By Emanuele Severino
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They did not indeed at first claim for the Bible, as we have it to-day, absolute inerrancy. 1 But as the battle between the Roman Catholic and the Protestant churches went on, the Protestant theologians, for polemical reasons, laid more and more stress on the authority of Scripture, and the doctrine of infallible inspiration crept into the church. With it came the general claim for the Bible that it is an absolute and an infallible authority upon all subjects, — science, chronology, history, literature, rhetoric, theology.
They are pilgrims and strangers, and their haven lies before them. They forget the things that are behind; they press forward for their prize. They count not themselves to have attained; they follow after, if they may apprehend that for which they are apprehended in Christ Jesus. They look for a new heaven and a new earth in which dwelleth righteousness. They exhort one another to grow in grace and in knowledge. And when at last the canon closes, the last vision which greets our eyes is not a completed city, but a city still descending out of heaven upon the earth; not a completed victory, but a Captain riding forth conquering and to conquer; not a kingdom accomplished, but an hour yet to come when the kingdoms of this earth shall have become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ.
The Master never condemned honest doubt, but shams of all sorts were odious to him. He denounced the Pharisees who for a pretense made long prayers; he put out of the room the hired mourners who simulated grief; and the dissimulating Judas Iscariot he bade depart, before he would commence his last sacred conference with his disciples. He who was the Truth could not endure a lie. Let us be true with ourselves, come what may to our theology. An infallible book is an impossible conception, and to-day no one really believes that our present Bible is such a book.