One of the Most Important Questions in contemporary theology is that of the finality of the Gospel. Current studies bristle with problems related to this, and anyone reading hard in either exegesis or dogmatics these days encounters such problems almost daily. There are the many questions related to the historico-critical method, to “demythologizing,” to history and historicism, to say nothing of Christian morality.
When one turns from today’s problems to the witness of the New Testament, he finds himself in another world. For here we do not find a discussion about the truth and its finality; we hear words of warning and sounds of alarm against the lie. Here, in the New Testament, truth and falsehood are opposed as clear, decisive, and absolute antagonists. Moved and concerned, Paul speaks out unambiguously against those who “tamper with God’s word” (2 Cor. 4:2, RSV). He is alert to the “god of this world” who has “blinded the minds of the unbelievers” to the light of the glory of Christ (2 Cor. 4:4). He warns against false apostles and deceitful workers who parade themselves as apostles of Christ (2 Cor. 11:13). They imitate Satan in his masquerade as an angel of light. We are all called, therefore, to test the spirits, “for many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).
Impressive persons can and do pretend to speak the truth. But we are to remember that even an angel from heaven may not be allowed to get away with preaching a false gospel (Gal. 1:8). Among the “prophets” that bring the Church into confusion, some will be most impressive and credible personally. But we must never forfeit our responsibility to test the spirits by saying, “This angel would never deceive us.” Even the most impressive prophet ...1
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