Thus, the authority of reason, intruding into Protestant theology, in effect forbade the Creator to do or say anything in His own world.  And this was the intellectual legacy – the combined legacy of Arminianism, Deism, and Liberalism – that 20th-century theologians inherited.  Hence, their perplexities.  The dominant figures in modern theology – men like Barth, Brunner, Niebuhr, and even Bultmann and Tillich – profess to have reconstruction as their aim and to be recapturing the lost essence of the biblical faith.  But, to do this effectively, it is clear that they need to disown the authority of reason and to repair these breaches in the walls of the Christian faith which a sinful deference to reason has occasioned.  Are they, we ask, successfully doing this?

It must be said, with regret, that, on the whole, they are not.  If I may venture on some provocative generalizations, modern theology presents the spectacle of a kind of intellectual antinomianism.  It recognizes its sins, but is not prepared to put them entirely away.  It is attempting to recover faith without a complete repentance, to recover the ground that was lost through the three invasions mentioned above without properly repairing the walls or turning out the invaders.  Thus, modern theologians want to recover the reality of revelation in the Bible, and yet they do not want to break with the last-century view of the Bible as a fallible and partly untrue record, nor do they want to part company with the philosopher, Kant, whose teaching seemed to rule out any possibility of propositional revelation.  They want to recapture the knowledge of God’s sovereignty in the world, and yet they do not want to break with the accepted modern scientific worldview although this view has no time, or is supposed, at least, to have no time, for any concept of miracle.  In short, the authority of reason has not yet been thoroughly challenged in modern theology and, until it is, evasive interpretations of Scripture and ambiguous theological syntheses will inevitably continue to be the order of the day.  No theologian can serve two masters, and not even Bultmann can convince us that it is possible to maintain faith in God the Redeemer while denying God the Creator and the Lord. – J. I. Packer (born on July 22, 1926)

Today, he is 90!  Happy birthday!


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