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Vox Dei

Islip Collyer

e-book (ePub)

The Testimony review (from August 1976)

Vox Dei

MANY OF OUR works on the Truth, while doctrinally correct, are written in a style which makes reading somewhat arduous. Two outstanding exceptions are the works of Robert Roberts and Islip Collyer. With the latter, his writings are so personal in style that one can usually guess the author after reading the first few sentences. Indeed the expression used in the prophecy of Isaiah, “Come let us reason together” could well be used as summarising his general approach.

The author states his purpose in the opening chapter: “This little work is undertaken with the idea of presenting in simple and comprehensive form some of the principal reasons for the intense conviction still held by some people that the Bible is, in the fullest sense, a true book. It will not be possible to reveal the matter in the glowing light in which it appears to those who have devoted years of study to the sacred writings and have lived in an atmosphere of fervent faith.

“It may be possible to present a view of the subject sufficiently complete to be stimulating to friends and enlightening to the opponents of the Bible.”

The logical sequence of thought is well shown in his chapter entitled “The Skeptical Tendency”. He writes, “The Universe as now constituted must have had a cause adequate to the present effect. That cause must have been a force of some kind or it could have produced nothing. That force must, in some form, always have existed … A force which always has existed and which has been the primary cause of all things is utterly beyond our understanding, so that whether we accept the idea of a Creator or not, we are bound to begin our conception of the Universe with an unknowable force. It is no more difficult to believe in an intelligent first cause than in a blind force. We cannot grasp the idea of anything having always existed. Unending time and unending space are utterly beyond our comprehension, whether we believe in God or whether we think that all things have come by chance from an unintelligent and unconscious force. In view of the world of life and intellect this force has produced, it seems more reasonable to believe in a Conscious Creator, and so begin our philosophy with a recognition of God.” He then proceeds to discuss some of the reasons that have been put forward for unbelief in the Bible. First dealing with such topics as miracles, apparent contradictions, and a sentimental approach that condemns certain unpalatable topics as incompatible with the Bible claim. For example on the subject of miracles he writes, “Of course the scientific man does not mean that miracles are impossible. All he means is that he does not believe in them. There is no reason why he should believe in them unless they are extraordinarily supported by evidence; but it is foolish and unfair to prejudice the case by declaring beforehand that they are impossible.” Again in assessing the importance of apparent contradictions he comments, “Beyond all cavil it is a fact that apparent contradiction with fundamental harmony is the characteristic of the true record, while superficial harmony with intrinsic contradiction is characteristic of the false.” The argument from pure sentiment is briefly dealt with when he says, “There are some who read a psalm and exclaim, How beautiful! The Bible must be the Word of God. Then later they may have their attention drawn to the destruction of the Midianites, and they exclaim, How dreadful! The Bible cannot be the Word of God. If the sceptic desires to influence such people, let him go on his way without any change of method. There are, however, some men of simple faith who are not ruled by sentimentality. They have received all the hard knocks the Bible can give them. They have studied all the alleged contradictions with the closest attention. Yet they maintain a faith which lives and moves in their everyday life, strengthening them for daily self-sacrifice and filling their future with soul-stirring hope.”

Islip Collyer then proceeds to examine the positive evidence for the truth of the Bible. This includes the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ as the turning point in the lives of the disciples, as well as a wide range of prophecies. On the subject of the Jewish dispersion and regathering he writes, “In these days (1921) there is no need to argue the matter further. The land is being brought back from the sword, and the most convincing evidence of its fertility is forthcoming. The suggestion that the ancient description was false need hardly be taken seriously … These predictions offer a challenge to eternity. They might easily have been falsified in any of the many generations that have passed. The fact that they have stood the test for over two thousand years surely offers some justification for the claim of the Bible defender that they are different from Gentile prognostications, not only in degree but also in kind.”

The prophecy of Daniel is quite comprehensively dealt with. Again as with the survival and return of the Jews to Palestine he describes the prophecy as “a challenge to eternity in the teeth of all that might have been expected on natural grounds”. He is of course referring to the course of history outlined in Daniel chapter 2 where no kingdom of men on the Roman pattern has developed in a disunited Europe, in spite of attempts by Spain, France, and twice by Germany. The development of the papacy and the time periods mentioned in this prophecy in relation to this power are also well covered.

There is an excellent summary of the prophecies of the Book of Revelation under the headings “The Last Message” and “Seals, Trumpets, and Vials”. It is in this chapter that he mentions the influence of Britain over Middle-East countries and their championing of the Zionist cause. Whatever the immediate situation may be we must recognize that Great Britain did for many years effectively rule Egypt and did facilitate the return of the Jews which resulted in the formation of the state of Israel. Only the future will reveal what further work will be done by Britain in connection with the final full-scale return of the Jews and the final establishment of the Kingdom.

Critical readers might feel that the author was unduly influenced by his environment where the Bible was revered. The modern and rather ugly expression “brain washed” comes to mind. Nevertheless even such extreme critics should be impressed by the accumulation of evidence for the truth of the Bible and the mass of careful reasoning advanced.

This is a very inexpensive book (146 pages in paper back) worthy of renewed study by every Christadelphian; and it would be very helpful to anyone contemplating the Truth of the Bible and its message. It could well form a basis for study among our young people generally.

H. J. SALTER

In connection with the identification of The Merchants of Tarshish with Great Britain it is worth quoting The Daily Telegraph shipping correspondent for June 4th, 1974. Under the heading “Largest Fleet in History”, Robert Bedlow writes, “British shipowners now have the largest and youngest fleet in history. In the past 18 months its size has increased by 6,500,000 tons, a rise of 14%.

“Figures published by the U.K. Chamber of shipping show that at present the British-flag fleet has 2,204 vessels of 49,538,000 tons. This compares with 26,600,000 tons in 1965.

“It is now the largest and the youngest we have ever had. The average age of the vessels is six and a half years, and 55% of the vessels are less than five years old.”

(Originally published in the August 1976 edition of The Testimony Magazine (pages 288-289), and is reproduced by kind permission.)

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