The Evangelical Theological Society Tomorrow -- By: Gordon H. Clark
BETS 9:1 (Winter 1966) p. 3
The Evangelical Theological Society Tomorrow*
[*The Presidential Address delivered at the annual meeting of The Evangelical Theological Society on December 29, 1965, at The Free Will Baptist College, Nashville, Tennessee.]
The Evangelical Theological Society is a remarkable organization. The term Evangelical, an inheritance from the Reformation, reminds us of the so-called formal principle and the so-called material principle of the origin of Protestantism. Justification by faith alone was the material principle; and the religious conditions of the sixteenth century required great stress on this essential element of the gospel.
The Evangelical Theological Society, however, has not done much with the doctrine of Justification. This is not because Justification by faith alone is any less essential now, but rather because the battle today, in a way unlike that of the sixteenth century, rages around the so-called formal principle of the Reformation, namely, the Scripture itself. Both principles are, of course, essential in every age. No one can rightly appropriate the term Evangelical who rejects the one or the other. But though there are still many today who reject Justification and who decry it as a forensic, legal, irreligious concept, the main battle centers on the truthfulness of Scripture.
It is for this reason that the Evangelical Theological Society is a remarkable organization. In a day when the main attack against Christianity is centered on the truthfulness of God’s Word, and when the liberals loudly claim that no scholarly defense of the Bible can be made, this Society of college and seminary professors was organized for the purpose of propagating the doctrine of Scriptural infallibility.
Thus it happens that our Society includes the best conservative scholars in the land, and to this end our discussions examine every known phase of Biblical literature, archaeology, theology, and apologetics. At our first meeting, which may be called our constitutional convention, we saw clearly that if the Bible is the Word of God, a phrase even the neo-orthodox sometimes use, it cannot contain error, for the simple reason that God cannot lie. Conversely, if the Bible contains errors, it cannot, certainly not in its entirety, be the Word of God. Hence the basis on which the Society was founded, and the principle on which it operates to this day, and the statement to which we all subscribe is: “The Bible alone and the Bible in its entirety is the Word of God written, and therefore inerrant in the autographs.”
Note that the statement was deliberately cast in the logical form of an implication. The premise of the implication is the proposition that
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