The Twentieth Century—Battleground of Bibliology -- By: John A. Witmer

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 111:442 (Apr 1954)
Article: The Twentieth Century—Battleground of Bibliology
Author: John A. Witmer

The Twentieth Century—Battleground of Bibliology

John A. Witmer

Standing astride the threshold of the twentieth century, James Orr prophetically declared in discussing the task of the new century in the field of theology: “That battle will have to be fought, if I mistake not, in the first instance, round the fortress of the worth and authority of Holy Scripture. A doctrine of Scripture adapted to the needs of the hour in harmonising the demands at once of science and of faith, is perhaps the most clamant want at present in theology. But the whole conception of Christianity will get drawn in, and many of the old controversies will be revived in new forms.”1

Prominence of Bibliology

A survey of theological literature during the first half of the twentieth century will substantiate the accuracy of this prediction. Bibliology has been a dominant area of interest in theological study and controversy. In point of quantity of written discussion it bids fair to claim the position of predominance. One currently influential school of theology is frequently identified as the theology of the Word of God. Recognition of the dominant place Bibliology and its constituent doctrines has taken in theological discussion is given by John Baillie in the preface of a recent book: “It would appear then that the topic of revelation is of the first order of urgency as regards the Church’s total task in the present age. Ample evidence of a widespread recognition of this fact may be found in the degree of attention which theologians of all lands and communions are at present devoting to the subject. Indeed if one were asked what was, just at the present moment, the most frequented hunting ground of the theologians, one would have to answer without hesitation that it was the doctrine of revelation—a sufficiently

remarkable contrast to the situation obtaining in, say, the years immediately prior to the Great War.”2

The invasion of Bibliology into the field of Christian apologetics until it has become the crux of the defense and vindication of the Christian faith is but another evidence of the current emphasis upon this doctrine. Warfleld states: “It is only with reference to the reality of special revelation that debate concerning revelation continues: and it is this that Christian apologetics needs to validate.”3 Alan Richardson declares: “The Christian apologist must show that theological scientific method as applied to the facts of Christian existence today—to the facts of the existence of the Church and her Bible—yields a bo...

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