Recent History - Decline of Belief in the Bible
Updated: May 3, 2019
Within the last generation there has been a sharp decline in belief in the authority and inspiration of scripture. The story of how this happened is worth knowing. It all started in academia and can be traced to a movement called “German Higher Criticism” in the late 18th and 19th centuries. It’s a complicated subject, but in a nutshell, a group of intellectuals decided to deconstruct the Bible because they believed that their understanding was superior. Their conclusions:
- The Bible is a combination of folklore and historic elements.
- The Bible is a compilation of later writers and not written by the claimed authors.
- Based on the acceptance of Darwinian theory, the Bible could not have been written before the 2nd century BC. Humans were not smart enough or advanced enough to have written it before then.
- Supernatural occurrences and miracles in the Bible are simply fairy tales and legends. They didn’t really happen.
In the 1980s and 90s, another step in denying Biblical authority was accomplished by the “Jesus Seminar”. A group of about 150 theologians met to “vote” on which of the statements of Jesus in the Bible were historical and reliable. They were “leaning on their own understanding” instead of being led by the Holy Spirit.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. -- Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV)
As theologians began to doubt the Bible, the problem moved into seminaries. The problem has now become widespread and there are very few seminaries that teach the inerrancy of scripture. The result is a new generation of ministers and priests who teach that the Bible is just a collection of stories, legends, a few moral truths and some good suggestions for life. They no longer believe or teach that the Bible is supernaturally inspired and inerrant.
Danger of Turning from Biblical Truth
This conclusion gives pastors and priests the ability to teach whatever they want, and to use some parts of the Bible and skip what they don’t like. It becomes acceptable to ignore what the Bible says and soften its message. It is easier to fill the pews if you don’t offend anyone. This is also easier if church attendees do not read the Bible for themselves, and simply accept whatever they are told. Instead of the absolute truth of the Bible, people can pick and choose what they feel is right for them. They can design their own religion.
It is now common to justify your own intellect as superior to Biblical truth. The Bible clearly predicts that this will happen in the last days. Since the Bible is not politically correct, it offends people who reject its authority.
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.” -- II Timothy 4:3-4 (NASB)
Satan has made it more attractive to decide for yourself what is right and wrong. Some have begun to believe that they can function as Christians based on cultural standards instead of what is clearly taught in scripture. It’s not difficult to find a church that will tell you that your “pet” sin is acceptable. If you don’t read the Bible, you will be deceived. It becomes a simple matter to excuse and even applaud things that the Bible calls sin.
Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil, … -- Isaiah 5:20 (ESV)
“In the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.” -- 1 Timothy 4:1
For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.” -- II Peter 2:20-22 (ESV)
If you think this is confined to just a few churches, try this - search websites for various churches in your area. They should have a “Statement of Faith” page or “What We Believe” page. Check out several. Do they say anything about the Bible being the inspired word of God or God’s perfect plan (or statements of that nature)? The surprising thing is that many church websites don’t even mention the Bible. Some don’t even include a “Statement of Faith” but concentrate instead on their programs, outreach, facility and worship teams.
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. -- II Timothy 3:12-17 (ESV)
Anyone who begins to read the Bible in depth will quickly discover that it is not “politically correct”. There are many parts of the Bible that make modern readers squirm. There are two reasons for this:
1. The Bible points out our sin and need for a Savior.
2. The Bible teaches a morality and way of living that our culture completely rejects.
The Bible didn’t change, the culture did.