Part I of this article ran in the November 24, 1958, issue.
Modern theology is, indeed, fully aware of the scriptural and churchly conviction that revelation is objectively and normatively presented in and by the biblical witness to it. In an attempt to do justice to this conviction while still holding Scripture to be no more than fallible human testimony, theologians focus attention on two “moments” in the divine self-revealing activity in which, they affirm, revelation does in fact confront us directly and authoritatively. These are, on the one hand, the sequence of historical events in which revelation was given, once for all, to its first witnesses; and, on the other, the repeated “encounter” in which the content of that original revelation is mediated to each successive generation of believers.
Both “moments,” of course, have a proper place in the biblical concept of revelation; what is distinctive about the modern view is not its insistence on them, as such, but its attempt to do justice to them while dispensing with that which in fact links them together and is integral to the true notion of each—namely, the concept of infallible Scriptures, given as part of the historical revelatory process and conveying that which is mediated in the “encounter.”
Most modern statements make mention of both “moments” in combination (compare Williams’ reference to “a fresh encounter with the personal and historical act of God in Christ”), but they vary in the emphasis given to each. Scholars whose main interest is in biblical history, such as C. H. Dodd and H. Wheeler Robinson, naturally stress the first (cf. Dodd, History and the Gospel, London, Nisbet, ...1
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