Certainty The Lost Chord in Current Protestantism -- By: William Childs Robinson

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 092:366 (Apr 1935)
Article: Certainty The Lost Chord in Current Protestantism
Author: William Childs Robinson

The Lost Chord in Current Protestantism1

Wm. Childs Robinson

Professor of Ecclesiastical History and Missions, Columbia Theological Seminary

Man doth not live by bread alone; but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of Jehovah. However, our day has lost her anchor in the Word of God and is wandering hither and thither in a feverish quest for something that is certain and stable. The things that men live by are to be found neither in the plausible opinions of modernism, nor in the ecclesiastical dogmas of Romanism. The pillars of life are the certainties which God engenders in the hearts of His people by His Word and His Spirit.

I. Loss of Certainty

Nineteen hundred years ago the ancient world which had learned from the Socratic dialogue the uncertainty of human opinions was reverberating with a new note of unshakeable certainty. First Thessalonians, one of the earliest documents of the Christian movement, presents the ground of this assurance. The Thessalonians had received the Gospel “not as the word of man but as it is in truth the Word of God.” The Gospel came unto them as God’s Word in power and in demonstration of the Holy Spirit. Therefore it came “in much assurance” (1 Thess 1:5; 2:13). When the gathering gloom of national death settled over the Jews, the Christians among them drew near to the living God “in full assurance of

faith.” Heb 10:22. Clement of Rome declares that the Christian apostles “went forth with a full conviction which was of the Holy Spirit” (1 Clement 42:3, 4). Dr. A. D. Heffern declares that the essential characteristic of the first century faith is the certitude of faith, a certitude “which postulates a divine power and factor for its production.” “The apostolic apologia is to lead to the direct certitude of faith.”2 When Justin Martyr was told that Plato taught that God could be apprehended only by the mind, he replied: “is there, then, in our minds a power such as this and so great? Will the human intellect ever see God until it is furnished with the Holy Spirit?” Similarly, Irenaeus insists that it is by the Spirit that we know Christ and ascend to God. “Without God, God is not known.” Indeed, as late as the fourth century Basil, the Great, acknowledges that the revelation of the Only-begotten and the enlightening power of the Spirit of knowledge lead on to a certain knowledge of God.3 In clear...

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