Evangelical Theology: Where “Should” We Be Going? -- By: Stanley N. Gundry

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 22:1 (Mar 1979)
Article: Evangelical Theology: Where “Should” We Be Going?
Author: Stanley N. Gundry


Evangelical Theology:
Where “Should” We Be Going?

Stanley N. Gundry*

What is appropriate for a presidential address? Those who have been in this position will recognize how unique the demands of this assignment are. The difficulties are obvious. We sit here with full stomachs after a long and full day of travel and meetings. One more session is still on the agenda. And it is only realistic for me to recognize that our interests are varied. Consequently, I suspect that there are only two fond hopes for this address that you all hold in common: (1) that I will not put you to sleep with a subject of no personal interest to you, and (2) that I will keep the length of my remarks within appropriate limits. This certainly presents me with a challenge, but not with a subject.

When I considered the theme of this thirtieth annual meeting, “Evangelical Theology: Where Are We and Where Are We Going?”, I discovered that no one had been assigned to give an overview of where evangelical theology should be going. I did not choose my subject; my subject chose me. Presumptuous though it may be of me to address this topic, I come to it with the conviction that we each are prone to be isolated within the specialties of our own discipline, with a consequent loss of direction, perhaps within that discipline itself, and even more likely a loss of direction with reference to matters outside that discipline. We need a sense of direction across the countryside while wending our way through the cities, villages and hamlets. I will give my perception of where evangelical theologians should be going in the years ahead. I will not be so presumptuous, however, as to suggest conclusions that should be reached; we must do our homework first. But I will point to the possibilities and problems which, in my judgment, we either cannot or dare not ignore.

One direction we will find ourselves going, whether we want to or not. You all know what I am referring to: the inerrancy question. Neither side in this discussion can be expected to let the subject go away. One pole will be sharpening and defending the concept but may be in danger of so narrowing inerrancy that it will depart from the Biblical basis and the historical understanding of the concept. The other pole in the discussion can be expected to continue to repudiate the concept altogether or to continue to use the term “inerrancy” but to so qualify it as to evacuate the concept of any significant meaning.

Few if any evangelicals look with relish upon the possible polarizations and divisions that may develop within their ranks if trends known to exist back in the 1950s and 1960s, but only recently publicly identified,1 continue. But I submit to you that no matter where you stand on this issue there could ha...

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