We cannot help being twentieth-century persons, forced to think in twentieth-century terms. We are compelled to do our theology in the situation created by “modernity.”
This style of thinking is dominated by earth-bound science, and it creates the impression that many of the affirmations of the Christian message are antiquated and beyond believing. It forces upon us the necessity of deciding how to respond to this major assault.
First, it is possible for us to go on asserting the traditional faith in the face of modernity. This can be done either by those who are actually ignorant of the full force of the intellectual challenge, or by those who are apprised of it but determined to swim against the stream. Fundamentalist thinking, for example, seems oblivious to such modern issues as the coherence of God-talk, the state of theistic claims, the nature of historical research, the historical roots of fundamentalism itself. It is able, therefore, to reassert traditional beliefs without having to face up to modern objections. While this is fine for the fundamentalist community, which is not questioning, it cannot satisfy people who are. The orthodoxy of bare assertion will not seem plausible to a critical thinker.
A more sophisticated form of fideistic orthodoxy can be found in the “neo-orthodox” movement. It issued a thunderous No! to the acids of critical modernity that were slowly destroying traditional belief. It called for a decisive return to the Word of God encountered in the biblical witness to Christ. Its validity is thought to reign sovereignly above and beyond the realm of rational investigation, and to deliver perfect certainty to the believer.
Much the same emphasis was sounded in the Dutch neo-Calvinist ...1
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