New Testament. Self-proclaimed Agnostic textual scholar Dr. Bart D. Ehrman has claimed that there are 400,000+ scribal errors in our Greek New Testament manuscripts. A leading textual scholar, Greek grammarian, and Christian apologist Dr. Daniel B. Wallace has stipulated that this is true. This is of particular interest among all Christians, who have been charged with defending the Word of God. – 1 Peter 3:15.
In this volume, textual scholar Edward D. Andrews offers the churchgoer and textual student a defense against this specific attack on the New Testament. Andrews offers the reader a careful analysis of the relevant evidence, giving his readers logical, reasonable, rational assurances that the New Testament can be trusted more than ever before. He will explain the differences between the older Bible translations and the newer ones. Andrews will explain why we do not need the original manuscripts to have the original Word of God. He will reveal how reliable our manuscripts are, how they survived the elements and the persecution of early Christianity, as well as withstanding careless and even deceitful scribes. Finally, Andrews will deal with the 400,000+ scribal errors in the Greek New Testament manuscripts extensively. The author takes a complicated subject and offers his readers an easy to understand argument for why they can have confidence in the Bible despite various challenges to the trustworthiness of Scripture, offering an insightful, informed, defense of God’s Word.
This fourth edition will be dealing with the Greek text of our New Testament, through the Eyes of Dr. Bart D. Ehrman, in his New York Times bestseller: Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why (2005). First, in the introduction, we will look into Bart D. Ehrman’s early life and spiritual decline as he moved from being an evangelical conservative Christian to becoming an agnostic skeptic. Second, we will open with chapter one covering the book writing process of the New Testament authors and early Christian scribes. Then, we will spend three lengthy chapters covering the reading culture of early Christianity because of Ehrman’s claim of just how low the literacy rates were in early Christianity. After that, we will take one chapter to investigate the early Christian copyists because of Ehrman’s claim that most of the scribal errors come from the first three centuries. Following this will be one of the most critical chapters examining Ehrman’s claim of 400,000 textual variants [errors] and what impact they have on the integrity of the Greek New Testament. We will then investigate Bible Difficulties and what they mean for the trustworthiness of God’s Word. After that, we will give the reader the fundamentals of some of Ehrman’s complaints, debunking them as we investigate each one throughout seven chapters.
The Apostolic Fathers were core Christian theologians among the Church Fathers who lived in the 1st and 2nd centuries A.D., who are believed to have personally known some of the Twelve Apostles or to have been significantly influenced by them. Their writings, though widely circulated in Early Christianity, were not included in the canon of the New Testament. Many of the writings derive from the same time period and geographical location as other works of early Christian literature, which came to be part of the New Testament. Some of the writings found among the Apostolic Fathers appear to have been as highly regarded as some of the writings which became the New Testament.
These writers include Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Polycarp, Hermas, Barnabas, Papias, and the anonymous authors of the Didachē (Teaching of the Twelve Apostles), Letter to Diognetus, Letter of Barnabas, and the Martyrdom of Polycarp. Not everything written by the Apostolic Fathers is considered to be equally valuable theologically, but taken as a whole, their writings are more valuable historically than any other Christian literature outside the New Testament. They provide a bridge between it and the more fully developed Christianity of the late 2nd century.
The Apostolic Fathers are a small number of Early Christian authors who lived and wrote in the second half of the 1st century and the first half of the 2nd century. They are acknowledged as leaders in the early church, although their writings were not included in the New Testament. They include Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, Polycarp of Smyrna, the author of the Didache, and the author of the Shepherd of Hermas. The Apostolic Fathers, the earliest extant Christian writings outside the New Testament, are a primary resource for the study of early Christianity. These works are important because their authors were contemporaries of the biblical writers. J. B. Lightfoot is known as the greatest British New Testament scholar of the nineteenth century.
Christian Apologetics and Evangelism
The only way in which anyone can become a genuine disciple of Jesus Christ is to exercise a divinely-given faith in the once crucified but now glorified Son of God, a faith that quickens the soul, fills it with the mind of Christ, and so unites them to Jesus forever. Murray & Andrews well know that the means for arriving at faith is the Word of God. It is the question often asked by the Master, Jesus Christ, which brings us to the title of the book, “If I speak the truth, why do you not believe ?” (John 8:46). Assured like the apostle Paul, as taught by the Lord, that the only mode for receiving forgiveness of sins and inheritance among them that are sanctified, is “faith” in Christ (Acts 26:18). Therefore, Murray & Andrews concentrate their writings on the anxious soul onto the Savior, on the one hand, and the necessity and power of faith in his own heart, on the other. By this means, they expect that under the working of the Spirit through the Word of God, the reader will be led to more fully live their life in faith, ‘the faith which is in the Son of God, who loved you and gave Himself up for you.” (Gal. 2:20) This little book will play a valuable part in our modern Christian faith, no doubt, with its lessons helping Christians to grow spiritually. This book will awaken the need for a vital bond between Christ and the readers, leading them to a stronger faith, which is so richly needed today.
Who wrote this important and enlightening book of Hebrews? Why does it really matter if the book is canonical, authoritative, and inspired? The book was not signed, and so there have been many suggestions over the centuries. Honestly, there is no absolute determinative evidence for any suggested author, even Paul. However, we do not live in an absolute world. God is absolute, and the Word of God in the original is absolute. It seems that most researchers that address this appear to offer just a few suggestions to live with the belief that it is best to say that we do not know. There have been many suggested authors since the first century: Paul, Luke, Barnabas, Silas, Apollos, Priscilla and Aquila, James, Philip, Jude, Clement of Rome have all been offered as suggested authors of the book of Hebrews. So, who really wrote the book of Hebrews? Indeed, the book of Hebrews is packed with the most relevant and beneficial information as well as with serious and weighty exhortation, excellent encouragement, and severe warnings lest we fall away from the faith. The better we become informed with this Bible book, the more we profit from what it has to say. Having some certainty as to who the author is will also give us a deeper appreciation of its authentic and authoritative state.
The book PAUL AND LUKE ON TRIAL deals with their reputations, the authenticity, and the trustworthiness of their New Testament books (Acts and Galatians), which Bible critics have sought to undermine for centuries. Sadly, this attack also comes from “the new generation of evangelical scholars [who are] far more comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty than previous generations.” (Wallace forward, Page xii) Herein the Bible critics and modern evangelical scholars are the prosecutors in this trial, and Andrews is serving as the Christian apologist in defense of the Apostle Paul and the disciple Luke. Andrews in PAUL AND LUKE ON TRIAL will briefly talk about Higher critics who have dissected the Word of God until it has become the word of man and a very jumbled word at that. Chapter one will look at how we can use legal terms to view Bible evidence objectively. Chapters 2 and 3 will lay more groundwork defining and dealing with Bible difficulties as it relates to the trial of Paul and Luke. A Brief historical overview of 36-49 C.E. in Chapter 4 apply all that we will have learned up unto this point in our defense of Paul and Luke. As a bonus, APPENDIX I is a chapter explaining Bible Difficulties, and APPENDIX II is a defense of the prophet Daniel and the book that bears his name.
THE BIBLE: ERRORS! MISTAKES! INCONSISTENCIES! CONTRADICTIONS! Critics claim that the Bible is filled with so-called errors, mistakes, inconsistencies, and contradictions. Some even speak of thousands of errors. The truth is there is not even one demonstrated error in the original text of the Bible. Of course, we would never say that there are no difficulties in our Bibles. The Bible is loaded with thousands of difficult, challenging passages, many of which become obstacles in the development of our faith. These difficulties arise out of differences in culture, language, religious and political organizations, not to mention between 2,000 to 3,500 years of separation between the Bible author and the modern-day reader. Calling attention to these difficulties and sifting out the misconceptions, Andrews defends the full inerrancy of the Bible, clarifies the so-called errors or mistakes and what might seem like apparent contradictions. He arms the Christian with what he or she needs to defend their faith in the Bible. Honestly, whenever Christians find a difficulty in the Bible, frankly, acknowledge it. Do not try to obscure it. Do not try to dodge it. Herein is the defense of God’s Word that Christians have been waiting for.
The role of women within the church has been a heated, ongoing debate. There are two views. We have the equal ministry opportunity for both men and women (egalitarian view) and the ministry roles distinguished by gender (complementarian view). This biblically grounded introduction will acquaint the reader with the biblical view: what does the Bible say about the woman’s role in the church? Both views mention the teachings of the apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 2:12 in order to support their viewpoint. Andrews will furnish the reader with a clear and thorough presentation of the biblical evidence for the woman’s role in the church so we can better understand the biblical viewpoint.
Some of the questions asked and answered in THE YOUNG CHRISTIAN’S SURVIVAL GUIDE are “You claim the Bible is inspired because it says it is, right (2 Tim. 3:16)? Isn’t that circular reasoning?” “You claim the Bible was inspired, but there was no inspired list of which books that is true of. So how can we know which ones to trust?” “With so many different copies of manuscripts that have 400,000+ variants (errors), how can we even know what the Bible says?” “Why can’t the people who wrote the four Gospels get their story straight?” These questions and many more will be asked and answered with reasonable, rational, Scriptural answers.
Was the Gospel of Mark Written First? Were the Gospel Writers Plagiarists? What is the Q Document? What about Document Q? Critical Bible scholars have assumed that Matthew and Luke used the book of Mark to compile their Gospels and that they consulted a supplementary source, a document the scholars call Q from the German Quelle, or source. From the close of the first century A.D. to the 18th century, the reliability of the Gospels was never really brought into question. However, once we enter the so-called period of enlightenment, especially from the 19th century onward, some critical Bible scholars viewed the Gospels not as the inspired, inerrant Word of God but rather as the word of man, and a jumbled word at that. In addition, they determined that the Gospels were not written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, saying the Gospels were written after the apostles, denying that the writers of the Gospels had any firsthand knowledge of Jesus; therefore, for these Bible critics such men were unable to offer a record of reliable history. Moreover, these critical Bible scholars came to the conclusion that the similarities in structure and content in the synoptic (similar view) Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), suggests that the evangelists copied extensively from one other. Further, the critical Bible scholars have rejected that the miracles of Jesus and his resurrection ever occurred as recorded in the Gospels. Lastly, some have even gone so far as to reject the historicity of Jesus himself.
Inside of some Christians unbeknownst to their family, friends or the church, they are screaming, “I doubt, I doubt, I have very grave doubts!” Ours is an age of doubt. Skepticism has become fashionable. We are urged to question everything: especially the existence of God and the truthfulness of his Word, the Bible. A SUBSTANTIAL PORTION of REASONABLE FAITH is on healing for the elements of emotional doubt. However, much attention is given to more evidenced-based chapters in our pursuit of overcoming any fears or doubts that we may have or that may creep up on us in the future.
How can you improve your effectiveness as teachers? Essentially, it is by imitating JESUS CHRIST The Great Teacher You may wonder, ‘But how can we imitate Jesus?’ ‘He was the perfect, divine, Son of God.’ Admittedly, you cannot be a perfect teacher. Nevertheless, regardless of your abilities, you can do your best to imitate the way Jesus taught. JESUS CHRIST The Great Teacher will discuss how you can employ all of his teaching methods. What a privilege it is to be a teacher of God’s Word and to share spiritual values that can have long-lasting benefits!
How can you improve your effectiveness as teachers? Essentially, it is by imitating THE APOSTLE PAUL: The Preacher, Teacher, Apologist. You may wonder, ‘But how can we imitate Paul?’ ‘He was an inspired author, who served as an apostle, given miraculous powers.’ Admittedly, Paul likely accomplished more than any other imperfect human. Nevertheless, regardless of your abilities, you can do your best to imitate the way Paul taught. THE APOSTLE PAUL: The Preacher, Teacher, Apologist will discuss how you can employ all of his teaching methods. When it comes to teaching, genuine Christians have a special responsibility. We are commanded to “make disciples of all nations . . . , teaching them.” (Matt. 24:14; 28:19-20; Ac 1:8)
How true is the Old Testament? For over two centuries Biblical scholars have held to the so-called documentary hypothesis, namely, that Genesis – Deuteronomy was not authored by Moses, but rather by several writers, some of whom lived centuries after Moses’ time. How have many scholars questioned the writership of Isaiah, and are they correct? When did skepticism regarding the writership of Isaiah begin, and how did it spread? What dissecting of the book of Isaiah has taken place? When did criticism of the book of Daniel begin, and what fueled similar criticism in more recent centuries? What charges are sometimes made regarding the history in Daniel? Why is the question of the authenticity of the books of Moses, the Book of Isaiah and the Book of Daniel an important one? What evidence is there to show that the books of Moses, the Book of Isaiah and the Book of Daniel is authentic and true? Do these critics have grounds for challenging these Bible author’s authenticity and historical truthfulness? Why is it important to discuss whether Old Testament Aurhoriship is authentic and true or not?
Who wrote the first five books of the Bible? Was it Moses or was it others centuries later? If Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible, then how was his own death and burial written in Deuteronomy Chapter 34? Many mainstream Bible scholars argue that Moses could not have written the Pentateuch since he likely existed many centuries earlier than the development of the Hebrew language. When was the origin of the Hebrew language? Popular scholarship says that if Moses had written the Pentateuch, he would have written in the Egyptian language, not the Hebrew. Moreover, most of the Israelites and other people of the sixteenth century B.C.E. were illiteral, so who could have written the Torah, and for whom would it be written because the people of that period did not read?
Finally, analysis of the first five books demonstrates multiple authors, not just one, which explains the many discrepancies. Multiple authors also explain the many cases of telling of the same story twice, making the same events appear to happen more than once. The modern mainstream scholarship would argue that within the Pentateuch we see such things as preferences for certain words, differences in vocabulary, reoccurring expressions in Deuteronomy that are not found in Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, all evidence for their case for multiple authors.
What does the evidence say? What does archaeology, linguistic analysis, historical studies, textual analysis, and insights from Egyptologists tell us? Again, who wrote the first five books of the Bible? Was it Moses or was it others centuries later? Andrews offers his readers an objective view of the evidence.
Agabus is a mysterious prophetic figure that appears only twice in the book of Acts. Though his role is minor, he is a significant figure in a great debate between cessationists and continualists. On one side are those who believe that the gift of prophecy is on par with the inspired Scriptures, infallible, and has ceased. On the other side are those who define it as fallible and non-revelatory speech that continues today in the life of the church. Proponents of both camps attempt to claim Agabus as an illustration of their convictions. This study defends the position that Agabus’ prophecies are true in every detail. Beginning with a survey of major figures in the debate, the author conducts an exegetical analysis of passages where Agabus appears in defense of the infallible view.
Islam is making a significant mark on our world. It is perhaps the fastest-growing religion in the world. It has become a major obstacle to Christian missions. And Muslim terrorists threaten the West and modern democracies. What is the history of Islam? What do Muslims believe? Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God? Why do we have this clash of civilizations? Is sharia law a threat to modern democratic values? How can we fight terrorists in the 21st century? These are significant questions that deserve thoughtful answers. This book provides practical, biblical answers so Christians can understand Islam, witness to their Muslim friends, and support efforts by the government to protect all of us from terrorism.
IS THE QURAN THE WORD OF GOD? Is Islam the One True Faith? This book covers the worldview, practices, and history of Islam and the Quran. This book is designed as an apologetic evangelistic tool for Christians, as they come across Muslims in their daily lives, as well as to inform them, as a protection again the misleading media. The non-Muslims need to hear these truths about Islam and the Quran so they can have an accurate understanding of the Muslim mindset that leads to their actions. Islam is the second largest religion in the world. Radical Islam has taken the world by storm, and the “fake media” has genuinely misled their audience for the sake of political correctness. This book is not a dogmatic attack on Islam and the Quran but rather an uncovering of the lies and describing of the truths. The reader will be introduced to the most helpful way of viewing the evidence objectively. We will answer the question of whether the Quran is a literary miracle, as well as is there evidence that the Quran is inspired by God, along with is the Quran harmonious and consistent, and is the Quran from God or man? We will also examine Islamic teachings, discuss the need to search for the truth, as well as identify the book of truth. We will look at how Islam views the Bible. Finally, we will take up the subjects of Shariah Law, the rise of radical Islam, Islamic eschatology, and how to effectively witness to Muslims.
The average Christian knows somewhat how dangerous radical Islam is because of the regular media coverage of beheadings of Christians, Jews, and even young little children, not to mention Muslims with which they disagree. However, the average Christian does not know their true beliefs, just how many there are, to the extent they will go to carry out these beliefs. Daily we find Islamic commentators on the TV and radio, offering up misleading information, quoting certain portions of the Quran while leaving other parts out. When considering Islamic beliefs, other Islamic writings must be considered, like the Hadith or Sunnah, and the Shariah, or canon law. While Islam, in general, does not support radical Islam, the vast majority do support radical beliefs. For example, beheadings, stoning for adultery or homosexuality, suicide bombings, turning the world into an Islamic state, and far too many other heinous things. THE GUIDE TO ISLAM provides Christians with an overview of Islamic terminology. The reader will learn about Muhammad’s calling, the history of the Quran, how Islam expanded, the death of Muhammad and the splinter groups that followed. In addition, the three sources of their teaching, six pillars of belief, five pillars of Islam, the twelfth Imam, and much more will be discussed. All of this from the mind of radical Islam. While there are several books on Islam and radical Islam, this will be the first that will prepare its readers to communicate effectively with Muslims in an effort toward sharing biblical truths. …
Historical Criticism of the Bible got started in earnest, known then as Higher Criticism, during the 18th and 19th centuries, it is also known as the Historical-Critical Method of biblical interpretation. Are there any weakness to the Historical-Critical Method of biblical interpretation (Historical Criticism), and why is historical criticism so popular among Bible scholars today? Its popularity is because biblical criticism is subjective, that is, based on or influenced by personal feelings or opinions and is dependent on the Bible scholar’s perception. In other words, biblical criticism allows the Bible scholar, teacher, or pastor the freedom to interpret the Scriptures, so that God’s Word it tells them things that they want to hear. Why is this book so critical for all Christians? Farnell and Andrews will inform the reader about Biblical criticism (historical criticism) and its weaknesses, helping you to defend God’s Word far better.
Biblical criticism is an umbrella term covering various techniques for applying literary historical-critical methods in analyzing and studying the Bible and its textual content. Biblical criticism is also known as higher criticism, literary criticism, and historical criticism. Biblical criticism has done nothing more than weaken and demoralize people’s assurance in the Bible as being the inspired and fully inerrant Word of God and is destructive in its very nature. Historical criticism is made up of many forms of biblical criticism that are harmful to the authoritative Word of God: historical criticism, source criticism, form criticism, redaction criticism, social-science criticism, canonical criticism, rhetorical criticism, structural criticism, narrative criticism, reader-response criticism, and feminist criticism. Not just liberal scholarship, but many moderate, even some “conservative” scholars have …
FEMINIST CRITICISM will offer the reader explicitly what the Bible says. Feminist criticism is a form of literary criticism that is based on feminist theories. The worldview of feminism uses feminist principles to interpret the word of God. Biblical feminists argue that they are merely focused on creating equal opportunities to serve. They say that they want the freedom to follow Jesus Christ as he has called them. They assert that they merely want to use the gifts that he has given them in God’s service. Biblical feminists maintain that Scripture clearly states the worth and value of men and women equally when it comes to serving God. Biblical feminists also say that they want to partner with the men when it comes to taking the lead in the church and parenting in the home. They seek mutual submission and subjection in the church leadership and the home headship, not what they perceive to be a male hierarchy. FEMINIST CRITICISM will gently and respectfully address these issues with Scripture.
APOLOGETICS: Reaching Hearts with the Art of Persuasion by Edward D. Andrews, author of over seventy books, covers information that proves that the Bible is accurate, trustworthy, fully inerrant, and inspired by God for the benefit of humankind. The reader will be introduced to Christan apologetics and evangelism. They will learn what Christian apologetics is. They will be given a biblical answer to the most demanding Bible question: Problem of Evil. The reader will learn how to reach hearts with are the art of persuasion. They will use persuasion to help others accept Christ. They will learn to teach with insight and persuasiveness. They will learn to use persuasion to reach the heart of those who listen to them.
REVIEWING 2013 New World Translation of Jehovah’s Witnesses is going to challenge your objectivity. Being objective means that personal feelings or opinions do not influence you in considering and representing facts. Being subjective means that your understanding is based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or ideas. If the reader finds these insights offense, it might be a little mind control at work from years of being told the same misinformation repeatedly, so ponder things objectively. We can also have preconceived ideas that have been a part of our thinking for so long; we do not question them. Preconceived is an idea or opinion that is formed before having the evidence for its truth. If we are to be effective, we must season our words, so that they are received well. Then there is the term preconception, which means a preconceived idea or prejudice. Seasoned words, honesty, and accuracy are distinctive features of effective apologetic evangelism.
Use of REASONING FROM THE SCRIPTURES should help you to cultivate the ability to reason from the Scriptures and to use them effectively in assisting others to learn about “the mighty works of God.” – Acts 2:11. If Christians are going to be capable, powerful, efficient teachers of God’s Word, we must not only pay attention to what we tell those who are interested but also how we tell them. Yes, we must focus our attention on the message of God’s Word that we share but also the method in which we do so. Our message, the Gospel (i.e., the good news of the Kingdom), this does not change, but we do adjust our methods. Why? We are seeking to reach as many receptive people as possible. “You will be my witnesses … to the End of the Earth.” – ACTS 1:8.
Why should we be interested in the religion of others? The world has become a melting pot of people, cultures, and values, as well as many different religions. Religion has the most significant impact on the lives of mankind today. There are only a few of the major religions that make up billions of people throughout the earth. According to some estimates, there are roughly 4,200 religions in the world. God’s will is that “all sorts of men should be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of truth.” (1 Tim. 2:4) God has assigned all Christians the task of proclaiming the Word of God, teaching, to make disciples. (Matt. 24:15; 28:19-20: Ac 1;8) That includes men and women who profess a non-Christian religion, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam to mention just a few. If there are Hindus, Buddhist or Muslims are in your community, why not initiate a conversation with them? Christians who take the Great Commission seriously cannot afford to ignore these religions. …
Evangelism is the work of a Christian evangelist, of which all true Christians are obligated to partake to some extent, which seeks to persuade other people to become Christian, especially by sharing the basics of the Gospel, but also the deeper message of biblical truths. Today the Gospel is almost an unknown, so what does the Christian evangelist do? Preevangelism is laying a foundation for those who have no knowledge of the Gospel, giving them background information, so that they can grasp what they are hearing. The Christian evangelist is preparing their mind and heart so that they will be receptive to the biblical truths. In many ways, this is known as apologetics. Christian apologetics [Greek: apologia, “verbal defense, speech in defense”] is a field of Christian theology which endeavors to offer a reasonable and sensible basis for the Christian faith, defending the faith against objections. It is reasoning from the Scriptures, explaining and proving, as one instructs in sound doctrine, many times having to overturn false reasoning before he can plant the seeds of truth. …
MOST Christian apologetic books help the reader know WHAT to say; THE CHRISTIAN APOLOGIST is HOW to communicate it effectively. The Christian apologist’s words should always be seasoned with salt as he or she shares the unadulterated truths of Scripture with gentleness and respect. Our example in helping the unbeliever to understand the Bible has been provided by Jesus Christ and his apostles. Whether dealing with Bible critics or answering questions from those genuinely interested, Jesus referred to the Scriptures and at times used appropriate illustrations, helping those with a receptive heart to accept the Word of God. The apostle Paul “reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving” what was biblically true. (Ac 17:2-3) The material in THE CHRISTIAN APOLOGIST can enable us to do the same. Apologist Normal L. Geisler informs us that “evangelism is planting seeds of the Gospel” and “pre-evangelism is tilling the soil of people’s minds and hearts to help them be more willing to listen to the truth (1 Cor. 3: 6).”
THE EVANGELISM HANDBOOK is a practical guide (for real-life application) in aiding all Christians in sharing biblical beliefs, the Good News of the Kingdom, how to deal with Bible critics, overturning false beliefs, so as to make disciples, as commanded by Christ. (Matthew 24:14; 28:19-20; Ac 1:8) Why do Christians desire to talk about their beliefs? Jesus said, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed in the whole inhabited earth for a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” (Matt 24:14) This is the assignment, which all Christians are obligated to assist in carrying out. Jesus also said, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt. 22:39) Jesus commanded that we “go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them” and “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matt. 28:19-20) If one failed to be obedient to the great commission of Matthew 28:19-20, he or she could hardly claim that they have genuine faith. All true Christians have a determination to imitate God, which moves us to persist in reflecting his glory through our sharing Bible beliefs with others.
The reader will receive eight small introductory books in this one publication. Andrews’ intention is to offer his reader several chapters on eight of the most critical subject areas of understanding and defending the Word of God. This will enable the reader to lay a solid foundation for which he can build throughout his Christian life. These eight sections with multiple chapters in each cover biblical interpretation, Bible translation philosophies, textual criticism, Bible difficulties, the Holy Spirit, Christian Apologetics, Christian Evangelism, and Christian Living.
“‘Deep’ study is no guarantee that mature faith will result, but shallow study guarantees that immaturity continues.”(p. xiii)—Dr. Lee M. Fields.
The Culture War. How the West lost its greatness and was weakened from within outlines how the West lost its values, causing its current decline. It is a forceful attack on the extreme liberal, anti-religious ideology which since the 1960’s has permeated the Western culture and weakened its very core. The West is now characterized by strict elitist media censorship, hedonism, a culture of drug abuse, abortion, ethnic clashes and racial divide, a destructive feminism and the dramatic breakdown of the family. An ultra-rich elite pushes our nations into a new, authoritarian globalist structure, with no respect for Western historical values. Yet, even in the darkest hour, there is hope. This manifesto outlines the remedy for the current malaise and describes the greatness of our traditional and religious values that once made our civilization prosper. It shows how we can restore these values to bring back justice, mercy, faith, honesty, fidelity, kindness and respect for one another. Virtues that will motivate individuals to love one another, the core of what will make us great again.
New Left Tyranny shows how the neo-Marxist New Left turned their back on historical Western principles and became a destructive authoritarian force. It abandoned the working class. By systematically attacking traditional values and inciting hateful Identity Politics, they created a dysfunctional society characterized by social anarchy, selfishness and a lack of personal responsibility.
“This is a remarkable book by a remarkable person. Excellent work.”
Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, leading American political economist
Hanne Nabintu Herland is a Scandinavian bestselling author, historian of comparative religions and founder of The Herland Report
EARLY CHRISTIANITY IN THE FIRST CENTURY will give its readers a thrilling account of first-century Christianity. When and how did they come to be called Christians? Who are all obligated to be Christian evangelists? In what way did Jesus set the example for our evangelism? What is the Kingdom of God? What was their worship like and why were they called the Truth and the Way? How did 120 disciples at Pentecost grow to over one million within 70-80-years? What was meant by their witness to the ends of the earth? How did Christianity in its infancy function to accomplish all it did? How was it structured? How were the early Christians, not of the world? How were they affected by persecution? How were they not to love the world, in what sense? What divisions were there in the second and third centuries? Who were the Gnostics? These questions will be answered, as well as a short overview of the division that grew out of the second and third centuries, pre-reformation, the reformation, and a summary of Catholicism and Protestantism. After a lengthy introduction to First-Century Christianity, there is a chapter on the Holy Spirit in the First Century and Today, followed by sixteen chapters that cover the most prominent Christians from the second to fourth centuries, as well as a chapter on Constantine the Great.
The intention of this book is to investigate the biblical chronology behind Jehovah’s Witnesses most controversial doctrinal position that Jesus began to rule invisibly from heaven in October 1914. This biblical chronology of the Witnesses hinges upon their belief that the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, which they say occurred in 607 B.C.E. The Witnesses conclude that Chapter 4 of the book of Daniel prophesied a 2,520 year period that began in 607 B.C.E. and ended in 1914 C.E. They state, “Clearly, the ‘seven times’ and ‘the appointed times of the nations’ refer to the same time period.” (Lu 21:24) It is their position that When the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem, the Davidic line of kings was interrupted, God’s throne was “trampled on by the nations” until 1914, at which time Jesus began to rule invisibly from heaven. …
In order to overcome and church problems, we must first talk about the different problems of the church. Many of the church problems today stem from the isms: liberalism, humanism, modernism, Christian progressivism, theological liberalism, feminism, higher criticism, and biblical criticism. Moreover, many are simply not a biblically grounded church regardless of how much they claim to be so. The marks of a true Christian church would be like the different lines that make up a church’s fingerprint, a print that cannot belong to any other church. The true Christian church contains their own unique grouping of marks, forming a positive “fingerprint” that cannot belong to any other church. William Lange Craig wrote, “Remember that our faith is not based on emotions, but on the truth, and therefore you must hold on to it.” What truth? Jesus said to the Father in prayer, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:17) Are you doing the will of the Father? Is your church doing the will of the Father? – Matthew 7:21-23; 1 John 2:15-17.
Evangelist Norman Robertson claims that “Tithing is God’s way of financing His kingdom on the earth.” He asserts that “It is His system of economics which enables the Gospel to be preached.” Not bashful about telling his followers of their duty to give, he flatly states: ‘Tithing isn’t something you do because you can afford it. It is an act of obedience. Not tithing is a clear violation of God’s commandments. It is embezzlement.’ Most likely you accept that giving should be part of Christian worship. However, do you find continuous demanding appeals for money disturbing, perhaps even offensive? FLEECING THE FLOCK by Anthony Wade is an exhaustive examination of all of the popular tithing arguments made from the pulpit today. …
DECEPTION IN THE CHURCH by Fred DeRuvo asks Does It Matter How You Worship? There are 41,000 different denominations that call themselves “Christian” and all would claim that they are the truth. Can just any Christian denomination please God? Can all be true or genuine Christianity if they all have different views on the same Bible doctrines? DeRuvo will answer. He will focus on the largest part of Christianity that has many different denominations, the charismatic, ecstatic Signs and Wonders Movements. These ecstatic worshipers claim … DeRuvo will answer all these questions and more according to the truth of God’s Word.—John 8:31-32; 17:17.
Plunkett exposes the errors corrupting the Christian church through the Word of Faith, New Apostolic Reformation, and extreme charismatic movements. LEARN TO DISCERN, by author Daniel Plunkett highlights how an encounter with a rising star in the Word of Faith / “Signs and Wonders” movement was used by God to open his eyes to the deceptions, false teachings, and spiritual abuses running rampant in the charismatic movement today. These doctrines are thoroughly explored as taught by some of today’s most prominent speakers and evangelists and contrasted with the clear teachings of Scripture. LEARN TO DISCERN is an invaluable resource …
CALVINISM VS. ARMINIANISM goes back to the early seventeenth century with a Christian theological debate between the followers of John Calvin and Jacobus Arminius, and continues today among some Protestants, particularly evangelicals. The debate is centered around soteriology, that is, the study of salvation, and includes disputes about total depravity, predestination, and atonement. While the debate has developed its Calvinist–Arminian form in the 17th century, the issues that are fundamental to the debate have been discussed in Christianity in some fashion since the days of Augustine of Hippo’s disputes with the Pelagians in the fifth century. CALVINISM VS. ARMINIANISM is taking a different approach in that the issues will be discussed as The Bible Answers being that it is the centerpiece.
A comprehensive book on HOW TO STUDY YOUR BIBLE by observing, interpreting, and applying, which will focus on the most basic Bible study tools, principles, and processes for moving from an in-depth reading of the Scriptures to application. What, though, if you have long felt that you are not studiously inclined? Realize that the primary difference between a serious Bible student and a less serious Bible student is usually diligence and effort, not being a gifted student. Being a gifted Bible student alone is not enough. Efficient methods of Bible study are worth learning, for those seeking to become serious Bible students. The joy missing from many Bible students is because they do not know how to study their Bible, which means they do not do it well. Perhaps you dislike Bible study because you have not developed your study skills sufficiently to make your Bible study enjoyable. Maybe you have neglected your Bible study simply because you would rather be doing something else you enjoy.
How can we find more enjoyment in studying the Bible? How can we make our study periods more productive? What circumstances contribute to effective personal study? How can we derive real benefit and pleasure from our Bible reading? From what activities can time be bought out for reading and studying the Bible? Why should we watch our spiritual feeding habits? What benefits come from reading and studying the Scriptures? There is a great and constantly growing interest in the study of the English Bible in these days. However, very much of the so-called study of the English Bible is unintelligent and not fitted to produce the most satisfactory results. The authors of this book already have a book entitled “HOW TO STUDY: Study the Bible for the Greatest Profit,” but that book is intended for those who are willing to buy out the time to put into thorough Bible study.
Why is personal and family Bible study so important in our life now? How can we apply the Word of God in our lives? How can we use the Bible to help others? How can we effectively use the Scriptures when teaching others? How can we make decisions God’s way? How can Bible principles help us to decide wisely? Why should we have faith in God and his word? The Psalmist tells us, God’s Word “is a lamp to my foot, and a light for my path.” (Psalm 119:105) Since the Bible is a gift from God, the time and effort that we put into our personal Bible Study is a reflection of how much we appreciate that gift. What do our personal Bible study habits reveal about the depth of our appreciation of God’s Word? Certainly, the Bible is a deep and complex book, and reading and studying are not easy at times. However, with time and effort, we can develop a spiritual appetite for personal Bible study. (1 Peter 2:2)
Correctly interpreting the Bible is paramount to understanding the Word of God. As Christians, we do not want to read our 21st-century worldview INTO the Scriptures, but rather to takeOUT OF the Scriptures what the author meant by the words that he used. The guaranteed way of arriving a correct understanding of God’s Words is to have an accurate knowledge of the historical setting, cultural background, and of the people, governments, and religious leaders, as well as the place and time of the New Testament writings. Only with the background, setting, and context can you grasp the author’s intended meaning to his original readers and …
The life of Christ is an exhaustless theme. It reveals a character of greater massiveness than the hills, of a more serene beauty than the stars, of sweeter fragrance than the flowers, higher than the heavens in sublimity and deeper than the seas in mystery. As good Jean Paul has eloquently said, “It concerns Him who, being the holiest among the mighty, and the mightiest among the holy, lifted with His pierced hands empires off their hinges, turned the stream of centuries out of its channels, and still governs the ages.” …
Stalker’s Life of St. Paul became one of the most widely read and respected biographies of the Apostle to the Gentiles. As an insightful compendium on the life of Paul, this work is of particular interest to pastors and teachers who desire to add realism and vividness to their account of one of the greatest Christians who ever lived. Stalker’s work includes a section at the back entitled “Hints for Teachers and Questions for Pupils.” This supplement contains notes and “further reading” suggestions for those teaching on the life of St. Paul, along with a number of questions over each chapter for students to discuss. In addition, seventeen extra chapters have been added that will help the reader better understand who the Apostle Paul was and what first-century Christianity was like. For example, a chapter on the conversion of Saul/Paul, Gamaliel Taught Saul of Tarsus, the Rights, and Privileges of Citizenship, the “Unknown God,” Areopagus, the Observance of Law as to Vows, and much more.
With solid scholarship and exceptional clarity, beginning in Gethsemane, Stalker and Andrews examine Jesus’ trial and crucifixion. Their work is relevant, beneficial and enjoyable because they cover this historical period of Jesus’ life in an easy to understand format. Stalker’s expressive and persuasive style provides a great resource to any Bible study of the events leading to the death of Jesus Christ. THE TRIAL AND DEATH OF JESUS CHRIST is an academicish book written with a novelish style.
Delving into the basics of biblical interpretation, Edward D. Andrews has provided a complete hands-on guide to understanding what the author meant by the words that he used from the conservative grammatical-historical perspective. He teaches how to study the Bible on a deep, scholarly level, yet making it understandable to all. He has sought to provide the very best tool for interpreting the Word of God. This includes clarification of technical terms, answers to every facet of biblical interpretation, and defense of the inerrancy and divine inspiration of Scripture. Andrews realizes that the importance of digging deeper in our understanding of the Bible, for defending our faith from modern-day misguided scholarship. Andrews gives the reader easy and memorable principles and methods to follow for producing an accurate explanation that comes out of, not what many read into the biblical text. The principal procedure within is to define, explain, offer many examples, and give illustrations, to help the reader fully grasp the grammatical-historical approach. …
Anybody who wants to study the Bible, either at a personal level or a more scholarly level needs to understand that there are certain principles that guide and govern the process. The technical word used to refer to the principles of biblical interpretation is hermeneutics, which is of immense importance in Biblical Studies and Theology. How to Interpret the Bible takes into consideration the cultural context, historical background and geographical location in which the text was originally set. This enables us to obtain clarity about the original author’s intended meaning. Linguistic and literary factors are analyzed so that the various genres of Scripture are examined for their true meaning. The importance of having sound principles of interpretation cannot be overstated as …
Once upon a time, Postmodernism was a buzzword. It pronounced Modernism dead or at least in the throes of death. It was a wave that swept over Christendom, promising to wash away sterile, dogmatic and outmoded forms of church. But whatever happened to postmodernism? It was regarded as the start of a major historical transition to something new and promising and hailed as a major paradigm shift. Is it a philosophy that has passed its “sell-by” date? No! The radical fringe has become the dominant view and has been integrated into all aspects of life, including the Christian church. With the emergence of multicultural societies comes interaction with different belief systems and religions. Values like tolerance and a dislike of dogmatism have become key operating concepts, which reflect a change in worldview. …
In an age obsessed with physical and psychological health the author emphasizes the importance of spiritual well-being as an essential element of holistic health for the individual Christian and for Christian communities. This work constitutes a template for a spiritual audit of the local church. It offers an appointment with the Great Physician that no Christian can afford to ignore. Developing Healthy Churches: A Case-Study in Revelation begins with a well-researched outline of the origins and development of the church health movement. With that background in mind the author, aware that throughout the history of the church there have been a number of diverse views about how Revelation ought to be interpreted, presents the reader with four distinct interpretive models. These are the idealist, preterist, historicist, and futurist. Beville explains these interpretive approaches simply and critiques them fairly.e …
This is a comprehensive study of euthanasia and assisted suicide. It traces the historical debate, examines the legal status of such activity in different countries and explores the political, medical and moral matters surrounding these emotive and controversial subjects in various cultural contexts. The key advocates and pioneers of this agenda-driven movement (such as the late Jack Kevorkian, popularly known as “Dr. Death” and Philip Nitschke, founder of Exit International) are profiled. Not only are the elderly and disabled becoming increasingly vulnerable but children, psychiatric patients, the depressed and those who are simply tired of life are now on a slippery slope into a dystopian nightmare. The spotlight is brought to bear on the Netherlands, in particular, where palliative care and the hospice movement are greatly underdeveloped as a result of legalization. These dubious “services” are now offered as part of “normal” medical care in Holland where it is deemed more cost-effective to be given a lethal injection. The vital role of physicians as healers in society must be preserved and the important but neglected spiritual dimension of death must be explored. Thus a biblical view of human life is presented. …
Journey with Jesus through the Message of Mark is an insightful and engaging survey of Mark’s Gospel, exploring each major section of the text along with key themes. It is a work that can be enjoyed by laypersons as well as pastors and teachers. Pastors will find the abundant use of illustrations to be helpful in preparing their own messages and as such, it will find a welcome place in the preacher’s library. Simply, powerfully, with great precision, and exegetical accuracy, Kieran Beville masterfully brings us on a life-transforming journey. Readers will be both inspired and challenged as they hear the words of Jesus speaking afresh from the page of Scripture and experience the ministry of Jesus in a spiritually captivating way. The author has a pastor’s heart, a theologian’s mind, and a writer’s gift. His style is gripping, as he beautifully explains and illustrates Mark’s Gospel. Kieran Beville has done a great service to the church, and especially to true believers, who desire to grow in grace, increase in their knowledge of truth, and experience the intimacy, joy, and underserved and unspeakable privilege of walking, as disciples, with Jesus. This book is ideal as a study companion for Mark’s Gospel. One can read a section from the gospel and then read the corresponding section to receive a fresh viewpoint and a practical application. …
What are angels & demons? Can angels help us? What does the Bible say about angels? What is the truth about angels? Can Angels affect your life? Who were the “sons of God” in Genesis 6:2? Who were the Nephilim in Genesis 6:2? Who is Michael the archangel? Can Satan the Devil control humans? How can we win our struggle against dark spiritual forces? How can you resist the demons? Do evil spirits exercise power over humankind? Is Satan really the god of this world and just what does that mean? What did Jesus mean when he said, “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one [i.e., Satan]”? Andrews using the Bible will answer all of these questions and far more. …
Donald T. Williams learned a lot about the Christian worldview from Francis Schaeffer and C. S. Lewis, but it was actually Tolkien who first showed him that such a thing exists and is an essential component of maturing faith. Not only do explicitly Christian themes underlie the plot structure of The Lord of the Rings, but in essays such as “On Fairie Stories” Tolkien shows us that he not only believed the Gospel on Sunday but treated it as true the rest of the week and used his commitment to that truth as the key to further insights in his work as a student of literature. “You can do that?” Williams thought as a young man not yet exposed to any Christian who was a serious thinker. “I want to do that!” His hope is that his readers will catch that same vision from this book. An Encouraging Thought elucidates the ways in which Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are informed by and communicate a biblical worldview. This book will help readers appreciate the ways in which a biblical worldview informs Tolkien’s work, to the end that their own faith may be confirmed in strength, focused in understanding, deepened in joy, and honed in its ability to communicate the Gospel.
HUMILITY: The Beauty of Holiness contains 12 studies on humility, a quality that Andrew Murray rightly believes should be one of the distinguishing characteristics of the discipleship of Christ. Jesus not only strongly impressed His disciples with the need for humility but was in Himself its supreme example. He described Himself as “meek and lowly (tapeinos) in heart.” (Matt. 11:29) The first of the Beatitudes was to “the poor in spirit” (humbly aware of spiritual needs Matt. 5:3), and it was “the meek” who should “inherit the earth.” Humility is the way to true greatness: he who should “humble himself as this little child” should be “the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” “Whosoever shall exalt himself shall be humbled, and whosoever shall humble himself shall be exalted.” (Matt. 18:4; 23:12; Lu 14:11; 18:14). To the humble mind, truth is revealed. (Matt. 11:25; Lu 10:21) Jesus set a touching example of humility in His washing His disciples’ feet. (Joh 13:1-17) The apostle Paul makes an earnest appeal to Christians (Php 2:1-11) that they should cherish and manifest the Spirit of their Lord’s humility, “in lowliness of mind each counting other better than himself,” and mentions the supreme example of the self-emptying (kenosis) of Christ: “Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”—Philippians 2:7.
Waiting on God appropriately (Ps 42:5, 11; 43:5) is encouraged for one to gain divine approval. Waiting on God, what does it involve? As Christians, we are “waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God.” We look forward to relief when the time arrives for “the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.” (2 Peter 3:7, 12) Thus, waiting on God involves waiting for His time to act. As we await the Lord’s day, we may, at times, be very deeply concerned to see the moral standards of the world around us sink ever lower. At such moments, it is good to consider the words of God’s prophet Micah, who wrote, “The godly person has perished from the land, and there is no upright person among humankind.” Then he added: “But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation.” (Micah 7:2, 7) What is the waiting attitude that we should develop? Since having to wait is often tiring and trying, how can we find joy while waiting on God? Murray and Andrews address these questions and so much more.
The Pilgrim’s Progress is a religious allegory by the English writer John Bunyan, published in two parts. It is regarded as one of the most significant works of religious, theological fiction in English literature. It has been translated into more than 200 languages and has never been out of print. The work is a symbolic vision of the good man’s pilgrimage through life. At one time second only to the Bible in popularity, The Pilgrim’s Progress is the most famous Christian allegory still in print. The entire book is presented as a dream sequence narrated by an omniscient narrator. The allegory’s protagonist, Christian, is an everyman character, and the plot centers on his journey from his hometown, the “City of Destruction” (“this world”), to the “Celestial City” (“that which is to come”: Heaven) atop Mount Zion. Christian is weighed down by a great burden—the knowledge of his sin—which he believed came from his reading “the book in his hand” (the Bible).
Andrews has written The Biblical Guide to Avoid the Pitfalls of Sexual Immorality. This tool is for both man and woman, husband and wife, all Christians who will marry one day and those who have been married for some time. The fallen world that we live in is fertile ground for immorality. The grass always seems greener somewhere away from one’s own spouse. Adultery is something everyone should avoid. It destroys more than just marriages, it destroys a person’s life, family and most importantly their relationship with God. Such is the danger of adultery that the Bible strongly warns every man and woman against it. The world that we currently live in is very vile, and sexual morality is no longer a quality that is valued. What can Christians do to stay safe in such an influential world that caters to the fallen flesh? What can help the husband and wife relationship to flourish as they cultivate a love that will survive the immoral world that surrounds them? We might have thought that a book, like God’s Word that is 2,000-3,500 years old would be out of date on such modern issues, but the Bible is ever applicable. The Biblical Guide to Avoid the Pitfalls of Sexual Immorality will give us the biblical answers that we need.
How could Satan, Adam, and Eve have sinned if they were perfect? How much influence does Satan have? How does Satan try to influence you? What do you need to learn about your enemy? How can you overcome Satanic influences? Can Satan know your thoughts? Can Satan control you? How can you overcome Satanic Influences? How does Satan blind the minds of the unbelievers? How you can understand Satan’s battle for the Christian mind. How you can win the battle for the Christian mind. How you can put on the full armor of God? All of these questions and far more are dealt with herein by Andrews.
WHAT IS A MIRACLE? It is an event that goes beyond all known human and natural powers and is generally attributed to some supernatural power. Why should YOU be interested in miracles?
“Miracles, by definition, violate the principles of science.”—RICHARD DAWKINS.
“Belief in miracles is entirely rational. Far from being an embarrassment to religious faith, they are signs of God’s love for, and continuing involvement in, creation.”—ROBERT A. LARMER, PROFESSOR OF PHILOSOPHY.
SHOULD YOU believe in miracles? As we can see from the above quotations, opinions vary considerably. But how could you convincingly answer that question?
Some of YOU may immediately answer, “Yes, I believe.” Others might say, “No, I don’t believe.” Then, there are some who may say, “I don’t know, and I really don’t care! Miracles don’t happen in my life!” Really, why should YOU be interested in miracles? The Bible promises its readers that in the future some miracles far beyond all ever recorded or experienced is going to occur and will affect every living person on earth. Therefore, would it not be worth some of your time and energy to find out whether those promises are reliable? What does God’s Word really teach about miracles of Bible times, after that, our day, and the future?
Andrews, an author of over 100 books, has chosen the 40 most beneficial Proverbs, to give the readers an abundance of wise, inspired counsel to help them acquire understanding and safeguard their heart, “for out of it are the sources of life.” (4:23) GODLY WISDOM SPEAKS sets things straight by turning the readers to Almighty God. Each Proverb is dealt with individually, giving the readers easy to understand access to what the original language really means. This gives the readers what the inspired author meant by the words that he used. After this, the reader is given practical guidance on how those words can be applied for maneuvering through life today. GODLY WISDOM with its instruction and counsel never go out of date.
Yes, God will be pleased to give you strength. He even gives “extraordinary power” to those who are serving him. (2 Cor. 4:7) Do you not feel drawn to this powerful Almighty God, who uses his power in such kind and principled ways? God is certainly a “shield for all those who take refuge in him.” (Psalm 18:30) You understand that he does not use his power to protect you from all tragedy now. He does, however, always use his protective power to ensure the outworking of his will and purpose. In the long run, his doing so is in your best interests. Andrews shares a profound truth of how you too can have a share in the power of God. With THE POWER OF GOD as your guide, you will discover your strengths and abilities that will make you steadfast in your walk with God. You can choose to rise to a new level and invite God’s power by focusing on The Word That Will Change Your Life Today.
Herein Andrews will answer the “why.” He will address whether God is responsible for the suffering we see. He will also delve into whether God’s foreknowledge is compatible with our having free will. He will consider how we can objectively view Bible evidence, as he answers why an almighty, loving and just God would allow bad things to happen to good people. Will there ever be an end to the suffering? He will explain why life is so unfair and does God step in and solve our every problem because we are faithful? He will also discuss how the work of the Holy Spirit and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit should be understood in the light of wickedness. Lastly, Andrews will also offer biblical counsel on how we can cope when any tragedy strikes, …
GOD knows best. Nobody surpasses him in thought, word, or action. As our Creator, he is aware of our needs and supplies them abundantly. He certainly knows how to instruct us. And if we apply divine teaching, we benefit ourselves and enjoy true happiness. Centuries ago, the psalmist David petitioned God: “Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me” (Psalm 25:4-5) God did this for David, and surely He can answer such a prayer for His present-day servants.
Whom do we lean upon when facing distressing situations, making important decisions, or resisting temptations? With good reason, the Bible admonishes us: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways know him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Prov. 3:5-6) Note the expression “do not lean upon your own understanding.” It is followed by “In all your ways know him.” God is the One with a truly sound mind. Thus, it follows that whenever we are faced with a decision, we need to turn to the Bible to see what God’s view is. This is how we acquire the mind of Christ.
Yes, God will be pleased to give you strength. He even gives “extraordinary power” to those who are serving him. (2 Cor. 4:7) Do you not feel drawn to this powerful Almighty God, who uses his power in such kind and principled ways? God is certainly a “shield for all those who take refuge in him.” (Psalm 18:30) You understand that he does not use his power to protect you from all tragedy now. He does, however, always use his protective power to ensure the outworking of his will and purpose. In the long run, his doing so is in your best interests. Andrews shares a profound truth …
All of us will go through difficult times that we may not fully understand. The apostle Paul wrote, “in the last days difficult times will come.” (2 Tim. 3:1) Those difficulties are part of the human imperfection (Rom. 5:12) and living in a fallen world that is ruled by Satan (2 Cor. 4:3-4). But when we find ourselves in such a place, it’s crucial that we realize God has given us a way out. (1 Cor. 10:13) Edward Andrews writes that if we remain steadfast in our faith and apply God’s Word correctly when we go through difficult times, we will not only grow spiritually, but we will …
Why should you be interested in the prophecy recorded by Daniel in chapter 11 of the book that bears his name? The King of the North and the King of the South of Daniel are locked in an all-out conflict for domination as a world power. As the centuries pass, turning into millenniums, first one, then the other, gains domination over the other. At times, one king rules as a world power while the other suffers destruction, and there are stretches of time where there is no conflict. But then another battle abruptly erupts, and the conflict begins anew. Who is the current King of the North and the King of the South? Who are the seven kings or kingdoms of Bible history in Revelation chapter 17? We are living in the last days that the apostle Paul spoke of, when he said, “difficult times will come.” (2 Tim. 3:1-7) How close we are to the end of these last days, wherein we will enter into the Great Tribulation that Jesus Christ spoke of (Matt. 24:21), no one can know for a certainty. However, Jesus and the New Testament authors have helped to understand the signs of the times and …
The theme of Andrews’ new book is “YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE.” As a Christian, you touch the lives of other people, wherein you can make a positive difference. Men and women of ancient times such as David, Nehemiah, Deborah, Esther, and the apostle Paul had a positive influence on others by caring deeply for them, maintaining courageous faith, and displaying a mild, spiritual attitude. Christians are a special people. They are also very strong and courageous for taking on such an amazingly great responsibility. But if you can make a difference, be it with ten others or just one, you will have done what Jesus asked of you, and there is no more beautiful feeling. YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE with joy.
Many have successfully conquered bad habits and addictions by applying suggestions found in the Bible and by seeking help from God through prayer. You simply cannot develop good habits and kick all your bad ones overnight. See how to establish priorities. Make sure that your new habits work for you instead of your old bad habits against you. It is one thing to strip off the old habits, yet quite another to keep them off. How can we succeed in doing both, no matter how deeply we may have been involved in bad habitual practices?
It may seem to almost all of us that we are either entering into a difficult time, living in one, or just getting over one and that we face one problem after another. This difficulty may be the loss of a loved one in death or a severe marriage issue, a grave illness, the lack of a job, or simply the stress of daily life. As Christians, we need to understand that God’s Word will carry us through these times, as we maintain our integrity whether in the face of tremendous trials or the tension of everyday life. We are far better facing these hurdles of life with the help of God, who can make the worst circumstances much better and more bearable.
The world that you live in today has many real reasons to be fearful. Many are addicted to drugs, alcohol, bringing violence into even the safest communities. Terrorism has plagued the world for more than a decade now. Bullying in schools has caused many teen suicides. The divorce rate even in Christian households is on the rise. Lack of economic opportunity and unemployment is prevalent everywhere. Our safety, security, and well-being are in danger at all times. We now live in a prison of fear to even come outside the protection of our locked doors at home. Imagine living where all these things existed, but you could go about your daily life untouched by fear and anxiety. What if you could be courageous and strong through your faith in these last days? What if you could live by faith not fear? What if insight into God’s Word could remove your fear, anxiety, and dread? Imagine a life of calmness, peace, unconcern, confidence, comfort, hope, and faith. Are you able to picture a life without fear? It is possible.
John 3:16 is one of the most widely quoted verses from the Christian Bible. It has also been called the “Gospel in a nutshell,” because it is considered a summary of the central theme of traditional Christianity. Martin Luther called John 3:16 “The heart of the Bible, the Gospel in miniature.” The Father had sent his Son to earth to be born as a human baby. Doing this meant that for over three decades, his Son was susceptible to the same pains and suffering as the rest of humankind, ending in the most gruesome torture and execution imaginable. The Father watched the divine human child Jesus grow into a perfect man. He watched as John the Baptist baptized the Son, where the Father said from heaven, “This is my Son, the beloved, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matt. 3:17) The Father watched on as the Son faithfully carried out his will, fulfilling all of the prophecies, which certainly pleased the Father.–John 5:36; 17:4. …
This commentary volume is part of a series by Christian Publishing House (CPH) that covers all of the sixty-six books of the Bible. These volumes are a study tool for the pastor, small group biblical studies leader, or the churchgoer. The primary purpose of studying the Bible is to learn about God and his personal revelation, allowing it to change our lives by drawing closer to God. The Book of James volume is written in a style that is easy to understand. The Bible can be difficult and complex at times. Our effort herein is to make it easier to read and understand, while also accurately communicating truth. CPH New Testament Commentary will convey the meaning of the verses in the book of Philippians. In addition, we will also cover the Bible background, the custom and culture of the times, as well as Bible difficulties. …
SECTION 1 Surviving Sexual Desires and Love will cover such subjects as What Is Wrong with Flirting, The Pornography Deception, Peer Pressure to Have Sexual Relations, Coping With Constant Sexual Thoughts, Fully Understanding Sexting, Is Oral Sex Really Sex, …SECTION 2 Surviving My Friends will cover such subjects as Dealing with Loneliness, Where Do I Fit In, Why I Struggle with Having Friends, …SECTION 3 Surviving the Family will cover such subjects as Appreciating the House Rules, Getting Along with My Brothers and Sisters, How Do I Find Privacy, … SECTION 4 Surviving School will cover such subjects as How Do I Deal With Bullies, How Can I Cope With School When I Hate It, … SECTION 5 Surviving Who I Am will cover such subjects as Why Do I Procrastinate, … SECTION 6 Surviving Recreation will cover such subjects as … SECTION 7 Surviving My Health will cover such subjects as How Can I Overcome My Depression, …
Who should read THIRTEEN REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD KEEP LIVING? Anyone who is struggling in their walk as a young person. Anyone who has a friend who is having difficulty handling or coping with their young life, so you can offer them the help they need. Any parent who has young ones. And grade school, junior high or high school that wants to provide an, in touch, anti-suicide message to their students. … Many youths say that they would never dream of killing themselves. Still, they all have the deep feeling that there are no reasons for going on with their lives. Some have even hoped that some sort of accident would take their pain away for them. They view death as a release, a way out, a friend, not their enemy. …
The purpose of Waging War is to guide the youth of this program from start to finish in their therapeutic efforts to gain insight into their patterns of thinking and beliefs that have led to the current outcomes in their life thus far and enable them to change the path which they are on. Waging War is a guide to start the youth with the most basic information and work pages to the culmination of all of the facts, scripture, and their newly gained insight to offer a more clear picture of where they are and how to change their lives for the better. Every chapter will have work pages that Freeman has used and had found to be useful in therapy, but most importantly, this workbook will teach the Word to a population that does not hear it in its’ most correct form. What is the significance of controlling ones’ thoughts and how does that apply to you? Doubts, fears, and insecurities come from somewhere, especially when they are pervasive. Understanding this idea will help one to fight those thoughts and free them from the shackles their mind puts around their hearts, preventing them from achieving their dreams and the plans God had intended for them when they were created.
There are many reasons the Christian view of humanity is very important. The Christian view of humanity believes that humans were created in the image of God. We will look at the biblical view of humanity. We are going to look at the nature of man, the freedom of man, the personality of man, the fall of man, the nature of sin and death, as well as why God has allowed sin to enter into the world, as well as all of the wickedness and suffering that came with it. Andrews will answer the following questions and far more. How does the Bible explain and describe the creation of man and woman? Why is it imperative that we understand our fallen condition? What does it mean to be made in the image of God? …
In FOR AS I THINK IN MY HEART – SO I AM, Edward D. Andrews offers practical and biblical insights on a host of Christian spiritual growth struggles, from the challenge of forgiveness to eating disorders, anger, alcoholism, depression, anxiety, pornography, masturbation, same-sex attraction, and many others. Based on Proverbs 23:7 (NKJV): “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he,” Andrews’ text works from the position that if we can change the way that we think, we can alter the way we feel, which will modify the way we behave. FOR AS I THINK IN MY HEART – SO I AM offers far more than self-help to dozens of spiritual struggles, personal difficulties, and mental disorders. It will benefit Christian and non-Christian alike. The Scriptural advice and counsel coupled with cognitive behavioral therapy will be helpful even if every chapter is not one of your struggles. For As I Think in My Heart enables readers to examine the lies and half-truths …
THERE IS A GENUINE HAPPINESS, contentment, and joy, which come from reading, studying and applying God’s Word. This is true because the Scriptures offer us guidance and direction that aids us in living a life that coincides with our existence as a creation of Almighty God. For example, we have a moral law that was written on our heart. (Rom. 2:14-15) However, at the same time, we have a warring against the law of our mind and taking us captive in the law of sin, which is in our members. (Rom. 7:21-25) When we live by the moral law, it brings us joy, when we live by the law of sin; it brings about distress, anxiety, regrets to both mind and heart, creating a conflict between our two natures. In our study of the Bible, we can interact with a living God who wants a personal relationship with us. And in APPLYING GOD’S WORD MORE FULLY, we will learn how to engage His words like never before. Andrews helps his readers …
THERE IS ONE MAJOR DIFFERENCE between Christian living books by Andrews and those by others. Generally speaking, his books are filled with Scripture and offer its readers what the Bible authors meant by what they penned. In this publication, it is really God’s Word offering the counsel, which is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.” (2 Tim. 3:16-17) From the moment that Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden, humans have been brought forth in sin, having become more and more mentally bent toward evil, having developed a heart (i.e., inner person) that is treacherous, and unknowable to them, with sin’s law dwelling within them. Sadly, many of us within the church have not been fully informed …
A clean conscience brings us inner peace, calmness, and profound joy that is seldom found in this world under the imperfection of fallen flesh that is catered to by Satan, the god of the world. Many who were formerly living in sin and have now turned their life over to God, they now know this amazing relief and are able today to hold a good and clean conscience as they carry out the will of the Father. WALK HUMBLY WITH YOUR GOD, has been written to help its readers to find that same joy, to have and maintain a good, clean conscience in their lives. Of course, it is incapable of covering every detail that one would need to consider and apply in their lives …
God is the originator of marriage. The Bible’s advice has helped many couples overcome problems and have a long, happy marriage. The Bible is a book for all people that provides practical advice that can improve our marriage. Husbands and wives can include God in their marriage by following his loving guidance. If we want a healthy, joyful, Christ-centered marriage, then we must embrace the principles in the Bible. Marriage is one of the greatest gifts that God has given us. Counsel from the Word of God will enrich, reinforce, and strengthen a marriage that is already strong and save a marriage that is failing.
This book is primarily for WIVES, but husbands will greatly benefit from it as well. WIVES will learn to use God’s Word to construct a solid and happy marriage. The Creator of the family gives the very best advice. Many have been so eager to read this new publication: WIVES BE SUBJECT TO YOUR HUSBANDS. It offers wives the best insights into a happy marriage, by way of using God’s Word as the foundational guide, along with Andrews’ insights. WIVES learn that marriage is a gift from God. WIVEStake in information that will help them survive the first year of marriage. WIVES will be able to make Christian marriage a success. WIVES will maintain an honorable marriage. WIVES will see how to submit correctly to Christ’s headship. WIVES will learn how to strengthen their marriage through good communication. …
This book is primarily for HUSBANDS, but wives will greatly benefit from it as well. HUSBANDS will learn to use God’s Word to construct a solid and happy marriage. The Creator of the family gives the very best advice. Many have been so eager to read this new publication: HUSBANDS LOVE YOUR WIVES. It offers husbands the best insights into a happy marriage, by way of using God’s Word as the foundational guide, along with Andrews’ insights. HUSBANDS learn that marriage is a gift from God. HUSBANDS take in information that will help them survive the first year of marriage. HUSBANDS will be able to make Christian marriage a success. HUSBANDS will maintain an honorable marriage. …
Technological and societal change is all around us. What does the future hold? Trying to predict the future is difficult, but we can get a clue from the social and technological trends in our society. The chapters in this book provide a framework as Christians explore the uncharted territory in our world of technology and social change. Some of the questions that Anderson will answer are: What are the technological challenges of the 21st century? How should we think about the new philosophies like transhumanism? Should we be concerned about big data? What about our privacy in a world where government and corporations have some much information about us? How should we think about a world experiencing exponential growth in data and knowledge? What social trends are affecting baby boomers, baby busters, and millennials?
Government affects our daily lives, and Christians need to think about how to apply biblical principles to politics and government. This book provides an overview of the biblical principles relating to what the apostle Paul calls “governing authorities” (i.e., government) with specific chapters dealing with the founding principles of the American government. This includes an examination of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Federalist Papers. The thirteen chapters in this book not only look at the broad founding principles but also provide an in-depth look at other important political and governmental issues. One section explains the history and application of church and state issues. Another section describes aspects of political debate and discourse. A final section provides a brief overview of the Christian heritage of this nation that was important in the founding of this country and the framing of our founding documents.
Economics affects our daily lives, and Christians need to think about how to apply biblical principles to money, investment, borrowing, and spending. They also need to understand the free enterprise system and know how to defend capitalism. Chapters in this book not only look at broad economic principles, but a section of the book is devoted to the challenges we face in the 21st century from globalization and tough economic times. A section of the book also provides an in-depth look at other important social and economic issues (gambling, welfare) that we face every day …
Do you desire to follow Jesus Christ and transform the culture around you? Are you sure you know what it means to be a disciple and follow a dangerous revolutionary who often comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable? Jesus Christ is not the mild status quo rabbi you may have been taught in your local church. He is dangerous and anyone who follows him is on a dangerous journey. The demands he places upon you and the challenges you will encounter are necessary on the journey. The journey with Jesus Christ is not for the fainthearted. If you are really serious about joining Jesus Christ in the transformation of the culture around you, here is a raw outlook on what to expect on this DANGEROUS JOURNEY.
Each of the twenty-five chapters in the POWER THROUGH PRAYER provides helpful methods and suggestions for growing and improving your prayer life with God through the power of prayer. So, what can we expect if we make prayer a part of our life? Prayer can give you a peace of mind. Prayer can comfort and strength when facing trials. Prayer can help us make better life choices. The Bible says: “If any of you lacks wisdom [especially in dealing with trials], let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” (James 1:5) Prayer can help to avoid temptation. Prayer is the path yo forgiveness of sins. Your prayers can help others. You will receive encouragement when your prayers are answered.
DOZENS OF QUESTIONS WILL BE ANSWERED: Why is prayer necessary? What must we do to be heard by God? How does God answer our prayers? Does God listen to all prayers? Does God hear everyone’s prayers? What may we pray about? Does the Father truly grant everything we ask for? What kind of prayers would the Father reject? How long should our prayers be? How often should we pray? Why should we say “Amen” at the end of a prayer? Must we assume a special position or posture when praying? There are far more than this asked and answered.
What forms of prayer do you personally need to offer more often? Who benefits when you pray for others? Why is it important to pray regularly? Why should true Christians pray continually? To whom should we pray, and how? What are the proper subjects for prayer? When should you pray? Does God listen to all prayers? Whose prayers is God willing to hear? What could make a person’s prayers unacceptable to God? When Jesus says, “whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive if you have faith,” an absolute guarantee that we will receive it? HOW TO PRAY by Torrey and Andrews is a spiritual gem that will answer all of these questions and far more. HOW TO PRAY is a practical guidebook covers the how, when, and most importantly, the way of praying. An excellent devotional resource for any Christian library.
Bible Doctrines – Theology
Torrey and Andrews have taken deep theological subjects and made them easy to understand. CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY: What the Bible Teaches about God has twelve chapters. Chapter 1 begins with God as Spirit, followed by the Unity of God, the Eternity of God, the Omnipresence of God, the Personality of God, the Omnipotence of God, the Omniscience of God, the Holiness of God, the Love of God, The Righteous (or Justice) of God, the Mercy (or Living-Kindness of God), and finally the Faithfulness of God. The advantage of CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY is enormous: each thought-provoking chapter is based soundly in God’s Word, helping the reader to cultivate a sound biblical foundation. Whether you are a student, pastor, teacher, youth worker, or layperson, this publication is a fantastic tool for understanding the Basic Bible Doctrines of the Christian Faith, in the light of solid Scriptural truth. All chapters in the book come from extensive research as to What the Bible Teaches about God.
Torrey and Andrews have taken deep theological subjects and made them easy to understand. CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY: What the Bible Teaches about Jesus Christ has twelve chapters. Chapter 1 begins with God as Spirit, followed by the Unity of God, the Eternity of God, the Omnipresence of God, the Personality of God, the Omnipotence of God, the Omniscience of God, the Holiness of God, the Love of God, The Righteous (or Justice) of God, the Mercy (or Living-Kindness of God), and finally the Faithfulness of God. The advantage of CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY is enormous: each thought-provoking chapter is based soundly in God’s Word, helping the reader to cultivate a sound biblical foundation. Whether you are a student, pastor, teacher, youth worker, or layperson, this publication is a fantastic tool for understanding the Basic Bible Doctrines of the Christian Faith, in the light of solid Scriptural truth. All chapters in the book come from extensive research as to What the Bible Teaches about Jesus Christ.
Torrey, Andrews, and Sweeney have taken deep theological subjects and made them easy to understand. CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY: What the Bible Teaches about the Holy Spirit has eighteen chapters. Chapter 1 begins with the Personality of the Holy Spirit, followed by the Deity of the Holy Spirit, the Distinction of the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son, the Subordination of the Holy Spirit to the Father and the Son, the names of the Holy Spirit, the Work of the Holy Spirit, the Baptism and Filling with the Holy Spirit, the Work of the Holy Spirit in the Prophets and the Apostles, the Work of the Holy Spirit In Jesus Christ, the Spirit and Christians, How are Christians to Understand the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit in the First Century and Today and finally some Parting Words about the Holy Spirit. The advantage of CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY is enormous: each thought-provoking chapter is based soundly in God’s Word, helping the reader to cultivate a sound biblical foundation. Whether you are a student, pastor, teacher, youth worker, or layperson, this publication is a fantastic tool for understanding the Basic Bible Doctrines of the Christian Faith, in the light of solid Scriptural truth. All chapters in the book come from extensive research as to What the Bible Teaches about the Holy Spirit. CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY: What the Bible Teaches about the Holy Spirit is the third of five volumes.
Torrey and Andrews have taken deep theological subjects and made them easy to understand. CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY: What the Bible Teaches about Man has eighteen chapters. Chapter 1 begins with Man’s Original Condition, the Present Standing Before God and Condition of Men Outside of the Redemption, the Future Destiny of Those Who Reject the Redemption, Justification, the New Birth, Adoption, Sanctification, Repentance, Faith, Love to God, Love to Christ, Love to Man, Prayer, Thanksgiving, Worship, the Believer’s Assurance, and finally the Future Destiny of Believers. The advantage of CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY is enormous: each thought-provoking chapter is based soundly in God’s Word, helping the reader to cultivate a sound biblical foundation. Whether you are a student, pastor, teacher, youth worker, or layperson, this publication is a fantastic tool for understanding the Basic Bible Doctrines of the Christian Faith, in the light of solid Scriptural truth. All chapters in the book come from extensive research as to What the Bible Teaches about Man. CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY: What the Bible Teaches about Man is the fourth of five volumes.
Torrey and Andrews have taken deep theological subjects and made them easy to understand. CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY: What the Bible Teaches about Angels & Satan the Devil has twenty-one chapters. Torrey in Chapter 1 begins with the Angel’s nature, position, number, and abode, the Work of Angels, the Devil’s Existence, Nature, Position and Character, Ezekiel 28 Explained, the Abod of Satan, Our Duty Toward Satan and His Destiny, Andrews Explaining Angels, Explaining Satan the Devil, Explaining the Demons, Who Were the “Sons of God” In Genesis 6:2, Who Were the Nephilim In Genesis 6:2, Answering No One Has Seen God, Who Is Michael the Archangel, Angelic Rebellion in the Spirit Realm, Can Satan Control Humans, Can Satan Know the Thoughts of the Human Mind, Struggle Against Dark Spiritual Forces, Why Has God Permitted Evil, Do Christians Have Guardian Angels, How Much Is God Involved In Humanity, and Why Is Life So Unfair. The advantage of CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY is enormous: each thought-provoking chapter is based soundly in God’s Word, helping the reader to cultivate a sound biblical foundation. Whether you are a student, pastor, teacher, youth worker, or layperson, this publication is a fantastic tool for understanding the Basic Bible Doctrines of the Christian Faith, in the light of solid Scriptural truth. All chapters in the book come from extensive research as to What the Bible Teaches about Angels & Satan the Devil. CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY: What the Bible Teaches about Angels & Satan the Devil is the fifth of five volumes.
The Bible describes the events that will occur before and after the destruction of Gog of Magog. Who is Gog of Magog mentioned in the book of Ezekiel? Why should we be interested in the prophecy recorded in Daniel chapter 11? Find out in a verse-by-verse explanation of Daniel Chapter 11, as you discover who the kings of the North and the South are from before Jesus’ day throughout the last days. You will benefit from paying attention to Daniel’s prophecy about the battle between the two kings? Taken together, the Bible books of Daniel and Revelation not only identify eight kings but also show the sequence in which they would appear. We can explain those prophecies.
People grow old, get sick, and die. Even some children die. Should you be afraid of death or of anybody who has died? Do you know what happens if we die? Will you ever see your dead loved ones again? “If a man dies, shall he live again?” asked the man Job long ago. (Job 14:14) Did God originally intend for humans to die? Why do you grow old and die? What is the Bible’s viewpoint of death? What is the condition of the dead? Are the dead aware of what is happening around them? What hope is there for the dead?
Herein Andrews will give the reader exactly what the Bible offers on exposing who the Antichrist and the Man of Lawlessness are. If we look at the texts that refer to the antichrist and the man of lawlessness, we will have lines of evidence that will enable us to identify them. Why is it important that we know who the antichrist and the man of lawlessness are? The antichrist and the man of lawlessness have had a greater impact on humanity and Christianity over the past centuries than many know. Moreover, the influence on the true worshipers of Christianity today has been even more significant and will only go from bad to worse as we come closer to the second coming of Christ. …
Throughout the Scriptures, God is identified as the Creator. He is the One “who created the heavens (He is the God who formed the earth and made it, He established it.” (Isa 45:18) He is the One “who forms mountains and creates the wind” (Am 4:13) and is the One “who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that is in them.” (Ac 4:24; 14:15; 17:24) “God . . . created all things.” (Eph. 3:9) Jesus Christ tells us that it is the Father who “created them [humans] from the beginning made them male and female.” (Matt. 19:4; Mark 10:6) Hence, the Father is fittingly and uniquely called “the Creator.” (Isa 40:28) It is because of God’s will that we exist, for He has ‘created all things, and because of his will they existed and were created.’―Revelations 4:11 …
Eschatology is the teaching of what is commonly called the “Last Things.” That is the subject of Andrews’ book, which will cover, Explaining Prophecy, Explaining Clean and Pure Worship, The New Testament Writers Use of the Old Testament, Explaining the Antichrist, Explaining the Man of Lawlessness, Explaining the Mark of the Beast, Explaining Signs of the End of the Age, Explaining the Rapture, Explaining the Great Tribulation, Explaining Armageddon, Explaining the Resurrection Hope, Explaining the Millennium, Explaining the Final Judgment, Explaining the Unevangelized, Explaining Hell
The information herein is based on the disciples coming to Jesus privately, saying, “Tell us, (1) when will these things be, and (2) what will be the sign of your coming, and (3) of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3) What will end? When will the end come? What comes after the end? Who will survive the end? These questions and far more will be answered as Andrews delves into The SECOND COMING of CHRIST. In chapters 1 and 2, we must address why Jesus is saying there would be an end to the Jewish age. In chapter 3, we will take a deep look at the signs that establish the great tribulation is closing in, and when is it time to flee. In chapter 4, we will go over the signs of the end of the Jewish age. In chapter 5, we will walk through the events leading up to the end of the Jewish age from 66 – 70 C.E., and how it applies to our Great Tribulation in these last days. In chapter 6, we will cover the second coming of Jesus where the reader will get the answers as to whether verses 3-28 of Matthew Chapter 24 apply to Christ’s second coming. We will close out with chapter 7, and how we should understand the signs, and how we do not want to be led astray, just as Jesus warned even some of the chosen ones would be misled. We will also address what comes after the end.
What Really Is Hell? What Kind of Place is Hell? What Really Happens at Death? What Did Jesus Teach About Hell? How Does Learning the Truth About Hell Affect You? Who Goes to Hell? What Is Hell? Is It a Place of Eternal Torment? Does God Punish People in Hellfire? Do the Wicked Suffer in Hell? What Is the Lake of Fire? Is It the Same as Hell or Gehenna? Where Do We Go When We Die? What Does the Bible Say About Hell? Andrews Shares the Truth on WHAT IS HELL From God’s Word.
Miracles were certainly a part of certain periods in Bible times. What about today? Are miracles still taking place? There are some very important subjects that surround this area of discussion that is often misunderstood. Andrews will answer such questions as does God step in and solve every problem if we are faithful? Does the Bible provide absolutes or guarantees in this age of imperfect humanity? Are miracles still happening today? Is faith healing Scriptural? Is speaking in tongues evidence of true Christianity? Is snake handling biblical? How are we to understand the indwelling of the Holy Spirit? The work of the Holy Spirit. Andrews offers his readers very straightforward, biblically accurate explanations for these difficult questions. If any have discussed such questions, without a doubt, they will be very interested in the Bible’s answers in this easy to read publication.
Today there are many questions about homosexuality as it relates to the Bible and Christians. What does the Bible say about homosexuality? Does genetics, environment, or traumatic life experiences justify homosexuality? What is God’s will for people with same-sex attractions? Does the Bible discriminate against people with same-sex attractions? Is it possible to abstain from homosexual acts? Should not Christians respect all people, regardless of their sexual orientation? Did not Jesus preach tolerance? If so, should not Christians take a permissive view of homosexuality? Does God approve of same-sex marriage? Does God disapprove of homosexuality? If so, how could God tell someone who is attracted to people of the same sex to shun homosexuality, is that not cruel? If one has same-sex attraction, is it possible to avoid homosexuality? How can I as a Christian explain the Bible’s view of homosexuality? IT IS CRUCIAL that Christians always be prepared to reason from the Scriptures, explaining and proving what the Bible does and does not say about homosexuality, yet doing it with gentleness and respect. Andrews will answer these questions and far more.
Theology & Technology
A lot of confusion exists over the right ethical approach to new technologies. Do we embrace it all as an unmitigated good? Or should we take a more cautionary route that seeks to evaluate our own technology use and its impact on society from a critical perspective? A new awareness of both the dangers and potential benefits new technologies offer will guide us through a morass of ethical questions. We stress limits because it is here that the traditional dialectic of question and answer has broken down; even talking about technological restraint is met with near-universal scorn. Nevertheless, it is through the negative side of this debate that the antithesis will transition into a resolve for the technological problem raised in this Manifesto.
Technology is everywhere, we live, and breath and move in it, but what is our technology worship doing to our souls? How does it impact our relationships with each other? Can we remain human in a technological environment? Terlizzese addresses these questions and more in my latest book Machinehead: Rise of the Technology God. This book on social criticism speaks to the history and sources of computer worship and digital adoration and its consequences for the future of our century. The technological problem stated simply is that technology as a force for good and human amelioration has reversed its direction by means of unlimited acceleration and unfettered use, which threatens us with the opposite of progress in manifest regression, and burgeoning extinction. I resolve these problems by focusing on individual responsibility in the face of an apparent irresistible force moving history toward annihilation. Only as we curb technology use through exercising self-control can we liberate ourselves from Machinehead the technology God.
KILLER COMPUTERS is meant to stimulate thinking on the most critical issue of our times, technology, and in particular Artificial Intelligence, which occupies the foremost of our attention. It does this through a common reference: science fiction film. Science fiction does not predict the future, but it does, for better or worse, anticipate it. Killer Computers are a metaphor for when machines, in the not too distant future, are given the power by their creators, to make life and death decisions, especially in a military or Civil Defense context, which will inevitably spill over into medical and judicial realms. The solitary cause for this potential future is the collective resignation to think for ourselves in all things. The Enlightenment principle of Sapere Aude (dare to think for yourself) is being forgotten in favor an Artificial Intelligence that does all our thinking for us. The hope is that through awareness, we will be smart enough not to let that happen, while still enjoying the benefits this technology offers. These essays include a discussion on a theology of culture, On Black Holes and Arch Angels, as well as Grace and Law and case studies on important thinkers that address technological and political worlds, such as Gabriel Marcel and Reinhold Niebuhr. Hope is a predominate theme which is capped by a chapter on New Creation. Wisdom counsels a path through critical participation in the technological system. We must see ourselves as part of the problem and therefore, part of the solution.
Today’s Technological progress is mankind’s greatest achievement but may lead to total destruction. Technological progress consumes more than it produces, it pursues its own ends not that of humanity’s and cannot accelerate indefinitely on a planet with finite resources. Jacques Ellul noted “[t]echnique (technology) has its limits. But when it has reached those limits, will anything exist outside them . . . is it (technological acceleration) not succeeding in undermining everything which is outside it?” (Ellul 1964, 85) Once technological limits are reached will anything be left? Transhumanists expect that technological acceleration will culminate by mid-century in an event they call the “Singularity” a technological Omega Point or convergence of human and artificial intelligence that will give rise to a god-like supercomputer (Artilect) which promises a century of progress in one hour. Despite apparent immediate gains, technology makes the human plight worse through exhaustion of resources and spiritual slavery. The Singularity will mark the end of technological progress as it reaches completion without redressing the spiritual problem inherent to the human condition. This means that all who step into the Singularity will enter a void, a digital black hole. The solution is as simple as the problem is sublime, step away from the edge of the abyss slowly.
If you’ve struggled in the world of difficulties that surround you, you’re not alone. Maybe you have looked for help, and you have been given conflicting answers. 40 DAYS DEVOTIONAL FOR YOUTHS: Coming-of-Age In Christ, can help you. Its advice is based on answers that actually work, which are found in the Bible. God’s Word has helped billions over thousands of years to face life’s challenges successfully. Find out how it can help you! 40 DAYS DEVOTIONAL FOR YOUTHS includes seven sections, with several chapters in each. It includes the following sections: Sexual Desires and Love, your friends, your family, school, recreation, your health. You need advice you can trust! 40 DAYS DEVOTIONAL FOR YOUTHS will give you that. This author has worked with thousands of youths from around the world. The Bible-based sound advice helped them. Now you can discover how it can help you.
Young ones and teens, you are exposed to complex problems that your parents may not understand. Young Christians, you are bombarded with multiple options for solving everyday problems through social media. Where do you turn to find answers? Where can you look to find guidance from Scripture? In order to provide a Christian perspective to problem-solving, the author of this devotional book decided to take a different approach. Terry Overton was determined to find out what problems middle school children and teens were worried about the most. While visiting her grandchildren one weekend, she asked her granddaughter to send topics to her so that she could write a devotional about the topic. In a matter of weeks, not only did her granddaughter send her topics, but the other grandchildren and their friends sent topics of concern. Once the author wrote a devotional for a topic, it was sent to the teen requesting the devotional. Soon, these requests were happening in real time. Students sent text requests about problems happening in school and asked what the student should do? How should this be handled?