The Voice Of God’s Word -- By: John H. Skilton

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 60:2 (Fall 1998)
Article: The Voice Of God’s Word
Author: John H. Skilton


The Voice Of God’s Word*

John H. Skilton1

*Reprinted gratefully with permission of Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing Company, from John H. Skilton, ed., The New Testament Student, vol. 3, The New Testament Student and Theology (Nutley, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed, 1976), 160–70.

The student of the New Testament today is obliged to do a large amount of reading about the New Testament. Many scholarly works are available which contribute substantially to his understanding of the field. However, the discerning Christian will often come upon some very disturbing things in his reading. He may be distressed to find, for example, that not a few writers whose studies are profitable in certain respects seem indifferent or even hostile to the central teaching of the Scriptures. He may be amazed to find that a gifted scholar will be able to spend decades studying a book of the Bible may produce much useful material about it, and yet miss or deny the main point of the book. He may be baffled that celebrated critical writers as they approach the New Testament from a naturalistic, rationalistic viewpoint which excludes on philosophical grounds the acceptance of miracles or other manifestations of the supernatural as historical, notoriously fail to examine in a really critical way their own basic assumptions. Thus so acute a critic as David Friedrich Strauss, a Hegelian in his approach to the Bible, brushes aside the supernatural in the Scriptures with a lordly dogmatism: “the absolute cause never disturbs the chain of secondary causes by single arbitrary acts of interposition.. .. When therefore we meet with an account of certain phenomena or events of which it is either expressly stated or implied that they were produced immediately by God himself (divine apparitions—voices from heaven and the like), or by human being possessed of supernatural powers (miracles, prophecies), such an account is in so far to be considered as not historical. And inasmuch as, in general, the intermingling of the spiritual world with the human is found only in unau thentic records, and is irreconcilable with all just conceptions; so narratives of angels and devils, of their appearing in human shape and interfering with human concerns, cannot possibly be received as historical.”2 As for the bodily resurrection of Jesus, that of course cannot be allowed on this type of assumption,

for it would involve “an immediate interposition of God in the regular course of nature, irreconcilable with enlightened views of the relation of God to the world.”3

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