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REVIEW: “The Battle for the Bible”

Title: The Battle for the Bible

Author: Harold Lindsell

Publisher: The Zondervan Corporation

Year: 1976

Available: $25.99 on Amazon

Length: 218 pages

Rating: ★★★★★ (5 Stars)

In The Battle for the Bible, author Harold Lindsell, founding member of Fuller Theological Seminary and former editor of Christianity Today, sets out to give a worthy account of the bitter struggle taking place in American Christianity over the doctrine of biblical inerrancy.

Through written as far back as 1976, Lindsell’s classic remains an equally relevant response to the trends and troubles of our present day. The issue of inerrancy is a matter with which every generation of Christians must contend, and more than that: a truth to which they must cling at all costs through every theological clash—if they truly aspire to remain faithful until the end.

The Argument

In the very first page of his preface, Lindsell makes his chief objective and intended audience plain to the reader:

“I have written this book largely for the evangelical lay people in the pews who may not be aware of the central issue that faces them, their denominations, and their institutions.” (Pg. 13)

What is that issue, one might ask?

“The battle that rages over the Bible today [among evangelicals] centers around the question of infallibility—whether the Bible is fully or partially trustworthy (Pg. 23)…To ignore the battle is perilous. To come to grips with it is necessary. To fail to speak is more than cowardice; it is sinful. There comes a time when Christians must not keep silent, when to do so is far worse than to speak and risk being misunderstood or disagreed with. If we Christians do not learn from history, we are bound to repeat its mistakes.” (Pg. 26)

To prove his point, Lindsell determines to trace the natural progression of instance after instance, throughout history, of compromise over Biblical authority that leads to apostasy; and the catastrophic consequences that inevitably follow (without fail) whenever the inerrancy and inspiration of the Scriptures are rejected in any fashion.

“I shall argue that once infallibility is abandoned, however good the intentions of those who do it and however good they feel their reasons for doing so, it always and ever opens the door to further departures from the faith. Once errancy enters an institution, it does not simply become one of several options. It quickly becomes the regnant view and infallibility loses its foothold and at last is silenced effectively...I will contend that embracing a doctrine of an errant Scripture will lead to disaster down the road. It will result in the loss of missionary outreach; it will quench missionary passion; it will lull congregations to sleep and undermine their belief in the full-orbed truth of the Bible; it will produce spiritual sloth and decay; and it will finally lead to apostasy.” (Pg. 25)

The Evaluation

Throughout the course of his work, you will see two points repeated time and time again, without fail: 1) If we do not learn from the mistakes made by our forebears, we are destined to repeat them, and 2) Any departure from biblical inerrancy, no matter how slight, always results (ultimately) in a sharp deviation from almost every fundamental truth of the Bible, which include but are not limited to the nature of the incarnation, the reality of Heaven and Hell, and Christ’s substitutionary atonement upon the Cross of Calvary—in and of itself the very core of the Gospel of God our Saviour.

As Lindsell goes out of his way to state, again and again, compromise on the part of the defender can only ever end in more concessions, till at last, every principal truth contained in the Scriptures that might once have been considered an unshakable fixture in the Christian Church is looked on with disdain by most self-proclaimed Evangelicals in America (which is evident today even to the most ignorant of persons).

Lindsell’s work is a rallying cry for all self-proclaimed Christians to stand fast for the age-old truths of Scripture, and he manages to sufficiently demonstrate that our beliefs about the Bible really do make an enormous difference in the theological positions to which we hold.

His style is accessible, communicable, and easy to understand for the layman and intellectual alike. Furthermore, having lived through such a battle during his tenure as a high-ranking professor at Fuller Theological Seminary (which fought and fell to a rising infestation of liberalism), we are obliged to bestow more credence to Lindsell as a source of wisdom and insight in this matter that might otherwise be assumed necessary.

The Conclusion

Clear, logical, and thoroughly effective in the accomplishment of its primary purpose, The Battle for the Bible is a must-read for every True Believer.

Make no mistake: this is not simply an issue confined to debate-halls between various intellectuals, nor is it a fight primarily belonging to the most respected theologians and philosophers. This is a struggle that requires the enlistment of every born again Believer. This has implications far beyond academic circles. A failure to rightly understand the issues at play in the battle over inerrancy has the potential to result in unmitigated theological chaos.

Our view of the Bible is the starting point, the very basis, as it were—the foundation upon which all other doctrines stand and take refuge. What you hold true about God’s inspired and inerrant Word will ultimately determine what you believe about everything else that flows forth from it.

After reviewing this time-honoured battle cry in the light of an increasingly postmodern culture, almost forty-five years later, every genuine Believer will be obligated to recognize this essential truth: the warning that Harold Lindsell saw fit to sound in 1976 is needed now more than ever today.

May we take heed and make not again the same mistakes as those who came before us!


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