Periodical Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 136:543 (Jul 1979)
Article: Periodical Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Periodical Reviews

“Crisis in Biblical Authority,” Donald G. Bloesch, Theology Today 35 (January 1979): 455-62.

This article is a contribution to “Theological Table-talk,” a regular feature in Theology Today on current theological issues. The springboard for the discussion is “the concerted attempts of liberals in the mainline denominations to reconceive homosexuality as a viable alternative life style…despite the clear witness of Holy Scripture that sexual perversion is morally reprehensible in the sight of God” (p. 455). The way the Bible is treated by proponents of such attempts “in effect denies the divine authority and normativeness of biblical teaching” (p. 455). Bloesch defends biblical authority and biblical inspiration vigorously—as he understands them.

Bloesch rejects “the liberal-modernist approach” to the Bible, which understands revelation as “inner enlightenment or self-discovery” (p. 456). He speaks against “higher critics who read into Scripture a naturalistic philosophy which a priori rules out the supernatural” (p. 455) and liberals who stress “the infallibility of conscience” (p. 461).

Bloesch also rejects the position of “leftwing neo-orthodoxy” in which “revelation is dissolved in an existential encounter” (p. 460). Although he thinks that Karl Barth at one time was close to the truth (Bloesch’s view), he rejects Barth’s position that “Jesus Christ alone” is “the Word of God and [that] the Bible and the sermon as well as baptism and the Lord’s Supper [are] signs and witnesses of this word” (p. 457). Barth, according to Bloesch, sees “revelation…as a direct Word from God spoken to the soul, and the biblical word as only a human witness and pointer to revelation” (p. 457).

The real target of Bloesch’s opposition, however, proves to be the evangelicals who hold to the verbal inerrancy of the Bible, advocates of what he calls “the scholastic” approach to Scripture (p. 456). He thinks the divine authority of the Bible is as much eroded “by its uncritical devotees who absolutize the outmoded world view reflected in the Bible and thereby render the biblical witness incredible” (p. 455) as by the higher critics. He insists that “in right-wing scholastic orthodoxy revelation is frozen into a propositional formula” (p. 460) and that “fundamentalists are prone to stress the infallibility of the original manuscripts” (pp. 460-61).

Bloesch misunderstands the stance of those who affirm the inerrancy of Scripture. He describes them as basing “the authority of Scripture on the inerrancy of the writing” (p. 456). That is not correct. The Bible is not authoritat...

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