Difficulties In the Bible (1996 Edition) by R. A. Torrey, Book Review
Reuben Archer Torrey (1856-1878) is one of the greatest evangelists of his time - probably, also of modern times. I love reading classic books by great minds such as Torrey. It seems like old Christian writers like him, C. S. Lewis, Charles Spurgeon, D. L. Moody, John Bunyan, etc. have greater depth and appreciation for simplicity than most popular authors today. This book, for example, although dealing with difficult issues (just read the title) never seems to be a problem for Torrey because he truly believes that, “The Bible contains nothing but the truth, and it contains more truth than all other books put together.” He didn’t write, “I know the answer to every question...” but acknowledge his own ignorance in some parts and never attempt to conceal the fact that there ARE difficulties exist in the Bible.
I’m a self-study student of the Bible. But the more I study it, the more questions I have (if you want to be a good student - value questions!). The more questions I ask, the more understanding I get. Very few times it creates doubt. Often, it increases my faith. Yes, I found difficulties in the Bible but in comparison with the many clarities I get, it reduces to non-essentials-for-salvation-and-growth for me.
How to deal with difficulties in the Bible? Torrey offers 7 bits of advice: 1) Expect difficulties. “When the infinite tries to understand the infinite, there is bound to be difficulty”; 2) Difficulties do not equal falsehood. “The whole difficulty arose, as almost all of those in the Bible arise, from man’s ignorance of some of the facts in the case”; 3) There are greater difficulties exist. “There are many more - much greater - difficulties in the doctrine that holds the Bible to be of human origin, and hence fallible, than there are in the doctrine that holds the Bible to be of divine origin, hence infallible.” For this point, Torrey gives examples of the unity of the Bible, the power to save men from sin a.k.a. changed lives, the peace, and hope and joy it brings, etc. 4) Solutions do not depend on us. “The fact that you cannot solve a difficulty does not prove it cannot be solved, and the fact that you cannot answer an objection does not prove that it cannot be answered”; 5) Difficulties are exceedingly insignificant in comparison with the many and marvelous excellencies of the Bible. This is just what I already explained; 6) Superficial reading vs. profound studying. “To the man who is reading [The Bible] through for the first or second time, there are many things that perplex and stagger”; 7) The role of careful study. “At first, they go by ones, then by twos, then by dozens, and then by scores. Is it not reasonable, then, to suppose that the difficulties that still remain will all disappear upon further study?”
Torrey also outlines 10 general classes of difficulties: imperfect manuscripts, inaccurate translations, false interpretations, wrong ideas about the Bible, the original language(s), our lack of knowledge, our ignorance of the background, our one-sidedness, our finite minds, and our dull spiritual perceptions. For each class, he explains briefly what he means. There are top 24 questions of difficulties that Torrey deals in the book, such as Is Genesis chapter one historical and scientific? Where did Cain get his wife? Does God of truth and love send us lying and evil spirits? Are there contradictions in Jesus ‘genealogies? Did Jesus go into the abode of the dead? And more.
Currently, I’m doing a podcast teaching series on The Gospel of Matthew (in Bahasa Malaysia #InjilMatius). Last week I was in Matthew chapter 12:40 where Jesus predicts that He will “be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” I was not sure about this passage and so I delayed the podcast so that I can study this verse further. At the same time, I just finished reading a book and thinking of what book next. And you know what? I chose (my will, God’s divine timing) this book. And guess which chapter I randomly read? On this topic - “Was Jesus really three days and nights in the heart of the earth?” Wow! What perfect timing! Praise be to God 😊🙏⚡ #1Book1Week #ServeToLead #LeadersAreReaders #LetsMakeReadingCoolAgain #DifficultiesInTheBible #Torrey
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