Periodical Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 131:523 (Jul 1974)
Article: Periodical Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Periodical Reviews

“The Canon and Authority of the Bible,” T. C. Smith, Perspectives in Religious Studies I (Spring, 1974), 42–51.

This article appears in the first issue of a new journal published semi-annually by The Association of Baptist Professors of Religion. It serves at a bellwether of the theological position of both the journal and the sponsoring organization. It openly repudiates not only the infallibility of the Bible but also its authority. To the extent that this viewpoint flourishes within the Southern Baptist Convention colleges and seminaries, that group will cease to be a bastion of biblical faith and preaching and evangelism.

To illustrate the author’s position in his own words, the closing sentence of a paragraph dealing with a person’s recognition as an authority says, “We are willing to grant him that status [as an authority], but only in the areas where he is dependable.” The first sentence of the next paragraph reads, “It seems to me that we can affirm that the Bible is our authority only in a manner similar to this” (p. 49). Such a view effectively destroys the authority of the Bible and supplants it with the individual who evaluates and judges the Bible’s dependability, which degenerates into pure relativism.

The title of the article would suggest an objective study of the canon of Scripture and its authority. This is not true, however. Smith writes not only a very one-sided, biased article but also one that is misleading, because he totally ignores evidence that contradicts or seriously modifies the unsupported statements he makes. An illustration is his statements that the final limits of the Jewish Canon were not settled until the Council of Jamnia. This totally ignores the witness of Ecclesiasticus to the limits of the canon in the second century before Christ and the testimony of Josephus in the apostolic age. It also ignores the witness of the Lord Jesus Christ in the gospels, who refers to all three divisions of the Jewish Bible (Luke 24:44).

Another example is the autbor’s discussion of the attitude of Jesus toward the Old Testament Scriptures. His emphasis is that Jesus took a very critical attitude toward the Jewish Bible, saying specifically “When Jesus gave the six antithetical teachings in the Sermon on the Mount, he set himself up as a judge over what was considered the Word of God” (p. 48). Here again he chooses to ignore Jesus’ words that opened this teaching (see Matt 5:17–19). This makes it clear that Jesus is not opposing the Old Testament as such but the Pharisaical interpretation which built a hedge about the ...

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