Dr. Ladd’s Agnosticism -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 042:168 (Oct 1885)
Article: Dr. Ladd’s Agnosticism
Author: Anonymous


Dr. Ladd’s Agnosticism

In the Andover Review for July Professor Ladd re-opens the question recently discussed by him at such great length in his volumes entitled, The Doctrine of Sacred Scripture. The question, as Professor Ladd states it, is that very comprehensive one, What is the Bible? The point of the inquiry upon which interest chiefly concentrates, however, is the narrower one, With what authority are the Scriptures invested?

Among the subsidiary questions which Dr. Ladd propounds are these: “Is the Bible, like all other history, dependent for its accuracy upon contemporaneous records of its alleged facts?” “Do elements of uncertain traditions enter into any of its historical books or historical passages?” “Are there not apparent discrepancies between the statements of different biblical authors?” “Are they real discrepancies?” In rather strong language Dr. Ladd declares that “a theological dogma dictating how these questions must be or ought to be answered is a worthless impertinence. Historical science is obliged to do what it best can to discover how they probably are to be answered.” After such an arraignment of those who defend the ordinary views, Dr. Ladd cannot complain if they insist upon his accepting his own rules. It requires, however, only a hasty examination to see that he is rarely willing to do so.

For example, we find that for the proper answering of the above questions Professor Ladd demands in the investigator not only an equipment of “historical apparatus, historical training, and historical information,” but also “an equipment of historical sense.” (Andover Review, p. 6.) Upon turning to his volume also we meet such language as the following: “Such an induction must first of all be founded upon and conducted according to the right postulates. Every induction in matters of critical and historical researches, as well as those of physical science, involves the use of postulates.” Again, we read not only that the induction must be thorough and painstaking in the discovery of facts, but also that, in order to make it sufficiently thorough, there must be “‘due skill in apprehending and classifying them [the facts], and in drawing the appropriate conclusions.” Furthermore, according to Professor Ladd, in order to success in applying the inductive method in answering the question, What is the Bible, one “should have his powers of discrimination so sharpened as to acquire a kind of aptitude for what is noble, true, and good” (Doct. Sac. Script, vol. 1:p. 17.)

All this sounds rather suspicious, especially from one so fearful of dogma and theory as Dr. Ladd is. Following now Professor Ladd’s example in

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