Lemuel K. Washburn: “Bible-Backing”


There is less backing one’s thoughts with the Bible than formerly. The world is getting weaned from this book. The idea is gaining ground that, if anything is true, it can support itself. When a man leans on God he is so much less a man. Mental uprightness disdains the Bible’s support. Honest thought can defend itself without appealing to divine authority.

Once a man hardly dared speak unless he quoted from the Scriptures a line or verse that ran parallel with his speech.

Today men say what they think, without caring whether Moses, or David, or John, agree with them or not. We have reached a healthy independence. We have commenced to trust our convictions. Such a stage of intellectual development is not favorable to the divinity of one’s thoughts. The report of one mind is no more divine than that of another, and no more to be trusted, only as it is more accurate. There is a higher standard than the word of God for this age that is, the word of truth. Whosoever speaks truth can face the world alone.

When a man needs to go to the Bible to sustain his argument he has a weak argument. When a dogma does not commend itself to human intelligence it is useless to declare it infallible. It will die, even though it be professed a thousand years. It can be accepted only by ignorance and avowed only by hypocrisy.

Any man who will quote a Bible-text to defend his opinion in the sense that such text proves his opinion true, proves himself a dolt. A Bible-text is only a human opinion, and as humanity surpasses it in the evolution of experience, it loses its authority and force. We have learned that human reason does not need to be backed by the Bible, and we have learned also that the Bible does need to be backed by human reason, or it has no value.

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