Contemporary Theology and the Bible -- By: John H. Stoll

Journal: Grace Journal
Volume: GJ 03:1 (Winter 1962)
Article: Contemporary Theology and the Bible
Author: John H. Stoll


Contemporary Theology and the Bible

John H. Stoll

Dean of Education, Calvary Bible College

There are many and varied philosophies to be found in our world today. Many of these have a direct bearing on theology and the Bible. The contemporary philosophies that delve into the field of theology generally seek naturalistic causes or reasons for the Bible. Very few accept the Bible in its original revelation as verbally and plenarily inspired of God, and for this reason these philosophies are constantly changing as man’s ideas change. Thus, in order to keep abreast of the times, one must acquaint himself with both historical as well as contemporary theological variations.

In this study we will note a few of the more prominent contemporary theological philosophies and compare them with the Bible. It will be our purpose to give a brief outline of each and then to conclude with a critique.

Liberalism

Liberalism was a development of German theology which arose aso protest against the orthodox views of the Bible. It appeared in America late in the nineteenth century, and became virtually synonymous with the “social gospel.” It had a four-fold basis: (1) Philosophically, it was grounded in some form of German philosophical idealism. (2) It placed unreserved trust in the new critical studies of the Bible, which contained a denial of the historical doctrines of revelation and inspiration. (3) It believed that the developing science of the times antiquated much of the Scriptures. (4) It was rooted in the new learning, and in this sense it is modernistic (preference for the new over the traditional) and liberal (the right of free criticism of all theological claims).

It altered Christianity to suit its philosophy and reinterpreted all the major doctrines. The traditional doctrine of the trinity was rejected and replaced by some sort of a functional trinity; the transcendence and wrath of God were replaced by over-emphasized doctrines of divine immanence and love; the Kingdom of God was regarded as no longer founded upon the death and resurrection of Christ, but upon the spiritual and ethical quality of the life of Jesus; salvation was no longer seen as freedom from wrath and sin, but from sensuousness or a materialistic or selfish ethic; the division of the saved-or-lost was denied, and all men were held to possess the some religious potentiality, all men formed the so-called “brotherhood of man,” whose corollary was the “Fatherhood of God”; the purpose of the church was to bring all men under the Christian ethic in every aspect of their lives, and it preached this so-called “social gospel.”

The shallow and unrealistic attempts of this philosophy to explain and understand Christian realities, c...

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