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Who Believes the Old Testament?


When you’re mocked for believing all that crazy stuff in the Old Testament—creation, for example—it helps to know you’re in good company.

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The serpent beguiled Eve by his subtilty.

I need hardly remind my readers that St Paul in this place refers to the story of the fall in the third chapter of Genesis, as a simple historical fact. He does not afford the least countenance to the modern notion that the book of Genesis is nothing more than a pleasing collection of myths and fables. He does not hint that there is no such being as the devil, and that there was not any literal eating of the forbidden fruit, and that it was not really in this way that sin entered into the world. On the contrary, he narrates the story of the third of Genesis as a veracious history of a thing that really took place.

You should remember, moreover, that this reference does not stand alone. It is a noteworthy fact that several of the most remarkable histories and miracles of the Pentateuch are expressly mentioned in the New Testament, and always as historical facts. Cain and Abel, Noah’s ark, the destruction of Sodom, Esau’s selling his birthright, the destruction of the first-born in Egypt, the passage of the Red Sea, the brazen serpent, the manna, the water flowing from the rock, Balaam’s ass speaking, all these things are named by the writers of the New Testament, and named as matters of fact and not as fables. Let that never be forgotten. Those who are fond of pouring contempt on Old Testament miracles, and making light of the authority of the Pentateuch, would do well to consider whether they know better than our Lord Jesus Christ and the apostles. To my mind, to talk of Genesis as a collection of myths and fables, in the face of such a text of Scripture as we have before us in this paper, sounds alike unreasonable and profane. Was St Paul mistaken or not, when he narrated the story of the temptation and the fall? If he was, he was a weak-minded, credulous person, and may have been mistaken on fifty other subjects. At this rate there is an end of all his authority as a writer! From such a monstrous conclusion we may well turn away with scorn. But it is well to remember that much infidelity begins with irreverent contempt for the Old Testament.

—J. C. Ryle, Knots Untied (Banner of Truth, 2016), 436–437.



Posted 2017·07·17 by David Kjos
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