On the night of October 27, 1955, I was delivered of an inauguration address when I became President of Pittsburgh Xenia Theological Seminary. This address was called “Theological Conflict.” It is not my purpose to commend or recommend either my inauguration or the erstwhile effort of my address. Very briefly the plot was this, quoting William Temple (Douglas MacArthur, et al.), “All our problems are theological ones.” I tried to draw up a series of conflicts in the general areas of philosophy, world religions, and Christianity, and I finally zeroed in on Protestantism itself. I quote: “We come now to conflict within Protestantism itself. Who shall number our sects and who shall assay our differences? Some conflicts among us are fundamental. One I hold to be absolutely basic is how we shall construe our Bible as the word of God?” I still think now as I thought then that the basic conflict in Protestantism has to do with authority and that the question of authority for us is the question of our interpretation of our creedal statements on the Bible. Do we hold the Bible to be the Word of God or to contain the Word of God? Or to serve as a channel for the Word of God in the total existential situation? Every seminary professor and almost every seminary student has known (a) what his own creed said; (b) what he has really thought about this statement; (c) the differences between the seminary approach and the “grass roots” approach; and (d) the very real strain which exists in the Church as men move along the spectrum from “so-called liberal” to “so-called fundamentalist” positions regarding this problem.

The Presbyterian Outlook, a magazine published by Outlook ...

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