Once queen of the sciences, theology today seems to have become a serf of speculation. If it retains contemporary status as a science, it does so no longer in the classic sense of systematized knowledge of the spiritual world. Rather, theology is downgraded to science in the modern sense—a body of assumptions with no claim to finality. In fact, creativity in dogmatics is now often associated with some inherent necessity for change and revision. Decline of biblical theology and the doom of systematic theology are the inevitable result.

This sad development in the fortunes of systematic theology results from modern, mainly anti-intellectual speculative views of divine revelation. Schleiermacher’s notion, that God does not communicate truths about himself and his purposes, is still prevalent (not only in rationalistic liberalism but in neo-orthodox irrationalism); the possibility of divinely revealed doctrines is thereby ruled out in advance. The consequences for both biblical and systematic theology are plain: prophetic and apostolic teaching, no less than dogmatics, become simply devout theorizing on the basis of religious experience.

There are even more disturbing implications, however. Were the theology of the Bible reduced to theorizing about a special revelation divinely given to the sacred writers in the form of concepts and words; were such theorizing itself related in turn to the illumination of the Holy Spirit, one might still assert a rather high (even if inadequate) view of the Bible’s intellectual content. But the modern tendency is to insist that the biblical writers, too, were controlled by the cultural outlook of their time. Mediating evangelical thinkers have applied this premise half-heartedly to limited segments ...

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