The Inspiration Of Scripture In Reformation And In Barthian Theology -- By: William Young

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 08:1 (Nov 1945)
Article: The Inspiration Of Scripture In Reformation And In Barthian Theology
Author: William Young


The Inspiration Of Scripture In Reformation And In Barthian Theology

William Young

IN our time as in the days of the Reformation, the doctrine of holy Scripture presents crucial problems of fundamental significance for theology and the church. The problems differ, to be sure, as do the times. The relation of Scripture to ecclesiastical authority was the burning question of the sixteenth century. Our problems have come to center about the relation of Scripture to scientific inquiry, the term “scientific” being understood in the broadest possible sense, including the “spiritual” as well as the natural sciences, and philosophy as well as the special sciences. The problems concerning the authority of Scripture facing the Christian theologian of our generation consequently display a theoretical character which distinguishes them from the more directly practical nature of the problems confronted by the Reformers. This is not to say that our problems are not intensely practical in the strictest sense of the term. To the contrary, vital issues are involved in which the very foundation of the church’s existence is at stake. Yet these issues oblige us to make inquiry into theoretical questions relating to the connection between Scripture and human knowledge in general which are foreign to the problematics of the sixteenth century. It goes without saying that the views of Scripture adopted by Karl Barth and other twentieth century writers influenced by him have been formulated in terms of these questions, or at least with them as a background. Concretely, these issues involve matters of literary and historical criticism of Scripture most directly and, less directly but no less importantly, questions concerning the relations of Scripture revelation to the results of the special sciences in general. Underlying all these particular issues is the basic question of the relation of Scripture

revelation to human knowledge as such, especially as human knowledge has come to be conceived in modern epistemology. The movements popularly called Barthianism and the New Orthodoxy cannot be understood apart from references to these questions. Neither may an intelligent formulation of Reformed orthodoxy in our times disregard these issues.

Underlying the particular issues raised by the development of modern science and philosophy, there remains the perennial problem of the seat of authority in religion. In this there is involved the basic theological and philosophical issues of the relationship between reason and revelation. In this respect, our problem is not a new one and in no essential manner does it differ from the problem of the Reformers. In any case, the doctrine of the Reformers on this point may well shed light upon our problem and...

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