The error of textualism

(A.W. Tozer)

"The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned." 1 Corinthians 2:14

"But the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name — He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you." John 14:26

"When He, the Spirit of truth comes — He will guide you into all truth." John 16:13

The doctrine of the inability of the human mind to understand divine teaching and the need for divine illumination, is so fully developed in the New Testament, that it is nothing short of astonishing that we should have gone so far astray concerning the whole issue.

Evangelicalism has stood aloof from Liberalism in self-conscious superiority, and has on its own part fallen into the error of textualism — which is simply orthodoxy without the Holy Spirit.

Everywhere among Conservatives we find people who are Bible-taught, but not Spirit-taught. They conceive truth to be something which they can grasp with the mind. If a man holds to the fundamentals of the Christian faith — then he is thought to possess divine truth.

But that is an incorrect assumption. The Bible is a supernatural book — and can be understood only by supernatural aid!

Conservative Christians in this day are stumbling over this truth. We need to re-examine the whole thing. We need to learn that truth consists not in correct doctrine — but in correct doctrine plus the inward enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. A re-preachment of this vital truth could result in a fresh breath from God upon a stale and suffocating orthodoxy.

Most Christians see Bible knowledge as something to be stored away in the mind, along with an inert mass of other facts.

The modern scientist has lost God, amid the wonders of His world.
And we Christians are in real danger of losing God, amid the wonders of His Word!

Scripture truths must be experienced — before we can really know them.

"Lord, I do believe in the authority of the Scriptures, and thank You for that foundation of truth. But I need to remember that even the inspired text is not alive — until the Holy Spirit takes it and enlightens the recipients. May the Spirit indeed take what I teach and embed it in the hearts and minds of my hearers. Amen."