Sunday, June 7, 2009

God's Eonian Purpose - Chapter I

God’s Eonian Purpose was written by Adlai Loudy. The book is published by the Concordant Publishing Concern, 15570 Knochhaven Road, Santa Clarita, California 91350. The first edition was published in 1929, with a second edition printed in 1974, and a second printing in 1991.

Chapter I is titled “The Sacred Scriptures”.

In beginning this chapter, Loudy ventures to answer the question “Are the Scriptures of God or man?” and to address the question whether God truly inspired their writing or if they are merely collections of man’s own efforts.
“If they are simply a collection of man’s writings, without divine guidance, then they are no more reliable than fallible man. But if God wrote them, they must be true and we can depend on their admonitions and teachings, prophecies and promises.” (pg.9)
He goes on to talk about the different writings of various other religions like Brahmanism, Buddhism, etc. and how none of the writings of the other religions can possibly compare to the Sacred Scriptures of Christianity. He states some of the following points regarding this argument:
In the Sacred Scriptures we read of the one God who communicates personally with mankind and reveals Himself to mankind while in the other writings we find man trying to reveal their god.
In the Sacred Scriptures we are told that “through one man sin entered into the world, and through sin death, and thus death came through into all mankind, on which all sinned” (Romans 5:12). And he says that all other writings deny this truth.
In the Sacred Scriptures it says that God “saves us and calls us with a holy calling, not in accord with our acts, but in accord with His own purpose and the grace which is given to us in Christ Jesus before times eonian, yet now is being manifested through the advent of our Saviour, Christ Jesus, Who, indeed, abolishes death, yet illuminates life and incorruption…” (2 Timothy 1:9-10). While other writings may deny the reality of death.
In the Sacred Scriptures it is also taught that Christ “alone has immortality” (1 Timothy 6:16) and that the living saints “shall not be put to repose, yet we all shall be changed, in an instant…the dead will be roused incorruptible, and we shall all be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal put on immortality. Now, whenever this corruptible should be putting on incorruption and this mortal should be putting on immortality, then shall come to pass the word which is written: Swallowed up was Death by Victory. Where, O Death, is your victory? Where, O Death, is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:51-55). Other writings teach the natural or inherent immortality of the soul, while we clearly see that immortality is given to us from Christ.
And in his final point of the matter differentiating the Sacred Scriptures and other religious writings, Loudy says:
“The Sacred Scriptures reveal the grand work of salvation, conciliation, and reconciliation to be wholly of God apart from merit or works of righteousness performed by creatures themselves. All other writings deny this, by teaching salvation through self-help works of righteousness or in cooperation with Him.” (pg. 11)

Loudy goes on to make the point that man could not have written the Sacred Scriptures on their own.
“…for man could not have written them if he would, and would not have written them if he could.” (pg.12)
His point is that there are too many ugly and gory details given in the Scriptures about the failures of men and groups of people. Biographies usually highlight great accomplishments of a person or people and tend to diminish or leave out altogether their failures.
“Therefore, it is safe to say, that the Hebrews, unguided and undirected by the spirit of God, never would have chronicled the sinful history of their nation and its greatest men.” (pg. 12)
Loudy goes on to give us an intriguing history on the most ancient of manuscripts available which are in the original languages of Hebrew, Chaldee, or Greek and found on papyrus or scrolls made of animal skins. He tells us that the three oldest manuscripts of the Greek Scriptures are Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Vaticanus, and Codex Alexandrinus.
The story of Codex Sinaiticus is quite an interesting one (and my favorite one). Loudy tells of a Dr. Constantin Tischendorf, a German scholar, who studied the ancient manuscripts. He found Codex Sinaiticus in St. Catherine’s Convent on Mount Sinai in the desert of Arabia. It seems he was visiting the monastery in 1844 when he noticed in a hallway a basket full of parchments. The librarian explained to him that some of those parchments had already been used for kindling fires. As he examined the parchments he saw that the basket contained some sheets of a copy of the Septuagint (the Greek Old Testament) and that these were the oldest manuscripts he had ever seen. The convent allowed him to take away a few of the sheets with him. However, since he was so interested and excited about his discovery, the monks would not allow him to have any more. In 1853, Tischendorf made another trip to the convent to try to recover more of the sheets, but was only able to walk away with one. In 1859, he went to the convent for a third time under the commission of Czar Alexander II of Russia. During this trip and on the last day he was there, a steward of the monastery casually told him that he had a copy of the Septuagint Scriptures and handed them to him. This bundle of sheets was the New Testament in completion including some of the Apocryphal writings. Tischendorf was able to obtain the manuscripts under the auspices that they were going to be a present to the Czar (who was the protector of the Greek church). In 1933, the British Government purchased the manuscript. This manuscript is the most complete of all three.
The Codex Vaticanus is generally accepted as the most ancient of all three manuscripts. Loudy states that it has been at the Vatican Library since 1481 except during a time when Napoleon took it to Paris. The Vatican Library kept it mostly inaccessible to scholars until the year 1868. It is said that a Dr. Tregelles attempted to study it, but those in charge of the manuscript at the Vatican Library harassed him endlessly as he tried to do so. They wouldn’t allow him to have any writing instruments or paper to make any notes and would constantly distract his concentration and make him lose his reading place so that he could not study it well. Finally, in 1889-90, Pope Leo XIII ordered that a copy of it be published and made available to all people. This manuscript is almost complete, but it is missing Genesis 1-48 and Psalms 105-137, along with Hebrews 9:4 through Revelation.
We now come to the story of Codex Alexandrinus, which is the youngest of all three of these manuscripts. This manuscript was given to Charles I by Cyril Lucar, Patriarch of Constantinople in 1628. It arrived 17 years too late to be used in preparation the King James Authorized Version. A couple of handful of sheets from the Old Testament is missing in this manuscript, along with some pages from Matthew, John, and 2 Corinthians.
Keep in mind that not one of the three oldest manuscripts were available to or used by the scholars retained by King James when the KJV was written!
Loudy goes on in this chapter to speak about the people who were originally inspired by God to write the Sacred Scriptures. He talks about them being from all walks of life, positions in society, different geographical locations, and different time periods. However, the thirty-three, who wrote as inspired by the Spirit of God during the time period of about 1500 years, did an excellent job writing a work that wholly flows together with great unison. And the Scriptures also show the progression of how God unfolded truth to mankind.
“The judges knew more than the patriarchs; the prophets knew more than the judges; the apostles knew more than the prophets…” (pg. 22) etc., etc.
And those who were chosen by God to write His words wrote according to what He told them to write. As the Scriptures tell us in detail, God is more than capable of speaking directly to man (as he spoke to Moses and others) and of writing to man (as in the tablets with the commandments and the wall of Belshazzar).
“From all this we see that the God of the Scriptures can both write and speak, and therefore, can tell and direct others what to write and speak.” (pg. 23)
Loudy goes on to write about the extent of the inspiration and how far that goes and how the writers may have been inspired. He also makes the point that those who wrote were mere instruments of God and may not have necessarily understood everything that God was inspiring them to write. They just wrote what they were told.
He also touches on the fulfillment of prophecies cited in the Sacred Scriptures and how they are proof of the inspiration of God when the Scriptures were written.
“…twenty five specific predictions were made by the Hebrew prophets, bearing on the “betrayal”, “trial”, “death”, and “burial” of Christ. These were uttered by different prophets during a period of five hundred years, from 1000 BC to 500 BC, yet they were all fulfilled in twenty-four hours in one person—the Christ of Whom they spoke. Apply the law of “compound probabilities” to this, and the chance becomes decreased to 1 in 33,554,432 that the twenty-five predictions would be fulfilled! Should one prophet make several predictions as to some one event, he might by collusion with others bring it to pass. But when a number of prophets, distributed over five centuries of time, give detailed and specific predictions as to some particular event, the charge of collusion cannot be sustained. The only way to satisfactorily account for these marvelous facts is to admit that the writers were inspired, and the message they have given us is God’s word—revelation to mankind.” (pg. 27)

Next summary will be on Chapter II “How We Got Our Bible”…

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