Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
CenQ 2:4 (Winter 1959) p. 46
THE CASE FOR ORTHODOXY by Edward J. Cornell (The Westminster Press, Phila., Pa., 1959, 162 pp., $3.50).
Edward J. Carnell, until recently president of Fuller Theological Seminary, and still a member of its faculty, has attempted to set forth a brief defense of orthodoxy with an effort to remove the odium which he feels has accrued around it, and made it palatable to the modern generation.
Beginning with foundations upon which he feels orthodoxy is built, he discusses the basis of authority, the principles of hermeneutics, and the content of orthodox theology. Certain guiding principles are evident to the reader. For one thing, Carnell plainly states that “the Reformed faith... is the most consistent expression of orthodoxy” (p. 13).
The summation of Biblical revelation is simply this: “God made a covenant with Abraham and Jesus Christ is the blessing of this covenant” (p. 21). This Abrahamic covenant is fulfilled spiritually in the church and has no other fulfillment. Carnell openly scoffs at the idea that the Abrahamic covenant will have a literal fulfillment in the restoration and salvation of the Jewish nation. How strange that a denial of one of the leading principles of pre-millennialism should be advanced by a professor in a supposedly pre-millennial institution.
He makes the classic error of covenant theology when he declares that the “subject of theology is the Gospel,” or, in other words, God’s main purpose in all ages is the salvation of the elect. In this connection he declares that all other questions of theology are relatively unimportant for the “New Testament abrogates everything that does not materially advance the Abrahamic covenant” (p. 56). He brands as a “cultic mentality” those who assign any importance to other doctrines such as the mode of baptism, the form of church government, the time of Christ’s return, etc. In short, he sets forth Christianity in terms of an irreducible minimum.
Perhaps the most striking feature of the volume is its extreme hostility to fundamentalism. “Fundamentalism is orthodoxy gone cultic” (p. 13). He takes one whole chapter to lambast severely separatism, fundamentalism, and dispensationalism. He makes a strong attack on J. Gresham Machen, the great New Testament scholar, for breaking away from the Presbyterian church and causing schism in the body of Christ. He castigates all who separate from denominations which they feel are apostate. He says Christians should remain in their denominations as long as the creeds and confessions of it are orthodox, and as long as they have freedom to preach the Gospel.
This entire volume is one of the strongest polemics against the position for which Conservative Baptis...
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