Carried Along, not Carried Away

            Critics of the Bible would have us believe that its writers were carried away by their imaginations and that they presented untrue myths on the pages of Holy Scripture.  But the writers of the Bible were not carried away with their own imaginings!  They were carried along by the Holy Spirit, as they wrote.

            In the mid-20th century the very influential German scholar, Rudolph Bultmann, advocated the idea of “demythologizing” the Scriptures.  In his book Jesus Christ and Mythology (1958), he indicated that accounts of miracles in the New Testament were simply pious myths. These myths would have to be expunged from the New Testament if modern people were to make meaningful use of it.

            In his famous essay, New Testament and Mythology (1941), Bultmann wrote, “We cannot use electric lights and radios and, in the event of illness, avail ourselves of modern medical and clinical means and at the same time believe in the spirit and wonder world of the New Testament.”  So, out with the water made wine! Out with the healing of the man born blind! Out with the raising of Lazarus!

            It is ironic that the Apostle Peter took Bultmann’s favorite word, myth, away from him two thousand years ago.  Peter wrote, “…we have not followed cunningly devised fables [Gk. muthoi; cf. Eng. myths], when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty” (2 Pet. 1:16).  And it is passing sad that the words of Bultmann, who was not an eyewitness of the life of Jesus, should be taken more seriously than those of Peter, who was an eyewitness and sealed his testimony with his blood (2 Pet. 1:12-15; cf. Jn. 21:18-19).

           The Apostle Peter also wrote that, “The prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:21).  When Peter says the ancient authors of Scripture were “moved” by the Holy Spirit he is using a word that means to be carried along.

            The word is phero.  We see it as a root in our language in the name Christopher (lit. Christ-bearer) and in the words aquifer (water-bearer) and ferry (a water-borne passenger and freight bearer).

            The use of this word in 2 Peter 1:21 means that the ancient writers of Scripture “… were ‘borne along,’ or impelled, by the Holy Spirit’s power, not acting according to their own wills, or simply expressing their own thoughts, but expressing the mind of God in words provided and ministered by Him” (W.E. Vine, Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, “move” vb. no. 6).

            The writers of the Bible were carried along in their work by the Holy Spirit, not carried away by their own imaginations (see 1 Cor. 2:13; 14:37; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; Eph. 3:1-5).

 

 

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