The first World War seemed to explode quite decisively the eschatology of inevitable progress, and led to deep-seated uncertainty as to the rightness of the anthropocentric view of religion which had so gaily sponsored it. In this situation, two significant theological movements appeared, each stressing from complementary angles of approach the reality of the revealing action whereby God speaks to sinful man in judgment and mercy. The first was the dialectical “crisis-theology” of Karl Barth, which summoned the Church in the name of God to humble herself and listen to his catastrophic Word. The second was the “biblical theology” movement, which first became articulate in English through the work of Sir Edwyn Hoskyns, calling the biblical scholar in the name of historical objectivity to recognize that the Bible cannot warrantably be treated as a book of mystical devotion, nor as a hard core of non-supernatural history overlaid with unauthentic theology, but that it must be read as a churchly confession of faith in a God who has spoken and speaks still. These two movements, linked together in all manner of combinations, are the parent stems from which the theology of the past generation has grown. Taking as their own starting-point the reality of divine revelation, they have forced the Church to reconsider this theme with renewed seriousness, and to recognize that the proper task of theology is not reading off the surface level of the mind of man, as subjectivism supposed, but receiving, expounding and obeying the Word of God.
But this raises a crucial and complex problem for the theologian of the “post-liberal” age: how are we to conceive of the Word ...1
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