The Ash Heap of History -- By: Henry B. Smith, Jr.

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 20:2 (Spring 2007)
Article: The Ash Heap of History
Author: Henry B. Smith, Jr.


The Ash Heap of History1

Henry B. Smith, Jr.

Over the centuries, the church has seen countless attempts to undermine Biblical doctrines and the events of redemptive history recorded in Scripture. The apostle John dealt directly with Gnosticism in the late first century AD. Later came Arianism and Sabellianism, heresies that undermined either the deity or humanity of Christ. Justification by faith alone in Christ faded until the coming of Martin Luther and the orthodox Reformers. Sola Scriptura, Scripture alone as the ultimate authority, regained prominence in the church during the Reformation as well.

In the 17th century, the so-called Renaissance embraced deism, merely a quick stop on the road to atheism. This “enlightenment” actually served to darken the souls of men, instead of turning them to the light of the living God in Christ. Along came the “enlightened” geologists as well, undermining the historicity of the Genesis Flood. Some in the church responded2 to these attempts to undermine Scripture, but many capitulated. Darwin visited the Galápagos, and once again the church caved in to the assertions of the secular world. Darwin’s burial at Westminster Abbey is a fitting representation of the awful compromise of the church on the issue of origins. Wellhausen introduced the JEDP (Jehovah-Elohim-Deuteronomist-Priestly) hypothesis, denying the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch. Many seminaries followed him as if he were the Pied Piper of Hamelin. F.C. Baur (1792–1860) and the German Tübingen school rejected most of the historicity of the New Testament.

Like most scholars of his era, William Ramsay (1851–1939) was indoctrinated in the Tübingen theories. Ramsay was a brilliant scholar, schooled in the history of the classical Greek world. He would later become a professor of Classical Art and Archaeology at Oxford University. Ramsay was no wild-eyed fundamentalist to be sure. He embarked on a 34-year historical and geographical study of Asia Minor. He describes his bias against the Bible at the onset:

I may fairly claim to have entered on this investigation with any prejudice in favor of the conclusion which I shall now attempt to justify to the reader. On the contrary, I began with a mind unfavorable to it, for ingenuity and apparent completeness of the Tübingen theory had at one time convinced me.3

Ramsay studied the history, topography and geography of Asia Minor, commenting,

I found myself often brought in contact with the book Acts as an authority for the topography, antiquities and society of Asi...

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