This last week I finished my paper and reading assignment for Old Testament Introduction. The class was a challenging two week course that I needed to complete in order to graduate. I discovered that there is a distinct difference between Old Testament Survey and Old Testament Introduction. In Old Testament Survey the class focuses on the content of the books of the Old Testament; however, in Old Testament Introduction the class focuses on the authorship, dates, historical context, transmission of the text, and integrity of the text.
Many Scholarly critics question the integrity of the Old Testament and attempt to pick it apart piece by piece. Much of our class time was spent discussing the false theories that men have concocted about the Old Testament and wading through these theories revealed that they were all the product of unbelief.
The whole reason I am writing this post about my class was because I found the work of Eta Linnemann very encouraging and insightful. Eta Linnemann was a critical scholar who questioned the integrity of the Old Testament. She was saved after listening to the testimony of a young lady and turned from being a critic to a strong defender of the faith. In her book entitled Historical Criticism of the Bible she gives a call for Christians to be intelligent but not “intellectual.” She says,
If evangelical theology makes the claim to be science, then it must ask itself if it wishes to use these methods to deal with God’s Word. If it does so in an unrestricted fashion, then it has ceased to be evangelical. If it makes only restricted use of the methods, then it must reckon with being recognized as scientific to only a limited extent….Any evangelical who claims to be scientific hands himself over to the criteria of selection of historical-critical theology and must put up with being stigmatized as underqualified….Based on these observations, it seems obvious that it would be better to leave the theology faculties of the universities, in which historical-critical theology has become an institution, just as Abraham left the pagan environment of Ur in Chaldea because of God’s call…. ‘Leaving’ does not only mean to seek employment outside the theological faculties of state universities…. ‘Leaving’ means giving up the claim of being scientific, as well…. But giving up the claim to be scientific does not mean giving up competent intellectual work in theology. I believe that there can and should be scholarship on which God smiles and which God’s people find helpful. Such scholarship is not some freewheeling indulgence of intellectual curiosity which pries into everything that can be investigated. It takes its bearings, rather, from that which needs to be taught. It does not see itself as a means for selfish self-realization but rather as a ministry. Such scholarship is not caught in the pressure to which scientific work must submit” (pp. 139-140)
She is right! God’s people are not to be scholars who are seeking every excuse they can find to pick the Bible apart. This type of scholarship comes from unbelief. After exposing critical scholarship Eta Linnemann gives a list of four marks of Believing Scholarship.
1. Believing Scholarship maintains the closest possible connection to the Word of God
2. Believing Scholarship is not obligated to show that scientific progress is being made.
3. Believing Scholarship does not need to make a name for yourself - A humble employment of God-given gifts.
4. Believing Scholarship's value is measured by its value to the body of Christ.
This is so true. God has called all believers to “Study to show yourselves approved unto God.” Every believer should be a student of God’s Word and their study should build up their faith and result in encouragement to the body of Christ.
I hope you find this as an encouragement to study God’s Word and find for yourself the untold riches God has for us there.