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In the Beauty of the Lilies

April 20, 2011

In an article on throwing the Bible under the bus, Albert Mohler has this to say about John Updike’s In the Beauty of the Lilies:

In his 1996 novel, In the Beauty of the Lilies, John Updike told of the Reverend Clarence Arthur Wilmot, the fictional pastor of New York’s Fourth Presbyterian Church, who stopped believing in God one day in 1910. On that day, the Rev. Wilmot “felt the last particles of his faith leave him,” Updike wrote.

Rev. Wilmot’s crisis of faith was rooted in his loss of confidence in the Bible as the revealed Word of God. The influence of liberal critics of the Bible had reached him even at seminary years before, and now he saw the Scriptures as just another human book. In Updike’s words, the Scriptures were “one more human volume, more curious and conglomerate than most, but the work of men–of Jews in dirty sheepskins, rotten-toothed desert tribesmen with eyes rolled heavenward, men like flies on flypaper caught fast in a historic time, among the myths and conceptions belonging to the childhood of mankind.”

Updike’s brilliant and accurate depiction of the liberal approach to the Bible remains shocking. The Higher Critics, as the liberal scholars were then known, did indeed see the authors of the Old Testament as “rotten-toothed desert tribesmen” who could not see beyond “myths and conceptions belonging to the childhood of mankind.”

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From → Fiction

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