The Reconstruction Of Theology -- By: David N. Beach

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 054:213 (Jan 1897)
Article: The Reconstruction Of Theology
Author: David N. Beach

The Reconstruction Of Theology1

Rev. David N. Beach

I. The Caveat Of Scripture

Imbedded in the heart of the canon of the Old Testament, and also in the heart of the canon of the New Testament, is, in each instance, a document which, had it been apprehended in its broad relation to the volume in which it stands, might have saved the world a great deal of trouble. The latter of these is the Epistle to the Romans. The former is the Book of Job. In the case of the Romans, all fairly intelligent Christians are tolerably familiar with its general outline; much more, such persons as are special students of the Bible. In the case of the Book of Job, comparatively few of those who are fairly intelligent in biblical knowledge have adequately grasped its drift; though biblical specialists need not to be instructed concerning it. Yet such is the perspective in which these two documents stand in relation to each Testament, that, even though specialists should be among my readers, I undertake a resume for the purpose of making clear the point I have in mind.

1. In the New Testament—Romans

The writer to the Romans, in the case of this Epistle, as not in any other of his numerous extant letters, addresses

persons whom, as a body, he has never seen, and sends the Epistle to a place which, apparently, he has, as yet, never visited. The Epistle, indeed, is the immediate outgrowth of another, addressed to acquaintances in a particular place, and one of the most personal and pointed of all his letters. The Christians in the mountains of Galatia had been, by reason of their very liveliness of imagination, and devotion to Christian service, duped into a misunderstanding of the spirit of Christianity; and, at once upon the Apostle’s hearing of this, he throws off for them in great heat of feeling and of logic, that affirmation and defense of essential Christian principles, which, obscure though it is in some respects for the modern reader, owing to the circumstances of its composition and the peculiar methods of argument resorted to, is, nevertheless, the germ of the Epistle to the Romans. That being done, the Apostle presently, with very considerable elaboration, and with most special design, prepares that Epistle which is to go, indeed, to a church and community which he has not as yet visited, but which as located at the capital of the world, he apparently desires shall receive, in most clearly stated and argued form, his conception of the general philosophy and ethics of the Christian religion. I say “general philosophy and ethics,” because the Epistle distinctly passes, at the end of chapter xi., from the philosophical to the ethical par...

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