The Progress Of Doctrine In The New Testament By T. D. Bernard -- By: Richard C. Barcellos

Journal: Reformed Baptist Theological Review
Volume: RBTR 04:1 (Jan 2007)
Article: The Progress Of Doctrine In The New Testament By T. D. Bernard
Author: Richard C. Barcellos


The Progress Of Doctrine In The New Testament By T. D. Bernard

A Review Article (Part I)

Richard C. Barcellos*

* Richard C. Barcellos serves as Part-time Lecturer in New Testament and Administrative Assistant to the Dean at the Midwest Center for Theological Studies (www.mctsowensboro.org).

Thomas Dehany Bernard’s The Progress of Doctrine in the New Testament has gone through several printings. It has received glowing recommendations by Wilbur M. Smith, Alva Hovey, W.H. Griffith Thomas, and H.C.G. Moule, to name a few. It was first delivered in lecture form in 1864 before the University of Oxford as part of the Bampton Lecture series. Wilbur Smith thought so highly of this book that he said, “There are a few books that are timeless – this is one of them.”1

It is interesting to note that Bernard’s book is the only one footnoted by Geerhardus Vos in his “The Idea of Biblical Theology as a Science and as a Theological Discipline,” a lecture delivered in 1894 as Vos’s inaugural address as Professor of Biblical Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary.2 Vos references Bernard in the context of discussing the progressive, organic character of special revelation. As we review Bernard’s book, readers acquainted with Vos’s writings will see why he referenced this work.

Preface

In the Preface, Bernard focuses on the aim and design of his lectures. He is trying to show that the New Testament “exhibits a scheme of

progressive doctrine, fashioned for permanent and universal use;”3 to observe “the actual sequence of thought”4 in the NT; to show that this progressive scheme “involves the unity of a divine plan, and therefore the continuity of a divine authority.”5 In a day when many had bought the lie of rationalism and its historical-critical method and were anti-supernaturalists, Bernard obviously held to the divine authority of the Scriptures.

Lecture I: The New Testament

This lecture seeks to prove three points:

1. That by doctrine shall be here meant divine teaching, or truth as communicated by God.

2. That the course of the divine teaching under the Christian dispensation shall be considered to coincide in extent with the New Testament Scriptures.

3. That the relative charact...

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