General Review: Events Viewed in the Light of God’s Word -- By: Herman A. Hoyt

Journal: Grace Journal
Volume: GJ 01:1 (Spring 1960)
Article: General Review: Events Viewed in the Light of God’s Word
Author: Herman A. Hoyt

General Review:
Events Viewed in the Light of God’s Word

Herman A. Hoyt

Dean and Professor of New Testament
Grace Theological Seminary

The latest pronouncement from the pen of Dr. Edward John Carnell, professor of apologetics in Fuller Theological Seminary, appears in the March 30, 1960 issue of The Christian Century under the title, “Orthodoxy: Cultic vs. Classical.” Needless to say, it follows the pattern already set by his book, The Case for Orthodox Theology. A subtitle to the article gives the gist of his thinking—”Both liberal and conservative churchmen need to forego cultic thinking and sit down together in exploratory, authentic theological discussion.”

Dr. Carnell gives the historical background for his strange attacks upon fundamentalism in particular and orthodoxy in general, appearing in his rather recent writings. The history goes back to 1949 when graduate studies were finished and he began his full time ministry. Apparently he did not realize that he was under close scrutiny, now that he had assumed the place of authority, and that his message and methods were being evaluated. In particular, it was his use of the Revised Standard Version, as he relates it in this article, that provoked a torrent of criticism. As he puts it, “I was not charged with indiscretion, but with outright heresy, by a number of orthodox churchmen.”

It is Dr. Carnell’s response to opposition that provides interesting reading, perhaps because it provides some insight into the soul. “At first I decided to ride out the storm, making no defense before my accusers. But in due season I sensed that a principle was at stake. Is Christ the Lord of the conscience, or is orthodoxy? Once the question assumed this form, I knew I would have to play the polemicist, whether I wanted to or not. As Luther realized in his own day, the time to speak had come, the time to be silent had passed.”

The question assumed larger proportions as he rolled it over in his mind. Orthodoxy showed definite hostility to the Revised Standard Version. He had thought that Protestants always rejoiced in the translation of the Word of God into the vernacular. Clergymen were responsible for plotting this war of nerves. And these men who were guilty of such an unholy crusade actually stormed the centers of learning, when they themselves were without the scholor’s command of Hebrew and Greek.

This train of thought must lead to one conclusion. “After due reflection I concluded that orthodoxy suffered from a serious illness… But I could not accuse orthodoxy without accusing myself, for I was a direct offspring of orthodoxy… I knew what was wrong with orthodoxy because I knew what was wrong with myse...

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