SPIRITUAL PERSPECTIVES


AN OPEN LETTER TO PAUL HARVEY REGARDING
"THE LETTER FROM GOD"

GARY W. SUMMERS

   
On Saturday, March 7th, news commentator Paul Harvey read a lengthy document purporting to be "a letter from God." He said it was on the Internet but did not specify where or how to access it. For this response we wanted the text that he read so that we could quote precisely from it. When calling his office, however, we were informed that 1) he was out of town this week, 2) no one in the office had a transcript of it, and 3) they did not know how to find it on the Internet. Since the letter purports to be from God and was written by someone anonymously, searching for the document on the Internet proved fruitless. So, in place of the precise text, we (of necessity) must rely for the moment on memory and a few hastily scribbled notes.

Dear Mr. Harvey,

Before reading the "letter from God" on the air last week, you described your reluctance to do so, mentioning your consultation with family members, some of whom disagreed with the plan. If you are still vacillating as to the letter's genuineness, I can assure you that the letter is phony from beginning to end. The contents are thoroughly humanistic and totally outrageous to anyone who takes seriously the teachings of the Bible.

The letter begins by stressing the patience of God with respect to the years it took Him to create the Grand Canyon. This error was enhanced with a statement that He had spent millions of years creating the world through Darwinian evolution. Mr. Harvey, it may have been a while since you read Genesis 1; if you will check, the verses there mention days, not years.

Not only are days mentioned (as opposed to millions of years), but what occurred on each and every day is specifically detailed. God rested on the seventh day (Gen. 2:2). When God gave His law to Israel, he told them to rest on the seventh day: "For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day" (Ex. 20:11). We still observe a seven-day week, Mr. Harvey. Is there some other explanation for that besides Genesis 1?

Attempts to compromise evolution with the Bible have failed; it is obvious from Exodus 20:11 that the days of Genesis 1 are intended to be understood literally, and in fact there is nothing in the text that would suggest any kind of figurative interpretation. Nowhere else in the entire Bible is any doubt cast upon the fact that the days in Genesis are literal, 24-hour days. In fact, this truth is only corroborated:

By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth. He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap; He lays up the deep in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast (Ps. 33:6-9).

There is only one ideology that needs millions, perhaps billions, of years--evolution. The power of God is such that He can do things instantaneously. Could God have used billions of years to create the world? Yes. But did He? He says He did not, but rather accomplished the whole feat in six days. The so-called "letter from God" would have Him contradicting Himself.

The Destruction of Inspiration

But even more deadly than the preceding subject is the declaration that in all of the Scriptures God inspired He made sure there were mistakes. Mr. Harvey, if such a position were true, it would make the Bible worthless. The Bible cannot be both inspired and yet contain errors. If it is, then who will point out the places in which it is wrong: you? Please tell us the flaws so that we may not believe and practice things that are wrong.

If the Bible contains errors, then maybe it is wrong in telling us to love one another or to love our enemies. It might be mistaken as it describes the beauties of heaven; certainly, those descriptions of hell fire must be erroneous since most people find them unpalatable. Yes, we have a real problem on our hands, trying to determine what verses have error in them.

There is also a conflict with what the Bible teaches. The apostles were told they would be guided into all truth (John 16:12-13); Peter later affirmed that "God has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness" (2 Peter 1:3). Paul told the Thessalonians that he had taught them the truth (1 Thess. 2:13) and that it was equally valid whether he taught them orally or by epistle (2 Thess. 2:15). Imagine that! Paul was assuring everyone that he was teaching them the truth (Gal. 1:8-9), but God may have tricked him and occasionally given him some error to write.

This kind of drivel is nothing more than warmed-over modernism which sought to do away with the inspiration and integrity of the Scriptures; it's just not as clever as what Wellhausen and "higher criticism" developed in the last century. It is an appalling and loathsome idea which is extremely offensive to Christians. Shame on you, Mr. Harvey, for giving this "letter" any credence whatsoever. How can you repeat your birdcage illustration each year if you believe the contents of this "letter"? After, all, redemption from sin may just be one of those errors that God put into the Scriptures.

Subjectivism

Another bit of advice purportedly from God was: "Trust in your own heart rather than the words written in a book." Oh, such wisdom! Isn't trusting in his own heart what Cain did? The Bible specifically says: "He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but whoso walks wisely shall be delivered" (Pr. 28:26). "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?" (Jer. 17:9).

Making one's heart the authority is not only foolish; it moves one away from the truth, which Jesus said men could learn by continuing in his WORDS (John 8:31-32). The standard by which all men will be judged is not the heart, but the WORDS of Christ (John 12:48).

EVANGELISM

One line from "the letter" said something akin to "Don't win souls for Me." Has it occurred to you, Mr. Harvey, that if such a philosophy had been followed by Jesus and the apostles, no one would be a Christian today? People all over the world would still be following pagan religions (and following their own hearts).

The ironic thing about this anti-Biblical advice is that whoever wrote this "letter" repeated the phrase, "I am with you always." Do you know, Mr. Harvey, in what context Jesus uttered that statement? Jesus assures the apostles that He will be with them as they evangelize! Consider the entire text.

Then Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen (Matt. 28:18-20).

Whoever wrote this "letter" has revealed major ignorance concerning the Scriptures. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6). If this statement is true, then Muhammed cannot get the job done; neither can Buddha. Peter declared to the Jews: "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). Now honestly, can anyone imagine these statements being true and God telling His followers not to "win souls"? Either the Bible is fraudulent, Mr. Harvey, or the letter you read claiming to be from Him was. There are no other alternatives.

Honest Discussion

A corollary to the evangelism statement is the one involving disputes between professing Christians. There were such statements as: "Religious rivalries are yours, not mine" and "Give up your religious bigotries and sibling rivalries." Certainly, religious division is counter-productive at best and at worst abhorrent. Jesus prayed for the unity of His followers that the world might believe that God sent Him (John 17:20-21).

But to characterize disagreements as "sibling rivalry" is not correct, either. That phrase would describe what was going on in Corinth (1 Cor. 1:11-13), but it does not apply to the current religious situation because not all who profess to be Christians are actually children of God. In fact, what the Bible teaches about the way to become a Christian has been disputed for nearly 2000 years. There was a period of time when these subjects were debated, and many were converted from error to truth (which has nothing to fear from honest study).

The "sibling-rivalry" statement also presumes that truth and doctrine are not important. Yet Solomon placed a high value upon truth (Pr. 23:23), and the young evangelist Timothy was told by Paul:

Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you (1 Tim. 4:16).

DOCTRINE DOES MATTER! It matters so much that God filled the entire New Testament with it. In Paul's farewell speech to the elders of Ephesus he said:

"Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God" (Acts 20:26-27).

Paul's innocence of their blood is contingent upon the fact that he taught them everything they needed to know which was pertinent to their salvation. The "whole counsel of God" cannot be summed up in pithy little statements such as: "Be about My business of loving one another" and "Play nice with each other." While it is true that loving one another is commanded (John 13:34-35), it is not the case that such summarizes Christian responsibility.

Holiness

One egregious error of this "letter" is that there is no mention of anything related to one of God's key attributes--holiness. Is it possible that God would address a nation nearly as sodden with sin as Sodom (and with the same sin of homosexuality) and not call us to repentance? Could Nineveh, to whom God sent Jonah, have been any more violent than a nation that allows a million and a half infants in the womb to be killed each year?

Is it possible that God would write a letter to a nation in which a high percentage of couples are living in fornication before they get married (if they get married) and not call them to repentance? And what of the couples who promise to be together until death do them part, but quit trying after two years? Is there not even one tiny warning for Hollywood that their blasphemy, nudity, lasciviousness, and violence will be punished?

Mr. Harvey, this God is so tolerant that He does not at all resemble the One who has destroyed entire nations and empires for their sins. He does not offer a word of condemnation to us for violating any of His Divine laws. Rather He just wants us to live, love, laugh, and be happy. People are trying to do just that without any attempt to be reconciled unto Him, without any pretense of trying to be holy, and they are failing miserably. In the communication that God really wrote, He called us out of the pollutions of the world into true liberty. Genuine happiness does not come from pursuing fleshly pleasures; it is derived from knowing and serving Him.

*Send comments or questions concerning this article to Gary Summers. Please refer to this article as: "AN OPEN LETTER TO PAUL HARVEY REGARDING "THE LETTER FROM GOD" (3/15/98)."


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