In the numerous periodicals read in preparation for this column, we found one sequence of articles to be among the most interesting and easily the most significant. We refer to Professor James R. Branton’s “Our Present Situation in Biblical Theology” and its several replies. Religion in Life (winter 1956–57) had the liberally-inclined Millar Burrows and the Barthian-inclined James D. Smart and Robert McAfee Brown respond to this lead article. Together these four articles provide something of a mosaic of the non-orthodox or nonconservative or non-creedal or non-evangelical or non-fundamental, or whatever term you use, theology of our day. Their importance is so great that we give the whole column over to a summary of this discussion.
Colgate-Rochester Seminary Professor Branton first speaks of the liberal developments of the last century which listed Harnack and Bacon among its champions and interpreted Christ as merely a social reformer. Albert Schweitzer later pointed out that the liberal school had overlooked some historical aspects of Jesus such as his consuming interest in eschatology. This “new biblical approach moved onto the stage, and accused the older of posing as objective, but of actually being so culturally bound as to involve more eisegesis (reading teachings into the Bible) than exegesis (bring out the Bible’s own teaching).” Barth and Brunner followed this new approach to the Bible itself, trusting its message versus the dictates of culture and reason. G. Ernest Wright, C. H. Dodd and Rudolph Bultmann are also cited as part of this movement which “has placed the Bible back in the center of our thoughts” and made faith, not reason, the faculty by which it ...1
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