Re: Liberalism and Neo-orthodoxy

From: Rich Blinne <>
Date: Wed Feb 18 2004 - 00:30:17 EST

On Tue, 17 Feb 2004 21:26:48 EST, said:
> Since we seem to be taking a little digression into neo-orthodoxy, etc.,
> I
> hope I can be forgiven for asking if somebody knows the answer to a
> historical
> question I have been wondering about.
> Rich Blinne wrote:
> "Neo-orthodoxy differs from orthodoxy in that orthodoxy believes the
> Bible
> *is* the Word of God while neo-orthodoxy believes that the Bible
> *contains* the
> Word of God."
> My question concerns the origin of the IS versus CONTAINS dichotomy. Not
> so
> much the controversy itself, but the wording. From many different
> sources, I
> hear these exact two words contrasted: IS versus CONTAINS. The most
> frequent
> use seems to be from people I would call fundamentalists saying (often
> with
> vehemence as though the foundation of their faith was threatened) "The
> Bible
> does not CONTAIN the Word of God, the Bible IS the Word of God." Always
> in
> *exactly* those words. It seems to be a mantra for fundamentalists and
> conservative evangelicals.

Barth actually uses the word becomes rather than contains. For example

“the Bible is not a revelation but an instrument of divine disclosure.
The human words of Scripture are the instruments by which [the Bible]
aims at becoming a Word which is apprehended by men and therefore a Word
which justifies and sanctifies men, by which it aims at executing upon
men the grace of God which is its content.”
Church Dogmatics 1:223

I intended the becomes part but I also have heard the contains
phrasiology so many times that I made that particular error. In
retrospect, contains is more apropos to liberal theology. The earliest
reference I found to the contains phrasiology was the following 1936
Bibliotheca Sacra article:

3. A Dictated-But-Not-Read Theory: a busy man dictates a letter to his
stenographer and tells her to transcribe and mail it without waiting for
his final inspection and signature. Since there is large opportunity for
mistakes to occur, this procedure is rarely followed with important
letters. The addressee, warned by the notation “dictated but not read,”
does not hold his correspondent responsible for all details of expression
or even of matter. On this theory, the Bible contains the Word of God,
and the nut may be shelled without much difficulty. To many Christians
this is satisfactory; but there is the temptation to pick and choose.
Bibliotheca Sacra (Vol. 93, Page 299).
Received on Wed Feb 18 00:36:57 2004

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