Are Bereans Out of Date?
By David W. Daniels
When I was at Fuller Seminary, I noticed that they had a low view of the Bible but a high view of preaching. It was as if when you stood behind the pulpit, a divine event took place. God was transferring to you and you were feeding the people.
That is in direct contrast to my view: a high view of the Bible and a low view of preaching. God did make prophets like Moses where He spoke directly to them, but He made a distinction with others who would only receive visions and dreams. But the New Testament says that the "spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets." Whoever is prophesying is judged by all in case he gets it wrong.
But when there is a high view of the Bible, it has the final say, not man.
Everyone has one Bible that all can use to judge all other words. Even a 5-year-old can rebuke someone who is preaching and gets it wrong. Most of the preachers now are in the "Fuller mode," with a low view of the Bible and a high view of preaching. They act as if there is a layer between the people and the truths of the Bible. The preacher "penetrates that layer to bring it to the people." To them, the lowly people have only the English words but do not have the "true depth of the Greek and Hebrew."
No, God kept His promise to preserve the scriptures, and He did it in one place. All they are doing by going to the Greek or Hebrew is pushing their doubts another layer back. The doubts that they had in English are still there. They still don't believe that they have the words of God or that we can ever have them. They believe, like Kirsopp Lake wrote, that despite the claims of people like Westcott and Hort, we don't have the original form of the gospels and supposedly never shall.
This is very similar to the Roman Catholic system, where the real authority or "high view" is in the priest and the magisterium delivering all truth, while the people are discouraged from reading the Bible. They are told that they cannot understand it unless it is interpreted for them by a priest. This is pure priestcraft!
When the preacher says that he understands the Greek and Hebrew, he is saying that he is better than we are and we should look to him for the interpretation, just like priests who serve the Vatican. The words of God are no longer available to the common man. The vicar, "the man in the seat of Christ," holds the authority for saying what is truth. God says that the Bereans were "more noble" because they "searched the scriptures daily, whether those things [Paul's words] were so" (Acts 17:11). Paul did not hold himself up because of his righteousness as a Pharisee. He recognized the "more noble" way when the Bereans searched the scriptures, instead of taking his word for it.
Until the modern Bibles came along, people in the pew followed the scripture references in the sermon, checking the interpretation of the pastor. Now, the speaker, not the scriptures, is the focus, helped along with the overhead projector containing whichever version appeals to the preacher, and his "superior insights into the Greek." This raises the bar against any "Berean" who might object to the pastor's interpretation.
It all comes down to whether God kept His promise (Matt. 24:35). If He didn't, then we don't have the words of God. But if He did, then we must determine which English version contains them.
We can't look to the modern scholars for help. They don't even believe they have them! The historical record points in one direction in English: the classic English version authorized by King James. God gave us His words in English already. And He did it right the first time. He doesn't need to do it again. We just need to learn how to read it —and obey it. Anything else leads to confusion, authored by the father of doubt. And I'll choose faith in God's words and doubt of all others—including myself—any day. "…yea, let God be true, but every man a liar…" (Romans 3:4)