Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
BSac 118:472 (Oct 61) p. 347
Special Revelation And The Word Of God. By Bernard Ramm. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, 1961. 220 pp. $4.00.
The problem of revelation is one of the pivotal concerns of contemporary theology. For this reason this excellent discussion of special revelation joining the other two valuable works previously published by the same author, The Pattern of Religious Authority and The Witness of the Spirit, can justly be rated an important contribution to contemporary theology. Following the lead of Abraham Kupyer’s Principles of Sacred Theology to which Dr. Ramm :acknowledges indebtedness, a course is charted between fundamentalism on the one hand and neo-orthodoxy on the other, both of which are considered unsatisfactory. Dr. Ramm feels that fundamentalism is guilty of incipient bibliolatry and that neo-orthodoxy is deficient in its concept of revelation as simply “an encounter,” because revelation is “both a knowing and an experience of the living God” (p. 7).
Three major subjects are treated in three major divisions of the book, namely, (1) the concept of special revelation; (2) the modalities of special revelation; and (3) the products of special revelation. Like his previous works in this field, his treatment is a masterpiece of careful argument, thorough scholarship, and theological insight. By any standard, this work is worthy of a careful reading by students in all branches of theology.
In general, his treatment sustains the idea that God gives special revelation to individuals or to groups of which the major expression is the written Word of God. While clearly on the side of conservative orthodoxy, his treatment seems to embrace a dynamic or conceptual theory of inspiration as illustrated in the following sentence: “Because the same thought (or meaning) can be expressed by different words the relationship is dynamic or flexible and not fixed or mechanical (p. 178). However, he goes on also to say: “Inspiration, then, is the Holy Spirit securing for the Church the Christian graphe in such a form that the Church may trust its verbal form as an adequate, and sufficient vehicle of special revelation” (p. 179). It would seem that what he is attempting to avoid is the dictation theory or mechanical theory, but on the other hand he believes that the words of Scripture perfectly express the mind of God.
One of the problems the author seems to evade is the question as to whether the forms of special revelation existing in Biblical times, which he enumerates in detail, are still possible today. It would seem in some sense that this is a pivotal question. He constantly uses the present tense in refer...
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