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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 37

Part I

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Part I.

This evening I shall endeavor to fulfil the promise made in my Lecture on Rationalism, that I would verify, by illustrations drawn from the Bible itself, all that I have said against the doctrine of its infallibility.

I do not ask for your indulgence so much as for your pity, in having to perform a task which must deprive me more than ever of the esteem of many good men.

At the outset, I must confess that it is an odious and a thankless task to have to show up the faults of a venerable book which has been the fruitful source of blessing and happiness to countless millions of our race, and which is to me, this very day, both dear and precious. The very faults which I have to hold up for your censure are by no means exceptionally bad, when considered in the light of those times in which they occurred. Some of them are common human blemishes, which any of our best men in the 19th century might have fallen into, had they lived and written in those early times. Nay, I am not sure that in every period throughout those 2.000 or 3,000 years supposed to be covered by the Biblical writings, the Bible writers were not always in advance of their own times, and that their views of God and of duty were not at each successive point superior to those which prevailed in other nations around them. Thus what now appears to us faults were, by comparison, originally great page 2 merits, whereby alone the books of the Bible obtained their supremacy over the literature of the world. To illustrate this, let me remind you of the story of Abraham offering up Isaac. We will criticise it from another point of view by and by. At this moment, I ask you to look at it in the light of those times in which Abraham lived. The narrative, at least, assures us that the Patriarch resisted the temptation to offer up his son as a burnt offering; and in overcoming it, Abraham most surely made a protest against the horrible human sacrifices Which prevailed around him, and which he so narrowly escaped imitating. Bad as things seem to be, and really are, in some of the Bible records, it is more than probable they were not nearly so bad as much that went on among the Gentile races which were coeval with the personages in the Bible histories. Moreover, the Bible contains so much that is true and beautiful, so much that will never perish so long as men aspire to virtue and communion with God, that the whole world would be a loser if its pages were to be closed forever, and its precious words forgotten. In proper hands, and read in a reasonable common sense manner, by persons whose minds are absolutely free from superstitious reverence for it, the Bible may still be, and I hope ever will be, a source of delight and instruction—a text-book of praise and worship, and a treasury of examples of all that good men admire.

My opponents, then, will not accuse me of approaching this subject without due reverence for what is really reverend, or without a becoming tenderness for those pious feelings which have thrown a halo around this venerable book—feelings in which I myself share, and which I should be sorry to lose.

This present work is forced upon us by those who have placed the Bible before us in a false light, who have made claims of Divine origin and authority for the book which the book does not make for itself, and who have foolishly and suicidally affirmed that, if the Bible be not infallibly true from beginning to end, it is of no value at all.

Our opponents are not all agreed in their views of the Bible, but I shall endeavor to answer them all at once. Their leading positions are the following:—

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Some Revelationists affirm that the Bible is all true from beginning to end, that "every letter, every word," and so on, has been written under the direct inspiration of God, and is, therefore, of one uniform Divine authority throughout.

This class I shall endeavor to answer by showing that there are absolute and irreconcilable contradictions between one part of the Bible and another part; and that in the Bible there are downright falsehoods. One such instance, of course, would be sufficient to overthrow the position taken by this class. Another class of Bibliolators affirms that though there may be errors in science, history, chronology, and geography, in the Bible, yet on one point it is absolutely and invariably true, namely. in its religious and moral teaching.

This class will be answered by showing that the religious and moral teaching in the Bible is not uniform nor coherent, but in some places contradictory of itself, and that some of the religious teaching is degrading to God, and some of the so-called moral teaching is degrading to man.

Another class, driven from both of these positions, has finally taken refuge in that part of the Bible which relates the history of Jesus Christ, and they affirm that, although the Bible is full of errors, scientific, historical, etc., and even religious and moral, yet the teachings and life of Jesus were absolutely perfect, without the slightest blemish or defect. This class will be answered by my illustrating, from the Gospels, certain moral blemishes in the character and life of Jesus, and even in parts of his teaching, as reported in the Gospels themselves.

But I beg you to observe, and especially desire any opponents who may be present to observe, that the whole and sole aim of this Lecture is to refute the ideas that the Bible is infallible and that Jesus was no less than the Almighty God. I stand here tonight with this single purpose; I do not come here to make men love the truths of the Bible less than they did before, or to regard with diminished homage the noble life and beautiful teaching of Jesus himself. I at tack only the extravagant notions that the Bible is all true, that its moral and religious teachings are infallible, and that Jesus was more than man and free from every human blemish.

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My arguments will be addressed to your reason, your consciences, and your hearts. "I speak as unto wise men; judge ye what I say."

First of all, I would warn all the spectators in this contest against the tactics of orthodoxy. They will be told that all these objections to the Bible are old, and have been answered over and over again. To this my reply is, that I have searched in vain for any satisfactory answers to them, and have never found them; my reputation and my future prospects as a teacher of religion are at stake in this evening's work. I offer these as a pledge that I am going to speak honestly of the Bible, and not wilfully to misrepresent any part of it; and also that I am not going to make myself a laughing-stock by bringing forward objections which have really been already satisfactorily answered. Another of the orthodox manoeuvres is not to allow us to take the words of the Bible as they stand, but they insist on altering an ugly passage by the change or withdrawal of a word or two so as to get rid of a difficulty that cannot otherwise be overcome. The school represented by the Rev. F. D. Maurice is eminently skilful in this manipulation of texts. In my opinion, if this be permissible, then any text may be made to give any meaning, and the greatest possible comfort may be drawn from an Athanasian Creed. The attempt to alter and modify passages in the Bible should at once be recognized as an admission that those passages are not God's word, which of course it would be impious to tamper with or attempt to improve.

I may be called very narrow and arbitrary, but I insist upon keeping close to the plain sense of the words in our authorized Bible, which the ministers of religion of all denominations put, without any warning, into the hands of every one who can be got to read it. Revision of translation is no doubt necessary, and, if conducted fairly, would in many instances be unfavorable to orthodoxy. But until we have a new authorized version, we must use the old one.

I will give you the book, the chapter, and the verse for every quotation which I shall make. I cannot render myself "infallible" for the occasion, or else I surely would; but I may safely say, that page 5 if a wiser head or a keener eye than my own should discover a blunder or two in my remarks, those few possible blunders will not detract more than a grain from the weight of the crushing evidence which will still remain.

If all my quotations but one could be explained and harmonized satisfactorily, and that one irreconcilable contradiction or moral blemish remained, it would be enough to accomplish my task of refuting the infallibility of the Bible. My work divides itself into the following sections, though here and there they may unavoidably overlap one another:—
(1)I shall adduce a few illustrations of contradiction pure and simple.
(2)I shall cite passages of Scripture which attribute to God feelings or conduct unworthy of Deity.
(3)Passages which directly or indirectly inculcate wrong-doing or bad motives in man.
(4)Passages from the Gospels illustrating the human error and infirmity of Jesus; inconsistent with the idea of His being God.

(1) Contradictions, Pure and Simple.

The first instance which I will notice is the contradiction between the two versions of the Ten Commandments as given in Deuteronomy v. and Exodus xx.

The Fourth Commandment, as given in Deuter. v. 12, 13, 14, runs thus:—

"Keep the Sabbath day to sanctify it, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all they work; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God; in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou. And remember that thou was a servant in the l and of Egypt, and that the Lord thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty h and and by a stretched-out arm; therefore the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the Sabbath day" (please to notice the reason here given for the observance of the Sabbath day).

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Now at the end of the ten commandments here given in Deuteronomy v. (see verse 22) we read:—"These words the Lord spake unto all your assembly in the mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice; and he added no more. And he wrote them in two tables of stone, and delivered them unto me."

Compare this with Exodus xx. In the 1st verse we read:—"God spake all these words, saying." Then follow the Ten Commandments as we read them in Church, and the Fourth Commandment (ver. 8—11) runs thus: "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work; but the seventh is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God; in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day; Wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.

Here we find two glaring contradictions—first, a different reason for the ordinance of the Sabbath is given in Exodus to that given in Deuternomy, and and if "Godadded no more" than those words given in Deuteronomy, he could not have added the reason assigned for the Sabbath as given in Exodus.

Another instance of contradiction is where one and the same act is ascribed in one place to God, in another place to the Devil. In 2 Samuel xxiv. 1, we read, "and again' the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go number Israel and Judah." Ver. 10, "and David said unto the Lord, I have sinned greatly in that I have done."

In Chronicles xxi, 1—7, the same event is thus described, "And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel . . . . And God was displeased with this thing; therefore he smote Israel."

In Genesis xxii. 1, it is written, "God did tempt Abraham." In James i. 13, it is written, "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man."

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This is a case in which shuffling is resorted to. Opponents will say the word "tempt" does not mean to tempt, but to "try one's faith;" to which I reply for the present by asking on what authority do you give a totally different sense to the same word in a book written by one and the same Divine being? If this is God's word, what right have you to say that He does not exactly mean what he has written? We shall come to the temptation of Abraham presently.

1 Samuel, xv. 10, 11. "The Word of the Lord came unto Samuel, saying, It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king." Verse 29 says, "and also the Strength of Israel (God?) will not lie nor repent; for he is not a man, that he should repent."

Exodus xx. 5 (2nd Commandment). "I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children." Compare this with Jer. xxxi 29, 30, "In those days they shall say no more. The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children's teeth are set on edge. But every one shall die for his own iniquity; every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth are set on edge." and this from Ezekiel xviii. 20, "The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son."

Deuteronomy xxiv. 16. "The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin."

This was quoted and acted upon. 2 Kings xiv. 6, "The children of the murderers he slew not: according unto that which was written in the book of the law of Moses."

It is the boast of the Bible worshippers that we should have no ground for belief in immortality, were it not for the Bible. I beg to remind them of the following passages, which distinctly teach that there is no life after death:—

Psalm vi. 5 "For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?" This occurs in a prayer offered up in sickness that the speaker's life might be spared.

Isaiah xxxviii. 18. "The grave cannot praise thee, death cannot celebrate thee; they that go down into the pit cannot hope for the truth."

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Job xiv. 10, 12 and 14. "Man dieth and wasteth away; yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep. If a man die, shall he live again V'

Eccles. iv. 5, 6. "The dead know not anything, neither have they any more reward. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy is now perished; neither have they any more a portion forever in anything that is done under the sun."

Verse 10. "Whatsoever thy h and findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest."

Eccles. iii. 19. "That which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath: so that a man hath no pre-eminence above a beast.

The inspired Solomon certainly had no faith in immortality. And his words are contradicted both in the Old and New Testaments repeatedly.

The contradictions in the New Testament, where they are not merely verbal, can only be proved by quoting very long passages. But they include the following:—

Luke accounts for the whole time of Jesus' infancy in this way. After his birth in Bethlehem (Luke ii. 22) his parents took him to Jerusalem to perform some religious ceremony in the temple, when he was 40 days old, and then at once departed (Luke ii-39) into Galilee to their own city, Nazareth, and from there they went every year up to Jerusalem at the feast of the passover. (41)

The youth of Jesus was thus accounted for till he was 12 years old.

Now Matthew ii. says that immediately after the birth of Jesus his parents carried him down into Egypt. Moreover, in the three first Gospels it is affirmed that Jesus did not openly and publicly claim to be the Messiah, and that when Peter acknowledged him to be the Messiah (Matt. xvi. 16—20) Jesus "charged his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ." Whereas the fourth Gospel (John i. 41. John iv. 25, 26) page 9 describes Jesus as openly claiming the title of Christ, or Messiah, from the very beginning of his ministry, not only among the Jews, but also among the Samaritans.

It is impossible to get over a contradiction like this. Take again the intentional omission by Matthew, from the genealogy of David's descendants, of no less than four persons, only to make his assertion appear to be true that there were three periods of fourteen generations each.

Moreover, both the genealogies in Matthew and Luke say they trace to Joseph—not to Mary—and yet both the books say that Joseph was not the real father of Jesus; how then could Jesus be descended from David through a man who was not his progenitor at all? The names purposely omitted by Matthew are Ahaziah, Joash, and Amaziah in one place, and Pedaiah in another place. See 1 Chron. iii. 11, 12, and 18.

In the first three Gospels Jesus is represented as going to the wilderness immediately after his baptism, and being there 40 days. In the fourth Gospel he is said to be on the third day at a marriage in Cana of Galilee, and not a word is said about the wilderness or the temptation. If he was not in two places at once, one of the varying accounts must be false.

Again the first three Gospels fix the day of the last supper on the night of the Passover; the fourth Gospel makes it the night before that. To prevent mistake, in John xiii. 29 we find that after the supper Jesus says something to Judas understood to be an order to buy what was necessary for the morrow's celebration. According to this Jesus was crucified on a Thursday, not on a Friday.

The inscription on the cross, though copied down toy the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, is different in the different inspired books.

Matthew xxvii. 37. "This is Jesus, the King of the Jews."

Mark xv. 26. "The King of the Jews."

Luke xxiii. 38. "This is the King of the Jews."

John ix. 19. "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews."

1 Cor. xv. 5. Paul says Christ was seen of the 12 apostles after his resurrection, whereas there were page 10 only 11, if Judas had hanged himself; and the 12th apostle, Matthias, was not elected until after the ascension.

Human beings might easily fall into such discrepancies in their reports; but God certainly could not have done so.

Then there are all the endless contradictions between Kings and Chronicles, and between the first three and fourth Gospels; between the several narratives of the Resurrection; between the Acts of the Apostles and Paul's Epistle to the Galatians. It is impossible to enumerate them. In place of this, I beg to refer you to the following admirable books, which deal with these subjects at length.

"The Hebrew Monarchy," by Professor Francis W. Newman.

"The Creed of Christendom," by W. R. Greg; and a new and very complete work entitled

"The Bible, it the word of God?" by T. Lumis-den Strange.

"The finding of the Book," by John Robertson, of Coupar Angus.

"John or the Apocalypse," by Rev. Philip Des-Prez, Vicar of Alvediston.

"The English Life of Jesus," published by Thomas Scott, Esq., of Ramsgate.

"The Fourth Gospel," by the Rev. J. J. Taylor.