THE Christian Union wants the Bible used in the public schools simply as history and literature, just as Xenophon and Homer are used. It says:—
If our Catholic, Jewish, or Agnostic brethren object to opening schools with acts of worship, such acts of worship should, in our judgment, be discontinued. It is not the business of the State to conduct public worship against the objection of any considerable proportion of tax-payers, but, the use of the Bible as history and literature is no more sectarian than the use of Xenophon or Homer.
Yes; it is true enough that the use of the Bible as history and literature is no more sectarian than any other book of history or literature, but the Bible is not that; the Bible is neither history nor literature; it was not written for any such purpose. It is true there is history in it, but the only purpose for which that history was written, is religious. It is likewise true that there is a literature in the Bible, but the sole worth that it has as literature is the religion that is in it. Take the literature of the sermon on the mount, what is it worth without the religion that is in it? That was not spoken as a piece of literature; the Saviour did not declaim that to display his eloquence. It was spoken as the word of God; spoken by him who came down from heaven bringing the salvation of God to man, and it was to impress the thoughts of God upon the minds and hearts of men that Christ uttered it, and to take that idea and thought out of it, takes everything out of it; if it is not that, it is not anything at all. It is the same with any other part of the Scriptures, there are fine passages, there are heights of eloquence and depths of pathos, but whether it be height or depth, it is the inspiration of the religion of Christ that makes it so, that makes it what it is.
There is another point in this. There is a good deal of sophistry about this idea of using the Bible as a history. We should like some of those who talk that way, to tell us in what the history of the Jewish people consists, that is of any material worth, aside from the religion. What value has the history of the Jewish nation if you take the religion out of it? They were not scientists; they did not cultivate art in any particular form. The form of government that they had was set aside by the Lord himself, and such a form is forbidden to be ally more amongst men. Then, as a model government, it is worthless. In art or science it is worthless. The only thing in the history from beginning to end, the only thing that ever was in it, the only thing that was intended to be gathered from it, is religion. And if it be separated from its religious purpose, there is taken away from it all the value that it has.
To prove this, attention needs but to be called to the record. Take up the history that is found in the Bible anywhere, and it is inseparable from the religious idea, and the religious thought. The history of Abraham, for instance, is that God called him from among his people to a land that He would show him, and that he went not knowing whither; that the Lord promised to him, when as yet he had no child, that his seed should be as the stars of heaven—innumerable, and that in his seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed. The seed referred to in that word is Jesus Christ, and the sole purpose of the history from Abraham to Christ, was to bring the people to him. And when he came and that people rejected hire, their history, as connected with the Bible ceased forever. In fact, there is a period of more than four hundred years before Christ came, during which there is not a word of history; which in itself shows that the history of that people is not the object of the writing in the Bible.
Again, start with the children of Israel, as they were about to leave Egypt, and it is but an account of miracle after miracle. In fact the whole story, from that time till Israel entered into the land of Canaan, for a period of forty years, is scarcely anything else than a record of a series of miracles. The Red Sea was divided that Israel might pass; then as they passed into the wilderness they came to the bitter waters which were made sweet that the people might drink. Afterward, water was more than once given to the people by Moses merely striking the rock with his rod; and then at Sinai, the Lord appeared in glory on the top of the mount, and also at the door of the tabernacle; and, to say nothing of the constant, almost daily, repetition of miracles, there was the pillar of fire by  night, and the pillar of cloud by day, constantly over the tabernacle, by whose direction they moved or remained. Thus it was all through the forty years wanderings in the desert of Arabia. When they passed into the promised land, it was when “the Jordan overflowed its banks.” The priests took the ark of God, and started into the water. As soon as touched the water that which stood still, and that below flowed on. And so it stood till the whole of Israel passed over.
Soon after this they came to Jericho and laid siege to that city by merely marching around it once a day, for seven days, blowing trumpets of rams’ horns; and on the seventh day they marched around it seven times and then set up a mighty shout, and the walls of Jericho fell down. The siege was ended and the city captured. Not long after this there was a battle with the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land. They were defeated, but to make the victory forever sure, the sun stood still and the day was prolonged, so that there was no such day before nor after it. And so the whole history might be followed through, step by step, as it is written, from that day when the sun stood still, unto the last historical record in the Old Testament, and all the time the record is to be found inseparable from signs, wonders, miracles, and interpositions of the Lord. All of which demonstrates that the object of the Bible is not historical, but religious wholly. It also demonstrates that it is impossible to use the Bible as a history. And those who ask that it may be used in the public schools simply as history, know that this is so, and if it were not for its religious character not one of them would ever write, ten lines of a plea for its use in the public schools as history.
If the record of that people be so valuable, as a history only, as to make it essential that above all others it shall be used as a history, then why is it that those who want it so, do not insist that the history of that people since Bible times shall be taught also. But no such request was ever heard of, and never would be if the Bible were history only, as Xenophon or Tacitus is history. But these men, knowing that it is impossible for the State to teach religion, and knowing that it is wrong for the State to tax all the people in order to teach to all, the religion of a few—knowing all this they have not the face to ask that the Bible shall be used in the schools for what it is, and therefore they hope to get it used for what it is, by getting the State to adopt it and use it for what it is not. The plea is essentially dishonest, and it is difficult to see how those who make it do not know that it is dishonest.
As for the New Testament there is no pretense that this is history in any sense. In the four gospels there is a sketch of the four years of the life of Christ, but the fullest of these contributions to the sketch says plainly, that no attempt is made to write a complete record because no reasonable number of books could contain it if it were written; but that that which is written, was written “that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”
The Bible record, from beginning to end, is but a record of Jesus Christ. This verse which we have just quoted not only tells the object of the writings of the gospel, but the object of the writing of the whole Bible, and that is that men might believe that Christ is the Son of God; and that believing they might have life through his name. He is the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world. He is the seed of the woman, that was promised before the first pair were driven from the garden. He is the one to whom almost the last words in the Bible are addressed, “Even so come Lord Jesus.” “He is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last,” all the way through the Bible. And therefore any proposition that is ever made by any one to teach the Bible, or to use it in any way, other than as the record of Christ, is to propose that the record of Christ shall be taught with Christ left out. It is, in short, only an attempt to rob the world of Christ and his gifts to men. And such will be the only tendency wherever the Bible is used for anything else than just what it is, namely, the revelation of God concerning his eternal purpose in Christ Jesus the Saviour of men.
A. T. J.