Dubious Doctrines & Puzzling Positions, Part 2

Westcott & Hort’s unorthodox positions continue…

Hort is noted as rejecting Christ’s atonement for mankind, saying “The fact is, I do not see how God’s justice can be satisfied without every man’s suffering in his own person the full penalty for his sins.”¹ That position becomes all the darker when we realize that, in Hort’s mind, the death of Christ made more sense as a ransom paid to Satan than to God! On this he said:

I confess I have no repugnance to the primitive doctrine of a ransom paid to Satan, though neither am I prepared to give full assent to it. But I can see no other possible form in which the doctrine of a ransom is at all tenable; anything is better than the notion of a ransom paid to the Father.” ²

By his own admission, Hort favored a number of other beliefs and interests that seem at odds with what one would traditionally expect of a Bible scholar, including:

Support of Communism I can only say that it was through the region of pure politics that I myself approach Communism.“³
Support for the Catholic Purgatory I agree with you in thinking it a pity that Maurice verbally repudiates purgatory, but I fully and unwaveringly agree with him in the three cardinal points of the controversy: (1) that eternity is independent of duration; (2) that the power of repentance is not limited to this life; (3) that it is not revealed whether or not all will ultimately repent. The modern denial of the second has, I suppose, had more to do with the despiritualizing of theology then almost anything that could be named.”4 
Fascination with Darwinian Evolution But the book which has most engaged me is Darwin. Whatever may be thought of it, it is a book that one is proud to be contemporary with …“5 
Fascination with the Occult Westcott, Gorham, C.B., Scott, Benson, Bradshaw, Luard, etc., and I have started a society for the investigation of ghosts and all supernatural appearances and effects, being all disposed to believe that such things really exist, and ought to be discriminated from hoaxes and mere subjective delusions; we shall be happy to obtain any good accounts well authenticated with names. Westcott is drawing up a schedule of questions. Cope calls us the ‘Cock and Bull Club;’ our own temporary name is the ‘Ghostly Guild.’ ” 6
Doubting the Traditional View of Lucifer Now if there be a devil, he cannot merely bear a corrupted and marred image of God; he must be wholly evil, his name evil, his every energy and act evil. Would it not be a violation of the divine attributes for the Word to be actively the support of such a nature as that?” 7
Doubting the Existence of Hell Certainly in my case it proceeds from no personal dread; when I have been living most godlessly, I have never been able to frighten myself with visions of a distant future, even while I ‘held’ the doctrine.” 8

Westcott likewise held a number of concerning positions. Not only was Brooke Foss Westcott a supporter of various Catholic doctrines and the occult in general, he also was dubious of the miracles of the Bible, the second coming of Christ, and the nature of Heaven, He said of each, respectively:

On Biblical Miracles I never read an account of a miracle but I seem instinctively to feel its improbability, and discover somewhat of evidence in the account of it.” 9
On the Physical Second Coming of Jesus As far as I can remember, I said very shortly what I hold to be the ‘Lord’s coming’ in my little book on the Historic Faith. I hold very strongly that the Fall of Jerusalem was the coming which first fulfilled the Lord’s words; and, as there have been other comings, I cannot doubt that He is ‘coming’ to us now.” 10
On His Doubt Concerning Heaven’s Location No doubt the language of the Rubric is unguarded, but it saves us from the error of connecting the Presence of Christ’s glorified humanity with place; ‘heaven is a state and not a place.‘” 11

So, why does the work of these two scholars matter today, especially in light of the errors of their source material, the flaws in their revision techniques, and the concerns over their personal interests and pursuits? In spite of all this, these men are for all intents and purposes the fathers of many of the modern Bible translations in use today!

References:

  1. Hort, Arthur Fenton, “The Life and Letters of Fenton John Anthony Hort,” Vol. I, pg 430
  2. Hort, Arthur Fenton, “The Life and Letters of Fenton John Anthony Hort,” Vol. I,  , p. 428
  3. Hort, Arthur Fenton, “The Life and Letters of Fenton John Anthony Hort,” Vol. I, pg 138
  4. Hort, Arthur Fenton, “The Life and Letters of Fenton John Anthony Hort,” Vol. I,  , p. 275
  5. Hort, Arthur Fenton, “The Life and Letters of Fenton John Anthony Hort,” Vol. I, pp 414-416
  6. Hort, Arthur Fenton, “The Life and Letters of Fenton John Anthony Hort,” Vol. I, pg 211
  7. Hort, Arthur Fenton, “The Life and Letters of Fenton John Anthony Hort,” Vol. I, pg 121
  8. Hort, Arthur Fenton, “The Life and Letters of Fenton John Anthony Hort,” Vol. I, pg 122
  9. Westcott, Arthur, “Life and Letters of Brooke Foss Westcott,” Vol. I, New York,1903, pg 52
  10. Westcott, Arthur, “Life and Letters of Brooke Foss Westcott, New York, 1903, Vol. II, pg 308
  11. Westcott, Arthur, “Life and Letters of Brooke Foss Westcott,” New York,1903, Vol. II, pp. 49

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