The Pattern of Religious Authority
by Bernard Ramm
Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Price: $1.50
Practically any work by Bernard Ramm is worth its price and this one is no exception. This 117-page paperback develops a pattern of religious authority which demonstrates the place of imperial, delegated, stipulative and veracious authority. Believing the Bible to be inspired, Ramm's authority position is basically sound; accepting Calvinism, Ramm's position is vulnerable at certain points. The following quotations regarding the Spirit's illumination of the written word demonstrate the most obvious error propounded in this book:
"It is the Spirit who inspired the New Testament, it is the Spirit who witnesses to Christ in the heart, and it is the Spirit who quickens the heart to see the truth of God in the pages of the New Testament" (p. 55).
"Paralleling this objective revelation is the operation of the Spirit of God. He is the Inspirer of revelation; He is the Mover in writing of revelation; He is the Illuminator in the heart of the believer, giving him the grace to recognize revelation and the strength to appropriate it"(p. 62).
'Furthermore, the Spirit can never do the work of the Word. The Word contains the revelation. The function of the Spirit is to illumine the heart of the believer to see the divinity of the revelation. The Word cannot do the work of the Spirit. The Word rests helpless in the hand till the Spirit quickens the heart to perceive its divinity" (pp. 103-104).
Surely, each can see how important this doctrine is to the Calvinistic doctrines of election and irresistible grace.
However, the book has excellent criticisms of the following systems of authority: Catholicism, Modernism, the Kerygmatic School, and Neo-orthodoxy. In addition to giving a rather concise summary of each school of thought, Ramm shows how each school destroys or makes vague God's authority as displayed in the Scriptures. Some of the fundamental presuppositions of the systems are exposed an~ destroyed. These chapters in the book were by far the most useful to ni~ and the reason why I now recommend this book to you.
(All books reviewed in this department are available at Truth Magazine Bookstore, Box 403, Marion, Indiana 46952.)
Truth Magazine, XVIII:40, p. 2