How Does the Bible Function in the Christian Life?

by William A. Dryness

William A. Dryness is president and professor of theology at New College for Advanced Christian Studies, Berkeley, California. A lay person in the Presbyterian Church, he completed his D. Theol. at the University of Strasbourg. Among his writings are the following: Christian Apologetics in a World Community (InterVarsity Press 1983); Let the Earth Rejoice: A Biblical Theology of Holistic Mission (Crossway 1983); Christian Art in Asia, (Rodop Amsterdam 1979, distributed by Humanities Press); Themes in Old Testament Theology, (InterVarsity Press 1979); Daniel in the Television Den: A Christian Approach to American Culture (Western Baptist Press 1975; and Rouault:A Vision of Suffering and Salvation (Eerdmans 1971).

The following is Chapter 9 in Robert K. Johnston (ed.) The Use of the Bible in Theology: Evangelical Options (John Knox 1985).


William Dryness argues that to do theology properly we must begin not with a doctrine of Scripture but with our life in the world. “Scripture will function much more like a musical score than a blueprint for our lives. A score gives guidance but it must always be played afresh”.

The Lord has more light and truth yet to break forth out of his holy Word.

John Robinson

To begin our discussion of Scripture with the question of how we use the Bible in theology may in itself be misleading. It might imply that Scripture is something I control and which I can manipulate according to my needs. But if the Bible is God's word and therefore a powerful presence in my life, the proper question may be: how does God's word use me? In any case a study of the function of the Bible must begin with the recognition that the Bible cannot be considered in isolation from my life and faith and that of the community of which I am a part. It will be my purpose to argue in this chapter that the Bible does not function in a vacuum and that statements about its power and authority must reflect on its context as well as its nature.

 The model I would propose in the use of Scripture might be called the interactionist model.(1) This way of thinking suggests that Scripture actually functions in an interaction between my own experience, the encounter with the text, and the reality of God through this. I will argue that my experience with Scripture will certainly come to include theoretical knowledge about Scripture but that this only becomes relevant in the fight of my concrete experience with the truth of Scripture, much of which can never be fully articulated. Indeed, as the reader becomes mature in Christ, it is the actual experience of scriptural truth that is more important. For it is this that enables the reader to judge more ' clearly the organic meaning of Scripture. Contrariwise, when theoretical constructs about Scripture continue to dominate we run the risk of noting the Holy Spirit's use of the Bible to particular modes of working, and thereby we fail to allow new light and insight to break upon us. We will seek to present this model in three parts -- telling our story, hearing God's story, and allowing these stories to merge.

 We Begin by Telling Our Story

 To understand Scripture properly we must begin not with a doctrine of Scripture but with our life in the world. This follows not only from the importance of our particular starting point but also from the way we come to know anything at all. A recognition of this fact has been reflected in recent studies in theological method. For example, Bernard Lonergan points out, "A theology mediates between a cultural matrix and the significance and role of a religion in that matrix.(2) Previously, he notes that culture was understood in a classical sense: classical values were viewed as static and unchanging. Now we have come to see culture more empirically as the changing values and meanings that inform a way of life. Our faith therefore is necessarily expressed and understood in terms of our particular setting. This need not be seen as a handicap; it is rather a recognition of our existence in society and history. This means moreover that our reflection on and use of Scripture must also take their impetus and starting point from the forces that shape our consciousness. In our day particularly momentous and complex issues face us-diminishing resources, economic affluence and poverty, and arms escalation, to name only a few. On a personal level many people carry heavy burdens of suffering or discouragement. These factors are surely relevant to the way we use Scripture.

 This particularity of our starting point has been highlighted by the social and historical sciences. These show us the ways we are products of our environment and the history and traditions lying behind it. We must begin here because we simply cannot begin anywhere else. We cannot jump to some privileged place of neutrality or complete objectivity. We can neither dose out all sense data (as Descartes wanted to do) nor bracket all ultimate questions (as Husserl sought to do). Nor do we perceive our life in discrete impressions (as Hume claimed) or in individually verifiable facts (as the logical positivists insist). Rather we are aware of a totality of experience making a dynamic whole. And it is within this context that we must five as responsible persons.

Rudolf Bultmann has been one theologian anxious to recognize the role that our modem pre-understanding plays in the interpretation of Scripture. He insists that it is impossible for a modem person who uses electricity and yet planes to understand the New Testament as it is written. In contrast to people in biblical times "modern man acknowledges as reality only such phenomena or events as are comprehensible within the framework of the rational order of the universe ... the thinking of modem men is really shaped by the scientific world-view, and. modem men need it for their daily lives."(3)

 Now it can hardly be doubted that whatever modem people comprehend must be put in terms that are congruent with other things they know to be true. just as Scripture must be put into a language we can understand, so it must be translated into a cultural framework we can relate to. But it does not follow that our framework of understanding, any more than our language, is fixed and unchanging. Bultmann has followed Kant here in making our point of view into a normative and critical principle.(4) We must allow that the framework in which we see things needs correction or indeed transformation. As Peter Berger comments, "We must begin in the situation in which we find ourselves, but we must not submit to it as to an irresistible tyranny."(5)

 In another place Berger elaborates this caution. He notes that modem (Western) consciousness may find traditional conceptions of God and the supernatural highly improbable. Long held and highly dispersed habits of thought may incline the average person toward secularism and naturalism. But this interesting and helpful sociological analysis is purely descriptive. These methods uncover the habits of thought with which the average person approaches Scripture. These mind-sets may well be hostile to the truth of the Bible; indeed, its messages may often be dismissed out of hand. But this does not mean that Scripture must be ignored or transformed to suit our way of thinking. It is possible of course always to assume in principle that one's modem ideas are right, but this does not put one in a position to learn much of anything new. The defect, after all, Berger points out, may he in the modern consciousness and not with the truth of Christianity.(6) Though we must recognize where we are in our thinking, we must always be open to change or to altering our point of view if growth and maturation are to take place.

 But it is clear that we ignore our presuppositions to our peril. As we noted, looking at Scripture in isolation from its context may tempt us to overlook the mind-sets and cultural predispositions with which we come to Scripture. We may then be blind to our tendency to focus on particular themes in the Bible while overlooking others. While teaching in Asia I became aware how often Western readers tended to see the truth of Scripture in abstract terms, while Asian readers tended to focus on narrative and concrete images. They did not find it necessary, as we do, to isolate single meanings and eliminate nuances and allusions. I have even heard of a situation in Africa where believers are particularly attracted to the genealogies in the Old Testament. Surely, they insist, here is a sign of authenticity.

 The other side of this same point is that by ignoring the particular settings in which Scripture is read we risk losing the richness that varying perspectives may bring to our understanding of the truth of Scripture. Although we are sinners and we live in a fallen world, because of God's sovereignty and providential presence, there is always positive value in what we bring to Scripture.(7) And we must not be ungrateful for these preliminary signs of God's grace.

 On a more personal level individuals may be more conscious of some immediate need or crisis which motivates them to turn to Scripture in the first place. As God heard the cries of the Hebrew people suffering under oppression in Egypt, so also God hears the cries of people today and sees their tears. It would be both inhuman and theologically deficient to fail to take such predispositions into account, for these are the particular openings which give opportunity for Scripture to speak with special power

.In summary we may say that, since we are products of our setting and the particular values of our community, it is this concrete experience which we must bring to Scripture and in terms of which we must understand its message. The principle at stake here is what the Reformers called the perspicuity of Scripture. The truth of Scripture is accessible and clear to all who can read it for themselves. When we by contrast present Scripture in the first instance in terms of some particular theological framework or in the light of specialized or critical issues, we not only fail to address the questions that trouble us, but we may also place a barrier between the reader and the text of Scripture. It might even be argued that much that passes for biblical study in our seminaries and graduate schools has in fact the effect of creating barriers between the lay reader and the Bible.

 The use of Scripture, however, is not a special property of professional interpreters; it is a function of the whole body of Christ. Professional exegetes have the important role of helping Christians to learn to read Scripture for themselves. They provide historical and corporate perspectives which protect from individual excesses. This extremely important process is described in Ephesians 4:11- 16. There it is clear that the goal of ministry is the maturity of the whole body. The gifts poed out on the church by the ascended Christ have as their final goal that "we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ" (vs. 13, NIV). Those whom we call professional exegetes are then servants of the church who are to help people read Scripture in the light of their own questions not in the light of problems scholars (or their German teachers!) say are important. It does not take much interaction with lay readers to see how enormously different are the problems they see in Scripture from those theologians are taught to see. One often hears the lament that theology has not penetrated into our churches. The reason for this may in part he here: individual Christians must be challenged to reflect on their commitment and to work from a biblical point of view.(8) For authentic commitment will always be relative to times and places. Indeed the biblical picture portrays a God who wishes to enter fully into the fabric of human life-one who leaves the ninety-nine in the fold and goes out and seeks the one sheep that is lost. So today we must believe that God is seeking us out, coming to us where we are and seeking to bring redemption into our lives, our homes, and our communities. But how does Scripture mediate this coming?

 Scripture Functions in Allowing Us to Hear God's Story

 In various ways the Word of God comes into our situation. But as we are exposed to it we soon learn that it does not come simply as another source of knowledge about ourselves or the world, but as a dynamic call which demands a response. This awareness comes from the interaction of two factors in the text. First, we see in Scripture particular people and communities that represent times and places very different from our own. Yet they are seen to be real people who cry and laugh just as we do. Second, we find God coming to them, speaking to them, and interacting with them in pursuit of his good purposes. These purposes are realized in a series of events that Gabriel Fackre calls the red thread through Scripture-the central and defining narrative of Scripture, what we might call God's story of redemption or renewal.

We find in Scripture a God who is actively present not only as the creator but also the sustainer of this order of things. We see God enter history, meet people where they are, but actively transform situations in which he is present. Both elements of the record are indispensable. It is a real human world we meet with. The authors of Scripture give an authentic witness to the crucial events of God's redemptive program climaxing in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. As Conrad Boerma puts it, "From within their own social situations its authors described how God changed their world. . . .(9)

 This human point of view calls for further elaboration, for one often sees reference to the cultural and historical conditionedness of Scripture as though it were a cause for concern. The particularity, it is held, is a source of problems for the interpreter. Indeed, one is led to believe that the ideal form of revelation would have been a set of abstract propositions. I believe it is time that we saw the mistake in this line of thinking. Because of the particular intellectual heritage that we enjoy in the West, we have come to believe that propositional statements are the purest form of truth. In fact, however, the proposition most often reflects the abstraction of truth from its circumstantial expression. Now one ought not belittle the factual or cognitive dimension of Scripture. There are statements of fact which reflect the transcendent purposes of God, but these are often given figurative, poetic, or ironical expression. And they always have a historical and cultural context. As Bernard Ramm put it a generation ago, "propositional revelation" is an unhappy expression because "it fails to do justice to the literary, historical and poetic elements of special revelation."(10)

 In fact the conditionedness of Scripture is an asset to interpretation rather than a liability. The particular and circumstantial expression of revelation underlines the truth that God has entered into actual history and has made himself known to particular people at special times and places. All of this is a great advantage. For we too are subject to historical exigencies and cultural patterns. And, if it can be shown that God spoke to such a people in the past, we can more readily believe that the living Lord of history can come into my life today and transform it by his presence. Indeed we may well discover in those biblical figures our own historical "roots." It is precisely the struggle of real people with God's word and, in turn, God's patience and mercy toward them that can, as Hebrews 11 shows, stand as an example for us.

 But we must go beyond this. For the important thing is not merely that God spoke to actual people and entered real events. Rather, it is what God has said and done in those events. For in creation, in the call of Israel, in the life and work of Christ, and in the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on the church we find the great defining events of all histories and the story around which we must in our turn orient our lives. Initially, however, in, these events and their interpretation we discover an alien voice. We encounter something completely outside our experience that forces us to say with Nicodemus, "How can these things be?" Moreover in this strange order of things I am confronted with a personal God who not only called Abram out of Ur, but is clearly seeking me in the ministry of Jesus Christ. By reflection on this God and his interaction with his people, I am led to see myself not only as misinformed about this or that fact about the past but also as a sinner, someone standing guilty before a holy God. I come to see that my need is not more information, as I might have thought, but conversion, which I could never have guessed. Scripture's own witness is very clear about the purpose of the written word-"these [signs] are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that befieving you may have life in his name" (John 20:3 i). This experience with Christ is ultimately the source of power that is often associated with Scripture (Rom. 1:16; 2 Tim. 3:15-17; Heb. 4:12). This too was a common emphasis in the faith of Reformation churches as M. E. Osterhaven explains: "Scripture presents a unified message concerning God's grace made manifest in Jesus Christ and the Christians call to live unto him. That is the Bible's single theme, and everything drawn from Scripture must be related to that theme."" It is this message of the finished redemptive work of Christ which we call God's story and which is the absolute unchanging element in Scripture.

 So in the encounter with the Bible I come to see that the dependence on its truth must be of a wholly different kind than my relation to other sources of truth. Here is a claim before which I cannot remain indifferent, here is a call which I cannot ignore. Moreover, in responding to this truth in faith we find that it snatches us from ourselves, as Luther put it, "and places us outside ourselves, so that we do not depend on our own strength, conscience, experience, person, or works . . . (12)

 Now we are in a position to understand the Reformation slogan, sola scriptura. While we began in a situation in which both our experience and Scripture play a role, we are driven to the place where Scripture is seen to possess a unique authority and where my experience is subject to transformation. Only Scripture possesses this power to renew us by virtue of its message of the gospel. However, the truth of the gospel cannot have its full impact on my life apart from a real interaction with my experience. Notice that we are not saying that revelation occurs in this interaction, but that the meaning of revealed truth is only appropriated in this process (what we traditionally call illumination). Moreover, we are affirming that only through this process does God confront people during these last days while we await the return of Christ. This differs in no substantial way from the Reformers' teaching on Scripture. For Calvin, though the word of God is the only reliable source of knowledge of God, its authority is realized in the reciprocal relation between the word and the spirit as these are active in the life of the church.(13)

 Another way of putting this is to emphasize that the authority of Scripture is self-authenticating. This is not to say we are made to have some mystical experience of certainty, but that through the ministry of the Holy Spirit we are made to taste the reality in our own life and times-of God's goodness and love manifest in Jesus Christ. It is primarily through the experience of God's power, whereby our lives are affected in a concrete way by God's presence, that we come to understand its authority. John Calvin put this well when he reminded us that "the word of God is not intended to teach us how to chatter, or to make us eloquent or subtle, but to reform our lives."(14) And, we might add, to reform the lives of our families and communities.

 I believe it is important to recognize that our view of the authority of Scripture results not only from what the Bible teaches about itself but also from the way the Bible has functioned in the experience of the church. The reflection on this scriptural self-witness and our continuing experience with the text lead to our confession of the nature of Scripture. Of course our doctrine of inspiration does not grow out of our experience with the Bible, but from the teaching of Scripture itself But that truth does not become actual apart from a real interaction between the text and my experience. The authority of Scripture may certainly be understood theoretically. But this expression of things is a second-order reflection upon the actual course Scripture takes in the fife of the believing community. The authority of the text is a comprehensive one involving theoretical and experiential factors by which God moves us through the Holy Spirit to transform our lives, initially by conversion, then through the discipleship that necessarily follows this. Our reflection upon this is meant to illumine our experience and not to replace it.(15)

 Let us summarize where we have come. Our understanding of the function of Scripture must be carried out in the fight of the particular situation in which we find ourselves. The word of God enters this situation through preaching or private reading. There we meet a God who has entered into a unique relationship with a particular people at a special time, a people who are in many ways like those I know. In these events God shows himself Lord and, in his Son, a Savior who seeks me and calls me to follow him in the particular place I find myself. The authority of Scripture is mediated to me by my actual experience of power whereby the Holy Spirit renews my heart (the process the Reformers called the internal witness of the Holy Spirit). In this experience I find my habits of thought and even my personal crises challenged and confronted by a whole new order which we have called God's redemptive story. The challenge now becomes to see my own story, with which I began, in terms of God's story which has now grasped me and taken me out of myself

 Scripture Functions as God's Story and Mine Merge

 The final stage in the interaction between Scripture and the believer occurs when I see my story and the story of God in the Bible as a part of a single story. The goal is not only a deeper understanding of the truth of Scripture but also a more comprehensive experience of the grace of God which is revealed therein. Few would care to argue that the goal of Scripture is a deeper embodiment of God's grace, what Scripture calls Christian maturity, becoming like Christ (Eph. 4:15). But we have not done enough to draw out the implications of this for the use and interpretation of Scripture. For, as we are drawn into the full meaning of the central events of Scripture, we see that a continuing response is called for and therefore an ongoing experience (interaction) with the text. This truth enters our experience with cognitive weight but also with symbolic richness and spiritual power.

 In this process of interaction with Scripture we must guard against two dangers both of which have been prominent in our Christian communities. On the one hand, since we wish to continue to learn and grow, we ought never to fix our experience with Scripture in such a way that a given Christian practice becomes normative. I am not speaking here of the norms of Scripture which do not change. But I am referring to our practice of understanding and applying these norms to a particular time and place. The methods of study and interpretation, just as much as the cultural expression of Christian truth, must be seen as relative to times and places. For, just as at the beginning our modem secular world-view must not be allowed to determine what Scripture will say, so also no stage of Christian growth can be allowed to impede further growth. For, as Paul reminds us, we all see through a glass darkly and we must always be open to further clarity.

On the other hand, in our questioning of Scripture we must never fix in advance what Scripture will say. We will surely have our confessions and our convictions that God's word is dependable and sure. Scriptural truth does not fundamentally change at the whim of the interpreter. But when we have reached that point where we believe that Scripture has said its last word to us and we are always sure what its message will be, when all around us major events are causing great changes in our understanding of ourselves and our world, then we may be finiiting the actual authority of Scripture in our lives. For a progressive understanding of Scripture issues in an ever deeper reflection on our daily lives. Our goal is progressively to interpret our vocations, our personal and family lives, in the light of God's program. We come to see our unfolding story as a part of God's story. For Scripture is given not primarily to inform me but to interpret me and my world. As far as I am personally concerned, Scripture has been given for the sake of this world in which I live, for it is this world which Christ came to redeem and where we pray to see God's kingdom come.

 Just as the Beroeans of Acts responded to the events around them by searching the Scriptures daily to see if what Paul said was true (Acts I7:II), so we must interpret our experience afresh in the light of God's word. It would be foolish indeed to ignore the experience of past Christians and their confessions of faith, for this is all relevant to our own confession. We are products of one or another tradition of Christian experience and we surely find there rich resources for our present understanding. But we best honor these examples by bringing even these creeds and confessions to Scripture to see if there is genuine congruence. For only here, we believe, God speaks with the authority that has transforming power.

 Paul reminds us in I Corinthians 1:28 that the lowly things of this world which God chose are to "break up the existing state of things" (author's translation). This lowly gospel message continues to break up existing states of affairs. As the Reformers put it, the church therefore is "always being reformed" by the word of God. "Scripture is in the hands but not in the power of the Church,"(16) notes Karl Barth. The reason for this is that the great purpose of God outlined in Scripture is not limited to Bible study or even missionary work. These vital activities are signs of the final goal-a kingdom of righteousness in which all things are brought under the rule of Christ (Eph. 1:1-10). This will not be realized completely until Christ comes again but we must be seeking to bring about intimations of that kingdom by the power of the first fruits of Christ's reign already present in the Holy Spirit.(17) What is relevant for the function of Scripture is that the great culmination which God holds out for us involves both his story and ours in glorious interrelationship. If this is so, we cannot fully appropriate the truth of Scripture unless this relationship is already experienced -- unless, that is, God's story has in fact become our own story.

 This means that Scripture will function much more like a musical score than a blueprint for our lives. A score gives guidance but it must always be played afresh. Seeing Scripture as a blueprint not only overlooks the reality of historical change and the changes in consciousness that result from this but also misunderstands the way God works. It implies a static understanding of culture in which God cannot do something new which is consistent with Scripture and thereby provide a fresh musical interpretation which reflects modern sensitivities. Paul implies that it is just such experiences which have been made possible by the cataclysmic death and resurrection of Christ and which will be climaxed by that final renewal, the second coming.

 The goal of the interaction between Scripture and the Christian community then is that the power of the gospel become operative in the life of that community. In one sense we can say that the authority of Scripture is actual not only where Scripture is acknowledged and read but also where its power is seen. This is to say also that God's redemptive program and story is continuing exactly where this power is manifest. This process of understanding can be seen to involve several levels. First, there is the careful exegesis of Scripture and the historical and cultural study necessary to this. But this process must continue through the actual "hearing," in the biblical sense, of God's word. The words we read must be seen as a summons to discipleship. Nor is this merely an application of the truth of the text. For much in Scripture cannot be understood apart from the active obedience to the voice that speaks there. This experience will then, in turn, provide a further context in which Scripture is read anew. The goal is that envisioned by the prophet Jeremiah (31:33-34): God's law is to be written on our hearts, so that it not only permeates our thinking but also becomes our very life and breath.

 This process from start to finish is carried on in the fellowship of believers, so that the interaction and the growth that results has a horizontal and a vertical dimension. This point is so important that it bears emphasis. While we are sometimes under the impression that our problems and our faith are a private affair, this is an illusion. We are always dependent on our culture and support communities. To one who believes in Christ, the corporate dimension becomes even more important. For it is the wisdom and maturity of the body of Christ as a whole that the Holy Spirit is working toward. And for this project all the varied gifts are pressed into service. This not only protects us from individual aberrations but also ensures that every member is fully involved in the process of growth toward maturity in Christ. The use of Scripture must be understood as a controlling norm in this process.

 This brings us back to our opening statement -- Scripture is given because God wants people who are growing up into maturity in Christ. In the nature of the case this cannot be a matter of rules or of a specified understanding of Scripture. To the mature person, analytic skills are important and understanding is essential, but these are only part of a holistic understanding of life that is generated from actual experience with God and the Word. The process of maturing involves a movement from viewing situations as a collection of equally relevant facts to seeing the world as an organic whole in which only certain parts are relevant at a given moment.(18) This includes a developing sense of which aspects of biblical truth relate to a particular circumstance.

 This is not the place to draw out the implications this view has for our practice of hermeneutics and biblical interpretation. But we can at least predict with confidence that our life of obedience will surely have its impact on our methods of interpretation just as our earlier reading of Scripture had its impact on our lives. This may suggest a preference for inductive types of study which approach texts with openness. It will underline the historical dimension of theology that looks to previous stages in the interaction with Scripture, both as part of our story and a commentary on God's story. AU our study will be seen as a goal to our mission and our growth. Our Christian lives will involve a continuing dialogue with Scripture. With growing maturity will come an increased power of judgment (I Cor. 2:15-16). This is why Donald Bloesch can say "only reflection [on Scripture] done in faith can grasp what is of abiding significance and what is marginal and peripheral."(19)

 In our interpretation of Scripture, understanding will result from and not just precede our actual obedience. The light will grow; understanding will deepen within the community as we seek to engage ourselves in God's program. This implies that we may at times take risks and follow out our commitment beyond what is immediately clear. After all, our world makes unique demands, and it challenges us in subtle and unpredictable ways. Our reading of Scripture must give God room for the unique and exciting. It must reflect that of the early Christians of whom it is said, "They turned the world upside down."

 The reading of Scripture in this way will require a response of the whole person as well as of the whole community. The Holy Spirit does use rational factors to speak to us through the Word. Commitment is a rational event, but it is something more as well. As Pascal says, "Faith indeed tells what senses do not tell, but not the contrary of what they see. It is above them and not contrary to them" (Pensees, 265). We will want to reflect on Scripture in a systematic way, but this will not be done in isolation from personal and social factors. Equipping the saints is a matter of training not only minds but also hands, eyes, and even reflexes. This is a process that is always begun afresh with each generation, and it results from an interaction between Scripture and the believing community that is never finished. For, as Karl Barth argues, only in this way are we true not only to the nature of Scripture itself but also to our link with the Church in every age:

 The Church is most faithful to its tradition, and realises its unity with the Church of every age, when, linked but not tied by its past, it today searches the Scriptures and orientates its life by them as though this had to happen to-day for the first time. And, on the other hand, it sickens and dies when it is enslaved by its past instead of being disciplined by the new beginning which it must always make in the Scriptures.... The principle of necessary repetition and renewal, and not a law of stability, is the law of the spiritual growth and continuity of our life.(20)




1. I am grateful to Professor Patricia Benner of the University of California Medical School (San Francisco) for calling my attention to the model proposed by Stuart E. Dreyfus in "Formal Models versus Human Situational Understanding: Inherent Limitations on the Modeling of Business Expertise," Air Force Office of Scientific Research (Contract: F 49620-79-C0063), National Technical Information Service, February 1981, AD-AO97468/3. Report no. ORC-81-3. Cf. H. L. Dreyfus, "What Computers Can't Do: The Limits of Artificial Intelligence (New York: Harper and Row, 1979).

2. Bernard Lonergan, Method in Theology (New York: Herder and Herder, 1973), P. xi.

3. Rudolf Bultmann, Jesus Christ and Mythology (New York: Scribner's, 1958), PP. 37-38.

4. As he admits: "It is, of course, true that demythologizing takes the modern world-view as a criterion." Ibid., P. 35.

S. Peter Berger, A Rumor of Angels: Modern Society and the Rediscovery of the Supernatural (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, ig6g), P. 94.

6. Peter Berger, The Social Reality of Religion (Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1967), P. 170.

7. Cf. L. Malevez, S. J., Histoire du Salue et Philosophie: Barth, Bultmann, Cullmann (Paris: Cerf, 197I), PP. 40ff. "Pour ne pas etre assez attentif a l'homme, il peut arriver qu'on ne comprenne pas la Parole de Dieu" (P. 42).

8. Robert L. Saucy, "Doing Theology for the Church," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 16, No. 1 (Winter 1973), 1-9.

  1. Conrad Boerma, The Rich, the Poor, and the Bible (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1979), P. 29.
  2. 10. Bernard Ramm, Special Revelation and the Word of God (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1961), pp. 154 - 155.
  3. M. Eugene Osterhaven, The Faith of the Church: A Reformed Perspective on Its Historical Development (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982), P. 64.
  4. Martin Luther, Works, volume 26 (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1983), P. 3 87, quoted in Donald Bloesch, Essentials of Evangelical Theology, volume I, (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1978), P. 61.
  5. H. Jackson Forstman, Word and Spirit: Calvin's Doctrine of Biblical Authority (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1962), pp. 19, 36. Cf G. C. Berkouwer, Holy Scripture (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975), P.306, who notes that the "sola" can only be perceived along the way. Cf. Abraham Kuyper, Principles of Sacred Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1968), P. 575: "At the end of the way, all these factors are made to disappear, so that finally our well-balanced conviction rests upon nothing but the Holy Scripture."
  6. Quoted in Osterhaven, The Faith of the Church, P. 65.
  7. We are not in any way agreeing with David Kelsey who, in a recent book, seems to argue that inspiration is defined by its function. Rather, it is the reverse: its function is seen in the end to rest on the fact of its inspiration. Cf. David Kelsey, The Uses of Scripture in Recent Theology (Philadelphia:Fortress Press, 1975).
  8. Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics,. I, 2 (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1956), P. 682.
  9. I have outlined how Scripture may be read in this way in Let the Earth Rejoice! A Biblical Theology of Holistic Mission (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1983).
  10. See Patricia Benner, "From Novice to Expert," American Journal of Nursing (March 1982), 402-407. She argues that becoming an expert (mature in our terminology) involves processes that can only be partially explained: "It is frustrating to try to capture verbal descriptions of expert performance because the expert operates from a deep understanding of the situation"; "Maxims are used to guide the proficient performer, but a deep understanding of the situation is required before a maxim can be used" (P. 405).
  11. Donald Bloesch, Essentials of Evangelical Theology, volume I, P. 69.
  12. Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, II, 2 (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1957), P. 647.