Paul Misrepresented

2 Timothy 3:15  •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 8
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We get a famous sample of Mr. N.'s reasoning in this part of his book. He says, "That faith in the book was no part of Paul's gospel is manifest from his giving no list of sacred books to his Gentile converts." (Phases, p. 141.) I do not know how Mr. Ν. knows this. Infidels, it is true, do get their knowledge at wonderful little cost; and the advantage of this is so great that one can never get them to acquaint us with the sources from which they procure it. Still, it is always "manifest." But there are some difficulties in the way of slower minds in admitting the force of this. First, the list was already universally and fully known: half the first converts were Jews, of whom not one had a question as to what they were; and then the apostles, addressing Jews and Gentiles together, appeal to these very books over and over again, as of unquestionable authority. A list by Paul would have been a very foolish thing, because he appealed to them as of already recognized authority. No doubt this was adding his to them; but, besides this, it was drawing the authority of what he himself said from them, which was much more important, and a very much more solemn way of owning their authority. If faith in a book be not proved by Paul's writings, what would prove it? A list would have been ridiculous: the whole book was perfectly well known. He calls it "the scriptures."
And here I must beg leave to say, that Mr. Ν. most grossly misrepresents what the apostle says to Timothy. He makes him say, "Although now you have the Spirit to teach you, yet that does not make the older writers useless; for `every divinely inspired writing is also profitable for instruction," &c. (Phases, p. 142.) Now Paul says nothing of the kind. There is no contrast of the Spirit with the scriptures, but something totally different. The apostle is showing what is the especial safeguard of the Christian in the perilous times of the last days, and, besides his own instructions, he refers Timothy in á particular manner to the scriptures (did he want a list?), to the written word of God, as able to make men wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. The apostle is so far from contrasting it with the Spirit's teaching us, that though speaking of the Spirit, as announcing these perilous times, he refers especially to the scriptures, without naming the Holy Ghost, as competent to make the man of God perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. I am satisfied no one can profit by the scriptures without the Holy Ghost; but here the apostle had occasion to bring in a safeguard for the Church, exterior to her or any man's pretensions.
Mr. N. gives us the beginning of the phrase-which he is very careful not to finish-in a translation of his own, without noticing in any way that of the authorized version. It would not, indeed, at all have suited him. Quoted as it is there, in English, it would have utterly overthrown his statement. Now although I admit people may raise a question on it, I beg. leave to say, that I am thoroughly convinced the English translation is right, and that the passage (though I know some have so taken it) will not really1 bear the sense here put upon it. But Mr. N. might have spared himself the trouble of reasoning thus on the Old Testament-Christ certainly declares, in what amounts to a list, its authority. He, indeed, could give it such. Hence, when Mr. N. did not admit it as having such, as so quoted by Jesus in all its parts, he had given up Christ's authority altogether even as a prophet. He might have saved himself the trouble of commenting on any further details; he was completely an infidel already. All the rest was totally illogical. He did not know what he was about, or he was indulging his "antagonist will" in the hope of troubling others who yet cling to the blessed authority of the life-giving word of God. No doubt the scriptures are "a means"-but what a means-of knowing God's mind is His own communicating it! He who loves Him who gives it will love the communication. He who knows his own weakness and ignorance will rejoice in that which gives him certain, divinely sent knowledge of God and of all His ways. "The Bible was made for man."2 No doubt-God be thanked. But by whom was it made? But to set man up in self-importance, and to put God aside, is the natural desire of an infidel-the uniform practice of Mr. N.