The Bible addresses itself from faith to faith. The Old Testament writings, according to the New Testament, were given in order to bear witness to Christ (John 5:39), to unfold the way of salvation, and to provide the man of God with the spiritual equipment he needs for Christian life and service (2 Tim. 3:15 ff.). And if this is true of the Old Testament writings, it is true a fortiori of the New Testament writings. There is considerable point to the often repeated statement that the avowed purpose of the Fourth Gospel is the primary purpose of all the New Testament writings: “these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31).

It is a basic evangelical tenet that, if the biblical writings do not lead us to faith in Christ, their primary purpose has not been accomplished in us. However much we may study them for other ends, however much we may value them for their religious content, yet without faith in the Christ of whom they speak we are in the position of those to whom the charge of Christ himself came that while they searched the sacred writings to find true life there, they could not attain it because they would not come to him, to whom those writings pointed as the giver of life.

FAITH AND CRITICISM

Evangelical Christians accordingly believe that it is in the way of faith that the Bible’s true purpose is fulfilled and its inmost meaning grasped. But the question then arises about the relation between the appropriation of the Bible message by faith and the study of the Bible and its message by means of the various critical disciplines. No doubt there are many Christian believers who are content to hear the voice of God in the ...

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