Brunner’s Unorthodox Views Of Inspiration -- By: Paul L. Kaufman

Journal: Central Bible Quarterly
Volume: CENQ 001:1 (Mar 1958)
Article: Brunner’s Unorthodox Views Of Inspiration
Author: Paul L. Kaufman


Brunner’s Unorthodox Views Of Inspiration

Paul L. Kaufman

Registrar Central Conservative Baptist Theological Seminary

One of the basic considerations of the theological world in the mid-twentieth century has been the inspiration of the Scriptures. The structure of a man’s theology will largely depend upon what he holds as to the nature of revelation and inspiration. Our purpose here is to examine inspiration within the framework of the conservative view of Scripture as a body of divinely revealed truth and set over against that view the neo-orthodox position as represented by Emil Brunner, particularly in his Revelation and Reason. Neo-orthodoxy or neo-supernaturalism or the “new orthodoxy” is the latest comer to the field, and it competes today in the theological arena ostensibly as a movement back to the Bible. There is therefore need for conservative Christians to examine rather carefully this new teaching and specifically its teaching with regard to the revelation of God in Holy Scripture.

What Is Brunner’s Concept Of Revelation?

Brunner believes that there is a real problem between faith and reason. He believes that the developments in science and philosophy have made the gap between faith and reason attain catastrophic proportions. He fails to realize what most non-supernaturalistic thinkers fail to take account of, viz., that miracles are not matters of natural law, but matters of history. Whereas science deals with that which happens always or for the most part, miracles are matters which occur once or but rarely and are attested by testimony, e.g. the resurrection of Christ.

We usually think of revelation as the communication of God to the minds of the writers of Holy Scripture of truths not accessible to human reason; but Brunner repeatedly states that this is not what he means by revelation. Brunner combines revelation and redemption into a continuum. He says revelation and redemption cannot be two isolated entities; it must be revelation-redemption.

For Brunner, revelation is always redemptive and redemption is always a revelation. Redemption is God revealing Himself to me as God, as Lord, as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. On the other hand, revelation is God coming to the human soul in saving grace. We must speak either of revelatory-redemption, or of redemptive-revelation; we must never put revelation here and redemption there. Brunner says, e.g., “the history of revelation is the history of salvation and the history of salvation is the history of revelation” (R. and R. p. 8).

The main points of Brunner’s view can be simply delineated as follows:

1. Revelation is an event. It is not a doctrine, nor a book. It is something that happens...

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