The wrong use of the Bible.
“Every Scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”—2 Tim. iii; 16-17.
“Use the world as not abusing it” was a great principle of the Apostle, which has many special applications. One of these comes again before us to-day: Use the Bible as not abusing it.
I proceed to point out some further wrong uses of the Bible:
It is a wrong use of the Bible to go to it as an authority in any sphere save the spheres of theology and of religion.
In the traditional view it was an infallible authority upon every subject of which it treated.
The Divine Being had prepared a book which answered off-hand the questions man’s mind naturally starts concerning the problems of existence; a book which taught officially how the earth came into its present form, how life arose upon it, how man was made, how sin entered, how the world was peopled, how mankind was to fare upon the earth, how the present order was to come to an end, and many things beside. To answer authoritatively these questions was the raison d’etre of the Bible. It laid a solid foundation for a science of life. With the passing away of the unreal Bible all reference to it for such information should cease. These books, as actual human writings, the studies of men of long past centuries, of men having no guarantees of infallibility, cannot be expected to have anticipated the solution of the great problems of knowledge, towards which the human intellect has been laboriously working through the generations since they were written; towards which it is still toilsomely striving, content, even now, with the cold, grey light as of the dawning day.
Our truer idea of revelation—the evolution of nature and the historic growth of man—forbids such a notion of any book. It has plainly pleased the Most High that knowledge of these mysteries should come to man through his patient, persevering effort after truth. Such continued endeavour wins gradually better knowledge, and with it better life. This process of human discovery is yet more truly a process of the Divine self-revealing. In each and every real knowledge man is learning to know—God. Each truth of science is a manifestation of somewhat in the Infinite Power in whom we live and move and have our being. Had it pleased God to have given, centuries ago, a super-natural answer to these problems of earth, He would simply have dismissed His children from school, with-held from them that noble education which lies in the discipline of study, and, while giving them truth, have robbed them of that keenest joy of life, that benediction richer even than the possession of truth—the search for it.