The Verbal Plenary Inspiration of the Scriptures Part I: The Bible and Rome -- By: Edward J. Young

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 121:482 (Apr 1964)
Article: The Verbal Plenary Inspiration of the Scriptures Part I: The Bible and Rome
Author: Edward J. Young


The Verbal Plenary Inspiration of the Scriptures
Part I:
The Bible and Rome

Edward J. Young

[Edward J. Young, Professor of Old Testament, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.]

Of all the differences between Protestantism and Romanism, that which is most fundamental has to do with the question of authority in religion. Rome as well as Protestantism acknowledges the necessity for authority. She claims to believe in revelation from God. But Rome has her difficulties, and they are serious. Like Protestantism, she believes that the Bible is the very Word of God, and consequently, inasmuch as it is the product of the breath of His mouth, the Bible is true and trustworthy. Roman Catholic theologians are willing to speak of the inerrancy of the Scriptures. At the same time they go further. Not alone do they recognize the Scriptures as the final source of appeal, but they also turn to tradition and, in effect, place tradition upon a par with the Scriptures.

In so doing, however, they involve themselves in difficulty. For if tradition and the Scriptures are equally authoritative, what is the relationship which they sustain one to another? It is an important question, and one that cannot be evaded. Our purpose now is to consider a recent attempt to come to grips with the problem. The proposed solution has been suggested by one of the most interesting figures of the modern Romanist church, Karl Rahner.1 At present Rahner has found himself in difficulty with the powers that be, and it is reported that all of his works must be submitted for approval to the Jesuit authorities at Rome. The result is that at present he is not writing. This is unfortunate, for Rahner is a provocative writer, and the Romanist church needs his talents.2

Rahner was born in southern Germany, and, although as a child he gave little evidence of being interested in the church, at the age of twenty-two with his brother he joined the Jesuit order. His life has been exceedingly busy and fruitful, and it is said that he has written over 700 books, essays, and articles. As a youth he studied with the existentialist Martin Heidegger, and the influence of this philosopher appears in his writing. His style is difficult, somewhat labyrinthian and hard to follow. But he has addressed himself to the all-important question of the inspiration of the Bible and we must consider whether he has actually helped Rome in formulating the precise relationship between tradition and Scripture.

Rahner’s Thesis

Rahner’s thesis is quite simple and may be succinctly stated. It is that in...

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