The Resurgence of the Call to Doctrinal Orthodoxy

I cannot be struck by the significance of D.A. Carson’s “Recent Developments in the Doctrine of Scripture” (1986) to both our present evangelical and our Baptist climate. Listen, as only D.A. can verbalise it; “The resurgence of interest in the doctrine of Scripture can be traced to many factors; but four deserve brief mention. The first is the growing strength of evangelicals. It is no longer possible to ignore them…

The second factor is scarcely less important; evangelicalism is becoming somewhat fragmented. Never a truly monolithic movement, evangelicalism long enjoyed a fair measure of agreement over certain central teachings; but in its contemporary guise it is pulling itself apart on several different doctrinal fronts– and one of these is the doctrine of Scripture… Whatever the reason, some of the strongest attacks on the evangelicals’ traditional understanding of Scripture– even some of the least temperate criticisms– have been penned by those who today are viewed as evangelicals… The fragmentation of evangelicalism, therefore, has produced mixed fruit.  On one end of the spectrum, it has weakened it distinctiveness; on the other end, it has flirted with obscurantism.  Yet there still remains a considerable strength; and part of the resurgence of interest in the doctrine of Scripture reflects the self-examination of the movement as it struggles with its own identity…

The third factor that has helped to raise again the subject of Scripture is the crisis of authority that stamps so much of modern Western Christianity– especially in academic circles. Children of the Enlightenment, like moths to a light we are drawn to the incandescence of the autonomy of reason. But having destroyed all the pretensions of external authority, we have discovered somewhat aghast that reason is corruptible, that one human mind does not often agree in great detail with another human mind, that reason by itself is a rather stumbling criterion of truth, beset as it is by a smorgasbord of values, theories and predispositions shaped in remarkable independence of reason.  In the ensuing vacuum, there has arisen a muted hunger for authority…

The fourth factor contributing to this renascence is the theological revolution that has taken place and is taking place in the Roman Catholic Church…  Everyone from a fundamentalist to a “Christian atheist” could assent to this formulation (final draft at Vatican II)– which is another way of saying that this final draft masks massive disagreement in the Roman Catholic Church…”