Friday, October 13, 2006

F.F. Bruce on Evangelicalism

On Evangelicalism, Bruce writes:

"I cannot remember a time when I did not hold this to be the essence of the gospel [Jesus' sacrificial death], but questions which attached themselves to it in earlier days have apparently resolved themselves. It is for this reason that I am always happy to be called an evangelical, although I insist on being an unqualified evangelical. I do not willingly answer, for example, to such designations as 'conservative evangelical'. (Many of my positions are indeed conservative; but I hold them not because they are conservative - still less because I myself am conservative - but because I believe they are the positions to which the evidence leads). To believe in the God who justifies the ungodly is to be evangelical. On many points of New Testament criticism I find myself differing from such post-Bultmannians as Ernst Kasemann and Gunther Bornkamm, but critical differences become insignificant in the light of their firm understanding and eloquent exposition of the Pauline gospel of justification by faith, which is the very heart of evangelical Christiantiy. I deplore the misuse of the noble world 'evangelical' in a party sense. I emphasize this account of what it means to be evangelical because from time to time speakers or writers try to limit the scope of the word by imposing further conditions, as who should say: Unless you subscribe to b, c, and d in addition to a, you cannot be recognized as evangelical. All that this amounts to is that they are imposing their own 'pickwickian' sense on the word." (In Retrospect, pp. 309-10).

Amen, Brucey my Boy!

One thing for Bruce that gets repeated in his book is that faith, evangelical faith, is about "I know whom I have believed in" and not "I know what I have believed in".


Michael Westmoreland-White said...

I have quoted part of this in several places. Did you miss part? Wasn't there another line about "some of my other positions would be considered by some to be quite radical, but I hold them for the same reasons." ???

I have long taken that as a motto.

B.L. said...

"To believe in the God who justifies the ungodly is to be evangelical"..."'I know whom I have believed in' and not 'I know what I have believed in'". Great statements! It's an excellent thing that the God and Creator of everything is a "whom" rather than a "what"!

Peter M. Head said...

FFB is absurdly minimalist and evasive here. Check the OED: 'evangelical' has always been used in a party sense. It may be a noble word, but not if it is emptied to mean nothing more than 'Christian theist'.

Chris Tilling said...

His sentiment about the what/who is understandable, even if maybe not entirely feasable.

Daniel Kirk said...

I found your "Amen, Brucey my boy!" to be interesting in light of this statement:

"...the Pauline gospel of justification by faith,"

Weren't you expressing some hesitation a few weeks ago about calling j-n by faith "the gospel"?

I know, I know, I'm nit-picking. Maybe. It seems that this is a large part of his basis of being willing to call someone (himself, at least) evangelical.