Judgment or Judgments? -- By: William H. Bates

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 070:278 (Apr 1913)
Article: Judgment or Judgments?
Author: William H. Bates

Judgment or Judgments?

William H. Bates, D.D.

In the realm of religious thought, the domains of Theology (the doctrine of God), of Christology, Soteriology, Pneumatology, Ecclesiology, have been thoroughly explored, definitely mapped out, if not minutely platted; but is the tract of_ Eschatology — the doctrine of last things — adequately, or even correctly, bounded, as the lines are popularly thought to be run? Bearings have indeed been taken, delimitations have been indicated, demarcations have been traced; but have the procedures been always from authoritative, or sometimes from assumed, starting points? Have the readings of the compass always been determined by an exegesis true to the polestar of heavenly truth, or have they not seldom been miscalculated through the deflective oreide of earthly philosophy or human wisdom?

I. The Judgment of Matthew 25.

The International Sunday-school lesson of October 16, 1910 (Matt. 25:31–46) was entitled “The Last Judgment.” It was regarded as the final judgment, a general judgment, a grand assize, in which all humanity — those then living upon the earth and the rest resurrected from the dead — are to be gathered, their case adjudicated, their destiny adjudged and declared. And it was so treated in all the multitudinous ex-

positions and lesson helps I saw, with possibly an exception or two. But is this correct?

It was my fortune, very soon after entering the ministry, to be elected member of a governing board of the theological seminary from which I was graduated. At commencement I called on a beloved college classmate. He, stepping to his bookcase, took down Dean Alford’s Commentary, “New Testament for English Readers” (pt. 1 of which was first published in 1866), and, pointing to a passage (p. 176) which more than intimated that the judgment of Matthew 25 is not a general judgment, said, “What do you think of that?”

The idea! Not a general judgment! I had never heard of such a thing, or at least had never considered it. So contrary to all I had been taught or had thought, I was incensed enough at Alford — the book I mean — to throw it out of the second-story window! But such a method of exegesis, if summary, can hardly be called satisfactory, or even sane. When, later, I saw Alford’s “Greek New Testament” (3d ed., 1831) and found (p. 179) stiffly taught none other but a general judgment, I thought that maybe in the thirty-five years between 1831 and 1866 more light had broken forth from the Sacred Word upon his mind, and, if so, it would be well for me to get where some of those ligh...

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