Professor Ladd On Oehler’s Theology -- By: G. F. Magoun
BSac 41:164 (Oct 1884) p. 825
Professor Ladd On Oehler’s Theology
In the May New Englander Dr. Ladd has a notice of Oehler’s work (Clark’s Translation, revised by Dr. George E. Day. pp. 594. New York: Funk and Wagnalls), which appears to be an indirect reply to the many protests versus his own views on inspiration. A short passage which he thinks favors his views is quoted from a note on p. 8 in Oehler. The substance of it is as follows: “He who has won in this way the conviction that Holy Scripture is the true witnessing record of the divine purpose of salvation, …. and that in it is contained the word of
God,….[will not] surrender himself to a criticism in which we can everywhere see that it does not rest upon the consciousness of faith which Rothe commends.” (Rothe, Zur Dogtnatik )
These two writers agree that “the Bible is not revelation itself; it is the record of revelation” (Oehler, p 8), which in the sense given to revelation as God’s act (so the “word of God “) does not contain anything new. Revelation as an historical fact and the Bible as evidence of it are, of course, to be discriminated. Prefix “inspired” or “infallible “to any term you use for Bible, — like “record,” — and even the numerous creed critics would accept Oehler’s language on this point. Make such a distinction between God’s act and the evidence of it, that while no error can attach to the former, error attaches to the latter, vitiating it as evidence of the former, — as all who look into Professor Ladd’s book are surprised to see that he does, — and this is another matter. If there is to be a distinction made between God’s message to men and the literature in which it is embodied, — a distinction the opposite remove from the saying, “The style is the man,” — i.e. between God’s meaning and its vehicle, — we can all agree that his act and the book are not to be confounded; though still we know nothing of his act of revealing salvation save in and through the book. The issue resolves itself into a question of the use of terms.
But Dr. Ladd goes on to offer his advice to our Lutheran brethren as to sympathizing with certain views of the nature of the Bible and the “Christian consciousness of faith,” which he sets forth as Oehler’s. But Oehler does not make “consciousness” — whatever may be meant by this much-abused term — the starting-point for all men in judging of the Bible. All men, says Scripture, have not faith. Oehler is speaking, all
BSac 41:164 (Oct 1884) p. 826
through the passage drawn into Dr. Ladd’s service, of the theologian. Even Rothe he quotes as maintaining that “the most thorough and impartial criticism on the Holy Scriptures “is t...
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