Guest Editorial -- By: John Warwick Montgomery

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 08:4 (Fall 1965)
Article: Guest Editorial
Author: John Warwick Montgomery

Guest Editorial

John Warwick Montgomery

Across the centuries Christian theology has faced two perennial challenges: the maintenance of a pure testimony, and the application of revealed truth to the total life of man. Though these two tasks interlock (since application of the truth is impossible if the truth is lost, and truth without application stands self-condemned), theology has. generally devoted itself now to the One, ‘now to the other, and the cause of Christ has suffered from the imbalance. “These ought ye to. have done, and not to leave the other undone” stands as. a perpetual judgment over the Church’s history.

Contemporary evangelical Christianity has demonstrated great vitality both in its stress on an unchanging gospel and in its forthright proclamation of saving truth. Yet in spite of this (or perhaps because of this, since nothing maddens the Evil Foe like fidelity to God’s will), the present evangelical situation is. fraught with extreme perils. On the one hand, a, current of opposition to unqualified biblical authority has begun to erode evangelical testimony from within the ranks; on the other hand, the importation of Barthian dichotomies between Church and world has reinforced the natural isolation of a pietistic fundamentalism that finds it easier to declare what it is “agin” than what it is “fur”.

The cry of “paper pope” has been shouted at evangelical Protestants ever since the Reformation. Today, however, one observes with amazement and with sorrow that in the very orthodox circles where the twentieth-century battle for biblical authority has been most courageously fought, voices are being raised against the inerrancy of Holy Writ. Biblical Seminary in New York, an evangelical center, where brilliant pioneering techniques of inductive Bible study were developed, saw the 1963 publication of Dewey M. Beegle’s The Inspiration of Scripture, in which that faculty member having embraced Neo-Orthodox, dialectic presuppositions as to the nature of truth—imposes them on Scripture, denies its inerrancy, and makes the incredible claim that evangelicals by a “mental readjustment” can now retain inspiration without inerrancy and thereby rejoin mainline Protestant-ecumenical theology. North Park Seminary in Chicago, long known for its uncompromising free-church orthodoxy and piety, is now characterized by an anti-inerrancy approach to the Bible that finds scriptural truth-value not in any historical soundness or factual consistency, possessed by the Word, but in its ability to trigger spiritual experience. Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, a bastion of biblical orthodoxy in the days of Theodore Engelder and W. F. Arndt, has in the last decade weakened its stand considerably; how much can be seen from the September, 1965, issue of...

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